How to Leverage Growth Roadmaps for DTC Ecommerce

February 28, 2024

How to Leverage Growth Roadmaps for DTC Ecommerce

Growth roadmaps are essential for ecommerce brands to stay focused in 2024. However, building an effective roadmap for growth involves more than just setting a goal for a single metric and building a plan around meeting that goal. 

A well-designed roadmap is a series of strategic blueprints that clearly outline your paths to success. It accounts for more than just increased Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) or monthly revenue targets. It accounts for the broader, more complex aspects of business growth and long-term strategy, taking into account how all aspects of your business work together. It also gives you built-in backup plans; because your business operates in a dynamic and ever-changing environment, flexibility is key.

A good roadmap isn’t easy to create, and it’s even more difficult for business leaders to stick to, especially during stressful or turbulent times, when you need guidance the most. But your roadmap can be your North Star, keeping your priorities and efforts aligned with the overall vision for your brand. 

Understanding Your Goals

More often than not, the first mistake that brands make when building their growth roadmaps is failing to properly define their overall goals. Say you’re interested in increasing your ROAS – a fine goal, one that can be achieved with a solid plan. But that doesn’t solve a problem, it’s just achieving a certain metric. Without looking bigger, you could achieve that goal and still end up losing in the long run. 

Start by looking broader, not just about increasing sales, but what are your overall goals in terms of growth, profitability? What is keeping you up at night which may signal barriers to achieving those goals?

Once you understand the answers to these questions, you can begin defining the path to achieving your specific goals while taking into account the holistic picture of your business. Account for things like all in business profit, maximizing new and existing customer revenue, historic performance to inform your road map for success.

Third-party experts are extremely helpful when it comes to looking at the big picture of your business and noticing angles you may overlook. They will probe deeply for information; the more keys you give them, the more doors they can unlock for you. 

One of the best things a great consultant can do for you is help you to say no and ask why. By doing so, they can prevent deviation from key goals and maintain focus on long-term success rather than short-term, reactive measures.

The goal is to help clients achieve their revenue targets within their current budget constraints.

Competitive Analysis & Market Trends

Once you come to a clear understanding of your company’s internal goals, it’s time to look at how you fit into the broader context of the industry through competitive analysis and examining market trends. 

Competitive Analysis

Early competitor analysis is essential when creating a growth roadmap. At a high level, competitive analysis allows you to see what your competitors are doing and if you are missing an opportunity. You may be able to see that an industry-leading competitor has an effective landing page or upselling experience. Can you emulate those wins? 

But you have to do more than just X — because they’re doing X. When incorporating data from competitor analysis into your roadmap, you need to consider how your infrastructure can support those initiatives. How will it affect your target audience? How will this one change contribute to your overall goals? 

Thoroughly research to determine the feasibility of chasing goals informed by your competitors’ successes. 

Market Trends

For ecommerce brands, researching market trends is a crucial step in building a growth roadmap. More than just looking at what’s currently popular, effective market trend analysis scours market data and the competitive landscape while considering how their consumers fit into it all.

For example, say your brand sells home technology, offering products like smart thermostats and wireless charging stations for smartphones. Your smart thermostats may be your bread and butter, and there’s already a huge competitor for your wireless charging stations.

However, by analyzing the market, you may find that the demand for wireless charging stations is projected to increase tenfold in the next ten years. Production costs for the wireless charging stations are low, and with this market projection, you may plan to increase investing in that product when you otherwise would have put them on the back burner and missed an opportunity. 

By leveraging macroeconomic trends to identify these opportunities and aligning them with your growth roadmap, you can capitalize on emerging trends and ensure sustainable growth.

Budget Allocation

Incorporating a budget into a growth roadmap for an ecommerce brand requires a nuanced understanding of multiple factors.

Operational costs and logistics are at the forefront. If you successfully market a product and increase its demand but suddenly find yourself short on funds to produce more, there’s a direct impact on your revenue and an immediate need for a strategic shift. 

A growth roadmap isn’t static; it must adapt to market changes, consumer behavior shifts, and inventory fluctuations. This flexibility might mean reallocating budgets to different marketing channels or adjusting campaign focuses in response to real-time data. 

Quarterly and annual planning ensure long-term vision and periodic reassessment of the budget allocation. These inform data-driven decisions, which is the backbone of effective budgeting. 

It’s all about strategically distributing the marketing spend across various channels and initiatives. 

Selecting The Right Channels For Paid Media

Deciding where to invest the money you’ve allocated is also crucial. More than just deciding on which platforms to place your ads, you need to understand where your brand can most effectively connect with your target audience and drive meaningful growth.

