44. How to Build an eCommerce Email Marketing Calendar

Feel overwhelmed with email, not sure what to send and when? Always scrambling at the last minute to get an email out or worse, not even sending them at all? 

In today’s episode we’re walking through my simple 3-step system to create your email marketing calendar, quickly. I promise if you follow this system you’ll fill your calendar up way faster than you expect! 

Episodes Mentioned

EP. 31. Non-Salesy Email Ideas for Product-Based Businesses

EP. 32. Product-focused Email Ideas for Your eCommerce Business

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Read the Full Episode Transcript

One of the most common struggles for eCommerce Entrepreneurs is creating an email marketing calendar. Sending out emails with fresh content week after week can be daunting. 

Today is a high level breakdown of your email marketing calendar. If you want more specific information about the actual content to put in your emails, check out Episode 31 Non-Salesy Email Ideas for Product-Based Businesses and Episode 32 Product-focused Email Ideas for Your eCommerce Business. These episodes will come in handy when you have some holes to fill up in your email marketing content calendar. 

How many emails should you send a week? 

It’ll be much easier to map out your content when you have a general sense of how many emails you’re going to send per week.

The right number for you will depend a lot on your product, the size of your list, your bandwidth, etc. but at a minimum, try to send one email per week. 

There are a lot of variables that go into this decision, so you can do more if the situation warrants it or you have the capacity to do so. You can even send up to 4 or 5 emails per week if it makes sense for your business. 

Step 1: Plot out your holidays on a calendar 

The first thing you’ll need is a calendar. Create a monthly calendar in a Google Sheet so you can see an entire month at a glance. Using a Google Sheet makes it really easy to copy, paste and move things around.  

Once you have your topics laid out, you can then transfer it into a project management tool to use with your team, or you if you want to better manage your own due dates and tasks. 

How far in advance should I plan? 

Start off just doing monthly plans and work your way up to quarterly when you’re in the swing of things. 

Remember, nothing is set in stone. The idea is to have a high-level general outline to work from so you’re not scrambling at the last minute for content ideas. 

While I do suggest you have a rough idea about the content you’re going to send, you don’t necessarily have to create everything right away. 

What dates should I include?

Plot out all national holidays, social media days and silly holidays, like National Donut Day.

Layer in dates that are important for your business, including new product drops, any virtual events you’re holding, and if you have weekly pillar content like a blog post or a live video. Anything that’s pertinent to your business specifically. 

For example, if you drop a blog post every Tuesday, you can automatically fill it in your calendar to share the post with your email subscribers on Tuesdays.

If you know that you’re dropping a new collection of items on a particular date or launching a new marketing campaign, like for Valentine’s Day, add that in as well. 

Then figure out which holidays, national and social media make sense for your business. Maybe you’re going to have a sale for President’s Day, or you’ve got products with donuts printed on them and you want to feature them on National Donut Day. 

Step 2: Reverse Engineer your launch around those important days 

Once you’ve got all these dates marked on the calendar and you know which dates you’re going to create content around, start plugging in the actual emails you’re going to send.

Start with the obvious, like the emails you’re going to send on the actual day. This can be the pillar content like we mentioned and the actual holiday or promotional kick-off. 

Some of those mini-campaigns are going to need more than one email to really make an impact, so start reverse engineering what additional emails you want to send. 

How long should I tease new product launches in advance?

Just showing up in their inbox the day the product is live might not be enough to catch their interest. Prime them ahead of time and get them excited so that when that new product drops, they’re already warm and ready to purchase. 

So how do you do this? Tease them early. Two weeks is a great time frame to get people’s interest piqued. Don’t do it too far ahead otherwise they might lose interest or get fatigued before the product even launches. 

If you’re a brand new business and haven’t even launched yet, you’ll definitely want to start further out. 

How do I tease them so they get excited about my product? 

How you tease them is up to you. Maybe you want to reveal the product completely, or maybe you just want to hint at what it is. 

Teasing them just a bit gives you a great opportunity to engage your audience and make the launch process fun. For example, you can post about it on social media and ask them to guess what the new product is, or you can ask them to reply to your email with their guess. 

Pro Tip: When someone replies to your emails, it’s a great engagement signal to the email service providers that your subscribers really want to read your emails. 

How many emails should I send during the two week pre-launch? 

You’ve got the first email you’re going to send announcing the product, and then the one you’ll send on the day it launches, but what about the two-week period between those dates? How often do you want to repeat your message? What else can you say?

