Any marketing activity is an investment of money, resources, and most importantly, time so you want to see results as soon as possible. The truth is, it can be months before the results start to show.
Inbound marketing is a little bit different. It’s all about building trust over time. In this blog post, we'll take a look at how long it takes to generate the engagement that will build your pipeline of leads and sales with an inbound marketing strategy.
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10 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. Emails, sales calls, printed mailshots were the way to go. Results were often quick but this approach is costly and inefficient.
Today, outbound marketing tactics are outdated. They are intrusive and annoying. It's our job as marketers to learn how to reach out to our prospects on their terms
Successful Inbound Marketing depends on how quickly you can develop content that builds trust with your prospect.
And this is really what's at the core of inbound marketing - showing potential customers that you are a trustworthy, authentic and a knowledgeable brand. That you can provide them with information and help answer their questions and solve their problem.
What Is An “Inbound Buyer Journey”?
Hubspot define 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.”
Stage 1. The Awareness Stage.
A buyer becomes aware of a specific problem or need. They will also evaluate the priority of the problem that they are having. Will it impact on business? What happens if I don't solve this problem?
Stage 2. Consideration Stage.
The buyer then moves into the Consideration stage with the aim to research what products may potentially solve the problem they're having.
For example, your target customer may be a procurement manager. They may be looking for a solution for short term use of a surgical equipment set. 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, they 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.
Continue to delight them by sending helpful 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. You should already have established a strong foundation built on trust. It's now time for your company to offer solutions that best help to solve the prospects specific need.
The length of a buyer journey varies across all industries but inbound marketing is best suited to companies who have a sales cycle that takes between 6-12 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. A good rule is to aim for 2-4 blog posts per month, and 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.
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.
Do you understand your ideal customer?
It's important to understand your target customer in detail. The deeper your understanding, the more relevant your message becomes. Relevancy will help your message to cut through the rest of the noise online.
Content that you create should align with the problems that your prospect is searching for. This blog post is written 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 so that your prospects can find it. SEO helps with organic search, but to scale quickly you will need to look at paid social promotion also. Engage with your audience on the platforms they use most to get maximum impact.
So How Long Will It Really Take?
Here's a good example of a timeline for your inbound marketing strategy.
Month 1. Strategy.
During the first month you’ll be looking at strategy, competitor analysis, customer personas, benchmarking and KPI reporting.
Month 2. Set up.
By the second month you should have moved onto setting up your blog, landing pages and lead capture forms. Your system will be in place and 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. 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.
From month three onwards, you should have your first campaign active and be promoting your content.
Focus on building your social media following, so more and more people will be able to interact with and find your content. This is when you want to build engagement and start creating a buzz about your brand and what you're offering. PR may also be used 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.
After that, you'll want to work to maintain this traction 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 in the long run - 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 onwards. 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.
Have you achieved inbound marketing success? How long did it take? Let us know what you think!