Setting up an email content calendar can be daunting, but this is an oh so important aspect of any digital marketing plan. Here are some tips to get you started.
Set realistic cadence
Do you have enough content (and resources) to send weekly? If not, don’t set yourself up for failure. Better to start with something manageable (maybe every two weeks, or monthly to start) then scale up from there if you think it’s practical.
There is no point in sending more often to the detriment of your content.
Ok so you have the usual seasonal holidays to rely on as a scaffold (Valentines day, Christmas, etc.), but in between you need to get a bit creative.
Sit down and produce a list of topics which can be drawn from as the need arises. Eg. Staff favourites, Bestsellers, Street style (to name a few, retail-specific examples). Having this “grab bag” or ideas will mean you’re never drawing a blank when it’s email production crunch time.
Another piece to keep handy is topical content ideas. We all saw how well the Oreo 2013 Superbowl Blackout Tweet was received. Since emails take more time to prepare than a tweet, it’s best to do a little planning.
Often multiple versions will be required (one if team A wins, an alternate for team B), but some events such as some especially terrible weather*, well publicised train delays, even a controversial Bachelor elimination, can be prepared in advance and pulled out when/if relevant.
It goes without saying that geographical segmentation will be essential to the efficient execution of some of this content.
In my opinion, a combination of planning (sales, seasonal sends, etc.) and open topics (to be filled in closer to the send date) keep email marketing from feel over-processed or stale. Planning a content calendar is important, but by leaving some room for spontaneity, it will feel more like a conversation than a one-sided relationship.
*If you need more proof that this matters, check out Skymosity, they built a company around weather based marketing.