The name of the game is leads and sales.
That’s why you’re entertaining a robust inbound marketing strategy in the first place.
So naturally you’re wondering, “how long until I can expect results?”
That’s a tough question, especially when you consider how many different flavors of inbound there are. We’re pretty certain that a big part of your question is about Google and how long it takes to get organic traffic. That’s another tough question since they don’t like to share how rankings are determined.
We can all agree on how important it is to rank since there are over 100 billion Google searches conducted every day.
But inbound marketing is more than just getting traffic from Google. There are a variety of ways to get traffic to your site, each with tradeoffs depending on how fast and what kind of results you want.
Prioritizing Your Goals
Any time we work with a client, we want to understand their goals for inbound marketing before we determine the best approach. The biggest question you need to answer about your goals is this:
How fast do you need to see results?
Your time horizon is a critical component of how you determine the types of marketing you should do.
Inbound marketing – and content marketing more specifically – is expensive. It’s 100% people-powered. When done right, though, it can be one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to market your business.
Before you begin your inbound marketing program, you must consciously answer this question.
Choosing Your Channels
Inbound marketing is the combination of several types of marketing. We think of these channels when we talk about inbound marketing:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Blogging (also SEO)
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay Per Click
- Email Marketing
- Marketing Automation
- Downloadable Content
- And more…
Some of these channels are good at generating new traffic. others are better at converting visitors into leads, and leads into customers.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on the the two big ones: SEO and PPC.
In the last section I asked you to set your goal for how quickly you need results. If you want results in less than 6 months, paid traffic (pay per click) is the way to go. If you want long-term, compounding results, then SEO is the way to go.
Setting Your Expectations
Let’s dive into each of these channels. I’ll quickly review requirements and why you would choose to pursue them as primary marketing initiatives.
SEO is often considered the holy grail of marketing. The reason is simple: having people find you based on the exact problems or needs they have is a recipe for success. By virtue of being able to identify and describe their problem, you become a trusted source of information even before they know you’re capable of solving their problems. It’s a winning marketing and sales setup.
The way they find you is based on the words they type into search engines (primarily Google, of course). How highly you rank for specific searches is the biggest factor that determines whether and how often you’ll be found (i.e. how much traffic you get).
So the question is simple but immense: how can you get Google to rank you more highly for the words that you’re potential customers are searching for?
In a word: content.
You have to produce link-worthy, keyword-rich content. And a lot of it. That takes quite a bit of time to produce.
You can expect a wait of 6-12 months before you see any significant results in your traffic, leads, or especially sales.
You should only adopt an SEO and content strategy if you are willing to wait 6-12 months and want benefits like:
- a more automated sales cycle
- “free traffic” sent from Google
- a more educated prospect
- a library of sales enablement material
- an elevated perception of your business based on your content library
These reasons – and a few more – are why we focus so much on SEO and content production. Content promotion is another important factor in boosting your organic and earned traffic, but that also takes a lot of work. If you’re more the type who wants to simply “flip a switch” and get fast results, you should focus on PPC.
Pay per click ads, or paid traffic, is the fastest way to increase traffic to your site and landing pages. You can hyper target people based on demographics, interests, keyword searches, even current and past employment. We’re big fans of PPC from Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn because of their targeting possibilities.
What you save in man-power from content production, though, you end up spending in clicks and conversions. So if time is more important than money, choose PPC as your primary source of traffic. You should choose PPC if you want benefits like:
- get traffic instantly as soon as you start paying
- laser-target your audience
- quickly test messages, ads, and offers
- bringing visitors back to your site after they leave (retargeting)
The tradeoff here is that you pay per click. With SEO, you’ll get compounding traffic sent to you over time at no additional charge. With PPC you pay for every single visit.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just something to understand. And if you need results within 6 months, PPC is the way to go.
Inbound Marketing Requires Patience
There’s no way around it: inbound marketing takes a lot of time. It takes time to create content, marketing automation, to rank for keywords, and to nurture your leads into paying and satisfied clients.
Something else is true, too: it’s totally worth it if you have the time, money, and patience to build it correctly.
If you’re willing to make the investment but still need results today, you can use PPC as an immediate traffic source while you build out your SEO and content program.
We also recommend retargeting with PPC for everyone, even if your budget is only $5 per day.
Either way, you need to be crystal clear about your goals and how quickly you need results.