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How to create an internal marketing calendar

Internal Marketing Calendar
What is an internal marketing calendar and why do you need one?
What are the key parts of an internal marketing calendar?
5 steps to setting up an internal marketing calendar
2 internal marketing calendar examples in action
3 out-of-the-box internal marketing calendars
Final thoughts

A successful marketing campaign takes careful planning, execution and collaboration.

With an internal marketing calendar, your team can visualize all of their upcoming tasks and projects. Set content delivery dates, explain how each piece will be distributed and assign tasks to team members to keep everything organized.

In this guide, we’re going to look at why you need an internal marketing calendar and the steps to set one up for your organization.

What is an internal marketing calendar and why do you need one?

An internal marketing calendar is a visual framework that teams can use to plan their marketing activities for weeks, months, or even an entire year in advance.

It helps marketers brainstorm and plan at a high level before going into detail. Marketing calendars can help with rolling out content strategies, remembering important dates (like seasonal campaigns) and planning distribution.

Beyond visual organization, marketing calendars help drive revenue.

Marketing teams that document their strategies are 313% more likely to succeed, and 70% of teams who set marketing goals end up reaching them.

The beauty of internal marketing calendars is how simple they are. They answer three key questions around content and marketing activities: who, what and when.

  • Who: Who is responsible for each marketing task? Are there enough resources to complete all of the tasks in your marketing plan?

  • What: What upcoming tasks do we need to prioritize? What are the marketing plans for any seasonal deals, launches or sales?

  • When: When does each campaign start and finish? When will the components of a campaign, like articles or social media posts, need to be completed?

Once the core questions of your marketing efforts are answered, it’s easier to plan and execute marketing campaigns that are both strategic and cohesive.

Like all things in marketing, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to your marketing calendar. However, there are some “must-have” elements that make up a successful one.

What are the key parts of an internal marketing calendar?

As every marketing manager knows, you should never underestimate the number of moving parts in a marketing campaign. Before you start adding campaigns to your calendar, you may have to answer some very simple questions, such as:

  • What are your goals (e.g. drive brand awareness, introduce a new feature, etc.)?

  • How many campaigns can you realistically run with the resources you have?

  • What is the start-to-finish process of campaign creation?

Basic questions like these will keep your calendar under control as you develop new ideas and execute them.

For example, if a company is launching a new product feature, the marketing team may plan several marketing elements to reach customers, like webinars, social media posts and YouTube videos.

With an internal marketing calendar, it’s easier for teams to organize distribution channels, team workload and content publish dates to avoid clashes. You can also prioritize certain activities, like videos or webinars, so you can repurpose them for other channels.

Once you know your processes, priorities and limits, you can choose a calendar that suits your needs. If you’re planning to publish content several times a day, you’ll need a marketing calendar that can handle a high capacity of content while keeping things easy to see for your team.

If you’re planning to publish less frequently or concentrate efforts on one or two types of content (e.g. quarterly webinars and a social media strategy), you’ll have less need for complex content management in a marketing calendar.

No matter what your needs are, there are some core components to every marketing calendar:

  • Visibility. Everyone involved should be able to see your internal marketing calendar (but they don’t all need permission to make changes). Transparency keeps everyone on the same page with deadlines, project timelines and publishing dates.

  • Collaboration. Marketing calendars should allow team members to make comments on items in the calendar, so they can add updates or questions. This helps keep communication in one place regarding projects and keeps everyone informed.

  • Milestones. It’s helpful to break up your marketing strategy into milestones. Marketing calendars should allow you to break up projects into smaller goals.

  • Deadlines. Marketing calendars should allow marketing managers to set deadlines and publishing dates. This helps marketing team members plan and ensures campaigns are launched on time.

  • Functionality. An internal marketing calendar shouldn’t be complicated. In fact, simplicity is a benefit. Marketing calendars should be easy enough for your team to jump in and see what tasks they’ve got coming up. If they need to wade through complicated blocks of information, there’s a greater chance they’ll miss something.

Now that you know the key ingredients to a successful internal marketing calendar, let’s take a look at how you can implement one for your own team.

5 steps to setting up an internal marketing calendar

Omnichannel marketing campaigns should work together. If you’re running a Twitter campaign alongside an email marketing campaign about the same event, they should make sense side-by-side.

An internal marketing calendar can help you do this while allowing you to negotiate the available resources to execute it.

Here are five steps you can follow to create an internal marketing calendar from scratch.

1. Figure out what your internal marketing needs are

You’ll first want to decide how far in advance you will plan your marketing (e.g. per quarter or per year).

Then, lay down your team’s plans for that period. Pull out each element of your marketing strategy to know how much content you’re expecting to produce.

When ready, map out your plans for any of the following.

  • Your content: Whether you publish internal blog posts, guest posts, ebooks or all of the above, you’ll want to decide on your content strategy and publishing frequency.

  • Your social media marketing posts: Decide how often you will post on social media channels. Industry best practice varies by platform and by field, but this may also be limited by your available resources.

