Log in
Blog How to Build a Marketing Calendar to Plan Your Campaigns (Plus Templates)

How to Build a Marketing Calendar to Plan Your Campaigns (Plus Templates)

Creating a marketing calendar is essential and overwhelming. The marketing strategy can’t survive without it, but what seems like a simple task at first quickly becomes complicated.

Isn’t creating a marketing calendar just adding dates to tasks, you ask? In a simpler world, yes. When dealing with multiple marketing campaigns, team members, channels, events, and so on, keeping track of everything is like convincing toddlers to eat dinner. It can get messy fast without the right approach, tools, and flexibility.

Luckily, I’ve both created marketing calendars and fed toddlers, so let’s look at how you can bring order to chaos and have a beautifully organized calendar that makes everyone’s job easier when scheduling posts and managing content.

What is a marketing calendar?

A marketing calendar is a strategic tool that enables marketing teams to organize tasks, schedule content, and manage activities throughout the year. Its main objective is to ensure that marketing efforts align with business goals. It also helps the marketing department stay updated about initiatives, campaigns, and promotions, creating the basis for streamlined collaboration and timely execution.

Planable's marketing calendar showcasing social media posts for various platforms like Facebook, Instagram, X, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube and Google Business Profile

Marketing calendar in Planable

How to create a marketing calendar in 7 steps

The most challenging part of creating a marketing calendar is understanding this is a stand-alone project. It’s not something you can do in a day, between meetings. It’s not as simple as downloading a calendar template and filling in the blanks — though templates do help.

Set time for this project on the marketing team’s schedule and do it properly. I outlined below the steps you need to take to make this a successful, pain-free process that helps you achieve your marketing goals.

1. Gather all marketing campaigns and important dates

To get organized, you need to know what you are organizing.

Make a list (and check it twice) of all planned marketing activities, both ongoing and one-time: campaigns, events, content releases, promotions, etc.

Look at previous years to spot patterns and special occasions. If your marketing organization is new, conduct competitive research and compile a list of important dates in your industry.

Create categories for activities, types of content, and tasks to get more clarity before moving to the next steps.

2. Establish a time frame: monthly, quarterly or annually

Determine the time frame for your marketing calendar — whether it will be organized monthly, quarterly, or annually. This will depend on your business goals and industry.

For example, a B2B SaaS company typically has longer sales cycles and might like a yearly view of marketing activities. A B2C fashion store might look at sales monthly and adjust content creation and promotions based on results.

If you’re just beginning to develop a marketing strategy or if it’s your first shot at a marketing calendar, a year-long plan might be overwhelming, so better start small and scale in time.

3. Schedule activities and establish a frequency

It’s time to start scheduling each marketing activity on the calendar. As you do so, keep the following in mind:

  • Time and resources necessary to create and finalize assets.
  • Frequency of publication. Aim to be consistent & avoid a clutter of marketing activities or periods of silence.
  • Optimal publication times. Look at past campaign performance and industry standards.
  • Key dates and seasonal events relevant to your industry.
  • Important milestones for your business: product launches, announcements, industry reports, etc.
  • Variety. Pace communication on different channels; make sure you reach your target audience creatively.

Warning: you’ll be tempted to fill in every spot on every communication channel. This will give you a sense of organization and control.

However, a good marketing calendar also factors in the unexpected: the press release your CEO decides to send at the last minute, the ad-hoc idea your team has to boost a campaign, or the funny meme your social media manager comes up with to join a trending topic.

Leave some spots open here and there to be able to adjust on the go.

4. Assign responsibilities and approval layers

Don’t assume people know what they’re responsible for or what other team members are doing. You might be surprised at how much confusion lies beneath the surface, especially in growing or complex organizations.

Multi level approval settings in Planable: None, Optional, Required and Multi-level

Multi level approval settings in Planable

A marketing calendar should include clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and approval workflows:

  • Assign responsibility for each marketing activity. Aim to have one owner per task.
  • Clearly outline roles and responsibilities to ensure accountability.
  • Create timelines for reviews and approvals, so last-minute work becomes the exception.

Revisit and update these periodically.

5. Integrate with the overall business calendar

The goal of the marketing strategy is to support business growth, so the marketing calendar naturally has to align with the overall company objectives and timelines.

Check with sales, product development, and other relevant departments, and make sure your calendar supports business activities. Offer stakeholders visibility into the calendar by assigning specific roles.

Integration with the overall business calendar might add an extra layer of communication and approval, but it ensures that marketing campaigns have the desired impact.

6. Create a shared, accessible marketing calendar

The marketing calendar is not a spreadsheet hidden on your desktop for your (loving) eyes only. The value of this tool sits in it being a living, transparent, collaborative document quickly accessible to the marketing team and other interested people.

Planable's shared social media calendar with collaboration between team members

Collaboration between team members in Planable’s marketing calendar

Whether using a project management tool, collaborative software, or a dedicated marketing platform, make sure you create a digital calendar that all team members can update.

The marketing calendar should be visually appealing and user-friendly, allowing easy tracking and adjustments.

