Remember plotting road trip before Google Maps? It wasn’t easy.
First, you’d crack open your physical map. Then you’d slowly and painstakingly mark down exactly how you’d get to Point B. The exercise was tedious, but it worked.
Digital marketing isn’t so different from a road trip.
In both instances, you know where you are, you know where you’re going, and you need a plan to get there.
However, many inexperienced marketers dive right into execution without creating a digital marketing roadmap. Could you imagine the amount of issues you’d have planning a cross-country journey this way? Stopping at every intersection to plan the next step. It would take you exponentially longer to reach your destination.
Before you leap into action, you need to create a digital marketing roadmap to ensure you know the most direct path to reach Point B.
By implementing a digital marketing mix that is tailored for your business objectives, you will get to your destination via the most efficient route. This will save you time and money.
Getting Started: What Are Your Business Objectives?
Your digital marketing efforts need to be tailored to your business objectives. Keeping your business objectives at the forefront of all digital marketing planning will ensure you choose the right avenues to achieve them.
Are you looking to:
Increase brand awareness?
Increase website traffic?
Increase qualified leads?
Increase online sales?
It’s possible you want all of these. The question is, how valuable is each objective to your business?
By prioritizing your objectives, you can design a digital marketing roadmap with an end goal in mind.
Who are you trying to reach?
Having a clear picture of who you are targeting will also inform your initial strategy.
For every demographic that you value as a customer, you should establish customer personas that answer the questions:
What do they value?
What are their pain points?
What are their buying habits? (Online & Offline)
What types of jobs do they have?
What is their average income?
How would they look for your products or services online?
What social media networks do they frequent?
These answers will ensure your roadmap is optimized to target high-value audiences in the right place at the right time.
Roads less traveled can be more efficient
If you invest in evaluating search and digital opportunities at the outset then you can discover high-value digital marketing channels that your competitors might not have considered:
Do your customers ask or research questions related to your business on Quora? Consider Quora Ads.
Do you want to attract more people who search for shops or restaurants on their mobile to your nearby physical location? Try local SEO.
Do you want to be able to target search ads to people with certain job titles? Bing Ads now has LinkedIn targeting options.
While the answers to some of these questions may be intuitive, data speaks volumes. Conducting audits of your competitors and your existing digital assets will help you determine which networks and strategies will help you achieve your business objectives.
Perform Digital Marketing Audits and Opportunity Assessments to Determine Your Strongest Opportunities
Knowledge is power, and conducting thorough digital audits is key to figuring out how to get ahead.
Audits that you should run include, but are not limited to:
Competitive Digital Marketing Analysis
Website Audit and Benchmarking
SEO Content Marketing Opportunities
PPC and Paid Social Opportunities
1. Competitive Digital Marketing Analysis
A proper competitive digital marketing analysis can give you insight why you’re ranking below your competitors on SERPs. It could also give you insight into why you’re getting outbid in paid advertising auctions.
SEO auditing tools like SEMRush help to uncover what search terms your competitors are ranking highly on, and for which of their webpages. You can also get a view of their domain authority; a numeric value that ranks how authoritative a competitor’s website is. These findings should help inform your SEO roadmap strategy.
PPC auditing tools let you see your competitors’ advertising copy, their PPC budgets, and what their top bids are for specific keywords.
Aside from that, it always helps to perform an old fashioned SWOT analysis on the website, social media channels, and digital advertising of your competitors:
How well is their website designed? Is it easy to navigate?
How much website traffic do they get? Where is it coming from?
What kind of content are they writing? How well does it address the needs of your customers? Is it ranked well on search? Is it being shared?
Are their social media channels updated regularly? How much engagement do their posts get?
2. Website Audit and Benchmarking
An audit of your website that looks at SEO, conversion and user-experience factors will help you determine your own strengths and weaknesses. It also provides a baseline for any improvements that result from your digital marketing efforts
This audit looks for factors on your web pages that may be preventing you from ranking well on search engines. Some of these factors include:
Image Formatting & ALTTags
Schema / Structured Data
Setting up tags and pixels on your website for different analytics and advertising services will provide more insight into conversion paths across all your digital marketing touchpoints.
Are you getting a decent amount of traffic to your landing pages or blogs, but the user never clicks on your CTA? You can use a heatmap tool to determine how users interact with your pages so you can optimize for clicks.
3. SEO Content Marketing Opportunities
When your website comes up on page 7 of Google when searching for your product or service, it’s not a great feeling and you are not generating any significant traffic. So how do you get higher?
