Because we talk about inbound marketing a lot, we also get a fair number of questions about it. Some businesses want to know about the process: What should they do and when should they do it. Some want to know what kind of measurable results they can expect. Some want to know what it costs. Some businesses want to know what skill sets they need in order to do a good job at inbound marketing. But one of the most frequently asked questions is: How long does it take to get results?
That’s a good question—and one you’d do well to ask. It’s simple and straightforward. The answer, however, is a little more complicated. It’s one of those “it depends” answers. I know. I hate it when I ask a simple question and someone gives me a complicated answer. But hang in there with me. I’m not trying to be evasive. I’ll try to give you a straightforward answer—based on our experience here at TMR. But I’ll also try to explain why a “simple” answer may not be that helpful.
When we talk about inbound marketing we’re talking about things like blogging, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email follow-up, and integrating your sales and marketing processes. We’re talking about creating the kind of online content that pulls potential customers into your website. And we’re talking about creating a website experience that gives people the kind of information they’re looking for—and turns those visitors into qualified leads.
The thing is, it takes a bit of time to get content out there and to get people to find it and engage with it. I know we live in the Internet Age where we all have instant access to information. But the Web is a pretty big place. And just because people can access your information instantly doesn’t mean they will.
When we started blogging we didn’t have a whole lot of people reading what we posted. We started from zero. By the end of the first six months the picture looked a little different. We had 750 people hitting our site each month and reading our blogs up from about 550 when we started. At the end of the first year, that number had increased to 1,250. By the end of the second year that number had grown to 2,500. On top of that, we were generating qualified leads—and new business. But time wasn’t the only factor at work here. We were also increasing the volume of the content we were publishing.
We started out publishing one blog a week. Now we publish one blog a day. And guess what? Google loves fresh, quality content—and lots of it. The more helpful content your put out (and we need to stress helpful), the more people will see it and interact with it. And that makes it easier for the next person who’s searching to find it. An abundance of good quality content is one of the key elements in causing your position on a Google search to rise. And position matters! After all, companies occupying the top spot on Google’s organic search result capture 33 percent of the traffic.
Here’s a look at how our blogging volume—and results—grew from our first year through our second year.
YEAR 1: We were blogging about 4 times per month. You can see that the results were positive, but we wanted to go faster.
YEAR 2: We started blogging between 12 and16 times per month and the responses started to accelerate.
After seeing how the volume of activity affected our results, we ramped up our blogging efforts to 1 per day and our traffic continues to accelerate.
So let’s go back to the original question of how long it takes to start seeing results with inbound marketing. Forget about claims that promise “instant” results. You need to think and plan longer term. While you may start seeing some results right away, you need to stick with it. Don’t plan on blogging sporadically for two or three months and then seeing remarkable results. You need to be in it for the long haul. It takes time to build the kind of critical mass that makes Google (and your prospective customers) sit up and take notice.
And don’t ignore the impact that increasing the volume of your posts can have on people’s ability to find you. On top of that, an increased volume of content cements your status as a company that knows what it’s talking about. It builds trust, and trust is essential for successful inbound marketing. However, you need to be targeting the right keywords and talking about topics your prospects are about. You can’t blog once per day on just anything! Again, it’s a combination of quantity and quality!
You can publish your content on the Web instantly. Getting it noticed and read takes a little longer. But the cool thing is that the more you do it (and do it well), the faster the results start to come. There’s a decidedly “old school” principle at work in this new age of marketing: Success breeds success. So hunker down, dig in, and start creating content that your audience wants to read. It’s not instant success—but you’ll be amazed at how quickly it can grow.
If you’d like a bit more detail on the basics of inbound marketing—and how you can use them to grow your business, we invite you to download our free Inbound Marketing 101 e-book You’ll be able to analyze real inbound marketing case studies and look at actual lead generation and ROI.