How to Organize a Marketing Roadmap in 5 Simple Steps

How to Organize a Marketing Roadmap in 5 Simple Steps Planning a marketing project can feel chaotic for new and veteran marketers. With multiple elements and team members involved, how do you make sure you finish it on time and on spec? If your marketing project needs organization, try using a roadmap. It provides a structure that makes it easier for you and your team to know what to do, when to do it, and when your project needs to ship.

What is a Marketing Roadmap?

A marketing roadmap is a plan and timeline for finishing your project or campaign. Like any other roadmap, it should have a clear starting point (start date), waymarkers (project milestones), and destination (deadline). Your roadmap’s format is ultimately up to you. The key is finding an organization method that suits your workflow and keeps your projects in order across your team. Definition of a marketing roadmap

Types of Marketing Roadmaps

You can plan a roadmap for just about any situation. Here are three of the most common types of marketing roadmaps.

Project Roadmap

A project roadmap consists of all of the steps needed to launch a marketing project. Within a marketing strategy, a project refers to a single item, such as:
  • A blog post
  • A newsletter
  • An event
  • An email

Campaign Roadmap

Campaign roadmaps work on a larger scale than project roadmaps. They plan out all the projects involved in a marketing campaign. Your campaign roadmap’s organization can vary. It may include individual projects as steps or delve into each project’s milestones. For more extensive needs, create separate project roadmaps to include in the campaign roadmap.

Strategic Roadmap

A strategic roadmap plans at a higher scale than a campaign roadmap, covering all campaigns and projects within a marketing strategy for a year. It allows a detailed tracking of individual campaigns and projects.

What Does a Marketing Roadmap Look Like?

A marketing roadmap’s design is flexible and should suit your team’s needs. Here are four examples of common marketing roadmap formats that include ways to use our free templates. We’ll also discuss elements to create an effective organizational tool.

Example 1: Checklist of Tasks

For list-oriented individuals, a checklist-based roadmap is recommended. It offers a straightforward overview of project steps, campaigns, or strategies. You can create one in whatever software you prefer. Blog post task checklist If you use CoSchedule Calendar products, you can take advantage of the Task Templates feature when you want to make a roadmap checklist. Choose from eight, pre-made templates or customize your own to create a task checklist in a snap. Marketers who prefer pen and paper can also write up a checklist and cross off items as they go. Choose a format that you know you’ll use over one that you feel you’re “supposed” to use.

Example 2: Marketing or Content Calendar

Calendars are the bread and butter of many marketing operations. A calendar roadmap organizes tasks by date, either with traditional daily sections or divided by day, week, month, or quarter. Our template package includes a wide range of calendars to use as a roadmap. In this general calendar from our templates, you can see the tasks from the previous checklist laid out in a calendar. Marketing and content calendar template We included the tasks for a single blog post project in this example, but you can use this calendar to outline multiple projects. Blog post example in the content calendar template Depending on how you like to organize your projects, you can break your roadmap down by project or individual task. Project checklist template You can color code items based on the person responsible or project involved, such as team member. Color coding key for calendar templates Our package of roadmap templates also features calendars for email newsletters and social media campaigns that use a different format than our general calendar. Marketing roadmap template This email marketing calendar categorizes emails by month. If you visit our blog post about this calendar, you’ll see that it also organizes emails by customer persona, topic, resources, and many other helpful details. Social media marketing can require you to think on a smaller time scale than other types of marketing, so our social media promotion calendar tracks multiple posts per day. Social media promotional calendar template Customize the calendar to match your social platforms and posting frequency. For example, adjust rows for Twitter and Facebook based on their respective best practices for posting frequency. CoSchedule makes it easy to create a calendar roadmap with the CoSchedule Calendar feature. You can create and categorize tasks, schedule them and assign them to team members. This ensures everyone can stay up to date on any changes in your roadmap. CoSchedule marketing calendar

Example 3: Kanban Board

Kanban boards provide a visual overview of a project’s steps. You might already use one as part of an agile marketing framework. Regardless of the project management approach you use, you might enjoy the drag-and-drop mechanics of a Kanban board — they’re kind of like digital sticky notes.

Kanban board's drag-and-drop mechanics function like digital sticky notes.

