Successful email marketing is all about consistency and delivering the right message, to the right audience, at the right time. How do you keep all your email content scheduled and organized effectively in order to meet these expectations?
The answer? An email marketing calendar. Your calendar is an essential tool for planning, scheduling, and organizing your content and delivery dates to keep your strategy on track.
Here are some things your email marketing calendar will help you achieve:
Plus, getting organized is highly correlated with marketing success. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Download Your Email Marketing Bundle
Make it easy on yourself and download your email marketing bundle. This easy-to-use Excel spreadsheet will give you and your email marketing team the bird’s eye view you need to keep every sent email campaign organized.
Plus, you get a bonus newsletter calendar template so you can keep sharing great content with your subscribers all year long. In addition, there are several other email marketing templates in this kit you’ll find useful.
Create Your Email Marketing Calendar With Simple Software
With CoSchedule’s forever-free Marketing Calendar software, you can:
- Seamlessly integrate with your favorite email marketing platform. You already have a kick-a$$ email platform you know and love, so why give it up? Easily connect your preferred email platform to CoSchedule Marketing Calendar with just a couple of clicks.
- Write click-worthy email subject lines every time. Use CoSchedule Marketing Calendar’s exclusive Email Subject Line Tester to optimize and perfect every subject line to drive more opens, clicks, and conversions.
- Get full visibility into your ENTIRE marketing strategy. Say “buh-bye” to disjointed marketing content and constantly jumping from screen to screen. With email marketing, it’s easy to see how your email campaigns relate to the rest of your marketing strategy and quickly make adjustments if necessary.
Create your Marketing Calendar today and benefit from several helpful marketing tools.
What Is An Email Marketing Calendar?
Before we go through the steps involved with creating the best email marketing calendar, let’s address the elephant in the room: What exactly IS an email marketing calendar?
Email Marketing Calendar Definition:
An email marketing calendar is a framework that helps marketers plan, organize, schedule, and execute email projects. It provides a single source of truth for one-off emails (e.g., email blasts), recurring email programs (e.g., monthly newsletters), email campaigns (e.g., product launches), event email marketing (e.g., webinar emails), email marketing automations (e.g., new email subscriber welcome flows), and all other email marketing projects.
When it comes to email marketing, the key takeaway should always be to plan ahead and do the work in advance for your campaigns. Email marketing calendars are a way for your whole team to see upcoming projects, who’s doing what, and what projects are ready for launch.
If you don’t plan ahead on your email marketing campaigns, sooner or later, you’ll be overwhelmed with approaching deadlines and small project windows.
To help you get a grasp of how your email marketing calendar should perform, we have provided a great template in the download to get you started. When you feel comfortable with a simple spreadsheet template like this one, try using CoSchedule Marketing Calendar software as your email marketing calendar and do more with your campaigns.
How To Create An Email Marketing Calendar
While there are more action items you’ll learn about in the following steps, here’s the TL;DR on how to create an email marketing calendar:
- Determine your email marketing campaigns and who will be responsible for leading each. Starting with a simple list will work well.
- Decide when each email campaign is going to be sent (think start and end dates for the entirety of each campaign). Figure out how many emails you will include in each of the campaigns. Add each email for each campaign to your calendar. Tip: We recommend creating a Marketing Campaign in CoSchedule Marketing Suite for every email campaign. Then simply add each email Project on the respective send date.
- Decide how you want to segment your email list. Choose your segments based on where your subscribers are at in their buying process. Identify which of your email lists should be excluded from each campaign.
- Use your email send dates to determine when your team needs to start working on each of your campaigns.
Step 1: Determine Who Owns Each Email Send
The first thing you need to identify in your email marketing calendar is who owns each campaign. This person is the point-person for every aspect of a campaign and ensures it goes off without a hitch.
The primary duties of this role will be:
- Writing email subject lines and body content.
- Collaborating with designers to create email graphics, if necessary.
- Determining which list segments will receive the email.
Record the owners of each project in your email marketing calendar.
Action Item: Select your email project owner for each campaign. This person may change depending on the campaign that needs to be created by your email marketing team.
Step 2: Determine Email Topics, Themes, & Seasonality
Before you begin planning your campaign, decide what topics your emails will cover. Are you launching a new product or promoting an upcoming webinar, or are you hoping to provide new subscribers with helpful introduction content?
Work with your team to decide the topic each email of your campaign will cover. Some common themes are:
- New product launch
- Upcoming webinar
- Weekly newsletter (topics will change week to week)
- New content you’ve written
- New functionality for your existing product
- Upcoming sale or event
It’s also important to identify which season this campaign topic/theme is associated with.
Why would you want to determine your seasons in advance?
That’s the beauty of using an email marketing calendar; you can plan everything. By planning ahead, you can show your team when they can expect to be working on a larger number of emails and adjust their workload to accommodate them.
For example, for a business-to-consumer retail store, it may make sense for your organization to send a lot more emails during the holiday season in November and December than in March.
You could have your team working on those November emails earlier in the year — or during their downtime in March — to ensure they won’t be so stressed by the time your holiday campaigns roll out.
- Work with your email marketing team to determine the topics for each of your campaigns.
- Record each topic in your email marketing calendar template that complements this article.
- Decide what season in which each email campaign is going to be sent.
Step 3: Establish An Email Sending Cadence
In this step, you’ll identify the number of emails to be created for each campaign.
That number can be hard to figure out.
How many emails are too many? What’s the borderline between spamming your audience and sending them just the right amount of content? Start with these basic email delivery schedules for different types of content you might need to promote.
What if you’re doing more than just a single piece of content? What if you’re promoting a product launch? Here’s your email publishing schedule for that, too.
What about a webinar email promo template?
If you decide to send out a newsletter, try sending one at least once a month or weekly if you can manage to create enough content. If you’re going for one a week or once a month, send your newsletters on Wednesdays, as that is considered the best day to send emails.
Record each email you want to send on your calendar.
- Pull the number of projected emails for each campaign.
- List each email for the campaign in your calendar.
Step 4: Identify The Campaign Email Segment & Consider Your Suppression List
Your email marketing calendar should also contain information about which list you plan to send this campaign.
For example, you could have a campaign that goes to everyone on your list, or you could say this campaign should only go to people who attended your last webinar.
You don’t want to blast your emails to every person on your list because not all of your subscribers are in the same phase of your marketing funnel.
For example, if you have a customer who is just learning about your product, they don’t need to see an email that encourages them to buy right this second.
How can you do all of this? First, you need to build your list. Try a few of the following tactics and see which ones your audience responds to:
- Add CTAs to your website.
- Provide them with something of value that they can download in exchange for their email address.
- Publish content on other sites and encourage readers to learn more by joining your email list.
Once you’ve built your email list, you can segment it out based on actions subscribers have taken on your site.
For example, when a subscriber visits a specific product page, add that person into a specific segment for subscribers who are interested in that product. This type of action is possible with many email automation providers like Salesforce Marketing Cloud and others.
This segmenting process allows you to get specific and send targeted messages at the right time to the right subscribers. The right message at the right time can help increase your conversions if it’s done correctly.
There are many different ways you can segment your list. In fact, Hubspot has 30 of them listed to help you get started.
Once you identify who you are sending your emails to, you may need to determine who you are not sending your emails to.
Maybe there is a group in your email list that needs to see a different message than the one you’ve planned for this campaign.
Remember when you took all that time to segment your email marketing list? Now you can decide who doesn’t need to see specific emails you want to send.
Add excluded segments to your calendar template.
- Build your email list.
- Decide how you want to segment your email list.
- Choose your segments based on where your subscribers are at in their buying process.
- Identify which of your email lists should be excluded from each campaign.
Step 5: Clarify The Goal Of Your Email Campaign
What goal do you want your email campaign to accomplish? Are you trying to sell more of a particular product, or are you trying to build awareness for your brand?
Setting goals touches every single part of your marketing, including your emails. These goals help define the purpose of your sending your email in the first place.
Each goal you create for your email campaigns should be S.M.A.R.T or:
Creating goals doesn’t have to be complicated. Since you know the topics of each of your campaigns, your goals should come naturally.
For example, if you’re launching a new product, your goal could be to reach X amount of sales within one week. If you’re promoting a webinar, your goal will revolve around increasing your signups.
Action Item: Set email marketing goals.
Step 6: Write Your Email Subject Lines
Subject lines can be a bit of a pain to write.
What makes a good subject line? Should you include emojis in your subject lines? What language should you add in your subject lines to help increase open rates?
CoSchedule has a free tool to make it easy to write great subject lines with Email Subject Line Tester.
Hit Score My Subject Line, and the tester will show you ways to improve your subject line:
Include at least two subject lines for your A/B test and record them on your calendar.
- Write potential subject lines.
- Run them through the Email Subject Line Tester.
- Choose your top two subject lines for your A/B test.
Step 7: Plan Your Email Content (Don’t Forget To Include Links To Graphics & Videos)
Next, determine which content you’ll share in each email.
For the sake of this template, we will call each content block in your newsletter a “lead story”. Each lead story should be a link, article, product, or another piece of content you’ll place in the email. This doesn’t need to be the exact email copy you’ll write, just the items the email will promote.
One of the last elements to record in your email marketing calendar are links to graphics and videos that have been created for each email in your campaign.
