The major disruptors of the last few years have all arrived within industries where people thought things could never be different.
No matter how you go about it, marketing your brand will always be an investment of money, resources, and, most importantly, time. When you make an investment like that, you want to ensure that you are maximising the return on your investment (ROI), and you want to see results right away. The truth is, with some of the most effective marketing strategies, it can be months before the results start really to show.
Inbound marketing is a little bit different from other marketing approaches. It’s all about building consumer trust over time; it’s about establishing yourself as an expert and driving organic traffic to your brand and ensuring consumers find your brand naturally rather than aggressively pursuing them. And it works. In fact, 82% of marketers who regularly post blogs — a prime example of an inbound marketing methodology — see a positive ROI.
How long does it take to generate the engagement that will build your pipeline of leads and sales with an inbound marketing strategy? Here’s an important fact to keep in mind:
”The average cost per lead drops 80% after five months of consistent inbound marketing.“
Inbound marketing definitely works, but the real answer is that it may take some patience and time to see the results you’re after.
Inbound Versus Outbound Marketing Techniques
Ten years ago, outbound marketing was the norm. A business that wanted to launch a new product would push out advertising to as many places as possible. Sending emails, making sales calls, and postmarking printed mailshots were the way to go. Results were often quick and burned out as quickly as they begin. The truth? This approach was both costly and inefficient.
Today, outbound marketing tactics can feel outdated. Phone calls? Emails sent without requests? These strategies can be interpreted by some as intrusive and annoying. It's our job as marketers to learn how to reach out to our prospects on their terms, and inbound marketing is a great way to do this.
So what is it about inbound marketing that’s so effective?
Successful inbound marketing is all about how quickly you can develop content that builds trust with your prospect.
This is really what's at the core of inbound: Showing potential customers that you are a trustworthy, authentic, knowledgeable brand and an expert in your industry. With inbound marketing techniques, you are demonstrating that you can provide customers with vital information, answer their questions, and solve their problems.
Just how can you achieve this? There are countless techniques, including:
- Impactful landing pages
- Motivating calls to action
- Dynamic blog posts
- Optimised inclusion of keywords
- Search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Targeted content directed towards buyer personas
Making Use of the Inbound Buyer Journey
Hubspot defines the inbound buyer journey as “The process buyers go through to become aware of, consider and evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service.” After all, we are all savvy enough at this point to smell a sales tactic a mile away.
Buyers don’t want to feel “sold to”; they don’t want to be prospected or closed. These tactics don’t create a sense of value to the buyer surrounding your organisation. As a brand, you can personalise your processes (and make them more effective) by understanding the way that inbound marketing techniques lead your buyers through the buyer’s journey.
So what are the steps of the inbound buyer journey?
Stage 1: The Awareness Stage
At the awareness stage, the buyer becomes aware of a specific problem or need they have. They will also evaluate the priority of the problem that they are having and how it will affect them. Will it impact their business? What happens if they don't solve this problem?
Stage 2: Consideration Stage
The buyer then moves into the consideration stage when they begin to research what products may potentially solve the problem they're having.
For example, let’s say your target customer is a procurement manager. They may be looking for a solution for short-term use of a surgical equipment set, which means they might first search for “surgical equipment hire,” “medical equipment rental,” or “reusable surgical instruments.”
By providing videos or blog posts that talk about these topics without pitching your product, these customers will find your content online. From there, they may sign up for your email list to learn more about what type of products or services you offer.
During the consideration stage, you can support them by sending helpful, relevant information as they progress along their buyer journey.
Stage 3: Decision Stage
The final stage in the inbound buyer journey is the decision stage.
By this point, buyers are ready to make a final purchase decision. With effective inbound marketing techniques in place, you should already have established a strong foundation that’s been built on trust.
At this stage, it’s time for your company to offer solutions that best help solve the prospects’ specific needs.
While the length of a buyer journey varies across all industries, inbound marketing is best suited to companies that have a sales cycle and customer buying journey that takes between six and 12 months.
What Influences the Speed of Inbound Marketing Success?
Inbound success is a result of a few factors, all of which influence how much time it will take before you see results.
How Frequently Do You Post?
