Do you have a system for creating a stellar email marketing calendar? Designing your communication calendar is as easy as 1-2-3.
Have you ever received an email from a brand with the subject line, “LAST DAY!” or “10 hours left!” only to feel super confused about why you have such little time to decide to make a purchase?
That feeling indicates the brand did not thoughtfully plan its marketing to your inbox.
Customers and prospects feel confused about no context, high-octane CTAs. Which details did they miss earlier? Why should they care now? Worst-case scenario, they feel upset or unsubscribe because they confuse a poorly planned email with spam.
Without smart email planning, your brand may not only miss out on sales opportunities but also on opportunities to nurture and deepen subscriber relationships. Heard enough buzz? Read on to learn how your email marketing calendar can turn clicks into cash.
- Why you should plan your email marketing
- How to backward plan your email calendar
- How to email schedule for efficiency
- Sell more with better emails
Why should you plan email marketing?
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” as the adage goes. But let’s go a little deeper about why it’s important to ditch the last-minute sales emails with anxiety-inducing “LAST DAY!” subject lines.
- Planning gives you more time. And time is money. With more time, you can create design templates and copy that fits your sales strategy. This powerful branding combo will allow you to create email content that nurtures current subscribers and sell to new clients in an authentic, consistent way.
- Planning allows you to deepen relationships with your customers. When you plan an email promotion with your customer journey in mind, your audience will be more likely to convert from an observer to a client. Your business exists to serve both you and your customers, so it’s important to prioritize their happiness—especially when it comes to their inboxes.
- Planning your email marketing promotions helps you stay organized. You’ve probably heard of a social media content calendar. An email marketing calendar is similar: While the purpose of a social media content calendar is to grow brand awareness at your top-of-funnel, the purpose of an email marketing calendar is to drive sales.
How to plan your email marketing campaign (backward!)
I spent part of my life as a music teacher, teaching five different grade levels daily. Between that and managing 8 to 10 musical performances a year, I heavily relied on backward planning to ensure the success of each musical performance. The same practice applied to email marketing can drive sales. Backward planning requires establishing clear goals for your endeavor—increase sales, decrease client journey steps, grow revenue—before writing copy, designing templates, or deciding when to schedule a round of “sends.”
How do I start backward planning? Here is my short guide to backward planning your email campaign.
1. Plan your email marketing calendar around events in your life.
Start by identifying your out-of-office time for the calendar year. If you’re not promoting anything due to a holiday or vacation, it’s important to add it to your marketing calendar. Knowing your scheduled time off in advance will help you decide how early you’ll need to write your emails (or delegate to a copywriter) and when to schedule emails for promotions.
The benefits of adding out-of-office dates to your marketing calendar are numerous. It allows you to plan for promotion and rest instead of feeling the pressure to sell all year—and burn out! Let’s say goodbye to the hustle and grind lifestyle, shall we? That’s what an email marketing calendar is supposed to help you do: balance periods of promotion with periods of rest.
2. Structure email marketing pushes around your product launch schedule.
Do you have any upcoming product launches that you anticipate selling more digital products, courses or programs? Do you plan to have a sale in your e-commerce shop during the holidays? Add those dates to your marketing calendar.
It’s easier to space out promotions and avoid audience fatigue when you plan with the end in mind. Keep track of engagement patterns and conversions, then reverse engineer your strategy to repeat your success during your next sales push.
3. Identify your high-conversion and cross-market content in your email campaigns
Reflect on when peak interaction takes place and your most engaging content type. Decide how frequently you need to publish content to nurture your audience:
- Do you post on a YouTube channel or write blog articles?
- How often do you post on Instagram and TikTok?
- Have you thought about free lead gen events (like webinars and Instagram Live events) that nurture viewers to buy paid offers?
Keep your audience entertained with the content they choose. When you don’t add unique, well-liked content to your email marketing calendar, you risk making the rookie mistake of emailing your list only when you have something to sell.
You can plan backward on an annual, quarterly or even monthly basis. Regardless of your approach, I recommend starting by mapping out major events throughout the year. From there, get granular with the details of your product launch schedule. Lastly, entice your audience with fun, unique, sought-after content that is product agnostic.
