How Long Does It Take For Marketing To Work

How Long Does It Take For Marketing To Work?

Step #1 – Setting Clear Marketing Expectations

Step one in calculating how long your marketing will take to work is setting measurable expectations or goals. “What outcome are we expecting from our entire marketing strategy?” 

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing Goals

Starting at the top level we want to identify whether our strategy is focused on creating long term inbound, immediate outbound or both. 

Sustainable inbound is another way of saying “I want people to find me and reach out/purchase”. This is a very common goal for businesses and achieving a 100% inbound supported organization can be extremely difficult. 

Immediate outbound refers to direct advertising or person to person marketing activities. These are directed efforts that lead to conversations and hopefully sales. A very common focus for business-to-business organizations. 

The third option is a mixture of both:

“We recommend using just enough outbound to support your business for the NOW, while you build up inbound for the FUTURE” 

The Tactycs Team

Measurable Results 

Upon identifying the overarching objective the next step would be to select the key performance indicators (KPIs). This will allow us to measure success, time spent, and overall return on investment (ROI). 

If you selected inbound marketing you need marketing activities that are driving traffic to your products or services without manual intervention. Consider a blog post as an example. Said blog may be pulling in valuable traffic that we want to convert into a download/email trade off or a full throttle purchase. We want to be able to track both of these actions on our website. Utilizing Google Analytics and Tag Manager we can set up conversion tracking to monitor how many and what percentage of users come in through a blog and download or purchase. In this scenario we have identified two direct key performance indicators (KPI) that will indicate success; amount of downloads/email trade offs and full purchases

For outbound results we may be utilizing a marketing activity such as LinkedIn InMail. Still partially automated but classified as an outbound activity. Here we want to track the responses to our pre-written messages. Depending on the business, we may even want to classify this as a marketing qualified lead (MQL). 

SMART Marketing Goals

Now that we know our marketing direction and the KPI’s that signify success or failure we need to set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals (SMART). Knowing which metrics are valuable is good but without a specific target in mind the numbers will be meaningless. 

Typically speaking you want to compare this SMART goal against a competitor or specific industry. Finding this data can be difficult. Leaning on tools and software is a good way to take your measurable marketing to the next level. Tactycs has benchmark data that will help you understand where things are working and where they aren’t. 

A quick example of a SMART goal for your marketing is as follows:

GoalBreak Down
I want 1,000 unique visits to my websites blog
posts as shown by Google Analytics within the next 8 months 
Specific – says exactly what we want, where we will track it and for how long
Measurable – Analytics dashboard
Attainable – based on benchmarks, 20 blogs with an average of 50 unique visitors
Relevant – to our inbound goals as it proves we are driving awareness and customer traffic
Timely – we’ve set a target date

Step #2 – What Types of Marketing Activities Are We Using?

The second step in calculating how long your marketing will take to work is to understand the activities you are using and the implied timeline of each. 

Blitz vs. Long Term

In the marketing world there are activities that are inherently long term and some that are immediate (blitz). Think about an organic social media strategy vs. a direct Facebook Ad campaign. The social media example is a long game. Although it may take up to a year to gain traction it could also lead to a more cost effective/sustainable form of communicating with customers. On the other hand, a set of Facebook Ads can be compared to a tap; an activity that can be turned off and on at will. 

What are you using in your current strategy? 

If you still haven’t decided what to use or are completely unsure which activities will work for your business check out our tool. Our software creates a marketing strategy for you based on your audience, resources, objectives, and company. A software option that allows you to completely avoid bias and simply trust the data of where to go to succeed with your audience. 

If you already know what you want to use in your marketing strategy, great! Jot down each item, the KPI and the expected timeline.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what you should be thinking about while calculating “how long does it take for my marketing to work?”

ActivityInbound vs. OutboundKPIs That MatterBlitz vs. Long Term
LinkedIn InboundLink Clicks, FollowersLong Term
FacebookInboundLink Clicks, FollowersLong Term
Facebook AdsOutboundClicks, Conversion (purchases)Blitz
LinkedIn InMailOutboundResponsesBlitz w/ Long Term Benefits (connections)
Email MarketingOutboundOpen Rate, Link ClicksBlitz w/ long term support (contacting current clients)

*Don’t forget there should also be a SMART goal for each of the KPI’s of each marketing activity*

Step #3 – Calculating the time it will take for marketing to work

We’ll be honest with you, there is no single equation that anyone will ever be able to give you. But, we are going to try and get as close as possible. 


Right off the bat, we categorized inbound vs. outbound, as well as blitz vs. long term. If you are looking to calculate the time it takes for outbound, blitz activities to work, it should be pretty clear based on the above information. Give yourself enough time to optimize the activity. But ensure the money and time is immediately measurable/working. 

A blanket 2-8 weeks to optimize ads or messaging is a great baseline. You should be at the very least collecting strong data after the 8 week mark. This allows you to see if the activity is working. 


Now, for the more difficult calculations; the long term inbound activities. In order to create some consistency we are going to use two marketing groupings with average timelines. They are as follows:

  1. Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
  2. Long Form Content: Blogs, Videos, etc.

There are of course plenty of other groupings but these are a great starting point for inbound marketing. 

If you are using social media then we can use an average of 13 months until it ‘works’. This average is pulled from the expected timelines of 5 different social medias. If you want to see the expected time to success per social media channel check out this resource.

You may be running multiple social media accounts at once, keep in mind that this will grow concurrently. For example, if your Twitter account takes 6 months and your YouTube channel takes 15 months, the calculation should be a total of 15 months for all social media to become successful. 

The second grouping of blogs or written long-form content is expected to take a little longer. An average of 24 months can be applied to this activity. It requires consistency and a focus on search engine preferences. A single blog can take up-words of 8 months to properly rank on Google. 

Our current calculation with averages is pretty simple:

Outbound/Advertising = 8 weeks to optimize followed by 1-to-1 results

Inbound = 2 years (concurrent growth within this time) 

Additional Factors

There are then multipliers we can add to our calculation. Allowing you to customize your timeline according to your organization and information. Each of the below variables can be added to the equation if you feel like it applies to your marketing execution. 


Above average frequency is a -15% in expected timeline. Only apply this reduction if you know the average posting frequency and are confident you can go above the average

Current Network/Traffic

Pre-existing traffic or network in terms of social media or website visitors provides a -20% reduction in timeline. This variable is for those of you that have a website with a substantial amount of traffic already, perhaps you are just getting started on the marketing side of things. You should absolutely do everything you can to utilize the current group of customers, visitors, prospects, etc.


Utilizing social platforms sponsored posts consistently can lead to a -15% reduction in timeline. If you begin to merge advertising into your social media you can expect to see a reduced timeline. Best example of this is sponsored posts.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO – If your social channels, website, and blog posts are optimized for search engines you can expect a -10% reduction in time. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), domain authority, backlinking and overall keyword targeting all impacts the searchability of your online presence. SEO should be considered before spending a dime on advertising.

If you feel strongly about each of the above variables you can achieve a possible 60% reduction in time it takes for marketing to work! That brings our social media down to 5-6 months and our publications to 9-10 months

Be careful not to give yourself the benefit of the doubt on the above multipliers. Be absolutely sure that it’s an area of strength and that it will in fact reduce your expected time to succeed. Still wondering how long it will take for your marketing to work?

If you’re tired of all the marketing promises and the unclear timelines of results. Give us a call, at Tactycs we focus on realistic, simple, and measurable marketing efforts that lead to sales results. We’re happy to just chat and answer any questions you may have!

If you’re tired of all the marketing promises and the unclear timelines of results.