This is important for your entire email marketing team because they need to be able to access which images and videos are associated with which email. If everything is in one folder, you run the risk of the wrong image being sent to the wrong email.
Each image and video should be linked to your calendar so it is easily accessible by the campaign owner.
- Work with designers to create graphics or videos for your emails.
- Upload them to a file storing system like Dropbox or Google Drive.
- Link back to the folder in your calendar.
Step 8: Determine The Dates & Times Each Email Will Send
What date and time is each email being sent out? This is an essential element to establish in your email marketing calendar because it allows your marketing team to determine when they need to start working on an email to make sure that it gets done on time.
First, let’s cover the best time to send your emails. According to ten studies, the best times to send your emails are:
While the best days to send emails are:
Now that’s not to say that these are the times and days to send your emails on. You’ll need to experiment and see which days and times your audience prefers or is the most active. Try the following times and dates to start.
Once you have the days and times determined for each of your email sends, you can work backward to determine when your team needs to start working on the campaign to get it done on time.
For example, let’s say your email publishing workflow looks something like this:
- Email campaign owner chooses campaign topics and number of sends: One Day
- Copywriters write emails: Two Days
- Copywriters edit emails: One Day
- Campaign owner approves emails: One Day
- Designers create images and videos: Three Days
- Designers edit images and videos: One Day
- Images and videos are approved by campaign owner: One Day
- Copy and graphics are added to email platform: One Day
- Email lists are chosen: One Day
- Email is ready for publish: One Day
In this case, your email marketing team would need to work on a campaign at least 13 days before it begins. You may even add extra buffer days in case the work gets off course.
Equipped with that information, you can select publish dates and times that maximize each email you send. Record your publish date times on your calendar.
- Using the best times to send an email and your audience’s preferences, determine what time you’re going to send your emails.
- Repeat the process to decide which days you’re going to send your emails on.
- Use those dates to determine when your team needs to start working on each of your campaigns.
Step 9: Keep Up With The Status Of Each Campaign
Your email marketing calendar should show the status of each of your email marketing campaigns. That way, you, as a manager, can see what’s coming up, what’s staged and ready to send, and what your team is working on next.
Break down the status of your campaign into three sections:
- New: This is a new campaign that has recently been added to your calendar. No one on your email marketing team has touched this campaign.
- In-progress: Your email team is working on content, graphics, and more for this email. Once they are complete, they will move on to the project owner for final review.
- Complete: At this point, the email has been designed, the subject lines are written, and the project owner is confident that this email is ready to be sent to the identified list.
Update the status of each of your campaigns regularly (at least weekly) in your template.
- Set up weekly syncs with your email marketing team.
- Review any new campaigns that have been added to the calendar. Update their status.
- Review the in-progress campaigns. Update their status as needed.
- Review completed campaigns. Update their status in your email marketing calendar template when done.
Step 10: Record The A/B Test Results Of Your Subject Lines
After you have sent your campaign, identify which of the two subject lines you created won the A/B test.
Most email service providers allow you to A/B test your subject lines within the platform. Based on how each subject line performs, your email platform will take the winning subject line and send it out to the rest of your list.
- Pull the results of your A/B test.
- Record the winning subject line.
What To Include On Your Email Marketing Calendar
Different types of email sends can go into an email marketing calendar. Get inspiration from the below list and fill out the gaps with your company’s unique email needs.
Newsletters are a great way to keep your contacts informed about important updates or new products/services in your industry. They can also be used as a way to share company news or drum up excitement about your next event. According to email statistics, customers generally want to hear from you more than once a month.
With that in mind, aim for 2-4 newsletters a month.
Did you know that in 2022, 76% of customers plan to shop on Black Friday? Popular retail promotions should always have a spot on your email marketing calendar. Planning will help you execute successful campaigns while leaving you enough time to evaluate the strategy and make any necessary adjustments.
Also, plan on testing email length, colors, featured products, and subject lines to maximize performance.
Do you regularly host online or in-person events, webinars, or podcasts? Depending on the event’s size, provide 1-12 weeks advance notice to your contacts about these events. This planning will help increase attendance and engagement.
In the emails, include registration information such as ticket fees, location, registration link, speakers, and more. Also, add testimonials from past attendees for credibility.
Having an email audience at hand for a launch can set the tone for demand and excitement around your new product or service. Use email to announce the launch, but then also schedule 3-5 updates on its development process and offer early adopters a chance to be recognized for their involvement.
A theme-based email campaign allows you to send targeted messages that are relevant and interesting to your subscribers. Plan out your yearly themes to include upcoming holidays and seasons or address important pain points your readers face.
For example, if your business is in the wellness niche, you can schedule a health-focused email series starting in November on how to stay healthy during cold and flu season.
