What is a content marketing roadmap?
Seasoned marketers understand the value of content marketing. That is because prospective customers are increasingly conducting their own research online before engaging with a company. Content is an ideal way to reach your audience and drive traffic to your website. And content is also needed to retain existing customers — such as educational how-to guides.
But there are many types of content you can create and topics to cover. It may seem difficult to narrow down which activities will be most effective. Or maybe you feel like your marketing team is mass-producing content on an ad-hoc basis with no real goals or sense of impact on the business. This makes it hard to justify spending on content programs or prioritize the content requests you might receive from across the company.
A content marketing roadmap is a tool that helps you implement a content plan organized around your content goals and initiatives. Then you can visualize the work required to achieve those objectives and a timeline for getting it done.
Why is a content marketing roadmap important?
Like any roadmap, a content marketing roadmap helps get you and your team where you want to go. You can use it to align your team around objectives as well as what it will take to achieve them. A content marketing roadmap will:
Put strategy first: Ensure that your team is focused on creating content for a reason rather than a rapid output of deliverables with no real goals.
Aid in prioritization decisions: Help to vet and prioritize new ideas that come from across the organization against your strategy and already planned work.
Visualize progress: Show in a timeline view how much progress you have made against your goals and highlight any blockers — transparency keeps everyone informed and on schedule.
Inform other teams: Give teams with a vested interest in your content strategy and production schedule (such as executives or the sales team) the high-level insight they need.
What are the elements of a content marketing roadmap?
Your content marketing roadmap should be a visualization of the "why," the "when," and the "what" behind your content marketing efforts. All three of those components are what make roadmaps so effective. It is not enough to simply define the "what" — which is the work. To drive real results, it is important to align the work with a clear strategy and timing.
Great content roadmaps typically include:
Roadmaps should first and foremost capture what you want to achieve. Common content goals include increased website traffic or leads. When setting content goals, always start with your organization's goals as well as the broader marketing team's goals and make sure that all are aligned.
Initiatives are high-level themes of work that provide more context into what you will do to achieve your goals. For example, to increase leads within a specific customer use case, you might create an initiative to write a series of related case studies.
Your roadmap should include high-level timelines for when will you publish new content. This is often created in the form of a calendar that shows go-live dates for new deliverables. Additional detail about workflows for complex projects with many milestones and dependencies, such as a video series, is better visualized in a Gantt chart.
Your activities represent the types of content you will create to move each initiative forward. This might include blog posts, videos, or how-to guides. Your roadmap could also include information about what each piece of content will entail — from the topic to the audience to the delivery channel.
You will want to visualize the status of each activity as well as the progress of your high-level initiatives. You should be able to refer to it and at a glance understand where your initiatives stand and where work is being blocked.
How do I create a content marketing roadmap?
There is no universal template — some roadmaps focus predominantly on visualizing the status of content initiatives. Others may put individual pieces of content front and center. What matters is that you find a visualization that works for you and the audiences you are sharing it with.
Before you build your content marketing roadmap, refer to your broader organizational objectives as well as the marketing team's strategy. Always set content-specific goals and initiatives that align with them. Then, map out the content work you will create, visualizing how each activity aligns with your content marketing strategy and when they will be completed.
This is an example of a strategic content marketing roadmap built in Aha! showing major areas of investment.
Some teams use spreadsheets and presentations to visualize strategy, timing, and work. This is an easy way to get started — many free templates exist. But these free templates are not designed for strategic planning nor are they useful for making quick adjustments along the way. Purpose-built marketing roadmap software makes it easy to connect strategy to the work, visualize it, and seamlessly add relevant new ideas to your plan on the fly.
This is an example of an activities roadmap built in Aha! showing upcoming content by type.
Content is a staple for most marketing programs today. But getting the most value out of your content program requires a strategy and a plan for what you will do to carry out that strategy and when. Roadmaps bring this all together so you can get back to focusing on delivering the quality content your customers crave.
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