You’ve identified your major events throughout the year and are ready to dive into the nitty gritty of email marketing: the email campaign schedule! How do you design an email campaign schedule that converts for your target audience? Look no further!
What should be included in an email marketing calendar?
A simple way to sketch your email marketing plan is with a spreadsheet! Your email calendar should include these columns:
- Campaign frequency: Use this column to identify how frequently you’ll send your emails. Many businesses choose a cadence of weekly or biweekly newsletters. During promotional seasons, you can increase it with a three, five or seven-day promotional period.
- Campaign type: Once you’ve identified your major product launch events for the year, now it’s time to decide what type of email to send: newsletter/nurture or sales! Remember that balancing nurture and sales emails engage your audience and foster trust.
- Delegate: Create a column to determine who will take on what task. Writing, editing and scheduling an entire email campaign can be a lot for one person. If you’re writing all of your emails, consider hiring an editor and/or delegating scheduling. If you have a team, role delineation is key for efficiency. Doing duplicate or unnecessary work costs your business time and money. Hiring help clears up your time to focus on how you can best leverage your email campaign to connect and sell.
- Offer/Funnel: In this column, plan for which specific offer or offers you intend to tell your audience about via email. Studying your qualified audience members and best-fit clients can help you shape copy, offers and media in each email. Your goal is to bring qualified leads down your funnel and into your clientflow!
- Recipients (List or Tag): Is your email list segmented? Whether you’re sending emails on your own or delegating to an assistant, here is where the list and tag features of your email scheduling application come into play. When you have some idea of your list’s needs you can better cater to their interests. Only scheduling responses one at a time? Using HoneyBook Desktop you can create and schedule email responses to go out when you want them!
- Send date: No business wants to fatigue its audience with promotions. Consider timing. Refer to your marketing plan or calendar: How often are you flooding inboxes with a pitch? A funny Instagram story or Gif? You don’t want to send too many or too few communications where you’re asking for the sale.
How to write a strong email (that sells)
Once your calendar is sketched out, you can focus on the content of each one of your emails. What makes you want to open an email? Reflect on this question while you create emails that will “wow” your subscribers.
If the goal is more click-through rates in your emails, try using a copywriting formula like Problem-Agitation-Solution or Attention-Interest-Desire-Action. A proven copywriting formula acts as a guide for creating an intriguing story around your goal. The goal of good copywriting is conversions. Creating intrigue around your product by telling a story is a great way to keep your qualified clients engaged and interested in making the purchase.
It’s time to ditch the old practices of giving email subscribers only one to two days’ notice to buy. Instead, use stories to promote your product in a way that sells you first. Create a cohesive narrative for your customers before hitting them with a pitch. If they identify with your story, they will be more interested in converting to your services.
If you’re a personal brand or have powerful brand stories, you can use stories from your life as a hook in your email. Use this foundation to segue into a lesson or idea that is relevant to your reader. Telling stories from your life will increase engagement, create likability and motivate people to reply or click—all of which build strong connections to your brand over time.
Think about your audience and what resonates with them. What will it take for your storytelling to connect with your audience?
Before driving sales via email, focus on driving opens. Challenge yourself to create more than one compelling or creative subject line that will intrigue your client. Then, use A/B testing to determine which was more effective. This strategy will help you hone in on which subject line yields the most clicks—subject A or B!
Call to action
A good call to action instructs users what to do next. A great call to action helps with decision fatigue, create community, and stoke urgency subconsciously. They also ease anxiety and are supportive—read, they’re “low pressure.” Here are a few examples of great CTAs compiled by HubSpot:
- Schedule a free consultation!
- I’m in!
- Sign up for free
Successful CTAs deliver what the customer wants: a low-risk answer to their concerns.
HoneyBook helps streamline client communication
As you can see, planning a sales-driving email marketing plan takes some time and dedication, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. My number one secret for keeping up with my sales growth is HoneyBook, an all-in-one clientflow platform that makes personalized responses to prospective clients so easy!