How to Create a Digital Advertising Roadmap
July 9, 2019

How to Create a Digital Advertising Roadmap

by Brian de Haaff

Grab some candles and put on your party hat. There is a birthday to celebrate. The banner ad turns 25 this year — the first online ad went live on in 1994. The click-through rate was an astonishing 44 percent. (Yep, you read that right.) I am sure that most digital marketers today would cry tears of joy to hit even half that number now.

The online advertising space has changed a lot and marketing teams need to change with it.

It is clear that companies are willing to put down big money to reach online audiences. In 2019, more than 100 billion was spent on digital ads in the U.S. And globally, digital ad sales are forecasted to surpass 150 billion. This means, to put it bluntly, that the pressure is on for digital marketers to show results.

Advertising programs today are more complex and sophisticated than ever before. Which is why marketing teams need a way to track concurrent campaigns and report back on the results.

How? I have a simple suggestion. First, you need a strategy for those campaigns — how you will drive the growth of the business. And then you need a way to plan and track your efforts.

An advertising roadmap does this — showing how your advertising programs will deliver results guided by your marketing strategy.

A roadmap is simply a visualization of the work that will be done in a given time frame and how that work connects to your business goals. This is particularly important for teams managing digital advertising campaigns since this work often requires cross-functional input from teams like creative, sales, and support. You need that thread back to strategy — so you can make decisions about where to spend and what it will deliver.

So, how do you put it all together? Here are seven components to define as you begin building your advertising roadmap:

Goals The first step is to clarify exactly what you want to accomplish. The objectives for your advertising campaigns should be specific and measurable, with a direct tie to business objectives. For example, you might want to boost site traffic by 25 percent in three months or grow brand awareness by 50 percent in six months.

Personas You need to deeply understand the audience you are targeting before you can turn them into paying customers. Create buyer personas with demographic and behavioral information about your target audience — such as pain points, education level, hobbies, and purchasing habits. You will want to answer, “Who is your customer, what do they need, and how can you help them?”

Channels Now it is time to think about how to reach that audience. If you focus on the channels where your customers already spend time, they will be more likely to engage with you. Depending on who you are targeting, it might make sense to pursue search engine advertising, sponsored content, or even podcasts. No matter what channels you choose, the goal is to deliver a consistent and cohesive experience across all channels.

Activities Your goals will dictate the specific steps that you want buyers to take as they move through the marketing funnel. These actions might be clicking on an ad, completing an online form, or making a purchase. By breaking down the buyer journey into smaller units, you can visualize how the work you do each day connects back to the overall business growth.

Messaging Get clear on the core message you want to communicate. This is the most salient information about your product or service — its value and unique selling points. Make sure these messages are concise, memorable, and resonate with your target market. Your personas will help here.

Time frames Dates matter, especially with a lot of moving parts. While one teammate may be bidding on display ads, others may be experimenting with native ads or building out ad groups on social media. Include what you will run and when on your roadmap so that the entire team can visually track the work and see when it is due.

Tracking There are many ways to optimize your marketing efforts, but how do you measure and report back on how your campaigns actually perform? Good thing you captured those core actions. Add to that metrics you should capture to show return on advertising spend — such as conversion rate and customer retention per channel. By analyzing relevant data, you can translate the numbers into meaningful insights that will (hopefully) improve future advertising programs.

Your roadmap should take you where you want to go — converting your target audience into paying customers.

No one can predict how online advertising will change over the next 25 years. Shifting customer preferences, emerging technology, and new reporting tools will no doubt radically alter the space.

But before you blow out the candles, I do have one prediction of what will stay the same — the need for marketing teams to show their strategic advertising campaigns and report on their results.

How do you plan your digital advertising campaigns?

There is a better way to plan and measure results. See for yourself — start a free 30-day trial.

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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