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A Kanban board consists of:
  • Moveable cards that each represent a deliverable, such as a campaign or a project.
  • Stationary lists that each correspond to a stage in your marketing process.
If you need Kanban software, you can find one right in CoSchedule Calendar products. CoSchedule project backlog In the Kanban Project Dashboard, you can make any card a collaborative effort using team-friendly features. You can assign team members to cards to create a collaborative space to share checklists, deadlines, and updates.

Example 4: Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart creates a visual timeline of what your tasks are and when you need to do them. Once you understand how to interpret a Gantt chart, you can use it to determine:
  • What activities you need to do and when they’ll start and end
  • Where activities overlap
  • When your entire project starts and ends
This picture, from, shows what a Gantt chart looks like in action: marketing roadmap example The chart above shows tasks by day, and week. A Gantt chart helps you visualize your workload and make adjustments for better workload management.

Elements That All Roadmaps Should Include

A marketing roadmap that’s easy to understand and actionable should include:
  • A clear timeline from the start of your project, campaign, or marketing period to its finish. Define the start and end dates of your work, aling with the time increments for measurement.
  • A definition of what “complete” means. Deliverables like blog posts are easy to define as done, but complexities arise when dealing with larget projects like an entire campaign.
  • A clear goal that your project or campaign has to achieve. As you plan a task, you should also create marketing objectives that will work as a benchmark for measuring your progress.

How to Plan a Roadmap in 5 Steps

Now that you know what a roadmap can look like, it’s time for you to make one for yourself. It’ll take four easy steps to plan a roadmap for your next marketing project.

Step 1: Determine What You Need to Plan

  • A project. You can use a roadmap to break down a single deliverable, such as a blog post or white paper.
  • A campaign. Roadmaps can also plot out a full campaign, including the projects and tasks involved.
  • An annual strategy. If you need to plan on a large scale, you can also use a roadmap to organize your annual marketing strategy.
  • Something else. Your imagination’s the limit when it comes to roadmapping. Perhaps you need to plan team operations or combine project planning with campaign planning.

Step 2: Break It All Down

After defining your plan, break it down into elements, principles, and tasks considering the roadmap’s purpose. For simple project deadlines, less planning is needed compared to a detailed monthly social media calendar. Ask these questions to create your roadmap’s stepping stones:
  1. What steps are required to complete the deliverable?
  2. What benchmarks will track progress in this roadmap?
  3. Which tasks need coordination with your team throughout the roadmap?

The scope of your marketing roadmap will depend on its purpose.

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Step 3: Make a Timeline of How Long Tasks Will Take

Now you can give each of your steps a time estimate. This helpful HubSpot blog post on project estimates explains four methods for estimating time:
  • Three-point estimating: Taking the average of your best-case, worst-case, and average time estimate for the project.
  • Bottom-up estimating: Getting time estimates from everyone doing the work in your project and adding them together.
  • Analogous estimating: Estimating a project’s time based on the time it takes to complete similar projects.
  • Parametric estimating: Basing an estimate on internal or external reports and data.
For new large-scale planners, it’s advisable to make estimates longer than expected. As you gain experience and understand your team’s pace, you can adjust time estimates in future roadmaps.

Step 4: Estimate How Long Each Step Will Take

Define, outline, and order your steps, then assign time estimates to each step. This helpful HubSpot blog post on project estimates explains four methods for estimating time:
  • Three-point estimating: Average of best-case, worst-case, and average time estimates for the project.
  • Bottom-up estimating: Summing time estimates from all project contributors.
  • Analogous estimating: Project time estimation based on similar past projects.
  • Parametric estimating: Using internal or external data for the estimate.
For beginners in large-scale planning, it's advisable to initially set longer estimates and refine them with experience over time.

Step 5: Plot Out Projects and Tasks With Your Favorite Tool

Organize your projects, tasks, and milestones with the tool of your choice. If you’re looking for a marketing-focused roadmap tool, consider a CoSchedule Calendar product. 5-step process to creating a marketing roadmap This piece was originally published December 2020. It was updated again August 2023. 
About the Author

Melissa King is a freelance writer who helps B2B SaaS companies spread the word about their products through engaging content. She has six years of professional writing experience. Outside of the content marketing world, she sometimes writes about video games.