Yeah...this is one of those blogs where I’ll tell you that the answer to when you can expect inbound marketing results is ‘it depends.’ Hear me out. Obviously, the inbound approach requires a lot of effort, time and commitment. But if you’re consistent, you can probably expect consistent traffic from anywhere between six to nine months (typically).
Here’s why it can take as long as it does and all the important cogs in the machine that help get the results. You just need to make sure you stay on top of them.
- The starting point…
- Content is still the king
- How else does content help?
- So what do the results depend on?
- It’s a bit like going to the gym
The starting point…
I guess the first question to ask is 'what’s actually a result to you and your business?'
What a result is to you might be completely different for another organisation or your competition. It doesn’t always have to be a sale as in the early days of your inbound journey, there’s a bucket load of other KPIs to report on.
It can be tempting, especially early on if you’re new to inbound, but don’t obsess over vanity metrics. Sure, traffic, retweets, likes on social media - they’re all great and you want to see them improve. But they’re not the be-all and end-all when it comes to inbound marketing results, it just shows you have an audience or potential audience.
It’s a good idea to take a step back and think along the lines of lead generation, email results, social media metrics and all the other top-level stuff that also provide great results.
We’ve actually got a pretty good blog about some of the metrics you should take a look at in your next inbound marketing report to make it a bit more interesting. Take a look here.
Content is still the king
You can’t overlook how important content is to an inbound strategy. This is going to be a key driver to getting the results you want in that typical six to nine-month period. As most of inbound revolves around content, the results tend to primarily come from organic traffic.
The methodology is also customer-centric, so you need to consider the buyer’s journey as this will allow you to create content that matches what stage your prospects are at. Also, the content you create needs to match the way search engines respond to queries and how people input those queries in the first place.
When you keep all of this in mind and start to create that content, you need to get all of this stuff online as soon as you can. Then the process of building consistent traffic begins and it can take anywhere from six to nine or maybe even 12 months.
Don’t worry as this tends to initially be quite slow so try and be a bit patient. Easier said than done, I know.
It's OK. Don't be mad. Results can take a while.
Don’t just stop at a couple of blogs either. You need to build topic clusters and compound content so Google knows what your business is all about. Writing just one blog won’t tell even a clever search engine like Google anything about who you are, what you do, what you offer and how you can help readers.
Creating a bunch of useful content is what will help you build links. Then social helps as well by sharing it on your social media channels.
How else does content help?
Content has a huge impact on any inbound strategy. It can impact social traffic and growth, email CTA CTR, website engagement and more. All of this improves with regular, helpful content.
It can also help lower bounce rates (perfect if that’s what a big result is for you) as with different types of content, visitors have different places to go on your website and then spend longer on it.
What you should look out for is engagement and people who come back regularly. Don’t just offer deals, focus on return visits, reduction in bounce rates and those more interested in your business now than they were previously.
It can also impact your database, especially since you’re trying to attract people to your content and business. If you prefer an old one, just stick to PPC but you’ll get a small end of the wedge.
A healthier database is all about attracting people not ready to buy, but they’ll take longer as they’re at the start of the journey. They won’t buy from you even if you get those early leads.
However, you’ll keep hold of the relationship longer than you normally would with just a PPC strategy, for example. As a result, the ROI and lifetime value of leads are much higher.
So what do the results depend on?
A lot of things, to be fair. Inbound marketing results can depend on the industry you’re in, any topics you want to cover in your content and the search volume of those topics. Again, I keep banging on about it but consistency is crucial in inbound, so do it every week.
If you stop for a while, then those results will pause as well.
Obviously, the ‘typical six-nine month period’ isn’t exactly a guarantee. If you find results are taking much longer than 12 months, then something might have gone wrong in the process. It could be anything from targeting the wrong keywords to plagiarism or spam.
But when you target the correct keywords, you’re creative and take ownership of consistently creating amazing and helpful content, you’ll see the rewards sooner.
To help you get a smoother start for your first campaign so you can get results sooner, focus on the quick-wins. Think along the lines of case studies and providing the answers to questions people are asking you. Anything you give away for free, just ask for an email address in return and see how many leads you’ll actually generate.
Then, you’ll have something to report to your boss right away while explaining that the real results are on the backburner, bubbling away in the background.
It’s a bit like going to the gym
What I mean by this is that it’s easy to get really frustrated by all the waiting.
If you stop, your strategy will die, to put it bluntly. If I go to the gym, work hard for a while and come out looking like Arnie, I’ll be pretty buzzing. Then if I stop for a good few months and look like, well, as I do now, then all the hard work has gone to waste.
Be committed to the inbound process and stay consistent. Keep optimising and refreshing where you can as it’s what people search for, so you need to be visible and answer their queries.
Sure, it’s not a simple process to follow and it’s really easy to give up, but I guess that’s why businesses hire agencies (like us 😏) to help them through the journey and get the results they need. The benefit is that you’ll get thousands of views every month by working with the experts. And even though it’s gradual, it’ll allow you to be more reactive and creative with your offering.
Although inbound is front-loaded and is all about investment, it’s down to you to build that inbound and content machine so you’ll have one that will work for you.
You might think I’m just talking a load of nonsense with the inbound marketing results timescales or you think we can’t help you get to where you want, but that’s why we created the ‘A Year in Inbound’ guide.
See how we can help you achieve inbound success over 12 months
There’s a lot that goes into an inbound strategy to make it work. There are different phases with their own components that all contribute to success. We’ve helped loads of clients smash their inbound targets and get the results they want, so we know a thing or two about how long results can usually take.
To help you get a better understanding, the visual guide will show you what to expect throughout the year with the right planning from the strategy phase and beyond. To get access, click on the link below.