How long will this marketing stuff take anyway?

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Some people and companies are reluctant to build up their marketing programs because they think they won’t see results very quickly (or at all). Are they being asked to spend money for months without knowing if it’s making any difference?

Some marketing strategies, like search engine optimization, can take a while to show results. Other strategies can have a much faster payback. Here are some examples…

Understanding your customer Can take several months, and in a dynamic, competitive marketplace must be ongoing, but pays the greatest returns in the long run
Conversion optimization Can usually be done very quickly, and inexpensively, and can have an immediate, significant impact on the generation of leads and sales. In a company that’s reluctant about a new emphasis on marketing, it can be a great confidence booster.
Remarketing Remarketing can be setup quickly. It may take a few weeks to accumulate a significant cookie pool of people who have visited your website, but after that you’re off and running. The costs are low and the returns are usually significant if you have a good offer or call to action.
Search advertising Google AdWords can be turned on in just a few minutes and your ads will immediately start appearing to people searching your keywords. So you may see very fast results. Companies typically need to optimize their campaigns for at least two or three months, measure results, and constantly monitor and optimize beyond that.
Email marketing If you have a good house list, you can start producing results from it quickly. If you don’t, it can take a while to develop one. Buying lists may work, and would be fast, but start with a small test.
Content marketing Content will be central to many marketing tactics. It may take a few months to put together a content strategy and generate quality content that truly speaks to the needs of your customers. In an industry in which competitors are already generating a lot of content, such as marketing itself, content strategies may be slow to make an impact. In industries where competitors are not yet generating much content, it can have a significant impact within just two or three months.
Events Events take some time to organize and launch, but can be very impactful. An online event, like a webinar, can be put together, promoted and conducted in just a month. A physical event will take longer because of the need to find a physical location, work out more logistics, etc.
Marketing and sales alignment The importance of this can’t be understated; in a company in which the two have not traditionally worked together well it may take a few months to create an SLA and make significant improvements.
Marketing automation It can take two or three months to setup a marketing automation program, but in the long run it is a key tool and especially important for facilitating cooperation between marketing and sales
Search engine optimization For a mid-sized or large website, SEO can take a few months to implement. It can be done much faster on a small site. Once done, it is an evergreen tactic that can show results for years, although new site content must continue to be optimized and the level of results will, like all content marketing, vary considerably depending on your competition’s efforts.
Social media It can take a significant effort and time these days to build a social media following, and your posts are usually only shown to 2-3% of those who are following you, so organic social media will be a slow path to results. Like other forms of online advertising, though, social media advertising can be turned on quickly and potentially can show significant results.

These are just a few of the most common marketing strategies and their implementation and payback periods. While in some cases “it depends” is the answer, there are several tactics that you can focus on out of the gate to produce rapid, relatively inexpensive results while working on the longer-range programs.

The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get results.