When we say digital marketing works, it’s because we know it works. Marketing by nature relies on ongoing analysis and measurable goals — not guesswork. The statistics are extremely compelling, so we don’t hear the question, “Does it work?”

We hear this one:

“How long does it take for digital marketing to work?”

That’s a complicated question, but an understandable one. Inbound marketing — a reliable method of digital marketing focusing on lead generation — requires significant resources, and smart business owners want to see a return on that investment. Let’s break it down.

It depends on where you start.

A business with 300 fans across all social media platforms won’t see an immediate boost. A business with 10,000 fans and an existing social media strategy will probably see growth right off the bat, thanks to that solid foundation. The same goes for the size of an existing contact list.

The amazing thing about inbound marketing is that it’s just as relevant to businesses with a small following as it is to businesses with a large following. If you’re starting out small, you just have more room to grow. And you may find that you have more meaningful engagement with your existing fans.

But realistically, you’re not going to see business growth overnight, and if you’re only relying on social media, you’re working against a tide.

Digital marketing isn’t magic.

If anyone tells you that inbound marketing isn’t hard work, they’re sugarcoating reality. The truth is, inbound marketing takes a tremendous amount of effort. It’s a strategy of cause and effect. The more content you publish, the more your fan base grows. As your fan base grows, your leads will increase. Fresh content boosts SEO. Delighted customers spread the word on your behalf.

As an inbound marketer, your role is to nurture and foster these patterns. Successful inbound marketing relies on consistently engaging in proven methods like content creation and email nurturing. And you can’t cut corners. If you slack on effort, it will take significantly longer to see results.

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Inbound marketing is a long game.

Ultimately the question you should be asking isn’t how quickly it works, but what steps will be taken to achieve results. Inbound marketing is all about ongoing strategy. Familiarize yourself with daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks. These are the building blocks to long term success and growth.

Inbound marketing measures goals, and when those goals are achieved, new goals are set. We typically look at growth month by month, with deeper analysis conducted at quarterly and yearly points. Google Adwords and paid social placements can help foster more immediate results as long as you’re driving that traffic to thoughtful, relevant landing pages.

Want a more specific answer?

Don’t expect to see significant change until at around six months into your digital marketing efforts. At that point, the foundation for future growth will be in place.

As you embark on an inbound marketing strategy, avoid the temptation to camp out on your stats dashboard, anxiously waiting for increased site traffic and leads. Take all that nervous energy and use it as inspiration to create meaningful, shareable content that relates to your ideal customers. The rest will fall into place. We hate to say it, but if you build it, they will come.

Optimize your digital marketing strategy

Are you achieving everything you can with digital marketing? We’re happy to review your marketing efforts and send you a report — no strings attached.