What is a digital marketing roadmap?

Last updated: May 2024

You want to reach the people who are most likely to purchase your product. This is every marketer's goal — to find the best channels for attracting and converting customers. Today, that means taking marketing efforts online.

Consumers spend close to 7 hours a day online between web-browsing, email, and social media. There are myriad options for targeting specific audience groups, based on preferences or interests. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn make it possible to surface ads based on job industry, while search engines allow paid ad placements.

Businesses now dedicate large portions of their marketing budget to digital marketing efforts because revenue depends on success in these areas. This means there is increased scrutiny on the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns. Digital marketers are constantly evaluating and adjusting spend across channels to optimize for cost-effective growth.

With so many digital channels and options available, it is important that marketing teams set a clear strategy with measurable goals that help the team understand the work that needs to be done and which channels to invest in. A digital marketing roadmap visualizes that work and the timeline for achieving it.

What are the elements of a digital marketing roadmap?

There are common elements every digital marketing roadmap should include in order to be useful and effective:

  • Strategy: The goals of the digital marketing team, including how you plan to attract and convert more users

  • Initiatives: High-level programs or campaigns that support those team goals

  • Time frame: Details on how long campaigns will run and when work needs to be completed

  • Activities: What tactics will be used — such as paid search, SEO, social media, and email marketing

  • Status: How you are progressing against your goals

Here are sample elements for a fictitious company, Fredwin Cycling:

Goals: Lower cost of acquisition

Initiatives: Refresh campaign landing pages

Timeframe: Q3 and Q4 2024

Activities: Research, redesign demo landing page, awareness banner ads

Status: On track

How do I create a digital marketing roadmap?

Different roadmap types offer varying levels of detail and information. Think about the audience you are building the roadmap for and how they will consume it. What information do they need? How often do they want to be updated? The answers will help you decide the roadmap's structure and the information you should include.

Once you have established your high-level goals and initiatives as well as the activities that will support them, detail the work that will be done in each channel. Include time frames for when the work will start and finish, with important milestones along the way. Assign work out to the team based on those deadlines.

Gantt charts are a popular way to visualize your plans because they show a breadth of detail including major milestones and cross-work dependencies for multiple projects. You can also create a custom roadmap to fit your needs. This allows you to control the level of detail you want to include. Group work by goal, initiative, or campaign and show how individual activities support that work.

Why is a digital marketing roadmap important?

Marketers can track large amounts of data. This data informs new iterations, such as a new landing page design or revised email copy. It is important that these experiments stay grounded in the established goals and strategy. A digital marketing roadmap lays out your major areas of focus and ensures iterations stay grounded in that strategy.

As you build your digital marketing roadmap, remember the goal is to facilitate:

  • Alignment: A strategy-driven roadmap rallies the team around the work that needs to be done. It shows who is responsible for what and details deadlines and deliverables. A clear roadmap demonstrates how each person's work contributes to the team's goals.

  • Communication: Your digital marketing work will likely require help from other areas of the marketing organization. For example, you will need content and creative help on new digital assets. Your roadmap helps keep this cross-functional work on schedule.

  • Visibility: Digital marketing serves a crucial role in customer acquisition. Executives and other teams will want to know how work is progressing and how you plan to make your activities more impactful. A roadmap keeps the broader marketing team and organization informed of when the next campaign or initiative is happening.

  • Progress: A digital marketing roadmap helps you track progress and see the results of your hard work. Communicating this information is important as you attend budgeting meetings and ask for additional resources to support your efforts.

Digital marketing roadmap tools

A digital marketing roadmap is an essential tool for marketers. Visually communicating the priorities and progress of the team to internal stakeholders ensures that teams stay on track and on budget.

There are plenty of Excel and PowerPoint templates to help marketing teams build their roadmaps. These static resources are readily available to most companies. However, more sophisticated marketing teams collaborate with colleagues on digital marketing plans in real time. If this sounds like you, you may want to try Aha! — purpose-built marketing planning software that helps marketing teams of all sizes define marketing strategy, build visual plans, and report back on the results of their campaigns.