7. Review and adjust regularly

Use feedback from team members and assess KPIs to adjust the marketing calendar:

  • Optimize the frequency and timing of posting.
  • Focus on the most relevant channels.
  • Ensure brand consistency across the board.
  • Schedule content customized to different platforms and audience segments.
  • Remove bottlenecks in the feedback and approval process.

By assessing the marketing calendar periodically, you turn it from a simple checklist into a strategic tool that enables your team to execute the marketing plan effectively.

What should all marketing calendars include?

Creating a marketing calendar is starting to feel more tangible, right? We’ve taken important steps but still have ground to cover.

Next, a frequent dilemma: How do you balance important information you need in the calendar without including too much and making it difficult to navigate?

The calendar should serve the marketing team and its goals, making it as intuitive as possible. Here’s what all marketing calendars should include:

  • All foreseeable marketing campaigns and events, broken down into smaller, actionable items.
  • Key business dates, including holidays, industry events, or seasonal promotions.
  • Editorial calendar items: blog posts, social media posts, press releases, email campaigns, etc.
  • Deadlines. Break this down into asset creation, content deadlines, and publishing dates.
  • Distribution channels for each piece of content.
  • Owners and other people involved in the approval and feedback workflow.
  • Status, from idea to publication.

The following are not a must but help create a more focused and detailed marketing calendar:

  • Information about the target audience or segments for different campaigns.
  • Goals or KPIs for each activity — aligned to the marketing and business strategy.
  • SEO data, such as targeted keywords and meta descriptions.
  • Competitor analysis.

A fun exercise is looking at brands you admire and trying to deconstruct their marketing calendars to find inspiration and more easily define what makes sense for your team.

Marketing calendar software and tools

Okay, that’s all easy to list, but organizing the above is a pain in the spreadsheet. I hear you. That’s why you’re lucky to work in an age where creating a marketing calendar manually, from scratch, is no longer necessary.

Enter marketing calendar tools that provide customizable templates, forms, and workflows to take away the burden of figuring things out on your own. Let’s look at some of the most popular and useful platforms.

1. Planable: marketing content organization and planning

It’s in the name. Planable helps you plan activities in one collaborative marketing calendar.

Content organization and planning in Planable's marketing calendar showcasing both published and scheduled content

Content calendar with published and scheduled posts in Planable

Here’s what the platform enables you to do:

  • Easily create a workspace for all marketing activities and types of content. You can get organized in different workspaces for each project, brand, or client you serve.
  • Create and collaborate in real-time on all types of content, including social media posts, web content, briefs, emails, etc.

    A blog post in Planable showcasing a smooth collaboration process using suggestions and annotations for efficient feedback

    Collaboration in a blog post with suggestions and annotations in Planable

  • Connect the calendar to social media platforms for scheduling and publishing, including Facebook, Instagram, X (Twitter), TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google Business Profile.
  • Set up feedback and approval workflows with different layers of granularity.

    Setting up feedback and approval workflows with different levels of approvals in Planable

    Multiple approval levels setting in Planable

  • Better categorize activities using labels.
  • Quickly reorganize the calendar with the drag & drop feature.
  • Zoom in or out on your calendar with the different content views.

This highly visual tool makes activities in every marketing campaign stand out clearly. By organizing, collaborating, approving, and publishing content all in one place, you create a more streamlined marketing process and improve execution.

Planable is useful to anyone, from freelancers or agencies juggling multiple calendars to growing teams and large organizations communicating on several marketing channels and needing custom dashboards for complex needs.

The pricing model accommodates different needs. Start with a free trial to decide whether the tool fits your marketing department. The cost starts at $11/user on the annual plan.

2. Spreadsheets: manual marketing content organizer

If you’re looking for a more classic approach, spreadsheets are the answer. They can be used for a marketing calendar — but you’ll have to do it manually from scratch or by using a marketing calendar template.

Spreadsheets are available in different programs, the most well-known being Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. They’re similar in features, both allowing content organization and form customization without specialized skills. However, you need to learn your way around for more sophisticated actions. In terms of collaboration, both tools allow comments.

Marketing calendar templates are available online for free or paid, shared by various agencies or professionals. Here’s an example of a social media marketing calendar template created by Google Sheets Geeks.

Social media editorial calendar in Excel

Below is another marketing calendar template shared by GBT.

Marketing calendar template in GBT

Excel and Google Sheets integrate with other apps in the Microsoft or Google suite, respectively, and can integrate with other third-party apps, but this requires more customization.

If you’re looking to schedule and publish content from your marketing calendar quickly, spreadsheets are not the best option.

Price-wise, Microsoft 365 Business Basic starts at €5.60/user, with access to the cloud versions of the Microsoft apps. The price goes up to €11.70/user for cloud and desktop access. Other offers are available, depending on business needs.

Google Sheets is free for personal use, with certain limitations, and costs $12/user for business use, with access to the Google app suite.

3. Google Calendar: affordable digital marketing content calendar

Google Calendar is a shareable cloud-based calendar that can help you plan activities, add tasks, schedule to-dos, and set deadlines.

Google Calendar with different scheduled tasks

It integrates with Google Meet, Gmail, and Google Drive, making it a worthy competitor for team collaboration. However, a marketing department may miss features such as content visualization, integration with third-party platforms for publishing, and advanced feedback and editing capabilities.

