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With e-commerce businesses, it’s not uncommon for marketing activity to be sporadic. For smaller companies with limited human resources and budget there is often no time to do much beyond the odd email blast or social media post. However, marketing your business keeps you front-of-mind with existing customers while helps acquire new ones, making it a pivotal component of your businesses success.

The key to marketing is planning. From the start, you need to outline your activities on a month-by-month basis to ensure a regular funnel of content reaches your target audiences. In doing so, you set yourself clear objectives, and the activity becomes far less arduous.

Effective marketing teams use a marketing calendar to plan activities for the year ahead. It should show all of the events, campaigns, and promotions that will be happening and when. In separating everything that you need to do in an organised manner, a calendar of promotions takes the pressure off deciding what content to focus on each day. You will always have something to focus on and generate buzz around your brand.

Why an Ecommerce Marketing Calendar is important

It takes time to coordinate your marketing activities fully. Marketing tasks seem far less overwhelming when you know what product launches or seasonal promotions are coming up and you’ve planned your content in advance.  A calendar of events also means you are less likely to miss opportunities that could escape you when trying to manage marketing on a day-by-day basis.

Using a content calendar like the example below can help you stay ahead of the game and negate the possibility of your campaigns going stale. An ecommerce marketing calendar can provide a visual omnichannel approach to consistently maintaining focus and publishing unique content.

An ecommerce marketing calendar example spreadsheet

Source: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/holiday-marketing/holiday-marketing-calendar-template/

Aligning promotions with the things your customers care about will make your marketing more effective, targeting them with the right message at the right time.

Having a strategy

The first step in creating a useful ecommerce marketing calendar is to research and know your target audience. For example, if you work in an industry where your customers have families, you may want to consider school term times when planning your promotions.

Some questions you might want to ask yourself are:

  • What do my customers care about?
  • What products and services are my customers likely to take advantage of at this time of the year?
  • What channels do my customers prefer? Do they engage with emails, social media, or mobile marketing?
  • When do my customers have more disposable income?

You can answer some of these questions by analysing which promotions have worked for you in the past. New and existing customers will perceive your brand differently, so you need to gear the promotional calendar to both segments. Perhaps new customers find you via social media, whereas existing customers respond to email promotions.

Every business has busy and quiet times throughout the year. Think about how you can use promotions to target customers in a way that turns the slow periods into hectic ones. For example, January is typically a tough month as people are short on money following the holidays and looking to make a fresh start.

Booking.com pre-empted a dip in sales at the start of 2021 by offering subscribers a discount on New Year trips.

Source: https://shanebarker.com/blog/new-year-marketing-ideas/

By planning seasonal campaigns with discounts, you can create a sense of urgency, attracting both prospects and returning customers. Booking.com added a timeframe to the promotion that pushes customers into a quick purchase decision.

What type of events and promotions to include

There are several types of promotions that you can include in your ecommerce marketing calendar.

Seasonal

There are plenty of seasonal events throughout the year for you to target with promotional campaigns. As well as New Year which we talked about above, summer holidays, Black Friday, and half-terms all offer promotional opportunities. Holidays like Easter and Christmas may also be good times for campaigns depending on your audience, e.g., in your research, understand if they celebrate those events before promoting them.

Product launches

A new product or collection is an excellent way to engage your audience. Focus on how you are solving problems for the customer to ensure they relate to and engage with the campaign. The promotion could be aimed at customers who buy similar products or target a specific time of year. A typical launch will need a few stages that you can plan in your e-commerce calendar.

ecommerce marketing calendar timeline

Source: https://automizy.com/blog/product-launch-announcement-emails/

Competitions

People love the opportunity to get things for free. If you scroll through any of your social media feeds, you will see brand posts such as “Share our message to get a free product” or “Click like to be in with a chance of winning.” It is an excellent way for your business to acquire new subscribers and followers for other campaigns.

Product promotion

It is relatively easy to focus on new product and service launches and forget about the products you already have. Within your calendar, find times to promote different ranges, collections, or individual products. This could be an add-on product to increase order values, a loss leader to draw customers into other items, or something you know sells well to a segment based on sales history.

Mini-sales for holidays

You will often see brands create a mini-sale lasting a few days or even a single day for specific holidays like St Patricks Day, 4th July, or St Georges Day. There are also plenty of sillier and lesser-known holidays throughout the calendar year that you can use to your advantage. If you have the right products and services for some of the below, it could create an excellent promotional opportunity.

Include silly holidays in your ecommerce marketing calendar

Source: https://thesoccermomblog.com/unique-holidays/

If you are interested, you can read all about National Scavenger Hunt Day here. Combining the day with prizes and giveaways can generate lots of engagement.

How to promote

There are various channels to consider for your promotions. Email campaigns are still one of the highest converting forms of marketing. 35% of marketers send their customers between 3 and 5 emails per week, with 80% believing it drives customer retention. That’s not to say you should send five emails a week because the statistics say so. Ensure you have relevant customer messages, such as promoting a specific product or service when they are likely to need them.

Read More: The Importance Of Ecommerce Email Marketing

Social media is an incredibly powerful channel for promotions. As well as posting content, you can amplify the messages using paid ads or by engaging with influencers. 52% of online brand discovery still happens in public social feeds (paid and organic), meaning you need likes and followers to gain traction with the algorithms. According to HootSuite, 27% of internet users find new products and brands through paid social ads.

The graphic below shows some hints and tips to increase your success through social promotions.

Source: https://www.globalwebindex.com/reports/social

Don’t underestimate the power of blogging. Consumers are looking for high-quality, useful, and relevant content to help them with buying decisions. Writing blog content can indeed be time-consuming, but it still ranks amongst the best way to gain organic traffic to your promotions. If you don’t have the resources to commit to writing a blog, consider partnering with other bloggers or hiring a content writer. If you consistently post quality content, the investment will pay for itself with additional revenue. 

Measuring results and optimising

Every promotion you do should have quantifiable results. As well as sales volume and revenue, use free tools like Google Analytics to understand website traffic, conversions, and the type of people visiting your store.

If promotions are successful, add them to the calendar for next year. For those that are not successful, analyse the results to decipher why that might be the case. For example, did people click through and then decide not to buy? If so, it could point to an issue with your shopping cart, and you can look to optimising abandonment rates. Even the successful campaigns can be optimised to make them even better next time around, such as trying different channels and audiences. A straightforward promotional calendar will turn your ad-hoc activities into a comprehensive strategy, making your business easier to run and driving long-term success.

Summary

  • Effective marketing teams use a marketing calendar to plan activities for the year ahead.
  • Using an ecommerce marketing calendar can help prevent your campaigns going stale, and lets you consistently maintain focus on publishing unique content.
  • To have a clear strategy for your marketing calendar you need to know your audience and understand what promotions they are likely to respond to at different times of the year.
  • Use a mix of seasonal sales events, product launches and promotions, competitions and giveaways to generate interesting content.
  • If promotions are successful, add them to the calendar for next year. If they are not successful, analyse the results to figure out how you can improve next time.