  • Your email marketing strategy: Settle on a newsletter frequency and include any other email campaigns you plan to run.

  • Your webinars: Mark down webinar dates and then work backward to add how you’ll announce this to your audience, such as via Twitter posts leading up to the day. Look beyond the webinar date to add any content repurposing the video, such as short clips from the event.

  • Any other content your team is producing: Plan in the time involved in any other types of content, such as videos, podcasts, Instagram Live posts, etc.

After breaking down your goals and what marketing channels you’ll use, the next step is choosing an internal marketing calendar that fits your needs.

2. Choose the types of marketing calendars you want to use

When it comes to picking an internal marketing calendar, it’s all about ticking the boxes that suit your team’s needs.

Any marketing calendar example should include the core elements we mentioned above (visibility, milestones, deadlines, etc.). While whiteboard marketing calendars served marketing teams well in the past, digital tools make life a lot easier. For instance, it’s much easier to share your calendar for total visibility when it can be accessed by anyone at any time.

Spreadsheet marketing calendars

You can create your marketing calendar template in a spreadsheet and then either use it as it is or to create a more detailed calendar in another tool. Cloud software tools like Google Sheets allow multiple users to access documents at a time. You can add tabs to track tasks, projects, timelines and more. The benefit of creating a calendar this way is that it’s very easy to get started and cost-effective if you’re already using Google Workspace. However, there can be limitations for complex marketing departments.

Project management and CRM marketing calendars

You can also create your marketing calendar in a project management or capable CRM tool, like Asana or Pipedrive. The benefit of creating a calendar in a project management tool is that you can easily track tasks, contributors and deadlines across multiple projects. Often you can get notifications about upcoming projects, leave comments and see overviews as well as project task breakdowns.

Specialized tool marketing calendars

Another way you create an internal marketing calendar is through specialized tools designed for exactly the purpose you need, like a social media scheduling platform. You can often post directly from scheduling platforms once the content is uploaded, but not all of them offer a visual way to track the project’s progress before creation.

Each internal marketing calendar tool suits different teams’ needs. More complex marketing departments might favor a specialized tool or project management tool to track several projects at once. Marketing departments with simpler needs may get by with a cloud-based spreadsheet.

The fact of the matter is that your team may be working from a number of different marketing calendars, depending on the channels and markets your developing assets for. Use a simple spreadsheet tool to create a marketing calendar template and then base your other marketing calendar examples on it.

3. Plan out workflows by assigning tasks and setting deadlines

Once you’ve chosen your tool, you can start adding dates and activities. But first, you need to add your obstacles.

Start with your timeline disruptors

The first thing to add to a blank calendar is anything that may disrupt your timelines, like team members on vacation or scheduled away days.

Put these in your marketing calendar so you know when you’ll be down a team member or need to push deadlines back (or start dates forward).

Next, figure out your landmarks

What events, product launches or seasonal activities are coming up in the period you’ve set for your marketing calendar?

Mark down your big events in your marketing calendar. These will typically take up a lot of your resources and smaller tasks will need to be deprioritized during these times.

Add tasks, checklists and documents

You’ll want to consider the process and how long each task takes, and then work backward from the delivery date, adding in tasks, due dates and milestones (e.g. sign-off meetings).

Some marketing calendar tools allow you to attach brief documents or add checklists to projects or tasks. To make your processes consistent and ensure everyone knows what they should be doing, you can create task lists for each stage of the project and assign tasks to team members.

4. Customize the calendar to suit your goals

As you add campaigns, take some time to customize your internal marketing calendar.

Project management and specialized internal marketing calendars typically come with extra features to help organize and streamline your projects. Some even come with automations to make life easier. In Pipedrive, you can automatically create tasks, move tasks, assign tasks, notify team members and more.

The right tool should allow you to:

  • Color code tasks so your team can visualize tasks, roles and responsibilities.

  • Tag or label projects and subtasks so different departments can see what is assigned to them at a glance. Or, so you can look at all “social media” campaigns quickly, for example.

  • Add important attachments to create a single source of information and avoid digging through inboxes or messaging channels.

These features can be invaluable to a marketing team juggling several projects at once. They help teams save time and frustration with a little organization.

5. Share the calendar with your team

Finally, you’ve reached the stage where all of your tasks are added, deadlines are set and your campaign planning is done.

The next thing you need to do is share this calendar with the rest of your marketing team, so they have complete transparency over what’s in the pipeline.

Some project management tools allow you to set up daily or weekly reminders about what's coming up on your personal calendar.

You can keep deadlines on track with personal task lists and notifications. When a team member is waiting on a task to be completed before they can get started, project management marketing calendars with automation capabilities can notify colleagues when it’s their turn.

2 internal marketing calendar examples in action

With the fundamentals down, let’s look at how to apply these learnings to two common use cases:

Use case 1: Seasonal sales

Say you usually run a Black Friday email campaign, which takes place during the quarter you’re creating a calendar for. This is a landmark, so you would set Black Friday as a due date for this email campaign.

