How to Create a Multi-Channel Marketing Calendar
Your business matters. You know that and your team knows that, but your followers on social media may not have a clue about what your business actually does or the importance of the work you do. Marketing your business takes a lot of effort and time that you don’t seem to have. The good news is that content creation won’t take as much time as you think it will.
Having your content strategized and planned ahead will actually save you time in the long run. Think of it as meal prepping for your business. You take a small amount of time to prepare for a longer-lived benefit. Planning your marketing campaigns in advance keeps you on track, motivated, and essentially saves you money.
Even new businesses can set time aside to come up with content creation.
If you are a new business and aren’t promoting, you can be sure that nobody else is doing it for you. New businesses just don’t have the loyal customer base creating referrals that can help you out immensely.
Marketing 101: Your business needs a multi-channel marketing calendar.
What is a multi-channel marketing calendar?
Think of your multi-channel marketing calendar as the sidekick your content needs to boost your business to the next level.
A multi-channel marketing plan strategically connects multiple marketing channels together into one thriving multi-channel communications approach. Some of these channels include email marketing, Messenger Marketing, social advertising, organic social media, to name a few.
So, the multi-channel marketing calendar would naturally be the organized format that houses all of the content your business has created. Marketing calendars are typically decided one year in advance, but larger companies may have their marketing content decided up to three years in advance!
Why is it vital to have a multi-channel marketing calendar?
Time is something that creeps up on all of us. Nobody knows that better than a business owner. Great marketing ideas can pop into your head first thing in the morning and by the second cup of coffee, they have left your mind never to be thought of again. Bleak, we know.
Here are some of the characteristics of a multi-channel marketing calendar that will convince you that you need to fill one in today.
- Compiles all of your content ideas into one place
- Creates continuity
- Engages a wider audience
- Keeps comments up
- Boosts morale
- Generates more leads
Basically, your content calendar for Instagram or Facebook will be the unifier of your professional aspirations, your team, and your customer base. It ensures that all of your marketing plans are organized in one place so that they can be rolled out as efficiently as possible.
Here are a few things that a multi-channel marketing calendar is not:
- An excuse to avoid thinking about digital marketing for the next year
- A perfect science
That was a short lesson.
It’s important for your content marketing calendar to get a regular evaluation and for changes to be made as needed. Maybe something you began planning three months ago isn’t relevant anymore. Perhaps there is a local or national tragedy and posting some of the planned content would seem inappropriate. Also, your marketing calendar isn’t going to always be received as planned. Algorithms change and your target audience may as well. Revisit your social media content calendar often.
The aspects of a fantastic marketing calendar
Let’s say that you own an eCommerce shop that specializes in fair trade products.
If you sit down and decide that for the month of March you will only highlight the fair trade coffee available in your shop, then you will lose an incredible amount of interest from followers (like the tea drinkers for example).
A content calendar is designed to see things at a glance and to dig deep into the content that you want to share.
If it were up to us, we would tell you to color code everything. However, we don’t want to throw shade at your organization style. So, here are the key components of a fantastic multi-channel social media marketing calendar:
First, ask all the questions.
- How often will your business post content?
- Which marketing channels will you be posting on?
- What are the keywords and hashtags (if applicable)?
- Who is your intended audience?
- Do you already have content that can be repurposed?
- When will your content go live?
- Who on your team will implement the content strategy?
- How far ahead do you intend to start planning?
- What is the budget for your marketing strategy?
Clarify the Rules
It’s important to keep an open line of communication with your marketing team. Know what their expectations are for the project and make sure that yours are communicated clearly. Team members should know their marketing goals, expectations, and roles. For example, each person needs to know:
- When deadlines are for each post.
- Who is responsible for editing and approving content.
- The day and time that posts are to be published.
- Projects that need to be outsourced to other writers or graphic designers.
Designing your marketing calendar
We use the word “designing” loosely here. There are many different types of marketing calendar designs and templates you can choose from. Your calendar template won’t have to be aesthetically pleasing, but it needs to have a clearly designed process and purpose. Your marketing plan template will serve as “record-keeping” for the content that goes out, but also the content that has been posted in the past. Like a high school yearbook, you may end up looking back on some strategies you’ve used with a tad of embarrassment. That’s okay! It’s a perfectly normal part of growing a business.
Choose the format
Kudos to you if you’re just starting out and are happy with simplicity. For those that are farther along in your business, you may opt for a more complex method of designing your content marketing calendar. You may have to research a method that works best for your team. You can use Google Calendar, Microsoft, or a simple spreadsheet to write out your content for the year. Another option is to use a task management system like Trello, Monday, Calendly, or something similar.
Specify the platform
Make sure that you specify the destination on each piece of social media content. You don’t want to post content scheduled for Facebook on Instagram. Your blogs shouldn’t be lost in the mix of guest blogs your business is preparing. Keep everything separate and adopt a technique that helps your team stay on track. Again, we sure do love color coding!
Be strict with details
The fine print details are just as important as knowing which platforms you will use and when posts will go live. Which subjects will your business cover in your content? What is the target audience for each piece? Has your marketing team created personas? What are the relevant hashtags and keywords? Where will the photos come from and are you providing the right photo credit? Are there going to be hyperlinks in the posts? What is the fallback plan if social media content needs to be changed? Which platform will your business use to schedule posts?
Understand your marketing goals and take the time to really strategize the roll out of your content ideas.
Treat each platform uniquely
Every means of communication that your team has chosen is different. You may not be able to universally share the content on every platform you chose. For example, a blog post simply can’t be shared completely on Twitter. Think of it as each platform needing its own unique approach and then strategize with that in mind.
If your business is going to create loads of blog posts, then you need to go over your expectations of click-through links with your writers. If you’re sharing on social media, you may want to funnel content visitors to your social media pages so that they can interact with bots for a chance of converting these visitors to subscribers.
Have a firm idea about the role your content will play in attracting and converting customers.
Will you use the content? Are you going to promote other products through your blog? Before making a blog post or social media post with click-through links, it’s important to check the links. If you’re scheduling far in advance, it’s possible for entire websites or links to be obsolete by the time your post is shared. Double-check to make sure.
Be sure that your team keeps up to speed with design policies from different social media platforms. Facebook has strict rules on what is allowed in regards to sales and even how graphics should be designed. Check on these policies to ensure your social media posts will be allowed.
Creating a multi-channel marketing calendar can be time-consuming. However, It is also incredibly rewarding. If you think that you cannot afford the time just know that your content may never come together in one cohesive marketing strategy.
Our recommendation is for you to make the time for this. Choose the platform that works best for your calendar and then specify the plan of action with each piece of content. It’s easy to create a marketing calendar in comparison to how hard it can seem to stick to it.
Also, set systems for accountability! Set reminders for your team to come together and comb through the calendar for consistency.
Lastly, check the details before you schedule your social media posts. You want all of your marketing initiatives to be cohesive before you launch them on social media or other platforms.
The eCommerce world can sometimes feel isolating—as if you are putting in a lot of work and not “seeing” any responses. People do pay attention. They observe your business from a distance and take a special interest in how they perceive your ability to relate to them.
So, use your social media content calendar to build robust marketing campaigns and see how you are able to reach your digital marketing goals!