Some of this is going to depend on the overall engagement of your list, but let’s lay out a rough plan. 

Start with your initial pre-launch email where you tease the product. Resend this email two-ish days later with a new subject line to whoever didn’t open it the first time. 

Send two more emails the following week. Who you send it to is going to depend on your list engagement. The more engagement, the harder you lean in. 

Let’s say you’ve got a group of people who have opened two of the three emails you’ve already sent about this. Continue sending to them emails because, through their behavior and the data, they’ve shown that they’re interested and want to learn more. 

When it comes to your non-openers, resend those initial messages with new subject lines on a different day and time to see if I can get them to open. But if I’ve sent them three emails and they haven’t engaged with any of them… it might be time to back off. 

Still send them the actual launch email when the product is available, though. 

Be flexible and use the data 

I honestly make most of these decisions in the thick of things as I’m getting feedback through the data, and there’s always a little bit of intuition at play as well. 

Always start with a basic framework, but if the numbers are showing something isn’t working, back off. If the numbers are good, there’s room to potentially lean in even more. 

Email marketing is part art, part science. 

Step 3: Add value or surprise and delight 

After you’ve filled in your calendar with all the important dates and necessary emails, start filling in gaps with emails that will add value or surprise and delight your customers. 

When it comes to figuring out the actual content, there are a lot of different angles you can take and I recommend mixing them in and testing it all out. 

Some quick ideas:

  • Behind the scenes creating or making the product
  • Why you created it in the first place
  • Any reviews or testimonials you might have from beta testers, etc. 

What if you don’t have the content for this right now? 

If you didn’t plan for this ahead of time, you might not have content for it right now. Moving forward, start documenting your processes along the way. 

For instance, if you’re a boutique that buys items as wholesale and then resells them, document your buying process. Whether you’re visiting showrooms, going to trade shows or even just finding new vendors online. 

Not only is this great content to share on social while you’re going through the process, but it’s content you can then repurpose into these pre-launch emails. 

You can even take it a step further and involve your followers in the process by having them vote on products through Instagram stories, choosing colors or patterns, etc. 

Even if it’s too late for someone to chime in by the time you send them the email with that repurposed content, it’s a great way to create some FOMO and encourage them to follow along on social so they can be a part of the process next time. 

Once you have a solid foundation and system you can just rinse and repeat the process! 

Questions to ask yourself when thinking of content for your emails 

  • What are you going through right now that she is to?
  • How do you incorporate your own product into your life and what has that meant for you?
  • What feedback or stories have your customers shared with you about using your product?
  • What would you talk about if you were in-person with them?
  • What else are they searching for answers to that’s related to your product?

Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, you can create content around it to use in your email marketing. Going back to your calendar, you can then just add these topics to the weeks where you have nothing particular to send.

By the time you do all of this, you might find that you’re even sending 2-3 emails per week and that could be a grand thing. 

What are the best days to send emails?

If you’re wondering the best day to send these emails.. Ultimately, that’s going to take some testing. Look at the days where you have the highest sales volume and start there. That data is already telling you when your customer is most likely to buy. 

Biggest takeaways about creating an email marketing calendar

  1. Plan ahead. This is going to make your life so much easier. If you’ve been listening to me for a while, when it comes to planning anything in your business, I always encourage you to start with the important dates. This is going to create an outline to work from. 
  1. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself! When we talked about the pre-launch of a particular product, we’re sending multiple emails about this one particular product or collection. 
  1. Add value! Not every email has to be about the hard-sell. So when you don’t have anything specific going on in your business, just focus on having a conversation and connecting with your audience. 

How are you feeling right now? My hope is that you feel excited and empowered to sit down and create your own email marketing calendar because you know it’s not as hard as you thought! 

If you’ve enjoyed this episode, I’d love for you to screenshot you listening to it and tag me in your Instagram story! That type of feedback lets me know you’re finding value in my content. And if you really want to do me a solid, I’d love for you to rate and review the show on apple podcasts! 

And… speaking of content –  if there’s ever anything specific you’d like me to cover on the podcast, DM me on Instagram. I’m always open to hearing ideas from you – because babe, I do this for you.

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Hey, I’m Jessica!

eCommerce + email Marketing Strategist

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. Learning from the top experts in the digital marketing & eCommerce industry she loves working with female entrepreneurs and teaching the secrets of 7-figure eCommerce businesses.

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