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How Long Does Inbound Marketing Take to Work?

inbound-work.jpgAre you worried about how long inbound marketing will take to deliver results?

I’m not going to lie to you; the first few months of inbound can be tough.

You’re thinking about investing both your time and money, and spending hours putting together lots of great quality, informative content – so of course you’re going to want to see a return on your investment.

Out of the many people I’ve helped, every single one of them has had this concern when thinking about adopting an inbound approach.

So, before you reach that tipping point (and trust me, you will), you just have to keep your faith in the process, because it does work given time.

Below, I’m going to try and alleviate your worries in the most non-frustrating way possible.

How long is a piece of string?

The (sometimes annoying) truth is that inbound marketing can really take anywhere between 5 and 18 months before you start seeing results. This is because it really comes down to the natural buying cycle of your customers.

So, for instance, if your typical customer takes 18 months to make a purchase, inbound marketing won’t necessarily be able to change that right away.

However, with the inbound marketing data you’re collecting, you’ll be able to analyse the process and shorten that buying cycle by providing the right content at the right time; therefore shortening their decision-making process.

The good news is that most buying cycles aren’t that long, and on average you should expect to see some early results or indications that inbound is working by about your fifth or sixth month.

What else can affect it?

In some cases, you may see results faster depending on your starting point. So, if you’re starting from scratch with your website, blog and content, you’ll likely have a longer lead time than someone who already has a website with thousands of visits.

Perhaps you’ve already got some marketing assets to leverage, such as ebooks, white papers or blog content – and a few carefully-placed CTAs and social shares may help you score some quick inbound marketing wins.

If you’re working with an inbound marketing agency, they should already have this covered for you. Going it alone? Then it might be worth taking a look at the next section.

Tips to speed things up

There ARE some tips and tricks you can try to see results from your inbound marketing efforts faster. These include:

  • Looking at ways to leverage your existing database of customers or leads (but never buy these!)
  • Look at content you already have, as mentioned above. A few clever CTAs could make all the difference.
  • Look at your website flow; can potential customers easily find the info they need? If not, fix it.
  • A/B testing. Bear in mind this only works if you have a high level of traffic already.
  • PPC in the early months can help you get more leads as long as you stick to your budget.
  • Social media ads.

Your inbound marketing agency should be able to tell you if some of the above ideas are worth trying for your business, and give you advice on your next steps.


If you’re still waiting to see any real results from your inbound marketing efforts, hang in there. The frustrating truth is that it takes time (between 5 and 18 months), and one of the best ways to judge this is by taking a look at the natural buying cycle of your customers – i.e. how long they take before making a purchase.

Inbound marketing is all about shortening down that cycle by providing the right content at the right time, so that your customers go through a much faster decision-making process. Saying that, most businesses will start to see early indications that inbound is working from around their fifth or sixth month – if that’s not you, don’t panic! The day will come, as long as you don’t throw in the towel too early.

How long have you been trying inbound marketing for?


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