One of the most common questions we receive when we're introducing the concept of inbound marketing to someone new is, "So, how long will it take before I see any results?"
Unfortunately, the answer to the question isn't a simple "1 week" or "a month" or even "a quarter." It really does depend on several factors. But there are a few things we know about how inbound marketing works that might help you understand how long inbound marketing would take to make an impact on your organization.
Inbound Marketing Helps Your Company Increase their Online Brand Advocates
Part of the goal of an inbound marketing campaign is to increase the amount of positive online buzz your organization receives. We do this by creating remarkable content that your target audience would find helpful, making it easy for them to find, and then spreading the word about it online through social outlets. This process, because of its focus on helping your target consumers, creates brand fans who spread the word online about your company and its offerings.
If your company already has a loyal online following, it will take less time for inbound marketing to start producing real ROI because you'll need to spend less time building your online audience.
For example, a local retirement community with an active Facebook account will see a shorter time period between inbound campaign launch and results than one without any social presence.
Inbound Marketing Increases the Search Value of Your Website
Because such a large part of inbound marketing is creating helpful new content for your website on a regular basis, it increases the value of your website in the eyes of search engines. More website pages = more opportunities for search crawlers to index your website in its list of pages to show when someone performs a search.
If you've already begun blogging or you have already been paying attention to your SEO, you've got a head start on this part of the process and it may not take as much time for your site to catch the attention of the search engines and begin ranking on the search phrases that are important to your organization.
For example, a retirement community who blogs about their events and other topics related to the goings-on at their facilities will see faster results than one that does not have an established blog already.
Inbound Marketing Converts Website Visitors into Leads
What we ultimately want to do with any inbound marketing campaign is to convert website visitors into leads for your sales team to pursue. We do that by first creating relevant content that draws your target audience to your website. We then create marketing offers that are valuable to them (such as eBooks and whitepapers) and collect contact information in exchange for a download of the material.
If your website already receives a significant amount of traffic, it will take less time for you to see results than a website that does not receive very much traffic.
The More Inbound Marketing Actions You Take, The Faster Your Results Will Be
There is a direct correlation between the amount of inbound marketing activity you have going on in a week and the speed to results. For example, if you are posting a new blog and engaging on social media every business day, your speed to results will be much faster than a company who only posts a new blog twice a week and engages on social media sporadically.
Why is that? More content = more opportunities for search engines to find you. More content also = more help you can provide your target audience. And on social media, out of sight = out of mind. Greater numbers of activities produce faster results because of the exponentially increased opportunity to catch the attention of your audience.
Inbound Marketing is a Long Term Strategy that Produces Results Long Term
With a lot of digital marketing campaigns, such as e-mail blasts or pay-per-click advertising, you will see a spike in website traffic and/or sales that lasts the duration of the campaign. That’s not the case with inbound marketing.
Because inbound marketing produces content that is valuable to your audience indefinitely (like blogs that answer questions potential customers often have about your industry or eBooks that teach them how to do something they need to know how to do), its value is indefinite. It lives on the internet forever (or at least until you decide to take it down) and is available anytime to people who have the questions to which you’re providing answers. And as word spreads about your company and its content, so too does the number of visitors your website receives, and consequently, the number of contacts you make.
So, how fast does inbound marketing work? That depends. Ultimately, however, it works. And isn’t that the key?