You need to be consistent. Posting on social media at least a few times a week means that people have more opportunities to find your content, and learn about what you have to offer. How many blog posts should you post? HubSpot recommends that smaller organisations focused on building brand awareness should post one to two times per month.
Is Your Content Good Enough?
However, even if you do post at the right frequency, if the content you post isn’t helpful and informative, it won't engage with your audience. What makes great content? According to Neil Patel, great content…
- Is original
- Has a powerful headline
- Is actionable
- Provides answers
- Shares and sources relevant information
- Is engaging and thought-provoking
- Contains videos and images
- Is short and to-the-point
- Is continuously updated and improved
Do You Understand Your Ideal Customer?
It's important to understand your target customer in detail — which ties directly into your buyer personas and ideal customer profiles. The deeper your understanding of what makes your customers tick, the more relevant your message becomes. Relevancy will help your message cut through the rest of the noise online.
Content that you create should align with the problems that your prospect is searching for. For instance, I wrote this blog post because lots of company owners ask me how long it will take to see inbound marketing results, so I know that this is a common issue that my prospects are searching for.
How Do You Promote Your Content?
You need to promote your content in such a way that your prospects can find it. SEO helps with organic search results and driving traffic to your website, but to scale quickly, you may need to look at paid social media promotion as well. Engage with your audience on the platforms they use most to get maximum impact out of your social media marketing plan.
Successful Inbound Marketing: How Long Will It Really Take?
What should you expect when developing a true inbound marketing strategy? You may have heard of the inbound marketing funnel, but HubSpot also suggests you think about it as an inbound marketing flywheel — that each piece of your content is helping you gain momentum, remove friction, and expand your reach.
Here's a good example of a timeline for your inbound marketing strategy.
Research and Build a Strategy
During the first month of working through your inbound marketing methodology, you’ll be looking at what your strategy should be, including things like conducting a complete competitor analysis, researching and writing customer buyer personas, benchmarking, and key performance indicator (KPI) reporting.
Set Up Your Blog
By the second month, you should have gathered enough information to begin setting up your blog, landing pages, and lead capture forms. With your system in place, you’ll be ready to start working as traffic builds.
During this time, you can also implement quick wins, such as checking up on your SEO, adding calls-to-action on high-traffic pages, and offering valuable content in exchange for email signups — all of the little tweaks that can add up to make a big difference when it comes to building a sitewide inbound strategy.
With these tactics, you'll start building your email list, getting your pages to rank higher. This helps to get your content found by as many prospects as possible.
Months 3 - 6
Ramping Up Your Efforts
From month three onwards, you should have your first campaign active and be promoting your content.
A great place to focus will be on building your social media following so that more and more people can find and interact with your content. This is when you want to build engagement and start creating a buzz about your brand and what you're offering. You may also use PR at this stage to build further awareness.
These first three or four months will take a lot of hard work to kickstart your inbound marketing strategy until your work can really begin to generate its own momentum. After this, you'll want to work to maintain this momentum by continuing to follow the formula of posting quality, SEO-friendly content often, and responding to any engagement you receive.
You can expect to spend a decent amount of time and effort driving this kind of change, and it should be ongoing — this isn't something you simply create and forget about. It requires consistent work, and your strategy may need to be adjusted as trends change.
Month 6 and Beyond
Seek Continuous Improvement
After the six-month mark, you can expect to see results as your content starts to reach the right people. You'll be working through 90-day sprint cycles as each new campaign launches.
Though inbound marketing takes time, it's worth it because it isn't simply about getting people to buy your product. It's about getting customers to establish trust in your brand, which means that you'll have a repeat customer who will make purchases again and again.
The tools HubSpot has to offer can be a crucial part of building an inbound-driven brand. With access to features such as KPI dashboards and landing pages that actually help convert new leads, HubSpot can help you attract visitors, turn visitors into leads, then nurture these leads until they become lifelong customers.
Here at Hub Masters, we’re experts in making HubSpot work for you. As part of the inbound methodology, we’ll help you build a brand and a website that work for you, using growth-driven design and web development, plus give you a full awareness of the ROI analysis and other reporting tools HubSpot has to offer. Our mission is to build your brand, and we can help you implement all the inbound marketing strategies to make it happen.
Do you have questions about how HubSpot can help your business with inbound marketing? Perhaps it’s time we talked!