Introduction to marketing roadmaps
What is a marketing roadmap?
Marketing is the engine that drives most business today. But for many marketing teams, it can be difficult to connect corporate strategy to the tactical work the team plans to get done. This is where a marketing roadmap is a useful tool — it captures high-level strategy and shows the work required to achieve it. It is a visualization of how your activities will meet a set of business objectives.
Most marketing teams are still fairly reactive today, shifting between priorities and racing to meet near-term deadlines. It can be hard to know where to focus longer term while completing day-to-day activities. You may not know if the work is actually helping your company gain a sustainable competitive advantage.
A marketing roadmap helps you organize the chaos. It defines what you want to accomplish and shows what you will do to get there and when. As you get clear on what you want to achieve, your marketing roadmap will also help you communicate the team’s overall strategic direction and align cross-functional groups around an integrated plan.
What are the benefits of a marketing roadmap?
Marketing roadmaps are a visual way to capture and communicate your marketing plans. And while each marketing roadmap you create will have a specific purpose depending on the target audience, the benefits are the same.
Rally the team around the “why” of your marketing strategy and the work required to achieve it.
Build marketing roadmaps for each team function, program, or customer segment so each group can deliver in sync and on schedule.
Keeps the entire organization informed of when the next marketing campaigns and product launches are happening.
Track progress and show the impact of your marketing efforts against the overall business objectives.
Share your plans with internal teams to show marketing direction and progress to company leadership and internal teams.
How to create a marketing roadmap?
Building a marketing roadmap is a collaborative effort. The first step is to consider the company’s overall business objectives. Speak with leaders across the organization to understand where marketing support is needed. Gathering this input upfront will help you build a roadmap that aligns with efforts from other cross-functional teams.
Next, you will need to identify your audience so that you can choose what to include on your marketing roadmap. This starts with understanding how the information will be used and the elements you need to include to effectively convey your message. Then, you can create different types of roadmaps to support a wide range of scenarios.
Some marketing teams use spreadsheets, presentations, and other documents to create marketing roadmaps. Others use purpose-built roadmapping software to capture their strategic planning information in one place and keep it up-to-date.
Who are the audiences for a marketing roadmap?
Many teams across your organization can benefit from greater visibility into your marketing plans. But each team will have a different focus and interest based on how your marketing plans impact their work.
Here are a few of the common audiences for a marketing roadmap (listed in alphabetical order):
Customer support teams
Support teams that interact directly with customers want to know what marketing messages are being shared so they can anticipate customer response. For example, an email campaign might spawn a flurry of tickets. Sharing a marketing roadmap that includes activities with the potential to spark customer outreach will help these teams prepare accordingly.
Management wants to see how marketing programs and campaigns roll up to the corporate strategy. Presenting these planned efforts in context with your strategic goals and initiatives helps you visualize to executives how that work will impact the business.
IT and development teams
You need to keep your IT team informed of marketing work that may impact the overall technology infrastructure. For example, imagine you are planning to implement a new marketing automation system. Creating a roadmap helps you coordinate your implementation timeline with IT.
The entire marketing team benefits from an integrated plan that shows what you want to accomplish and when. Visualizing upcoming marketing activities on a roadmap improves collaboration and focuses the team on the work required to achieve your strategic goals.
Product and marketing teams need to work closely together to drive product success through effective launches. Building a go-to-market roadmap is an effective way to coordinate the timing of marketing campaigns with product launches so you can maximize promotional opportunities.
Sales teams want to know what marketing activities are happening and when. Communicating this information on a marketing roadmap is an effective way to share key events (such as a webinar or tradeshow) as well as the availability of new tools — such as an updated competitor analysis or success story.
What are the elements of a marketing roadmap?
Once you have defined your audience, the next step is to consider the information you want to present. At a high-level, a roadmap provides a visual overview of your plans on a timeline. But there are many different elements you can include depending on who the roadmap is for and how it will be used.
Here are the key elements that are commonly included in marketing roadmaps:
Roadmaps typically include dates to show when program and campaign activities will be completed. Choose the time scale (such as days, weeks, months, and quarters) depending on the level of detail you need to share.
Goals are measurable, time-bound objectives. Display your marketing goals on a roadmap to show what you want to achieve and the criteria for success.
Initiatives are the big efforts or themes of work. Include them on your roadmap to show the key focus areas that are required to achieve your goals.
Visualize your major programs, campaigns, and events on a roadmap to communicate what is happening and when.
Marketing activities represent discrete units of work that are required to deliver your plans. Include activities — such as landing pages, press releases, or sales tools — on your roadmap to provide more details about what is coming.
Status indicators for goals, initiatives, plans, and activities are a useful way to show how the team is progressing against your roadmap.
What are the types of marketing roadmaps?
If you are new to building marketing roadmaps, it is important to remember that there is no universal template. What matters is creating a visual representation of your marketing plans in a way that captures and communicates your overall direction. You can use different types of roadmaps to deliver a tailored message to your audience.
Shown below are different types of marketing roadmaps:
A strategy roadmap shows how strategic marketing initiatives tie to your overall goals. This type of roadmap is useful when you need to show leadership or board members how your marketing initiatives and programs contribute to the company’s objectives.
This is an example of a strategic marketing roadmap.
A portfolio roadmap is a useful way to align plans across different marketing functions — such as digital, content, and product marketing. Creating an integrated view of your marketing programs shows how you are progressing against your initiatives and keeps the team moving in the same direction.
This is an example of a marketing portfolio roadmap.
Build out a roadmap of planned work activities. This will keep cross-functional teams — such as sales and support — informed about exactly what is coming and when. You can show when the next campaigns and product launches are happening and provide specific details about new marketing assets that will be delivered.
This is an example of a marketing activities roadmap.
Marketing roadmaps can be tailored to support a wide variety of use cases. For example, you can create a roadmap to show how your marketing plans support different customer segments or products. Here is a roadmap that shows how marketing supports consumer, SMB, and enterprise customer segments.
This is an example of a custom marketing roadmap.
Marketing roadmaps are the best way to create a long-term view of how you will promote your product or service to reach the right customers. This aligns the entire organization around what you want to achieve — so you can focus on delivering the right programs and advertising campaigns to get there.