A marketing timeline lets you view the chronology of your marketing plan over time, from objectives and strategy to completed action items. Whether you choose a Gantt chart, calendar, or handwritten document, a timeline will serve the purpose of organizing your marketing plan and providing a clear schedule to follow. A timeline also provides a reference for when milestones have been accomplished and any issues that may arise during a project. This can be a useful tool for future planning as you review the success of your marketing timeline.
The components of a successful timeline will vary depending on your business goals, the scope of your marketing plan, the type of project you are undertaking, and other factors. But there are common elements that can help you craft an effective timeline, whether you’re working on a product launch campaign or planning an event. And in all cases, templates offer an easy solution for building a timeline, which is why we’ve compiled a list of free timeline templates below.
All of the templates are in Excel format, can be edited to suit your needs, and are free to download. We’ve also included related marketing templates, including a budget plan and timeline templates for scheduling online content and email marketing. For greater customization and access to powerful collaborative features, you can also create your own marketing timeline template using Smartsheet. Let’s take a look at what to include in your marketing timeline.
Creating a Marketing Timeline
To get the most out of your marketing timeline, keep it simple and easy to follow. You will likely need to include multiple elements in order to cover everything from concept to delivery, but creating a simple timeline to start with provides a foundation on which to build a more detailed master plan. You can also create sub-timelines for any important or complex pieces. Here are some of the key elements in a typical marketing timeline along with tips for success.
- Strategic Planning - This is the initial planning stage to determine product viability, design and strategy. Marketing should be a consideration from the start of product planning so that marketing objectives can be defined with an understanding of brand messaging. So, the strategic planning stage may include market and quantitative analysis to help determine the overall marketing strategy.
- Marketing Goals - All that strategic planning should lead to clearly defined goals, especially because marketing will help you reach your business and sales goals. Having a clear objective will make it easier to create a plan and measure success.
- Schedule - Identify your product launch date (or project deadline, event date, etc.) and build a schedule based on the milestones and deadlines that need to be met before the final launch. This is the schedule for your action plan and will include communications and sales support.
- Communications - This includes external and internal communications: press releases, advertising, online content, and other outreach efforts as well as communication with all internal stakeholders. Be sure to note the deadlines for each deliverable in your external communications plan as well as the length of time it will take to produce each one. It’s equally important to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of their responsibilities and deadlines.
- Sales Support - Provide your sales team with all the tools and training needed to execute the plan. The sales team will not be as effective if they are waiting on communications tools or aren’t clear on who’s handling which clients and how. Your timeline should include a tactical sales plan so that strategy is well-defined and sales progress can be easily tracked.
- Metrics - Evaluate the results of your marketing efforts by tracking metrics along the way. Identify key performance indicators to help measure success, and compare revenue with expenses. Having this information will help you adjust your marketing plan if needed and may provide valuable insight on how to improve marketing communications in the future.
Excel Timeline Templates
Marketing Timeline Template
This simple timeline template creates a visual schedule for each of your marketing tasks. List each task along with a start and end date, and the template will display the duration of each task as a block of time on the schedule. This Gantt chart style makes it easy to track deadlines, identify overlapping tasks, and plan accordingly. This timeline template could also be adapted for use with any project or plan that involves multiple steps over time.
Sales and Marketing Plan Timeline
If you want to create an annual marketing plan timeline, this template provides a monthly, quarterly and annual view in a single snapshot. It also offers detailed sections for various sales and marketing elements, including seasonal considerations. You can edit the template to be as detailed or brief as needed, depending on the scope of your marketing plan timeline.
Project Timeline Template
Plan your project schedule and mark milestones with this project timeline template. The template is easy to read and lets you view a project based on a weekly schedule or by beginning, middle and ending stages. This makes it easy to see individual tasks and deadlines while also getting a high-level overview at a glance. This timeline template offers basic functionality in an appealing visual format.
Event Marketing Timeline Template
Promoting an event requires an effective marketing strategy, and that strategy will vary from one event to the next. This timeline template is designed to help you build an event marketing plan by scheduling each step of the process, from pre-event outreach to last-minute email blasts. Careful planning can help keep you on track toward a successful event while preventing you from feeling overwhelmed in the process. With this template, you get a timeline of your weekly marketing schedule, tracking key actions from the early stages to the event launch.
Gantt Chart Template
Create a detailed timeline with this Gantt chart template. For each project task, the layout shows start and end dates, duration, and percent complete as well as the number of days remaining. Additionally, you can get a visual glimpse of the duration for each task with the Gantt chart schedule. Use this template to create a weekly and monthly timeline for your marketing plan.
Social Media Marketing Plan Template
Create an hourly social media schedule for each day of the week. This template allows you to make a publishing plan for multiple social media platforms, and includes columns for content description and tracking engagement, which can help you determine which posts are performing best on each social media site while keeping you from overposting or neglecting certain sites.
Marketing Budget Plan
This budget plan template breaks down all your marketing expenses - from market research to public relations and advertising - so that you can plan effectively and track actual costs. A pie chart enables you to view the spreadsheet totals at a glance and see what percentage of your budget is going to each element in your marketing plan. The template includes additional space for comments, and columns can be added or removed based on your specific needs.
Marketing Editorial Calendar Template
This detailed marketing template is designed for planning and tracking editorial content. You can keep track of all the important editorial elements for each month, including project descriptions, stakeholders, target audience, deadlines and SEO information. You also get a broad overview of your annual content schedule for a quick look at seasonal cycles, holidays, launches and other significant dates.
Email Marketing Calendar Template
Plan your email marketing and track follow-ups with this calendar template. This simple template is useful for building client relationships and tracking sales leads and newsletter subscribers. Keep track of when messages were sent and what content you provided, including images and links to blog posts or other online marketing sources.
Plan and Manage your Marketing Timeline in Smartsheet
Smartsheet is a cloud-based work management platform in a familiar spreadsheet layout. Using one of Smartsheet’s many Gantt chart templates, you can create a comprehensive marketing timeline to help you achieve your marketing goals, and track your progress in an easy-to-read view.
With Smartsheet, you can design a detailed project outline including planning, design, and execution elements of your larger marketing plan. Additionally, you can create dependencies between tasks in order to see the relationship among them, and to help you order your workflow. Enable conditional formatting to emphasize milestones, assignments, at-risk tasks, and completed items. You can also drag and drop Gantt bars to change dates or connect and disconnect tasks - this is a highly visual way to identify and react to the inevitable project changes and deadline shifts.
Smartsheet also makes it easy to include any accessory project information directly within your sheet - attach relevant documents to a row, or copy emails and notes to the comments section. Invite an infinite number of users to collaborate on your sheet, and set alerts to notify other team members of approaching deadlines. Because Smartsheet is a cloud-based app, you can make status updates in real time, and view changes on-the-go with our mobile app. Smartsheet is also fully customizable, so you can modify the template with colors and symbols, and add or delete rows and columns to fit your project needs.
Get started in Smartsheet for increased visibility into your marketing timeline goals and progress.
If you found this post helpful, visit our Resources page for more tips on how to better manage and plan your work.