As an inbound agency, I base all client relationships around clear communication and expectation setting.

We have regular strategy and reporting sessions. I’m not as much an outsourced agency to my clients as a company team member, a direct extension of their core employees.

This relationship is particularly important when discussing results.

How long is this inbound marketing stuff going to take? I want to rank #1 for this keyword and to double my website traffic. Is that possible this year? I also want a 30% growth in the number of monthly leads we’re getting from our website forms. What’s a realistic timeline for that goal?

Successful inbound case studies are a plenty, but details around effort and strategy tend to be fuzzy. How many hours were put into the inbound campaign? How long did it run for? What particular strategy was employed?

Every company brings a different story to the inbound marketing table. You’ve all got different resources, different systems you’re using to run your marketing efforts, different sales methodologies and products and services.

That said, in this ROI report from HubSpot, it looks like 6-9 months is where you can expect to see noticeable results.

Within 7 months:

  • 85% of companies using inbound marketing increase their website traffic
  • 84% of companies using inbound marketing increase their leads
  • 50% of companies using inbound marketing increase sales

I’ve worked with clients who have seen results far more quickly. I’ve also worked with clients who take longer to see results, sometimes up to 12 months.

Why is Inbound Marketing Slow to Generate Results?

Inbound marketing is not for dilettantes. Sampling an inbound strategy for two or three months isn’t going to net the results you’re looking for.

So why does it take so long?

A successful inbound strategy relies on building trust and authenticity, on cultivating relationships and offering an incredible amount of value and thought leadership to your prospects and customers. We’re not just doing some keyword research and throwing up a few blog posts. Inbound marketing is more holistic and nuanced than that.

Creating one successful campaign – a premium content offer, a series of call-to-action buttons, a dedicated landing page and form and follow-up email – can prove fruitful with the right promotion, but if you’re not following up with more valuable content, and if you’re not continuously pressing the publish button on your company blog, over time you’re going to lose website traffic and qualified lead volume.

I’ve seen it happen again and again.

Inbound Marketing, a Long-Term Approach

Don’t abandon your inbound strategy too quickly. Use KPIs to track the success of  your campaigns, and make iterations when needed. Use realistic benchmarks based on data, and set realistic timelines based on what kind of results you see those first few months.

If you think you’re a good fit and are ready to step on the inbound marketing gas, then know that you’ll have to commit for the long haul.

With sustained effort, you can generate more qualified leads at a lower cost, and you can close more of those leads as sales.

At the very least, budget 6-9 months.