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When Will I See a Return on My Inbound Marketing Investment?

men_with_laptopsThis question is one we hear quite often and for good reason. When embarking on any new marketing program, you should be asking yourself (and your marketing partners) not only how you’ll measure and track results, but also what kind of expectations you should have: What will the return be and when will it show up? If you’re thinking about starting an online lead generation program, like the ones we help our clients execute, then you’ll want to be sure your expectations are realistic and that you are tracking the right key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business.

In order to understand how long it might take for your inbound marketing program to start generating results let’s take a look at some of the factors to keep in mind.

Developing a strategic inbound marketing foundation for your business is the first, and most important, step.

First things first: You have a lot of questions to answer. We typically kick off every program with an Inbound Marketing Planning Day to cover all topics absolutely critical to setting yourself up for success. Who are you writing for? What is your keyword strategy? What kind of premium content will you develop to convert visitors into leads?

All of this and more should be discussed, strategized, clarified, and recorded before moving forward with anything.

Expect the pre-launch planning to take anywhere from 30 to 90 days. 

We work with businesses of all types. Some already have a powerhouse website and maybe even a blog, but they’re looking to take it to the next level. Others don’t even have an existing B2B website and we’re starting from scratch with a new brand, website, and blog.

Luckily, with the HubSpot software you can easily create a “skinned” version of your existing website or purchase templates in their marketplace to create a professional website and blog. But this still takes time. There are approvals that need to be made, styling that needs to be tweaked, copy that needs to be written, and content that needs to be published.

Plus, you want to make sure you launch with support to promote your website, including a solid SEO strategy and social media accounts.

Once you’ve launched, then you can start measuring KPIs… but only if you’re executing a consistent content strategy.

Congrats! You’ve finally launched your new blog; you’ve begun publishing two to four new blog posts every week (consistently) and you’ve really wrapped your head around optimizing and content promotion. Now you’re ready to start looking at and analyzing those KPIs, the ones that give you valuable insight into whether you’re going to see an ROI, the ones that help you focus and fine-tune your efforts, perhaps even your strategy in order to achieve your goals. 

Some of the most important KPIs you should be studying include different sources of traffic to your website, the number of marketing and sales qualified leads you generate, your landing page conversion rates, and the number of blog subscribers you have.

By tracking KPIs such as these each month, you should be able to see a trend and it should be going up. If you are consistently publishing and following your strategy closely, then an overall increase in these numbers should be clear right from the start.

If you are seeing consistent decreases in any area—or if the numbers are going nowhere in particular—then that is a clear sign that it’s time to test, optimize, and improve.

Remember, Google (and the other guys) take some time to warm up to new people on the block. 

Finally, it’s worth noting that search engines take time to recognize all this great new content you’re publishing. One of the primary benefits of having a well-written blog is the increase in indexed pages (around very particular topics and keywords) for search engines to take into account.

But it can sometimes take a few months for them even to notice you. You have to prove that you’re running a real website, with real content, that is actually helping its users find the information they’re looking for.

Patience is a virtue.

When it comes to most things that are sustaining marketing and business initiatives—rather than get-rich-quick schemes—patience is certainly a virtue. This doesn’t mean it takes forever to see results. Most of our clients start to see very real increases in web traffic, number of leads, social interaction, customer retention, and much more within weeks of actually launching their new inbound marketing blog. 

The longer you use inbound marketing, the more highly cost-efficient it becomes; it’s rather like a flywheel that starts slow and develops tremendous momentum and power the longer you work it.

Want to learn more about starting a new inbound marketing program? Download our 30 Days to Inbound Marketing Success eBook.

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Topics: inbound marketing