You should always have a timeline for your marketing strategy. That timeline shouldn't just reflect when projects are due; it should also be tied to your marketing goals.
Marketers rely on time to measure the effectiveness of every effort. However, it's difficult to gauge the duration of long-term marketing campaigns. Every campaign relies on research, strategy, execution, and the time it takes to do each.
You already know that everything you do at work needs a timeline (or a deadline). But for each campaign, what should your marketing timeline look like?
If you’re about to embark on an ambitious new marketing campaign, investigate each individual task. Determine how long it will take your team members to accomplish those tasks. Get a rough idea of how long it takes to create, design, and implement each individual marketing effort. Eventually, you’ll have enough insight to create a schedule. Compiled together, all of those tasks should make up your marketing timeline.
Many marketing campaigns are ongoing, however. If you’re engaged in digital marketing, you’re going to be producing content for quite some time. Forever, even. You’ll never stop sending out emails to nurture your leads or posting on social media. Therefore, set a measurable marketing goal for each effort. With a timeline for each goal, you'll be able to adjust your strategy as necessary.
What Influences Your Marketing Timeline?
Your Daily Routine
At the end of 2015, HubSpot marketing manager, Sam Balter, decided to conduct a survey to determine how marketers were spending their time. He found that the average marketer spends about a third of their workweek doing routine tasks.
Why is this important to your marketing timeline? In order to set a timeline that is realistic, you have to incorporate these routine tasks into the mix. In some cases, you may be able to make them easier and less time consuming, but they may be necessary components of your marketing machine.
The way your team communicates can have an enormous effect on your timeline. If you haven’t taken advantage of them already, project management tools can help you can track progress and save relevant information. If you find that communication issues are causing you to extend your timeline, you may want to reshape how your team works together.
When tasks are documented and checked off, and when everyone is working together towards the same goal, you’ll be able to set more reasonable timelines and more attainable goals.
A content campaign in which a copywriter needs to draft a 4,000-word “Ultimate Guide,” will likely have a different timeline than an Instagram photo campaign. Social media campaigns can take a long time to prepare, but posts can be scheduled for months in advance, freeing your time up to work on other tasks.
Depending on what marketing channel you are using, the type of marketing campaign you pick will have a direct impact on your timeline. For ongoing campaigns, you can keep things simple and reachable by setting the same timeline month after month, week after week. If you find that your team is finishing their tasks with time to spare, you can adjust the timeline.
Your marketing timeline should reflect your specific marketing goal. If your goal is to get 1000 Facebook followers, you’ll need a reasonable timeframe for accomplishing it if you want your goal to remain attainable. If your timeline is too short, you run the risk of missing your goal or having to extend your timeline. Alternatively, a long timeline could get in the way of other scheduled projects.
For example, if you achieve your goal of getting 1000 Facebook followers but you’re still scheduling your team to work on getting Facebook exposure, you might be late in adopting your next marketing strategy: pushing content out to your Facebook followers to get more leads and conversions. A reasonable timeline will see you achieve your goals on time so you can move on to the next phase in your marketing effort.
Your Marketing Calendar
Whether you use a digital project management tool or you rely on the whiteboard hanging on your office wall, it’s a good idea to create a marketing calendar. You can set specific dates for each segment of your marketing strategy. For content creation, you can create deadlines for each component and a final deadline for the finished product. If you’re working on multiple marketing efforts at the same time, a marketing calendar can give you a full view of all your marketing timelines in a single space.
If you outsource your marketing efforts, your team should know how long it takes to complete each marketing task. Work with them on your marketing strategy. You’ll establish an executable timeline for each marketing effort and a calendar to keep track of your progress.
Setting goals and timelines is one of the most important steps in the marketing process. They allow you to follow your progress as your campaign evolves from the idea stage to the execution stage. By creating reasonable timelines for tasks and your overall effort, you can boost your efficiency and keep your team focused.