Whether you are an affiliate manager providing marketing materials to affiliates or an affiliate looking to maximize revenue, creating a marketing calendar will help you stay on top of opportunities to generate more conversions.
By having a calendar, you keep your marketing materials fresh and create an stronger association between the products you promote and the daily lives of potential buyers.
One big reason to create a calendar is to help manage your resources. By looking ahead weeks in advance, you can budget time to develop creative for major events, instead of scrambling to pull together a campaign at the last minute. If you use video and articles as part of your affiliate marketing creative, a calendar helps make sure you have all the assets in place to go live when you can maximize conversions.
Most of my own experience is in marketing software. The weekend around Black Friday and Cyber Monday is always one of the best four day periods of the year for my affiliate marketing efforts. I start working with software companies in October to pull together coupons and creative for those four days.
By having an event calendar in place, I can look at when the events happen as well as mark dates when I need to get started on creating a campaign.
What’s the Process of Creating an Affiliate Marketing Calendar?
Since every product is a little different, I can’t provide an exact formula for how to layout a calendar for your product. I can give you a fairly comprehensive starting point to get your creative juices flowing. Be sure to block out enough time to give calendar creation your full attention – after you do it the first time, maintaining it should be easy.
As you build your list, be sure to organize it chronologically, so that you can easily plot the events on a calendar. My preferred approach is to use a Google Calendar, so that I can share the calendar with relevant team members.
My own calendar tracks two dates for each event:
- Day to Start Planning for Event
- Launch day
Some events take more time to prepare than others. As I said earlier, I start planning for Black Friday about 30-45 days in advance. During the calendar creation process, you may also want to make note of the types of creative you want to use for the event. Here again, Google Calendar comes in handy because it can remind me to start working on creative for an upcoming event.
Events You Can’t Predict
Obviously there will be news and other events you simply can’t predict. That doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared with marketing materials.
In software marketing, for instance, one recurring event is computer viruses. You may not know the name of the latest virus ahead of time, but if you promote anti-virus software, you certainly have a solution ready to promote. By creating a template for each type of creative you use, you can simply fill in the details that are unique and get your campaign rolling.
Templates work for virtually any industry where unique events have a recurring theme. My creative templates are stored in Evernote and organized so that I can quickly find them when an common software event occurs.
Brainstorming Affiliate Marketing Opportunities in Your Market
Affiliate marketing opportunities can be tied to virtually any event. The list below should be seen as a starting point to get your creative juices flowing, not the only events you should examine in building your own calendar. I don’t pretend to know everything that happens in every industry, so I may have missed an opportunity or two.
I also realize that each of these event opportunities may not apply for every affiliate situation, though there are ways to get creative. For example, I have great success promoting software upgrades when they are sent in conjunction with a newsletter that has other great content. For PPC campaigns, those same upgrades might work better targeting specific product issues people are searching for that are addressed in the latest version.
As you are going through the list, be sure to examine localized opportunities in addition to national and international events. Some of the best conversions can come from knowing specific regional events where there will be lower competition from other marketers.
Wikipedia is a great source of information in planning a calendar. Every single day of the year has it’s own page, like today, April 24, for instance.
List of Possible Affiliate Marketing Events
Major Retail Events
Retail events don’t have to be specific to a product you work with directly. For instance, if you promote iPad or iPhone accessories, the launch of new hardware is a great time to promote accessories.
- Major consumer product launches (new iPad or iPhone)
- Video game and book series launches (think new Halo or new Harry Potter)
- Limited time products (Girl Scout cookies)
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday
- Big magazine events
- New product launches
- Product upgrades
- Add-ons and accessories
Every industry has events which can be tied to product marketing.
- Industry Awards (do you promote an award winning product?)
- Predictable news in the industry (ex. hunting/fishing license seasons)
When a product that competes with your own gets an upgrade or disappears from the market, it’s a great time to promote your alternative, especially if you can effectively differentiate.
- Competitor product announcements
- Competitor product discontinuations
Is there a day when someone isn’t being recognized for something? From Secretary’s Day to Bosses Day to National Librarian’s Day. Find the people who care about your product and tie a promotion to their day.
- National [anything] month or day
- PR Stunts like National Men Who Wear Shoes Day
- Pi Day
Political and Government Events
Election times, taxes, and the time around laws going into effect are all events that create opportunity.
- Tax due dates
- Local elections
- New laws (cell phone headsets, for example)
- Sales tax legislation
- Sales tax holidays
Holidays are a fairly obvious tie-in to marketing campaigns. Virtually every product can be positioned to fit with at least one holiday.
- National holidays in your country
- New Years
- Valentine’s Day
- Mother’s or Father’s Day
- April Fool’s Day
- Friday 13th
- Leap Year
- St. Patrick’s Day
- Chinese New Year
- Mardi Gras
- Cinco Di Mayo
- Earth Day
Change of Seasons
Seasons represent an opportunity to promote a variety of products, Some examples include new clothing, sports equipment, or vacation planning.
- First day of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter
- Summer Vacation
- Back to School
- Equinoxes and Solstices
Major sports around the world have championship events that generate both excitement and marketing opportunity.
- The Superbowl
- NBA Finals
- March Madness
- MLB World Series
- US Open
- The Masters
- FIFA World Cup
- Ryder Cup
Music and Entertainment
From awards shows to major milestones, the entertainment industry provides an ongoing list of marketing opportunity.
- First and final episodes of TV shows
- TV seasons
- Theatrical and DVD releases
- Stage productions (geo-targeted)
- New albums and music videos
- Chart announcements (Billboard rankings, Amazon top sellers, iTunes sales)
- Tour schedules
- Festivals (Think Coachella with Tupac hologram)
Once in a Lifetime Events
Things that happen rarely are a chance to provide unique product positioning.
- Solar and lunar eclipses
- Turn of a century (only 88 years to go 😉
- Halley’s Comet
- Renovation or destruction of a monument
- Royal Wedding
Do you use a calendar to plan for affiliate marketing opportunities? What strategy do you use?
Jake Ludington has over a decade of experience building content publishing teams, coupled with more years as an affiliate marketer than he cares to admit. Follow Jake on Twitter.