How to Create a Winning Promotional Schedule in WordPress

Think about your favorite ecommerce company. Now, think about why you like them so much. I’m willing to bet it has something to do with their online marketing efforts that seem to always reach you at the perfect time.

I’ll use Victoria’s Secret as an example. I know that, as a customer, they’re going to have some pretty sweet deals on the following holidays every year:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Black Friday
  • Christmas
  • Annually, when everyone is still in #treatyoself mode after the holidays
  • Semi-annually, which happens to coincide with bathing suit season
Victoria's Secret Valentine's Day
The Victoria’s Secret website is decked out in Valentine’s Day gear and even includes a Gift Guide for customers.

It’s really smart planning on their part. They’re not bombarding customers with daily emails or unrelated popups on their website. Instead, they create highly targeted promotional deals that revolve around select times during the year when people are most receptive to hearing from them.

The great thing about this is you don’t have to be a major lingerie retailer to take advantage of this. Anyone can create a promotional schedule in WordPress that lines up with special days of the year–even WordPress freelancers. You just need to create it in advance so you have ample time to prepare. There’s no sense in setting a promotional schedule if you drop the ball and run it too late or when no one’s paying attention, right?

So, let’s dig into the why and how of effectively creating a promotional schedule in WordPress.

Why You Need to Promote Your WordPress Business

The whole reason WordPress professionals are in such high demand is because other people want a website through which they can promote their businesses online. It would be kind of strange then if you’re not using that very same promotional tool to market your own services, right?

But I get it: building, maintaining, and upgrading a WordPress site takes time… and no one is going to pay you to do that for your own site. Nevertheless, it’s something you have to do and creating a promotional schedule ahead of time will help ease some of the pressure in doing so.

BarkBox Chinese New Year
BarkBox has not only designed their business model around a monthly theme, but they update their site’s images to reflect it each month.

Here are some reasons why a promotional schedule will prove itself to be truly invaluable to your WordPress business:

  1. Special promotional efforts make your website a more memorable experience. Take a brand like BarkBox that has a fun “theme” for each of their monthly boxes. They then update the website every month with images to reflect the promotion.
  2. There’s no guarantee that anyone else will promote your WordPress services (even the most loyal of clients). But by creating a unique and memorable schedule of promotional offers, you can give them a good reason to.
  3. By providing clients with a predictable promotional schedule (like the Victoria’s Secret example above), you make your site an experience worth seeking out on a regular basis.
  4. Promotions give you a good competitive advantage. Well-planned promotions are even better as they demonstrate your ability to strategize and execute a campaign for a website.
  5. A promotional schedule gives you time to update your WordPress site regularly (and get you in the habit of doing so), which will ultimately help its search ranking.
  6. This type of planning takes some of the stress and unpredictability out of marketing your WordPress business as you have more lead time to prepare for it.
  7. You can use your site’s promotional efforts as a model for what you want to do for clients or for website upgrades you want to upsell them on.
  8. Creating a promotional schedule that contains truly valuable and niche-specific offers for clients will not only impress them, but also motivate them to be more loyal customers.
  9. A particularly unique promotion has the potential to put you on the map with a newer and larger audience than you may have ever anticipated having.
  10. A promotional schedule is also great because it gives you an opportunity to think outside the box and do something fun for yourself and your followers.

Tips for Creating a Promotional Schedule in WordPress

There are some pretty nifty benefits to designing a promotional schedule for your WordPress business, but, of course, it’s not as simple as saying, “I’m going to offer my monthly retainer clients a 20% discount in December,” and then placing a discount popup on your site. This is why the lead time in planning and preparing these promotions for your site is so important.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you work on developing your promotional schedule:

1. Be Mindful of Traffic

As you drive people to your WordPress site from email or social media, you have to expect an uptick in traffic. So, before you do anything else, make sure your site is ready for traffic spikes that may result from these promotional efforts. And, if you’re expecting clients to pay for their services as the promotion runs, assess your site’s security protocol and fix any weak spots.

2. Create a Realistic Goal

For each promotion, set a SMART goal.

  • Do you want your free ebook to get you 5% more email subscribers?
  • Do you want your Black Friday deal to get you 25% more web development projects for the next year?
  • Do you want your insider-access promotion to lift referral business by 5%?

The most important thing to do is to focus on where your business currently needs a boost. Then, shape your promotion in a way to offer that uptick in leads/clients/sales/recurring revenue/etc.

3. Keep It Relevant to Your Clients

You can design a promotion that is fun and entertaining, but it still needs to be relevant to what you do as a WordPress professional. It also needs to positively impact your visitors and clients if they take action on it.

Shoes Winter Sale
The images used on the website at this very moment align really well with the winter sale being promoted in the hello bar.

