How structured are you when it comes to your e-commerce marketing plans? Sure, if you’re a bigger company, you probably have at least one employee dedicated to marketing, if not an entire department. But smaller companies often try to squeeze marketing in as an after-thought – after I package the orders, after I return phone calls, after I order new inventory, after my designer finishes the new promotional graphics for the homepage, after… You get the picture.
Make sure your New Year’s resolutions include “Improve my marketing efforts” by starting the year off on the right foot with a retail marketing calendar. Often used by brick-and-mortar stores to plan window designs, newspaper ads, and merchandise promotions, a marketing calendar is extremely effective for e-commerce too.
While it’s easy to say you’re going to do a better job at marketing, when your time gets short this year, you’re likely to forget about this. I’ve easily gone several months without doing so much as sending out an email to my subscribers, simply because I procrastinated and/or forgot, being busy with other tasks. Your boss or your vendors may bug you about certain tasks, but your customers aren’t likely to remind you to market to them! This is why a retail calendar comes in so handy for online merchants – it gives you a guideline for accountability, so you don’t forget or procrastinate.
Brandeo has a nice (and free!) Excel template marketing calendar to use, along with a one-month example to get your started. But it’s easy to create your own as well, whether it’s inside Excel, Word, or on your desk blotter calendar. Think of the categories of marketing you need to include: sales and promotions, online ads, social media, blogging, affiliate programs, etc. Then break the year down by weeks, and include tasks in each category that address your company needs. Also think about holidays, yearly events (back to school, the Superbowl, industry conferences) that affect your business. You might come up with something along the following lines:
|Week of…||Jan 3||Jan 10||Jan 17||Jan 24|
|Email Marketing||Send email advertising new products for Valentine’s day||Run popup-promotion (incl coupon) on website to grow subscriber list||Send email with 10% coupon honoring Martin Luther King Day||Set up A/B testing for subscriber form on homepage|
|Announce new Valentine’s products with link to special landing page||Tweet about newsletter and offer a coupon for new subscribers||Announce 10% coupon code for Martin Luther King Day||Ask for opinions on opt-in forms|
|Create fan page, link from website, invite friends to subscribe. Post message to wall telling people who we are.||Post Valentine’s landing page link and remind fans that they need to purchase gifts for their loved ones||Announce 10% coupon code for Martin Luther King Day||Add a tab for our newsletter so fans can sign up directly within Facebook|
For a great list of holidays, special remembrance days (like “Grandparents’ Day”), and events (such “Super Bowl Sunday”) check out this holiday list provided by Kyle Design. It also includes special religious days for Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Islamic faiths.
With a marketing calendar in hand, it’s a lot easier to stay on task with your marketing efforts. Each week, when you set up your task list or assign responsibilities to staff, make sure to refer to the current and upcoming weeks on your marketing calendar to make sure all efforts are being planned and prepped for. Also, track when you do or don’t accomplish an entry on your calendar, and note special successes and failures for use next year.
Here’s to a wonderful marketing year for your business in 2011!