Take advantage of the different seasons and events throughout the year to engage your subscribers. For example, if you’re a clothing store, you might send an email to wish your contacts a Happy Winter Season and promote your coziest socks and mitts at the same time.
Holidays are a golden opportunity to send themed emails that engage your subscribers. It’s a must to add them to your calendar. Depending on your audience, consider adding emails about Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Kwanzaa, or Memorial Day.
8. Automated Email Marketing
Finally, automated email marketing campaigns can be your lead gen secret weapon. Did you know that automated welcome emails contribute the highest percentage of sales? They allow you to collect subscribers, reach out to them, and engage or convert them at the right time.
Creating an automated plan can get daunting, so it’s important to consult your email marketing calendar and figure out segmentation and timing.
How To Organize All Of Your Email Sends With One Email Marketing Calendar
Organizing all email marketing in one place is easiest with a tool designed to organize all of your email marketing in one place.
The spreadsheet email marketing calendar templates we provide in this piece are a good start. But if you’d like to up your game, consider the following process we suggest as a best practice.
With CoSchedule Marketing Suite, you will have a content calendar like this:
Let’s turn this blank slate into an email marketing calendar by first adding email newsletters.
Newsletters typically have regular sending cadences, such as weekly or monthly. With CoSchedule Marketing Suite, you can create a recurring project for newsletters like this:
You’ll notice you can set clear expectations to ensure newsletters always go out as desired:
- The task workflow automatically assigns ownership to a team member you choose with a specific due date so you may hold them accountable for completing their work.
- The newsletter can also be scheduled to send at a specific time, such as noon in this case.
- This newsletter will also repeat on Mondays forever and will automatically add itself to your email calendar four weeks in advance of the send date, so you’ll always be about a month ahead of schedule. This is helpful in case of unexpected sicknesses, severe weather, and other unforeseen circumstances.
Now your calendar contains email newsletters (no more blank slate)!
Of course, you can easily add one-off email blasts to your calendar on any date you choose.
This makes it simple to organize all email sends in one place so you can always show stakeholders what is going out and when it’s going out.
How To Organize Email Marketing Campaigns With Your Calendar
Let’s add promotions, launches, and events that may require email campaigns containing multiple email sends onto your calendar.
With CoSchedule Marketing Suite, you will create Marketing Campaigns that begin and end on the dates the campaign runs:
Now you may add emails into the campaign on the calendar dates on which you will send them:
CoSchedule Marketing Suite empowers you to see only emails related to that campaign and also provides you with a complete view of all emails from campaigns and your newsletters, too:
Next, let’s add an email marketing campaign containing emails to market a webinar.
Again, you may organize these emails in a timeline for the webinar and filter into your email calendar to see only this specific campaign with only emails for this webinar:
Again, you may see all emails on your calendar after adding recurring emails like newsletters, and any number of email marketing campaigns for promotions, launches, and events:
How To Use Your Marketing Calendar To Avoid Emailing Your Audience Too Often
Marketers may send multiple emails every day by targeting the right message to the right person at the right time. This is a best practice that prevents overwhelming audiences that may spike unsubscribe rates.
With CoSchedule Marketing Suite, you may customize segments with any internal language that is helpful for segmentation, such as personas and funnel stages:
When you do this for all emails, you may use your calendar to see at a glance when a specific audience segment may be getting too many emails.
In the example below, you can easily see you have two emails that are scheduled to send on Monday, January 1, that are intended for the same audience segment (Persona: John Contractor and Funnel Stage: Top).
Because you may determine you don’t want to email an audience segment twice in one day, you can shift send dates easily because you can see everything in one place—it’s as easy as a drag and drop.
In the example below, you can see we moved the Promotion Email #1 to Tuesday, January 2, to allow the regular recurring newsletter to take sending priority on Mondays as the audience expects.
CoSchedule Marketing Suite integrates with a variety of email marketing platforms, too.
When you buy CoSchedule Marketing Suite, you will gain a dedicated marketing success manager whose goal is to help you organize your marketing—including emails. They’ll help you set up your email marketing calendar, in addition to helping you organize all of your other marketing, so you can focus on kicking ass.
Start Using Your Email Marketing Calendar To Get Organized
Now that you have the tools and knowledge to improve your email calendar for everyday marketing, try out your newfound skills on your marketing newsletter. Master newsletter organization with the tips you’ve learned today, and continue learning how to get the rest of your marketing bearings in order.
Soon, you’ll be the master of marketing calendars.
Ready. Set. Organize!
This post was originally published on April 18, 2018. It was updated on December 30, 2021, and again on December 1, 2022. Ben Sailer, Peyton Muldoon, and Nathan Ellering contributed writing to this post.