On the Books! How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Emails

An editorial calendar helps businesses stay on track with their marketing promotions throughout the year - especially email marketing.

This is because editorial calendars provide a company's different marketing departments (editorial, email, social , etc.) with access to a consistent and reliable source of information that can be leveraged to create content for campaigns. This ensures that every department at a company is on the same page and is working together to distribute the most current (and cohesive) promotions to its audience regardless of channel.

Creating an editorial calendar, however, can be both challenging and time consuming. For help getting started, check out Website Magazine's three-step guide for creating an editorial calendar for emails:

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Data

Editorial calendars must have enough content to guide each department on the types of campaigns they should be working on each month. In order to have the calendar filled out as much as possible, those in charge must mark down all important dates (including holidays and company anniversaries) and specific promotions for those days.

Keep in mind that an editorial calendar will be used by marketing departments other than just email, so instead of simply writing "start Valentine's Day promotions" on February 1, the calendar should include details about the promotion. For example, if a beauty retailer wants to promote a "14 Days of Beauty" campaign for the Valentine's Day season, that information should be included on each marketing department's calendar.

It is also important to note that the head of each marketing department should look through historical data during the calendar creation process. For example, if testing from last year's Mother's Day email campaign shows that a "Make Your Mother Smell Like Roses" subject line worked better than "Perfume Your Mom Will Love," the better performing subject line should be used again, and that information should be included on the calendar. By doing this each department can make data-based decisions to optimize campaigns for their specific channel.

Quick Hit: Check out Website Magazine's "Big List of Social Media Holidays" for some editorial calendar inspiration.

Step 2: Share Calendars

Once each department has filled out its editorial calendar, it should be shared across the company. At this point, department leads can review the calendar, add their own notes and ask questions if needed.

It is also important to note the importance of communication across departments when it comes to the editorial calendar. For example, if a social media manager adds a Pinterest contest to the month of June as a way to celebrate summer, he or she should share that information with the email department so the contest can be promoted across channels. In all, it is important to keep in mind that the editorial calendar is there to guide content creation, but it is also flexible to change. That said, any changes should be communicated with colleagues across departments.

Step 3: Make Notes

In order to make the editorial calendar creation process easier in the future, email marketing managers (as well as manager of other marketing departments) should revisit the calendar periodically to make notes about campaign performance.

For instance, at the end of each month, email marketing managers will want to take some time to jot down notes on the performance of individual campaigns. Doing so not only creates a resource that simplifies the planning of future editorial calendars, but can also help marketers optimize their campaigns going forward. Say, for example, that a "How-To Upgrade Your Spring Wardrobe" email subject line performed well in April. By identifying this, the email marketing manager may decide to run a similar campaign in the fall.

Staying on Schedule

The purpose of the editorial calendar is to help marketing departments stay on schedule. Although there is still room for marketing flexibility, the calendar should provide a good resource to keeping promotions consistent across channels and help departments optimize their campaigns over time.