By Mary Cate Spires

When considering an investment in inbound marketing, you may ask yourself, “How long is this going to take to be successful?” That, my friend, is a very good question.

Inbound marketing is a long-term game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see success somewhat quickly. Let’s look at what leads look like in inbound marketing.


Getting Started

When deciding to invest in an inbound marketing program, it is important to start with a solid foundation. That means taking some time and ensuring you are set up for success. You should do this with buyer persona research, competitive research, keyword research, content analysis, and a solid 90-day plan. The foundation is the key to a successful long-term inbound marketing strategy.

But as you build out this long-term strategy, you can still make some quick wins. Take a look at your website. Is your page speed where it should be? Do you have H1 headers and alt text on your photos? By making these changes, you can see a quick bump in SEO efforts.

Another thing that can help inject more leads into your funnel while you build out your long-term strategy is paid media. Although the best paid media is built around your inbound marketing and content (in my opinion, at least), you can use paid media to give your leads a boost in the research phase of your new inbound marketing endeavor.

Although these things and others (think about cleaning up your database and segmenting leads) can help in the short term, do yourself a favor and spend at least four weeks setting your inbound marketing strategy up for success.

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The Slump

Moz has a beautiful chart that explains inbound, content, and SEO investment very well. See below:

 

inbound-content-SEO-investment-chart

 

When you are finally ready to launch your inbound campaign, you are going to see a fabulous, quick jump in leads and ROI. This, as Moz refers to it, is the “Honeymoon” stage (I am sure we can all relate to that feeling). This is an exciting time, and it should be. You launched content and people are interested! That is fantastic, but it won’t last forever. You have to keep putting in the effort from a search engine standpoint so the search engines will see your website and content as valuable to people who are searching for it.

This takes some elbow grease, but so does anything worth having, so stick with it! You will start to notice things leveling off or even dipping as your content is no longer shiny and new. Don’t be discouraged. This happens to everyone. You have to give your efforts time to mature. Plus, the more consistent you are at putting out new content, the more authoritative you will be on the subject.

Slowly but surely, it will happen—your success will outweigh your effort. The best thing about inbound? It keeps paying off. So, don’t slow down when your leads do. Keep this handy chart in mind and know that equilibrium is just around the corner.

How Long Does True Success Take?

The answer depends on quite a few things (no, I'm not trying to be shady). If no one in your space is doing inbound and content marketing, you may see success much more quickly than if you are late to the game. Your keyword research should help you get a sense of when things should start to hit equilibrium for you. If tons of people are searching for your main target keyword, but there is a lot of competition for the results page, you are going to have to work at it for a little bit longer than if there was no competition.

When getting started with inbound marketing, set realistic goals based on data. Armed with these numbers, you should be able to answer this nagging question yourself. Just remember, there are ways to pump up your leads while working on inbound marketing, and inbound marketing gives you lasting results.

What do you think? How long does it take to get leads from inbound marketing? Let me know by tweeting @MaryCateSpires or @SmartBugMedia.

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Mary Cate Spires

About the author

Mary Cate Spires was previously a Strategist at SmartBug Media. With over five years of experience running inbound programs in the technology, healthcare, fitness, senior living, and nonprofit industries, Mary Cate loves to help customers grow and achieve their business goals. She is on the Board of Directors for the Columbia Chapter of the American Marketing Association. “MC” graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Her best friend is her 5lb Morkie, Harley, with whom she loves to binge-watch any tv show. Read more articles by Mary Cate Spires.

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