If you took any retrospective notes, you can look at how you handled it last year and how you can improve planning and execution for this campaign.

Also, pull the historical customer data and analyze last year’s buying behavior. Based on that information, you can create a few different versions of the campaign and send tailored messaging to several customer segments.

Audience segmentation helps your campaigns appear more personalized and speaks directly to their preferences (e.g., preferred opt-in methods, the timeframe they most often open emails, the CTAs that drive action, etc.). As a result, you can lift your open rates, decrease unsubscribes and spam reports and drive more conversions.

As for the execution, say it will take two weeks to ideate the campaign, create three emails for each customer segment (one letting your segmented subscriber list know it’s coming up and two on the day), get sign-off and upload it to your email marketing platform.

To add the dates to your calendar, track backward two weeks from the very first email (plus an extra day or two for a buffer) and mark the project’s start date. Now, you can set the subsequent tasks required to create the campaign, assign them and set their due dates.

For each seasonal campaign, you’ll want to consider what moves you need to make in other channels. Perhaps, in this example, you also want to announce your Black Friday sale on Twitter. This will need to be a separate project, but you can set milestones to make sure they work together and align with your brand’s goals.

If you’ve chosen to use a project management tool or specialized internal marketing calendar software, you can also automate notifications to make sure your team stays in the loop regarding new tasks or changes.

Use case 2: Product launches

Product launches have tons of moving parts and often span many months. You likely have “landmark” tasks on your calendar to mark launch dates, but you also need to map every step leading up to the big day.

These preceding tasks might include solidifying your launch campaign’s messaging and positioning, the projects you’ll deploy to drum up product awareness and interest (e.g. blog posts, landing pages, PR, social media campaigns, PPC, etc.) and the overall timeline from start to launch.

This list can get quite expansive, so plan out every piece of content and their subsequent tasks and subtasks. For example:

  • The steps it will take to produce a piece of content (e.g. for a blog post this may include keyword research, creating a brief, writing an outline and a draft, running it through editorial, conduction SEO optimization and a final review)

  • How long each task (e.g. blog post) and subtask (e.g. keyword research) will take from start to finish

  • The team members responsible for each task and subtask

  • Any dependencies (e.g. landing page copy must be produced before landing page design can be finalized, or vice versa)

Once ready, pop every date into your internal marketing calendar so nothing gets missed.

3 out-of-the-box internal marketing calendars

Perhaps you need a marketing calendar, but you don’t want to sit through weeks of onboarding learning how to use it. We’ve compiled a list of three of the best marketing calendars that allow you to get started adding campaigns straight away.

1. Pipedrive’s pipelines and calendar view

If you want an internal calendar that’s simple to use but comes with advanced functionality, like automations, try Pipedrive.

Pipedrive is well known for its CRM capabilities, but some customers use it to manage their projects. Pipedrive allows you to see your projects on a high level and then get detailed specifics as you dive into each task. See where projects are at each stage of the workflow and then switch to the calendar view to see when items are due. You can set up different pipeline workflows for each campaign type.

It’s also easy for internal use. After a marketing manager assigns activities to team members, they can filter to-do lists by campaigns or contacts to see how each campaign is progressing.

If you’re already using Pipedrive as a CRM, it’ll also hold your customer data. You can use this data to create targeted campaigns.

To make sure no task falls through the cracks, marketing teams can also push reminders about upcoming deadlines sent straight to their inbox or mobile app.

2. Asana’s specialized content marketing calendars

Asana has created editorial calendar and internal marketing calendar templates to help teams put together detailed campaign plans quickly.

Marketing calendar templates allow managers to schedule blog posts, articles, or videos for marketing campaigns into a calendar and then assign them to individual team members. The tool then breaks down each task into its content type and what stage of the process it’s at (i.e. “In draft” or “Published”).

With inbuilt analytics, Asana’s internal marketing calendar also tracks progress in real time so you can see if tasks are overdue or if campaigns are falling behind schedule.

3. CoSchedule’s specialized marketing calendar

If you want your marketing calendar to function solely as a marketing calendar (and not as a project management tool, for example), CoSchedule’s marketing calendar platform could be a good fit.

CoSchedule helps marketers visualize different campaigns in a calendar. Keep your color-coded content marketing calendar and social media campaign calendar in one. Tick tasks off as they’re completed and reschedule campaigns by dragging and dropping them.

Final thoughts

When it comes to organizing your marketing strategy, a simple calendar becomes your marketing team’s control room. It’s where everything from ideating to publishing can be assigned and tracked.

Get all the information you need to unite your marketing team and streamline your workflows in an internal marketing calendar. Opt for a calendar with advanced features, like automations, tagging and notifications, and you’ll never miss a beat.

Want to take Pipedrive’s marketing calendar for a test drive? Sign up for a 14-day free trial.

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