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How Long Does it Take Inbound Marketing to Work?

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Posted by John Beveridge on Jan 9, 2013 6:16:00 AM


The question I hear most often from business owners and managers is, "How long does it take inbound marketing to work?" They instinctively know that their prospects and customers are searching for their products and services on the web, but they are unfamiliar with the mechanics of syncing their selling processes to their customers' buying processes. They know that it takes time for search engines to index their websites and to "crawl" their sites frequently enough to see that they are consistently producing educational content that is relevant to the keyword phrases they are targeting. (For a good understanding of how search engines work,  I recommend this three-minute video from Google.) They know that it takes time to develop social media reach that they can use to promote their educational content. With all that said, just how long does it take inbound marketing to work?

How does inbound marketing work?


Before we answer the question, let's define what it means for "inbound marketing to work." Inbound marketing usually takes place in three steps:

  • Inbound marketing increases website visitors by attracting prospects seeking to educate themselves on problems that your company's products and services solve.

  • Inbound marketing increases leads by a conversion process - leads exchange contact information in return for premium content offers like eBooks and whitepapers.

  • Inbound marketing increases sales by nurturing inbound leads into paying customers.

Let's take a look at how inbound marketing impacts each of the metrics identified above.

Website Traffic

In August 2011, a joint MIT/Babson research project studied the results of over 200 companies implementing the HubSpot all-in-one internet marketing software package. The companies implementing the software performed the foundational inbound marketing tactics of search engine and keyword optimization, blogging and social media promotion.  Here is a summary of the increase in website traffic after 6 and 12 months of active inbound marketing:


After Six Months of Inbound

After 12 Months of Inbound

Less than 200 starting visitors

4.5x more traffic

7.8x more traffic

200-499 starting visitors

2.9x more traffic

6.1x more traffic

500-1,999 starting visitors

2.4x more traffic

3.8x more traffic

Over 2,000 starting visitors

1.5x more traffic

2.4x more traffic

With respect to website traffic, it can be said that inbound marketing works within six months. Depending on your initial volume of website traffic, you can expect 1.5x to 4.5x more website traffic within six months of implementing an inbound marketing program. The primary variable in how much website traffic you will get is the frequency with which you post blog articles. According to HubSpot's Marketing Benchmarks From 7,000 Businesses report, businesses that blog 15 times or more per month get 5 times more website traffic than those that blog once or twice per month.


Inbound Lead Generation

The joint Babson/MIT study also reviewed the increase in inbound leads generated by implementing a HubSpot inbound marketing program.  Here is a summary of their findings:



After Six Months of Inbound

After 12 Months of Inbound

1-5 starting monthly leads

8.5x more monthly leads

41x more monthly leads

6-20 starting monthly leads

4.9x more monthly leads

23.2x more monthly leads

21-50 starting monthly leads

3.4x more monthly leads

8.5x more monthly leads

Over 50 starting monthly leads

1.9x more monthly leads

4.5x more monthly leads

With respect to inbound leads, it can also be said that inbound marketing works within six months, but the real results start showing up in months 12 and beyond. This makes sense, because you need to first have website traffic before you can produce inbound leads. Depending on the number of starting monthly leads, you can expect 4.5x to 41x more inbound leads per months after twelve months of active inbound marketing. The primary variable in inbound lead generation is the number of content offer/landing pages you offer on your website. The HubSpot Benchmark report found that companies with 11-15 landing pages get almost twice the number of leads than companies with 1-5 landing pages on their websites.


Sales Resulting from Inbound Leads

The MIT/Babson Study found that 64% of respondents reported an increase in sales. Of those reporting an increase in sales, 58% reported that the increase occurred within five to seven months of inbound marketing implementation. The transition from leads to sales is essentially the transition from marketing to sales. Success is highly dependent on:

  • The quality of the leads passed to sales for outreach

  • The sales process in reaching out to the sales-qualified leads

  • The coordination with sales throughout the inbound marketing process

For those interested in learning more about sales and marketing integration, you can click through the link directly below this paragraph to download our eBook on integrating sales into your inbound marketing process.

An actively managed inbound marketing program with regular blogging, social media promotion and inbound lead generation tactics will start showing results within six to twelve months as evidenced by increased web traffic and inbound lead generation. As with any endeavor, the skill and persistency your apply to inbound marketing will have a large impact on your results. I highly recommend you consider how an inbound marketing program can help you improve your business results.



Topics: Inbound Marketing

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