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A digital strategy roadmap in 7 (very effective) steps

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Advanced Strategies / May 08, 2018

A digital strategy roadmap is two things: a digital strategy, and a roadmap. You can’t have one without the other. Developing a digital strategy without a roadmap gets you nowhere. And following a roadmap without a strategy has no direction. You get the metaphor.

We’re going to lay it out for you, in seven not-so-easy but very effective steps. You begin by understanding who you are now, where you want to go, and who you want to sell to. Then you outline how you’re going to get there. Set your milestones, and map out what it’s going to take to achieve each one, step by step. And of course, you measure the heck out of it.

1. Discovery: who are you today and where do you want to go?

Every strategy, every roadmap begins with a good, hard look at where your organization is today. This involves examining your digital metrics, sales, products or services and capabilities. What has happened over the past year to get you to this point? Who are your competitors? What are they doing and where are you positioned in relation to them?

Based on your current situation, where do you want to go? Do you need to adapt to a new competitor, market or technology? Why a new digital strategy and roadmap now? What is it expected to do for your business?

2. Define your target market.

Take a step back and look at your market — the people you currently sell to, and those who you want to sell to. Who bought your products or services over the past year? Who didn’t and why? Did this match your expectations — in terms of volume and the type of person you thought you would attract?

Are there market segments you would like to attract, but currently aren’t? Do you need to position yourself to capture emerging markets? Describe your current and target customers: who they are, where they live, what motivates them to buy, etc.

3. Set measurable business objectives.

Before you even think about building a strategic roadmap, clearly define what you want to accomplish. What is the business opportunity? How do you want to change, evolve, grow, compete? Be specific. If you want to attract a new market, how much of this new market? How much revenue will this bring you?

If you want to change your brand, how? And how is this brand evolution going to affect your bottom line? Assign a realistic, measurable target to each objective — so instead of saying: “generate more leads” convert it to “add 1,000 subscribers to our email list”. You get it.

4. Create your strategy: Outline the how, and the why

Now you’re ready for the heavy lifting. It’s time to roll everything you’ve learned about your current situation, target market and objectives into a digital strategy. Don’t be intimidated: It’s simply a document that defines how you’re going to meet your objectives.

For example, you might identify that your target market is 40-ish professional women who are looking for career opportunities. With this in mind, how do you get their attention and inspire them to do what you want them to do (meet your objectives)? The how you reach them — for example, the type of content, ad and marketing messaging, and sales process, paired with the reasons why you will use these methodologies —  is your strategy.

Once you have defined your methodology, you can take your strategy to the next level by outlining how these processes will work together. For example: how will your social media content drive to the blog, and how will your white paper be used to generate leads? Your strategy is the high-level plan behind all your digital marketing activities. The specifics — which channels, content pieces, networks, ad formats — are your digital marketing tactics.

Sum up your digital marketing strategy in one sentence. Make it the anchor that aligns all your efforts throughout your roadmap. Whenever a new tactic or idea is introduced, simply return to this summary to see if it aligns with the overall how and why of your digital strategy.

5. Define key milestones

Now it’s time to switch from the ideological to the tactical. Looking ahead in time, what are the key milestones between where you are now and where you want to be? Are there sales targets you need to meet at specific times? Product launches? Do you have seasonal sales cycles or digital marketing campaigns that require planning? Define when these milestones will occur and align them with key performance indicators — in other words, give each milestone a measurable success metric, such as revenue generated or number of subscriptions.

6. Outline the tactics, timeline and budget to meet these milestones.

In line with your strategy, break down the tactics you will be using to meet each of your milestones. For example, you may gather leads for email marketing to promote a beta launch of your product. Or maybe you will use paid search to generate sales during peak sales seasons.

This is your digital marketing plan and your roadmap. Map them out on a timeline, and assign a budget to each activity. Ensure that each tactic realistically aligns with the success metrics you assigned to each of your milestones.

7. Measure the results, learn and optimize.

Back in step five, we spoke about assigning a success metric to each milestone. We weren’t joking around… Once you implement each project along your digital roadmap, make sure the mechanisms are in place to track and measure its performance. Compare actual metrics to your KPIs. Are your projects meeting their targets? If not, how can you adjust your tactics, targeting and messaging to improve performance? Rinse and repeat for every step.

Focus on the micro, without losing touch with the macro

A digital strategy roadmap does two amazing things at once: it enables you to orient your organization around a big picture strategy and long term objective, while also showing you the way, step by step, to reach those objectives. You may sweat a little up front, but once your strategy, roadmap and plan are in place, you will know where you’re going, what you’re doing, why you’re doing it… and how well it’s working.

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