By now, it seems everyone knows that inbound marketing doesn’t deliver quality leads right away. It takes some time at the front-end of inbound marketing to “prime the pump” with regular blog content, effective CTAs, high-performing landing pages, and lead nurturing campaigns.
But when will those first leads come? We usually say in 4-6 months. BUT, and that’s a big but, the real answer is, “It depends.” Let me help you set some realistic expectations based on our own experience and client experience, and then provide you with some ideas of actions you can take to speed up the initial delivery of leads.
It depends on you
So this is me talking to you, the business owner, CEO, CMO, or Marketing Director. You may not want to hear this, but we’ve learned that success depends largely on you. Clients who allow us to do what we do almost always receive unbelievable results in a reasonable time frame – typically about six months from the start of the program.
Clients who are heavily involved in directing us, or demanding that “side projects” get done are just cheating themselves – they never realize the results they wanted. Since we use exactly the same processes to execute inbound marketing for every client, the difference between no results, mediocre results, and amazing results is the client.
Do you have a plan?
Most of our clients don’t have a solid strategic marketing plan in place before we come along – but you need a strategic inbound marketing gameplan before you even start talking about tactics and blogs. What are your business goals? Who are your buyer personas? What is your messaging? What is your search strategy? Your content strategy? What metrics are you going to use to measure success?
Your strategic game plan is like the blueprint for your house – you wouldn’t just go to Home Depot and buy some boards, some nails, and a hammer would you? No. You want a blueprint that shows all the details of how you can construct the house of your dreams, and what steps need to be taken first, second, third, etc. The same is true with your marketing strategy.
Make sure that your plan has goals and metrics that measure success. And make sure it’s dynamic enough to pivot accordingly as your team gets into it. They’re going to learn important lessons during implementation and optimization, so while the upfront plan is essential, your team’s ability to be agile during the engagement is equally critical.
Do you have a team with deep inbound marketing experience?
It takes a lot of different skillsets to execute an inbound marketing campaign, and you may not have all (any?) of them in your company. With inbound marketing, experience really matters. Whether you’re hiring or working with an agency, make sure your team has the experience, systems, processes, methodologies, and team to deliver what you need when you need it.
How fast do you want/need to grow? Are you investing to support those goals?
This may sound trite, but if you invest $10,000 per month, you’re going to get results faster than if you invest $5,000 per month. Yes, really! From our own experience working with $5,000 engagements and $10,000 engagements, we can tell you that the bigger investment gets more leads (about twice as many) and gets them faster than the smaller investment. So your goals and your investment need to be in sync.
Build a lead generation machine
Ask yourself this: If you were going to build a special machine for your company that would provide predictable, scalable, and repeatable lead generation for your company, what’s that machine worth? Well, if you just look over the next year or two, you might say $1 million, or $2 million, or maybe even $3 million.
But if you’re also considering the impact of such a lead generation machine on the valuation of your company (someday you’re going to sell, right?), your answer might be more like $10-$30 million. Hey, I’m not making this up – I recently spoke with an M&A banker and that’s what he said!
At Alaniz Marketing, we know that this year we’re going to get 150 leads a month and 15 sales qualified leads. We know that – no guessing or hoping. That will turn into 1-2 new clients per month. You can have this for your company, too.
I wish I could get you 100 sales-ready leads tomorrow
I really wish I could. But I can’t. But I can tell you that once inbound marketing starts working, it works every month and improves every month. Over time, those improvements are dramatic. Ten times the website visitors and five times the lead generation is not uncommon for clients that stick it out and let their program blossom. Every program is different, just like every client is different. (Want to see what this means for revenue? I’ll show you in 15 minutes with our Inbound Marketing Revenue Calculator. Just ask me.)
While I can’t get you sales-ready leads tomorrow, I CAN tell you from our experience how to make sure your inbound marketing produces leads sooner rather than later.
1. Trust your marketing partner
If you’re working with a partner (and I recommend it based solely on the experience guidance from above), trust them to do what they do. Don’t start telling them what to do, don’t second-guess them, don’t edit what they send you. Give them the chance to be successful based on their own experience and methodology. Once you start dictating terms, you run the risk of sabotaging your own program and delaying your own results.
2. Stick to your guns. . . er. . . marketing strategy
Like our agency, your company is dynamic and ever-changing. But when you change your entire go-to-market strategy, that’s going to delay your ability to generate leads. When you change your messages, differentiation, product offering or personas, you have to understand that this change impacts the ability of ANY marketing to drive results.
Don’t get me wrong: Sometimes changing your course mid-execution is the right move. Being able to pivot quickly might actually be a strategic advantage. However, there’s definitely an impact on your marketing when you make this change. In essence, we have to start all over again with new keywords, new offers, new blog content – and this work takes time.
So, if you do have to make a dramatic shift like this, be realistic about its impact on your marketing, your partners, and your results.
3. The give and get of great partnerships
Great partnerships work when both parties have something to bring to the table. The best client partnerships form when clients let us do inbound, helping us understand their business and their industry. We’re never going to be the expert when it comes to your business, and you’ll never be the expert when it comes to inbound, so this is where a true partnership has to grow over time.
Help us understand your industry, your business, and your products. Over time, we’ll get it. Don’t edit our writing. Instead, make sure it’s technically accurate. We’re not going to write it like you would, but we’re going to write it so that your prospect loves it. It doesn’t really matter if you like the landing page we create. What matters is whether your prospects click on it and turn from visitors into leads.
We’re all on the same team, and we all want to generate leads for your business. Keep that in mind as you work through any initial challenges.
4. Be all IN on inbound
This is definitely the biggest challenge we see when it comes to inbound. You can’t be “kinda,” partially, or only a little bit in on inbound. You have to be all in. You have to devote the time, resources, money, and human assets required to move your company from old-school, outdated tactics to inbound tactics. If you’re not prepared to do this, don’t start an inbound initiative. If you think you’ll try it for a few months, don’t begin at all. If you think you’ll go back to what you were doing when this doesn’t work, don’t even think about it.
I know that inbound is complex. It’s scary, and most people don’t really understand all of the nuances and intricacies required to make it work. But, there are people who do understand all of that and are willing to teach it to you and your team. Find those people, work closely with them, treat them respectfully and be patient with them. Do this, and watch your marketing become a scalable, predictable, constant source of leads for your business.