We live in a day and age when we can basically have whatever we want the moment we want it, and this has conditioned us to crave and often expect immediacy. For example, want a burger at 10 p.m.? That’s no problem because there are likely eight places within a 10-mile radius of you that can have it ready in minutes.
Of course, this is the exact opposite situation when it comes to inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is the long play, and it took me a long time to stop worrying about seeing quick results and begin to love the process.
Here’s how I did it, and how you can too.
Accept The Six-Month Slow Burn
On average, it takes around six months for your efforts to begin paying off. Once you accept that there is no immediate gratification with inbound marketing and that a campaign can take half a year to start yielding results, you can stop stressing and instead enjoy the act of building a great strategy.
For some perspective, a study by HubSpot found that 83.9% of companies that used inbound marketing were able to increase lead generation within seven months. Did those companies think it would take seven months to see results? Probably not. But did they give up on their efforts? Clearly not.
Inbound marketing does work, but it takes time.
Stick To The Process
Accepting the fact that it can take a long time to see any results from your efforts means nothing if you can’t stick to the process the whole way through. In my experience, the best way to do this is to plan.
Plan each month, or phase, with necessary tasks, due dates and goals. Having a concrete plan is a complete blessing when you are three months in and feeling discouraged. It is not easy to stay motivated and continue pushing out great content when you’re not seeing results. Having a plan that you and/or your team can follow will keep you on track and pushing forward. There is a reason many psychologists encourage people to write down goals, because it works.
• Audience phase (month one): Focus on defining your target audience and learning everything you can about them. This information will inform all of your future content.
• Writing phase (months two through four): This is honestly an ongoing phase, but it should begin after you know your audience and then be your main focus for the next three months at least. This is where you write, write, write — blog posts, articles, landing pages, downloadable offers, social media posts and so on.
• Tracking phase (month five): After you have pushed out all of the above content, begin more closely tracking your web analytics and lead generation and see the impact that your campaign is beginning to have.
• Improving phase (month six): Now that you know your numbers, you can see what needs improvement. On top of that, it is great to establish a system where every so many months you return to previous blog posts and add more to them, in both length and SEO.
I should note that my content team is always in the writing and improving phases.
One Thing You Need
One thing that is necessary for following the six-month slow burn is proper finances. Now, I don’t mean you need to be turning some huge profit to launch a new inbound marketing campaign, but you need to make sure that you either have a steady source of income from a different product or enough saved up to support your team.
As an example, my multifamily marketing agency launched a new product last year, and we were able to devote substantial time and effort to building an inbound marketing campaign for it in 2020. We could comfortably do this because we were still generating revenue from our agency clients.
In the end, the money you spend is typically well worth it. On average, content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising, or in other words, outbound marketing.
Buckle Down For The Hardest Work
The six-month slow burn requires not only patience but also persistence. This is the time when you will be doing the hardest work. It really helped my team to mentally prepare for this as well as prioritize it each day.
We even began holding weekly meetings so we could stay on top of all the moving parts and communicate our progress on ongoing projects. It was also helpful for my content team to pre-decide how many articles they were going to write each month. It ended up being a combination of four new blog posts and three reworkings of old blog posts per month, three to four posts per week for each social channel and weekly emails. As I said, it’s hard work.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you can lay out a plan and stick to it, you will likely be golden. It is all about continually staying in front of your audience and constantly providing them with value.
For my new product launch, it took about a full year of growing our social channels and pushing out content for us to start driving new leads. We were able to increase our Instagram following by 207% and grow our email subscribers by 89%. Even though it took us six months longer than the average, I am not ashamed in any way to share this. We were consistent and did not give up, and now we are reaping the rewards.
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