Each advertising platform, be it Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or whatever, caters to distinct users with specific ways of behaving. Instagram might be great for visually-driven products targeting a younger demographic, but Google Ads might be more effective for marketing products where customers know exactly what they want and are ready to make an immediate purchase.

Carefully align the characteristics of each channel with your product type and target audience.  

TikTok might be perfect for a brand with a young, dynamic audience and a product that can be showcased visually. But LinkedIn is much more suitable for B2B products or services that appeal to professionals.

Analyzing past campaign performances, understanding where your current customers are most active, and keeping an eye on emerging trends are all critical in making informed decisions about where to invest.

It’s also important to consider the customer journey post-ad engagement. Does the platform allow you to dynamically show ads to previous website visitors or ad engagers? Can it integrate well with your CRM and other tools to create a seamless experience?

Creative Elements & Creative Testing

Creative elements encompass everything from the look of your website to the design of your products, the videos you produce, and the style and tone of your copy. Creative is where the rubber meets the road in terms of bringing in a new customer and building brand awareness.

It’s essential to incorporate creative strategies early in the process, particularly factoring in the differences across platforms. In a time when competition is at an all time high, this is your opportunity to stand out. And more than just showcasing your product, effective creative builds a perceived need or solves a problem for the consumer. Creativity in marketing, therefore, involves understanding human psychology and purchasing behavior to capture attention and sell a product.

But while some themes can be planned well in advance, the fast-paced nature of consumer interests, especially on trendy platforms like TikTok, means that your strategies need to be able to adapt quickly. What’s crushing it today may be completely obsolete next week.

It’s a good idea to stick to the 80/20 rule in creative testing. Here, 80% of the creatives are based on proven, successful iterations, while 20% are allocated for testing new ideas and trends. This allows you to sustain your core while reaching new segments.

Above all, your creatives need to align with your overall business goals, including revenue and sales targets. Regular reviews and adjustments based on actual performance are crucial.

Ongoing Analysis & Optimization

The key to successfully using a growth roadmap isn’t just stringently adhering to the rules you laid out initially; it’s about flexibility and adaptability. And without ongoing analysis and optimization, you’ll quickly miss opportunities and waste advertising budget. 

You must establish standard procedures for data collection, keeping in mind that each brand needs a tailored approach. Different products may have varying customer acquisition costs and LTVs, which can affect overall marketing strategy. So understanding your products and the purchasing cycle of your customers is crucial for informed decision making.

For example, say you’re a supplements brand selling tubs of protein powder. You check for repeat customers after a month and see that your LTV is low. Your impulse may be to tweak your campaign or budget, but maybe that tub of protein powder lasts 6 weeks. You haven’t had a chance for a repeat customer yet. Your data analysis process has to be patient, taking into account your product lifecycle and customer buying patterns. 

It’s a nuanced process.

The key takeaway for ecommerce brands is the importance of individualized analysis: monitoring trends, allowing algorithms to learn from sales data, and not relying solely on immediate metrics like ROAS. It’s about gathering enough data over time to make informed decisions.

This approach requires ongoing optimization and flexibility to ensure that marketing strategies are effective and can adapt to changes in customer preferences and market dynamics. For an ecommerce brand, this means a constant process of evaluation and adjustment, forming the backbone of a successful growth strategy.

Inventory, Lead Times, & Logistics

It’s also vital that you align your growth roadmap with your inventory and production capabilities. It’s great if you market a new product and increase demand — assuming you have adequate inventory to meet that demand. Accounting for your inventory means thoroughly planning, understanding your lead times, and always having backup plans.

More than just internally, this also involves coordinating with suppliers and product storage, considering the practical aspects of inventory and production capacity.

When inventory fluctuations do affect your roadmap (and they will), be prepared to adjust your marketing strategies. You may need to focus on other products or accept higher acquisition costs and adjust your practices accordingly. 

This is especially true around Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM), where you’re more likely to see an increase in demand and a higher likelihood of supply chain interruptions.

The creation and execution of a growth roadmap for a DTC ecommerce brand is undeniably complex, but the payoff of getting it right can be transformative for your brand. Effectively looking inwards at your brand’s strengths and weaknesses, examining how you fit into the market, managing your inventory, developing your creatives, testing, testing, testing, all while staying within budget, can, and should, be daunting. But as we move further into 2024, the need for a well-orchestrated growth roadmap has never been more crucial.

About the Author: Jeremy Fenderson is the Sr. Director, Client Partnerships at adQuadrant. He has over 10 years of experience marketing technology, products and services globally. Obsessed with all things digital, he has a passion for connecting people with products and services that improve their lives. He received his BA in Business from Valdosta State University in Georgia. Originally from Lakewood, CA, Jeremy has lived around the world in Georgia, Las Vegas, and even England.

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