Some factors that affect your rank on Google and other search engines include:
How long your website has been live
The keywords and phrases you use in your site’s copy
How much traffic your website gets
How long a reader remains on your website/web pages
How many other websites link to your website
Whether or not readers click through to another page
Creating an SEO roadmap strategy won’t show immediate results. After a few months, however, you will begin to reach your SEO goals.
To best optimize for organic search, you need to dig deep into your analytics and the results from SEO auditing to determine where to focus your efforts.
Analytics & Google Search Console Audit
You should look into your Google Analytics and Google Search Console (GSC) to get a picture of how your site is currently performing overall for organic traffic.
Analytics and GSC will help you determine how much search engine traffic is arriving at your website and specific webpages. You can see the number of users who land on specific pages and end up clicking on a link. You can also see how many leave without taking any action. You can also track a typical user’s flow throughout the pages of your website towards a conversion point.
One of the keys to any successful SEO strategy is in choosing the right keywords to focus on. While you will be using words in your copy that are related to your products and services, you need to research which keywords and long-tail keywords present a strong ranking opportunity.
A long-tail keyword is a combination of words, a search phrase, or a search question. You want to perform keyword research to identify long-tail keywords that would be related to your business or products that people often search for, but are also not being leveraged by your competitors.
By focusing your initial SEO strategy on these “quick-win” keywords, you can boost your domain authority and begin ranking more on higher-competition keywords.
Be sure to read our blog post What Are Keywords & What Is Keyword Research for a deeper dive into keyword research.
To rank higher on search faster, you need to earn links to your site. Once you have more authority online, people will link to your site naturally. When you are just starting out though, you will need to use an SEO-driven PR strategy to drive link building.
4. PPC and Paid Social Opportunities
Running ads across various touch points on the web is a great way to reach your customers wherever they are. PPC allows you to run ads above search results, as well as run display and video ads across an enormous variety of websites and apps.
To get started, you need to ensure your keywords and targeting are well-thought out so you don’t end up wasting money on the wrong audience.
PPC is an entire beast on it’s. You can learn more about how PPC and SEO work together to round out your digital marketing roadmap in our recent article Why SEO + PPC Fuels More Growth When Done Together.
Realizing Your Objectives by Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Mix
With your analysis and audits completed, prioritized and packaged meaningfully, you can now put together your digital marketing strategy.
You should now be able to answer all of these important questions:
What are my business objectives?
Where are my customers on the web?
How and when are they looking for my products and services?
What tools can I use to reach them at the right time and place?
These answers help you choose from the plethora of digital marketing tools and tactics available and how much effort to spend on each.
Search Engine Optimization
To drive sustainable traffic to your website without relying on PPC, you need to focus on SEO. The earlier you start focusing on SEO, the sooner you will be able to rely less on paid marketing and have larger volumes of traffic flowing to your site.
PPC is ideal if your business objective is to drive leads or conversions. When properly configured, ads can be displayed to users who are the most likely to convert, at the right place and time.
Social media has both an organic and a paid component.
Organic social media is the free use of the platforms to share your content and work at building a community. However, finding fans and building a loyal audience on social media takes a lot of time and effort. Facebook has also made it harder for businesses to show up on users’ feeds organically.
To maximize your efforts, you can include a paid social media component. A strategy should be designed to boost your posts in order to attract more followers to your social media account. Or you can run ads on the social media networks for the strict purpose of bringing high-intent users to your website.
How Data From Each Strategy Informs the Others
Every one of your digital marketing channels will provide you with data you can use to boost the others.
Important Transferable Insights Include:
How effective was your ad copy?
Which of your offers had a higher conversion rate?
Which paid keywords led to more conversions?
Which social media posts/ads had the most engagement?
Which images are resulting in more engagement or clicks?
By learning the most effective conversion tactics across each marketing touchpoint, you can apply those findings to the other tactics. For example: successful organic keywords can help inform your paid keyword strategy, and vice-versa.
The Living Roadmap
Your digital marketing roadmap is not set in stone. Maybe along the road you will discover a shortcut that wasn’t in your initial plan. That’s great – when we’re working with our partners we are always looking for new optimization opportunities.
However, the need for ongoing adaptation doesn’t mean you should forgo the initial roadmapping!
To ensure you get where you need to go, efficiently and quickly, you should look to work with a trusted digital marketing partner.