How to Create an Email Marketing Promo Calendar

Your email list is a valuable and impactful asset for your business. It’s your direct line of communication with prospective and current customers and has significant potential for accessing their focused attention.

Learn to leverage your list the right way, and we guarantee you’ll see results and move your dial closer to success.

This is often easier said than done for a business reliant upon email marketing to achieve a variety of revenue and non-revenue goals.

How do you not only gain prospects’ attention, but keep it? How do you decide whom to market to and when? And how do you ensure you’re hitting all of your goals for the year on time?

Blindly mailing promotion after promotion is a sure recipe for disaster.

One resource to put your mind at ease and clear up ambiguity is an email marketing promo calendar.

Breaking your goals down into more simple, strategic, and digestible steps each month can help you more likely hit each target, from revenue goals to list growth.

The role of a promotional calendar

Driving prospects and customers to take action–whether it be to buy a product, schedule a meeting, or register for a conference–takes strategy.

The role of a promotional calendar is to move the highest segment of your audience to the next step on the customer journey and elicit action.

Each promo email serves as a catalyst for conversion by delivering different and relevant content to subscribers. The sequencing, pacing, segmentation, and seasonality of each email greatly affects how they perform.

The strategy you create in developing your promotional calendar should include three different defined elements:

  • WHAT you are selling.
  • WHEN you are selling.
  • WHOM you are selling to.

Diving into your promotional assets

Before you begin plotting email campaigns on a calendar, it’s important to analyze what you have in your product arsenal to offer.

It’s time to flesh out your product and service catalog and delve deeply into each asset you have to offer and how they relate to planned promotional campaigns.

If your business only sells one product or service, it’s time to put on your creative thinking cap and craft various campaigns to repeatedly sell that one asset. Or, if you’ve tried that and it’s not working, perhaps you need to focus on product creation and add more service offerings.

Whether you possess one or multiple products or services, for each asset, you’ll want to create and fill out a promotional asset sheet to be used in conjunction with your calendar.

This sheet is for internal use only, and is helpful in creating your strategy and adjusting it down the line.

The sheet should include the following:

  • Product or service name
  • Price: When running promotions, you’ll likely be advertising a discounted price to attract new customers, so be sure to include both the sales price and full price.
  • Where does the buying transaction occur? List whether you’re selling the product or service online, by phone, or in person. This section is very important as the ease of conversion will influence your content and messaging. Convincing someone to drive to a physical store to buy a product is a trickier task than asking them to buy something online.
  • Has it been sold via email before? Be sure to include the history of past campaigns used to sell this asset and what the results were–was it successful or unsuccessful in achieving your goals? This will help you figure out what to tweak in future campaigns for similar or improved results.
  • When did you promote it last? Campaign spacing influences chances of conversion–you don’t want to send a similar promotional for the same product that you just promoted two weeks ago.
  • How many emails did you send? Similar to the above bullet, note how many emails were included in the last promotion. If it didn’t perform well, perhaps there were too many emails in the sequence and you need to adapt accordingly.
  • Is it currently available to promote? Perhaps a product is seasonal or you are currently out of certain sizes for a product. Be sure you can fulfill your promises. Failing to do this will only decrease relational equity and hurt your business.
  • If not available, why? Detail here why the product isn’t available in order to fix the situation and speed up the process of making it available again.

Create a Promotional Planning Worksheet

Now it’s time to plot your planned promotions based on your goals. Create a sheet such as the one shown below, and follow the subsequent steps to fill it in.

(Source: Digital Marketer) 

1. Set and fill in your revenue goals

One goal that all for-profit businesses have in common is revenue generation. It’s pretty obvious that without this goal, your business will not survive.

…And there’s no time like the present to get concrete!

Start by determining a 12-month revenue goal. It doesn’t have to start with the calendar year–the 12 months can start next month if that works better for you.

If you’ve been in business for a while and have already been strategically planning, you may already know where you want to be in 12 months, and that’s great. Less work for you!