Google Calendar is available for free to Gmail users. For advanced business features, you need to set up a Google Workspace, which is available starting at $6 USD/user and can go up to $18 USD/user.

How does your marketing strategy benefit from a calendar?

Everything in one place

Do we need more distractions in our life? I assume the answer is no.

With so many apps, platforms, and notifications to keep track of, having a centralized hub for all elements of your marketing strategy just makes sense.

“Chances are you’ll hear a lot about “list your objectives” or “use that awesome template in the web”. That’s fair. But one of the hardest things in using marketing calendars is to make sure it reflects all your marketing activity at one place.” Volo Kovalenko, Senior consultant at EY

Help your team focus by bringing all the relevant content into one marketing calendar to rule them all. Less missed deadlines, more goals achieved. Less confusion, more clarity, and content quality. Less burdensome management, more creativity.

Easy collaboration and all voices included

Planable's features like collaboration, scheduling, approvals in one place

Planable’s collaboration, scheduling, approval features in one place

The collaborative nature of a marketing calendar ensures that the entire team is on the same page when it comes to executing the strategy.

Through the ability to assign tasks and highlight key dates, every team member is informed and engaged, bringing diverse perspectives to the table and enriching marketing efforts.

Better marketing success rates

You know that focus breeds results. The pandemic and other socio-economic factors have resulted in instability for businesses in the last few years.

If marketers could create marketing campaigns on the go in the past, with less pressure to perform, shrinking budgets and increased demands require a higher degree of planning and organization in the foreseeable future.

Flexible features

Marketing calendars provide structure and flexibility. For example, Planable’s media library lets you centralize all assets and organize an archive of marketing materials, with the added bonus of having easy access to them whenever creating new content. No need to download or move between platforms.

Planable's media library with fruit photos for social media posts

Media library in Planable

Integrating multiple marketing projects and quickly moving between activities without a digital marketing calendar is challenging and inefficient.

Guest sharing

Team leads can involve relevant stakeholders in the planning process. Marketing calendars that allow tagging, comments, and different access levels, improve visibility, help with meeting approval deadlines, and align people to marketing initiatives.

Guest sharing also enables marketing managers to keep everyone in the organization informed and involved in the marketing strategy’s execution.

Marketing calendar templates for fast planning and organization

With the steps and tools at hand, you’re ready to plan marketing activities. Take a look at the different types of marketing calendars and explore the templates below for inspiration. If you’re feeling ready, start creating your own.

Social media calendar template

Social Media calendar with posts for different social media platforms in Planable

Social media calendar template in Planable

The social media calendar helps you organize social media posts and activities for multiple platforms, saving time and providing an overview of what’s coming. Notice gaps or inconsistencies, and plan in advance for all occasions, including holiday promotions or events.

“It’s so easy to use – especially the calendar feature – where I can schedule posts for Twitter, Instagram & Facebook all in one place and in batches. Reposting previous posts is nice & easy too. The scheduling calendar saves me heaps of time.” Dylan K., Small-Business User

Content calendar template

Content calendar template in Planable for different social media platforms and Universal Content pieces such as blog posts and newsletters

Content calendar template in Planable

Content creation is about encouraging creativity with the right structure behind it. When planning your content calendar, schedule some time for ideation and experimentation as well. The more fun your team has, the more unexpected and unique assets they will come up with.

Email marketing calendar template

Email Marketing template in Planable with labels, pages and views for better organization

Email Marketing template in Planable

Keeping track of all email marketing campaigns is challenging without a calendar. Create a schedule for newsletters and email sequences, link them to landing pages, and include performance data to inform future promotions.

Blog calendar template

Blog calendar template in Planable with different pages and labels

Blog calendar template in Planable

Content calendars should be built around expertise, and your blog is the perfect channel for in-depth thought-leadership articles. While valuable, these pieces might take longer to execute and can involve more people in the process.

Track progress and stay on top of editorial schedules with a blog calendar that keeps track of key milestones and works as a vault for content ideas.

Marketing campaign calendar template

Campaign calendar template in Planable for different social media platforms, blogs and types of campaign

Campaign calendar template

Sure, you can “keep it simple” in a document. But marketing is complex. With so many platforms, campaigns, goals, and stakeholders to coordinate, keeping it simple might be a task better suited for technology.

Use a marketing calendar template tailored for planning and executing diverse marketing campaigns, ensuring a clear understanding of target audiences, timelines, and responsibilities.

One final tip

Do what feels comfortable at first, whether that’s as small as a form in a document or as big as trying out all features in a marketing calendar tool. The secret is to grow at your own pace and not get discouraged. Last but not least, let the toddler in you have some fun in the process. Throw some food (for thought) at the workspace walls — you can start at no cost, with Planable’s free plan for the first 50 posts.

Sabina Varga

Sabina Varga

Sabina is a freelance writer with 15+ years of experience in the MarCom industry. Her to-do list includes helping people write better and businesses sell more through content. She is the host of Zest, a podcast that brings writing within listeners’ reach.

Try Planable for free

I want to know more, Schedule a demo