Building a roadmap to success, Part III

Apiary Digital recently surveyed a select group of performance marketing leaders—from startups, Fortune 500 companies, and everything in between—to learn their secrets to success during the first 90 days in a new position. To capture the pearls of wisdom shared through this survey, we’ve created a blog series, “The First 90 Days.” This is part of the multi-part series.

According to Apiary’s recent survey of high-performance marketing leaders, one of the most common tactics for achieving success in the first 90 days of a new position is to build a roadmap. While development of the roadmap needs to happen relatively soon after settling into a new marketing leadership role, actual execution takes place over a much longer period, and logically breaks into three phases: the “crawl” phase (early wins within a small subset of your marketing program), the “walk” phase (scaling learnings across your program to achieve performance growth), and the “run phase,” which will be covered here. 

73.9% of marketing leaders surveyed indicated strategizing, planning, and building out a roadmap is part of their first 90-day success plan.

Sustaining growth

The “run” phase of a roadmap is all about evolving your marketing program to achieve a sustained rate of growth. Making big improvements right out of the gate is something to celebrate and helps set expectations about the rate of growth that can be delivered. The trick is; however, determining how to sustain growth and improvement as your program matures. 

The run phase of your roadmap should answer this question: How do we drive a sustainable rate of improvement and growth?

To answer this, first focus on improving and optimizing what you’ve already got. This might be things like allocating dollars more efficiently, or improving your site conversion rate. Small changes really add updon’t underestimate them! 

Ecommerce example. With just a slight increase in conversion rate, from 2% to 2.2%, you could increase revenue by $100K/mo or $1.2MM/year, which would be well worth the cost of implementing landing page testing and improvements to the site. Here’s the math:

Monthly site visitors Avg site conversion rate Avg order value Monthly revenue
Current performance 1,000,000 2.00% $50 $1,000,000
w/ 10% improvement to conversion rate 1,000,000 2.20% $50 $1,100,000

B2B example. With the same 10% improvement to site conversion rate, we see a 1.5MM monthly increase in expected revenue.

Monthly site visitors Lead capture conversion % Lead to MQL % MQL to close % Avg. deal size Expected revenue
Current performance 100,000 2.00% 50% 30% $50,000 $15,000,000
w/ 10% improvement to conversion rate 100,000 2.20% 50% 30% $50,000 $16,500,000

You could use a model like this to understand how much you stand to gain by making small lifts in metrics like conversion rate or other metrics such as average order value/deal size. 

Second thing to look at to achieve sustained growth is to try new things. It’s all about making faster growth and diversification of revenue. Here are some examples:

  • Establish a foundation of testing and revenue diversification. Don’t become over-reliant on one channel. The platforms, competition, and attitudes are in constant flux. Stay ahead of the curve. A single algorithm change could wipe out a big chunk of revenue if you rely only on one platform.
  • Continuous improvement. Always be testing new things within existing channels. Test new channels and tactics. Set aside a portion of your budget (~10-15%) with looser KPIs to enable testing, which by definition provides no guaranteessome things will fail. As tests become successful, move them from the test budget bucket to the evergreen, always-on program and do a mini-version of what you did in the “walk phase” of your roadmap; expand successful testing to other domains. 
  • “What could we do with more?”—ask this question at regular intervals—somewhere between quarterly and annually, depending on the size and structure of your organization. Create a model you can update on this cadence to forecast “if we had X more budget we could deliver Y more revenue.” It’s usually a non-linear answer. 

Wrapping it up: Add “Pins” to add to your roadmap

More than likely in the “walk” phase of your roadmap you identified dozens of foundational infrastructure and technology improvements and investments you’d like to make. However, if your organization is like most, you may not be able to get many of them implemented in a timely manner. At this phase, you’ll have established a strong track record within your org, and you’re in a better position to make technology and infrastructure investment business cases. As you look further and further into the future, it’s hard to anticipate what will be important and when. As things get fuzzier, adding waypoints as pins to revisit can be a helpful way to chart the more distant future.

⚠ Pro-tip: One of the biggest challenges you’ll face early on in your new position is trying to do too much at once. Getting a roadmap built within that first 90-day period can help. It lays the groundwork for the next 12+ monthswhich of course is sure to change and evolve—but anything you capture for the future is preserved, freeing you to focus on what’s important today. Your roadmap can also serve as leverage for pushing back on internal stakeholders and help them form realistic expectations. 

Things to consider adding as “pins” to your roadmap for revisiting later:

📌 Goals & budget. You will have already tackled this in the early days of your new position (i.e., quick wins) even before beginning to build your roadmap, but it’s worth revisiting now. Ask yourself at this point: Are the goals, KPIs, and budgets you’ve been given reasonable? Now that you have more insight into the business, do these KPIs actually support the bottom line? If the CFO were to slash budgets, would she be able to clearly understand the value of marketing? Are your team members and vendors crystal clear on their goals and KPIs? At some point it will be time to evolve what you’re optimizing toward. It’s good to have a pin in your roadmap to revisit this periodically:

Ecommerce. You start with ROAS, but what about CLV? What about gateway products? What about online/offline revenue tracking. How about attribution? 

B2B. You start with lead gen, then go to lead quality, then get a closed feedback loop to optimize further down in the sales funnel and have both the reporting and data to optimize. 

📌 People. Do you have enough resources with the right skills in the right roles? What should you take in-house versus what makes more sense to outsource? What’s the quality of your current vendors? Do you have the right partners, are they delivering their best work, and for the right price?

📌 Tools, techstack & process. Do you have the right tools in place to succeed? How strong is your tagging and analytics infrastructure? Are you burning through hours every week tracking down metrics instead of analyzing clean reporting dashboards? Does your marketing automation tool play nicely with your CRM? 

📌 Marketing mix. Are you supporting upper-funnel branding and awareness plays enough to feed you DR channels? Is there a clear path from awareness to conversion with a story and customer experience that makes sense and measurable KPIs? If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to invest in channels that may require a lot of upfront investment, but that pay off in the long-run—like a site redesign or CRO, SEO, and content marketing. 

Stay tuned for the next installment in the series to get insights on how conducting a complete audit of each marketing channel can help contribute to your success during the first 90 days in a new marketing leadership position.