Inbound Marketing: Delivering Great ROI Over Time

Have you ever been asked the question, “How long will it take for you to show us results?” during your initial pitch presentation? Well, you’re not alone. Many inbound marketers have fielded this question from various clients.
While the clients’ curiosity and impatience is understandable, it is important to let them know that inbound marketing takes time to deliver results, but the results are worth the time.

Contrary to outbound marketing, which is about short-term gain (if at all), inbound marketing is all about earning the trust of and building relationships with your customers. Like in any valuable relationship, ample investment has to be made over a period of time before inbound marketing starts showing results.

The process of inbound marketing broadly involves the following steps, each of which will show results:

  1. Attract a prospect’s interest with a good piece of content.
  2. Follow up with more articles, blog posts, etc. in the relevant topic/industry.
  3. Offer useful and valuable content to the prospect (ebook, white paper, video, case study, infographic, etc.) in return for information to drive the prospect further down the sales funnel.
  4. Nurture your leads by sending them emails and other relevant communication in timely intervals.

The above steps are all parts of the “conversation” with the customer, and may even at times overlap over a short period of time. Due to this, the results may start showing up at various times. Nevertheless, each of them should be designed to move the lead further down the sales funnel, closer to the goal of converting them to loyal customers.

Typical Timelines:

With continued, concentrated efforts of attracting, engaging and nurturing your prospects and leads, slowly but surely results will start showing up.
Inbound marketing campaign: Based on the industry, and the level of activity, an inbound campaign typically starts to show returns in about 6-9 months.

Social media, Email campaigns: It takes about 3-6 months for these campaigns to show results.

Blogging, Content marketing: These methods take a bit longer, about 6-9 months.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): This takes relatively the longest time to yield returns often up to a year.

The important thing to remember is that even though there are these timelines to expect results, these inbound marketing efforts keep delivering results even beyond these timelines. Unlike outbound/traditional methods of marketing, e.g. a print catalogue, a well-written and useful blog post could still bring you leads years from now. Digital content keeps giving returns over time, driving traffic, raising awareness of your brand and establishing your leadership in your domain.

Therefore, inbound marketing expenses should be considered great investments that will continue to yield results long after you’ve initiated the effort.

The Characteristic Inbound Journey

The Instant Impact: Immediately after implementing an inbound campaign, there is a lot of vigorous activity. Websites are enhanced, SEO methods implemented, content updated, social media presence improved, and so on.

There is a direct effect of these activities: In the immediate future, maybe within a month or two, you might see a rise in the number of leads. This is a temporary ‘bulge’, which will invariably subside and settle into a flat lull in activity.

The Relationship-building Period: This lull should not be taken as a negative sign to mean that the inbound initiatives are not working anymore. In fact, this phase is the critical (and ultimately rewarding) relationship-building phase. According to research, the average lead needs to be approached with offers or other communication about 7 times before they learn to trust the service provider. It is during this long period (about 6-9 months), that a long-term relationship with the lead is formed, ultimately bringing in rich ROI. That’s why, this period is especially critical to get through in a positive frame of mind, without losing patience.

Conclusion: To cut a long story short, inbound marketing is a brilliant methodology for getting more customers and closing more sales in a sustained manner. However, one has to be patient and treat it as a long-term investment that will, over a period of time, generate leads, convert them to customers and raise your ROI, all in a cost-effective way, for the long run.

To know more about inbound marketing and how it has helped thousands of businesses attract customers, generate revenue and build brand value, contact us at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *