Digital transformation around the world isn’t slowing down. To keep pace with change it’s important to have a clear view of your plans and direction of travel – in short, you need a digital roadmap.

Many businesses are learning to accommodate a radically different environment: nowhere more so than in the arts, cultural, heritage, hospitality, sports and entertainment sectors. Organisations are digitally reinventing themselves as customer preferences and economic conditions flex and change

However, while responding to what’s in front of us is important, taking the long view is essential.


No time like the present

Your digital presence has multiple component parts and they all need to work together seamlessly to provide stable foundations for the future.

You will need a robust and accessible website that represents your brand and allows you to sell effectively online, you’ll need to engage your audiences with content they value on the channels they prefer, and behind the scenes you’ll want powerful systems integration to future-proof your performance.

That’s where developing a digital roadmap comes in. It is a guide and framework for planning and decision making when the only constant factor is change. It will feed and promote organisational resilience and help you to grow sustainably.

Take the first step

When it comes to developing an actionable digital roadmap, you’ll want to be sure it’s data-driven and aligned with your goals and vision. A Chinese philosopher once said; “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.

To begin your digital journey, we recommend these five steps:

  1. Firstly, identify your long-term digital objectives
  2. Be sure you define and understand your audiences
  3. Create a ‘State of the Nation’ report for all your digital properties, organise your ideas in order of priority, check and refine them until you have an actionable plan
  4. Decide what success will look like and how you will measure it
  5. Implement your plan and iterate.

What are digital objectives?

You must be clear what you want and expect your organisation’s digital transformation to achieve. How will you reach your audiences, engage them, and fulfil your mission at the same time?

Be clear about how your digital objectives will fit with wider organisational goals; many will overlap but some might conflict. Share your ideas widely to make sure those involved and affected understand and support your digital roadmap.

Defining and understanding your audiences

One of the potential risks you will need to recognise in your roadmap is a mismatch of understanding across your organisation concerning your audiences and their needs.

Do you know how those needs will be prioritised? Do you know if they are changing as new, younger cohorts play more influential roles. What other factors could change your assumptions?

We recommend defining and researching digital personas so you can better understand their context, behaviour and needs. This will help you engage them with what you do. This is the bedrock that will allow you to create the exciting ‘sticky’ user experiences of your digital offer.

Why a measurement model is needed

Data-driven processes are the most likely to succeed, whether they are for digital marketing, user experience (UX) design or your website development. That’s why measurement is a key part of the development of your digital roadmap.

Collating and analysing data can be satisfying, but we do more. We make sense of what the data is showing and, more importantly, link these insights to your overarching goals. Then we can use our deeper understanding to keep track of performance and make sure you’re actually achieving those goals.

That’s why each of the steps we recommend will allow our Measurement Model to drive digital growth. Once you’ve followed these steps, you’ll have a dashboard that you can use to monitor progress, track your goals and, because we use Google Data Studio to set this up, you’ll have a complete picture, pretty much in real time.

What is a State of the Nation report?

Before you decide how you will get to where you want to go, it’s important to understand where you are now. A ‘State of the Nation’ report helps you do just that by taking stock of your organisation’s current positioning and performance across all your digital properties. It will identify key trends in your industry, compare you with your competitors, and identify new areas of opportunity in a digital context.

Your report will depend on your existing digital activities and channels, your organisation’s goals and the resources you have available. Broadly, however, the ‘State of the Nation’ reports we produce have some things in common, including:

  • Executive Summary – key trends and insights for your organisation, as well as your wider sector
  • Competitor analysis – a focus on your digital positioning versus that of your peer competitors
  • Performance review and recommendations – how to benefit from specific digital marketing channels and tactics such as paid search, social media, search engine optimisation (SEO), email marketing, and conversion rate optimisation (CRO)
  • Additional considerations – reviews of wider possibilities such as the benefits of customer retention over acquisition, your current strategy and performance, the contribution of loyalty and referral programmes, membership and donations.

The best part? When done properly your report will provide you with rich insights and actionable recommendations. We normally put them in order of priority by taking into account their expected impact and ease of implementation. The ‘State of the Nation’ is your first tangible step towards completing your digital roadmap.

Iterate, iterate, iterate

With your ‘State of the Nation’ report and action plan in place and your measurement model defined you’ll be ready to move ahead on your digital journey. From our experience, in six to 12 months you will be seeing clear indications of shifting performance. Soon your action list will be complete but that’s not the time to sit back and relax.

Things change all the time, all around us. To succeed, this whole process relies on regularly iterating and improving what you have started.

So, we recommend you create a new ‘State of the Nation’ report every 12 months to see what’s changed and update your action plan to keep ahead of your competition. Your goals might shift as your journey continues, and as new technologies, trends and shifts in user behaviour emerge.

We find a good approach is to divide your action plan and roadmap into ‘sprints’ of activity that you can tackle individually. With an overarching strategy for your digital presence, you can confirm you’re on the right track and making the best use of your marketing budget.

So, for example, you might see an uplift in your online traffic, but if your website isn’t converting visits into sales only part of the job is complete. Your website might be brilliantly designed but, if it’s not SEO optimised, no one will find it. If your advertising isn’t reaching the right audience, you won’t see a good return on your investment. The key is to have your target audience at the front of your mind so your digital presence is consistently focused and optimised across all channels.

If you’re inspired to start developing your digital roadmap but need a helping hand, just say [email protected].