On the other hand, if you’re a startup and have no clue what you want to achieve in 12 months, the time is now to either strategically or arbitrarily pick a goal.

In your promotional planning worksheet, include revenue goals within each month that add up to your 12-month goal.

Within each month, list your target revenue and expected revenue (such as revenue you know you will already generate with rebills and subscriptions). Subtract expected revenue from target revenue, and you’ll see what amount you need to generate utilizing email promotions that month.

When deciding on your target revenue for each month, it’s important to be aware of seasonality.

For example, if it’s your slow season, make sure your revenue goals are lower and that you aren’t using those months to make up ground on previously lost revenue.

Conversely, when it’s your busier months, such as the holiday season, it may make sense to inflate your revenue goals and plan your promotions accordingly.

2. Set and fill in your non-revenue goals

Whether you want to convert prospects to customers, or existing customers to multi-buyers, there are certain things that need to happen.

That’s where non-revenue goals come in.

Whether they be launching a blog, producing a sold-out conference, or opening a new location, these goals will help in the customer acquisition and ascension processes.

Promotions to achieve these goals tend to be time-bound, so we recommend plotting them on your calendar before plotting revenue-producing campaigns.

For example, if you have an event in September and want to sell out tickets, you need to pre-sell tickets prior to the conference via email promotions. Plotting promotions for the event on a calendar means you can backtrack with dates and ensure a promotional lift several months in advance.

3. Add holiday promotions into the appropriate slots

Holiday email promotions are great lifts for your business. Be sure to schedule these campaigns accordingly.

For example, the New Year typically generates an uptick in sales for health and fitness companies. Running a promotion leading up to and right after the New Year can boost sales for such companies.

4. Brainstorm additional promo ideas

As a backup, you want to have several additional ideas for potential promotions in case certain planned promotions don’t do well or certain promotions fall through due to unforeseen circumstances.

5. Spot-check and adjust

Once you take a first stab at creating your promotional planning sheet, go back over it and make sure that all the numbers add up correctly, that it addresses each goal, and whether it’s realistically achievable.

It may take several revisions but will be worth your time editing sooner rather than later.

Four types of email promotion campaigns

When it comes to email marketing, there are four overarching types of promotions that have different goals associated with each:

  • Activation: The goal for this promo campaign is to take a large segment of prospects and turn them into buyers. These campaigns tend to sell low-dollar items and can be sent to new prospects or customers who haven’t purchased in a while.
  • Monetization: The goal for this promo campaign is to make as much money as possible. It’s best to run it 1-2 weeks after an activation campaign as a satisfied new buyer is 5 times more likely to buy from you again and purchase a higher-ticket item.
  • Segmentation: These promos achieve interest-based segmentation. The goal is to get subscribers to essentially raise their hand if they are interested in something you offer. For example, you can send 3-5 emails to your whole list and then continue to communicate with subscribers who raise their hand and ask for more.
  • Wild card: Wild card promos are a mechanism to try something new. It’s recommended to slot them for the last week of the month, and only send them if you are at or above your goals by the time it comes around.

Create your 30-day calendar

If you want to optimize your email list, we recommend sending one promotion a week. Whether the promotion lasts 3 or 5 emails is up to you, but sending one promo a week tends to result in fewer unsubscribes and spam complaints.

In order to plot promotions accordingly and create a 30-day calendar, create and fill out a sheet for each promotion using the outlined example below.

(Source: Digital Marketer

Be sure to go back and spot-check. Move things around, add additional promos or segments, or lower your projections if you aren’t on target with revenue goals.

This whole process can be arduous and takes time–though this is expected the first time you go through it. From there, it gets quicker and easier over time to create and edit.

In the end, it will be worth it. A promotional calendar will inform every decision you make as a company, make sure you’re not wasting your time, and help you prioritize projects that will make the highest revenue for your company.

There are certain elements that make emails more effective in increasing your conversions and building brand loyalty. Learn about 10 of them here


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