How Long Will A Marketing Strategy Take To Work?


Businesses invest in marketing and sales in order to see a return, and it is reasonable to ask how long it is likely to be before you start seeing your investment deliver new paying customers and a positive bank balance.

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A lot of marketing agencies will point to indicators such as increased web traffic, more enquiries, and a higher search rank as signs of success – and these things are definitely important metrics to track, upwards signs in these areas mean that you are on your way to positive ROI.

How long, then, should you expect to wait before seeing concrete results from various marketing activities?

In our experience, it takes customers 6 to 12 months to start seeing a positive ROI from a marketing strategy, after which the returns keep increasing. As the average B2B sales cycle is around six months, we advise customers not to expect drastic financial indicators before this time, although there are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Businesses with a shorter sales cycle may see quicker results from marketing, as are those that sell a lower value product or service. Companies with a long sales cycle or a high-value product may need to wait longer before they see tangible results from marketing.

This isnt what many businesses want to hear and, therefore, it isnt what a lot of digital marketing agencies will tell you. Digital marketing agencies have a tendency to measure ROI too quickly, due to internal pressures and the perceived expectations of customers, with many appearing to promise an ROI within months 1 to 3.

Agencies that do this are often measuring short-term campaign goals, such as improved click through rates, cost per click, brand lift and social media impact (numbers of followers, shares etc.), rather than financial ROI.

Measuring the short term and long term results of marketing

So, to avoid confusion, lets be clear about KPIs and ROI from your marketing strategy. When you invest in a marketing strategy – i.e. a managed, personalised approach incorporating various digital marketing tactics, and combined with rigorous monitoring, analysis, and feedback – you will see results from month one. These achievements are often strong indicators of a good mid-to long-term ROI.

Marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) months 1 to 6+

Defining personalised KPIs and campaign objectives is one of the most important aspects of setting up a marketing strategy. These goals are bespoke to your business, and should track a measurable uplift in engagement in each of the initial stages of the buyer journey, from Awareness, to Consideration, to Conversion.

These KPIs may include:

  • Overall brand sentiment – including lifts in favourability, consideration, and association
  • Social media engagement and followers
  • Website traffic
  • Behaviour of website visitors, including time spent on various pages, number of page views, and bounce rate
  • Email marketing open rate and click through rate
  • Total number of leads
  • Website visitor to enquiries conversion rate
  • Lead quality score
  • Off-site conversions – e.g. through social media or word of mouth
  • Cost per click and cost per lead

Marketing return on investment (ROI) months 6 to 12+ (depending on sales cycle length)

Your ROI, strictly determined, indicates the results of your marketing efforts in terms of total revenues from marketing, cost savings, productivity improvements (e.g. increased win rate from your sales team), number of sales, and lifetime customer value. Financial metrics that contribute to ROI include:

  • New sales directly attributed to marketing efforts
  • Average value of each sale
  • Cost per sale
  • Sales win rate
  • Approximate market share
  • Measurable return on advertising spend (e,g, Google Ads, Facebook Ads)

Both KPIs and ROI have their place when measuring results from marketing. How quickly you see results depends on several factors, many of which are unique to your business. When you discuss your sales targets and individual situation with our digital marketing team, we can help formulate a realistic ROI for various points of your marketing campaign, based on an understanding of your sales cycle and the purchase habits of your target market, as well as external economic conditions beyond your control.

Quick wins and sustainable growth

Some businesses turn to digital marketing in response to losing a large contract and are keen to see results quickly, and in these cases there are some strategies, such as PPC advertising, that are designed to deliver a short-term uplift in revenues. However, the best way to approach marketing is as a long-term strategy, in which you sustainably improve your win rate and market share, and lower your cost per acquisition so that your profit margins are quantifiably higher.

Next steps

To discuss your circumstances in person with one of our inbound marketing specialists, please feel free to give us a call today.

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