As a startup in today’s fast-paced digital world, it’s difficult to promote your brand consistently and effectively if you have no plan and no direction. With so many marketing options available, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which tactics and channels will drive the best results for your company.
In this article, we look at how a strategic digital marketing roadmap can help define and guide your online marketing efforts so you can reach your goals faster.
What is a digital marketing roadmap?
A digital marketing roadmap acts as a solid foundation for all your online marketing efforts. It lets you plot a course for optimal growth and lays out the exact tactics to enable you to reach your goals.
Your business is unique and has its own set of benefits and challenges. There are many examples of marketing roadmaps you can download online, but “best practice” strategies or copying what your competitors are doing may not work for your particular business.
Creating a comprehensive roadmap based on your company’s specific products and audience is the best plan of attack. This can also uncover new opportunities for growth and fresh directions for your campaigns.
Having a clear path and direction mapped out for specific channels and objectives means you can make the right decisions in the right order to drive results for your brand.
Key elements of a digital marketing roadmap
Your digital marketing roadmap can be as simple or as complex as you need – covering broad campaigns, or small initiatives. Once you’ve decided what you’re going to include, you can organize and prioritize these ideas and begin implementing them.
Some of the key elements of a marketing roadmap to consider are as follows:
Your digital marketing roadmap should begin by defining your business objectives over both the short and long term. By setting clear goals, you can create a digital marketing plan that aligns with these goals and then develop a strategy to get there in the shortest amount of time.
Your customers are the most important part of your digital marketing roadmap. As you’re planning your online marketing strategy, surveying and interviewing your current customers should be a priority. Consumer research helps you figure out where your audience spends the most time online, what was going on in their lives when they were searching for a business solution like yours, and how they found out about your product.
For example, if you’re currently marketing via paid advertising on Facebook but your customer analysis now reveals that most people are finding you through mentions on Twitter and Reddit – it’s time to factor that into your digital marketing roadmap, change your tactics, and save your ad budget!
Speaking with your customers also helps you understand the type of content you should be creating and what their pain points and concerns are. This means you can address these points in your marketing to break down any barriers to conversion.
Once you build out a clear picture of your exact audience, you can develop customer personas to guide your marketing, and you’ll have a better sense of how to target these prospects online.
While you shouldn’t obsess over your competition, a certain amount of digital stalking is needed to figure out the mechanics of other businesses in your space. This can uncover useful information such as:
Their SEO keywords
How much they’re spending on advertising
The gaps in their marketing and messaging strategies that can give you an advantage
There are numerous online tools to help you with this research. One of these is Spyfu, which gives you access to the Adwords keywords, organic rankings, and ad variations of your competitors for the last 13 years.
Competitive analysis can help you build your digital marketing roadmap by giving you the data you need to make more informed decisions around how to position and present yourself against the other companies in your market.
It goes without saying that your website should be your best salesperson. It plays a critical part in your digital marketing roadmap and it should be working hard 24/7 to build your brand and attract new customers.
If your messaging is wrong, your copy is poor, and your user experience (UX) is frustrating your site visitors, all of your other marketing efforts will be diluted. Even the most well-planned marketing campaigns can be sabotaged when traffic arrives on a bad website.
Websites can be challenging to get right, especially SaaS websites where the number one goal is to convert visitors into customers. There are a number of website best practices every startup should be aware of to increase customer conversions. Building a functional, engaging site also means you’re not reliant on third-party platforms with expensive ad fees and constantly changing algorithms to help you grow your business.
Content planning and creation
Content is one of your most important assets. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) found that 72% of marketers state that content marketing increased the number of leads for their business.
Per dollar spent, content creation generates three times as many leads as other forms of marketing and costs 62% less. No matter your views on content marketing, it should not be overlooked as part of your roadmap.
Each piece of content you create needs to pave the way for future conversions by driving interest and engagement. Developing a content calendar as part of your marketing roadmap (or hiring a content marketing manager) can be highly beneficial. This gives you a set plan for the exact topics you need to cover, why they’re important, which format they’re going to be in, and how you intend to share and distribute each piece.
Content for your business might include:
As part of your marketing roadmap, having a content strategy in place means less stress and faster time to market when it comes to creating fresh content.
Your customer and competitor research should have shed some light on the best places for you to show up on social media. Narrowing your content creation and advertising down to two platforms will save you the time and headaches of trying to be everywhere at once. This will also help you gauge if these platforms perform well for your particular business.
It’s important to consider your target audience and how that may affect which social networks you use as well as how you communicate within those networks. For instance, a company focusing on B2B sales might be better suited using LinkedIn and Twitter as opposed to Facebook and Yelp. You also might need to use more professional language when attempting to reach out to prospective customers. On the other hand, a company targeting end users might find more success using Facebook and Twitter, and might implement a more casual communication strategy.
As always – testing is key. You may find that Facebook is giving excellent results which can guide you towards putting more effort into promoting your company in that space. LinkedIn might not be giving you any results at all, so you can cross that off your list for a while and try out a different platform.
Whichever platforms you choose, having a brand presence on social media is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to grow your brand, and it should feature at some level as part of your marketing roadmap.
Paid advertising might not be in your budget as a startup, but if it is…don’t forget to add these campaigns to your digital marketing roadmap!
Advertising costs continue to rise, and cost per acquisition cost can be eye-watering if you’re targeting popular keywords, locations, and demographics.
Planning, testing, and budgeting should all be included in your roadmap to prevent you making expensive advertising mistakes. If you’re not experienced with paid ads, start by using the research you’ve gathered from your customers and competitors and test the waters with a small budget before launching any major campaign initiatives.
A roadmap to building brand awareness
As a startup, taking the time to create a digital marketing roadmap can be the difference between struggling to get noticed and successfully building brand awareness in your target audience. A roadmap gives you an actionable plan for showing up consistently in the right places, ensuring the best possible visibility for your company in the minds of your customers.
Once your digital marketing roadmap is in place, you can identify and measure what’s working in terms of your marketing tactics, and what needs changing or improving to give you better returns on your time and dollar investments.
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