Here are some ideas for you to play around with:

  • Run a holiday sale or give a free gift to new clients at the end of the year.
  • Run a non-traditional “holiday” sale (see #4 below). You can use the element of surprise to delight visitors with an unexpected, but very welcome, promotional offer or discount.
  • Keep track of and celebrate the “birthday” of your clients’ websites. Create a special landing page on your site for the special Birthday Promotion and direct clients there via a link in a “Happy Birthday” email.
  • Host a contest on your WordPress site. This part doesn’t necessarily have to be relevant, but the prize does. Maybe ask clients to submit their funniest pet photos (which you’ll then share on your blog). Then give the winner a free review of their Google Analytics data or 10% off maintenance services.
  • Send emails to site subscribers and give them first-in-line access to test out a new WordPress plugin or theme you’ve developed.
  • Offer a special discounted rate on social media and announce that you’re giving it away to the first ten clients that sign up on your site.
  • Run a popup promotion containing a discount code that clients can share with friends, giving both them and their referrals a hefty discount on their next (or first) bill.
  • Offer a “pay upfront” discount to clients that sign up.
  • Run a WordPress training for clients who want to learn more about maintaining their own websites.

4. Think Like a WordPress Developer

Don’t look to what others are doing to schedule your promotions. While traditional ecommerce businesses can easily plan to promote their products or services on holidays like Black Friday or Back-to-School, for you it probably makes more sense to offer a summer promotion to help clients get their sites built and secured before the big holiday rush.

Here are some ideas for special days you can use in your promotional schedule:

January: Use a popup promotion to support clients’ resolutions to get their sites in better shape this year.

February: Write an ebook about the love/hate relationship you have with WordPress. The love piece will sell clients on using WordPress instead of other CMS. The hate piece will sell them on why they need you to build the website instead of trying to go the DIY route. Then sell the ebook or offer it in exchange for a contact information around Valentine’s Day.

March: Run an Oscar Night pool with your current clients. Whoever guesses the most winners of the night automatically gets 5% off their next web development project.

April: In honor of National Humor Month, you can use your site to entertain visitors. Add fun Easter eggs, share memes that are relevant to their industry-specific woes, change your error messages to something more lighthearted and cheeky, etc.

May: May is Foster Care Month. Why not “take in” someone’s website for a month? You can offer basic WordPress maintenance and support services and demonstrate to them the value of having someone else manage them on their behalf.

June: The second week of the month is National Email Week. Invite your clients to email their friends and colleagues about your WordPress services and get a referrer’s discount on their next bill.

July: Invite current and prospective clients to attend a “Summer School” WordPress course.

August: Blog throughout the summer about the importance of getting a website ready for the holidays. Then launch the related sale at the end of the month.

September: Celebrate Baby Safety Month by running a blog series all month with WordPress performance and security enhancing tips. In other words, “How to keep your ‘baby’ safe”.

October: Get Organized Week happens every October and it’s a good chance to educate your clients some more. WordPress plugins are always great in helping to keep a site organized and running more smoothly, so you can compose a blog series around those.

November: Offer special Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals on WordPress plugins, themes, or other tools you sell on your site.

December: Give a free downloadable ebook or whitepaper gift to current clients.

Also, don’t forget to celebrate your WordPress business’s birthday in style by giving clients an unexpected discount.

Of course, your promotions don’t always have to align with a holiday or be run for a special reason. I just find it’s easier for planning purposes to do it that way. It also makes them more memorable for clients.

5. Update Your Site to Match the Theme

It doesn’t really matter what type of promotions you decide to run on your site, so long as they are both relevant and valuable to your audience. That said, pay attention to the small details when you do.

Carvel Mintertime
Carvel is a good example that creates actual products to fall in line with special days or times of the year. They then update their site imagery to match.

You won’t need to do a total redesign of your website with a snowfall animation and your brand colors changed to red, green, and white in Christmas, but tinier promotion-related updates would be a nice touch. Think about:

  • Updating your images similar to what BarkBox does each month.
  • Use custom-designed popups or hello bars that match the promotion’s theme, but don’t interrupt the on-site experience too much.
  • Integrate social media feeds within your site, especially the blog. Make sure the messages and images coming through those feeds mimic the promotions and messaging you’re doing on your site.

6. Schedule According to Google Analytics

Before creating a concrete schedule, take your Google Analytics data into account. Running a highly attractive “30% off your next website” in July might seem like a great idea, but what if site traffic traditionally dips then because clients are all on vacation?

7. Plan It Out with a Tool

CoSchedule Plugin
Don’t get overwhelmed by the excitement of planning a promotional schedule on your WordPress site. Use a scheduling tool like CoSchedule to keep it all in order.

Use a WordPress plugin to plan out your promotion in advance–including any content you’ll write for it, when it’s set to publish, and where you’ll promote it (on your site as well as off). I personally like the CoSchedule plugin. And a project management tool is a must for keeping it on your radar along with all your regular work.

8. Monitor It in Real Time

Once you’ve launched your promotion, carve out time to actively monitor it. If you have live chat on your site, be sure to use that while the promotion runs so you can answer questions and help convert even more clients. And, of course, use the results of the promotion to make adjustments for any future ones you have planned.

Wrapping Up

Keep in mind that the above recommendations should not be the end of your WordPress business’s marketing strategy. There’s a lot more you can do in order to find new clients as well as retain them. Crafting a promotional schedule in WordPress will simply give you a sustainable and predictable way in which you can manage part of those marketing efforts.

Suzanne Scacca
If you had to rate the level of success you’ve had so far in marketing your WordPress business, would you say you’ve done a poor, fair, good, or great job of it?