You’ve built a great digital marketing plan based on a well-thought-out strategy, realistic goals and good market research. You roll out the campaign and wait for the action to begin. But it doesn’t. Where are the results and what’s going on with performance, you ask? How long is this going to take?

The short answer: It depends.

An effective digital marketing campaign can sometimes deliver immediate results. But it doesn’t usually work that way. The most effective long-term campaigns start with brand-building, establishing brand recognition, trust and eventually, preference for your brand. Once this happens, the effort can shift to direct response where prospective customers and clients are driven to the website. If the website is built to engage and convert, results should follow.

But it can take months before the full effects of a comprehensive digital marketing campaign begin to convert. The speed with which results were occur and how well the campaign ultimately performs are affected by a number of factors. Some factors include your positioning within the marketplace, competition, how niche or mainstream your products and services are, how long your sales cycle is, your goals and your budget all play a role. This is why in all cases, the best digital marketing campaigns begin with careful thought and strategy. Think like a carpenter here and, “measure twice, cut once”. Good strategy will tell you which channels of digital marketing are most appropriate, which are likely to work best, how long it will take and how much it will cost.

How long does Search Engine Marketing (SEM) take?

Some industries that involve mainstream products or services, can utilize an inbound direct-response effort that includes a mix of paid search, search-based digital advertising and SEO. Here, an inbound, direct-response approach can generate results pretty quickly, depending on which tactics you use. Paid Search can begin working as quickly as …immediately. SEO takes longer. Watch out though. If your product or services does not offer a truly unique benefit or isn’t local in nature, you could find yourself competing with national brands. In the inbound world, that can put pressure on performance, and it can be expensive. SEO can be particularly challenging in industries where there is national competition fighting for organic/natural rank for top-performing keywords. These organizations often have teams of dedicated digital marketers, optimizing for top position in Google. If you’re a smaller or medium-sized business, don’t fight battles you can’t win. This is one example of why strategy (measuring twice) is so important in SEO. The keyword- and competitive-analysis you do before launch is critical and it can save you lots of disappointment down the road with SEO. At AdEdge, we advise our SMBs to focus on local and niche long-tail keywords for SEO in industries where there is heavy national competition. This strategy usually nets better long-term increase in traffic and ROI …even when if a company’s top keywords aren’t ranking on page one.

How long does it take for an SEO campaign to improve a website’s rank on Google?

Back to the question of how long it takes, an effective SEO campaign, often takes six months to a year or longer. For that reason, we often recommend running a paid search campaign that will have your sponsored ads ranking at the top of Google almost immediately. And there’s another benefit to doing this. By running paid search in advance of SEO, you can take the guesswork out of keyword research by identifying your real-world top performing keywords in your market. Using Google Analytics or other website analytics software, you can determine exactly how well each keyword is performing in your local market and then target those winning keywords for your SEO campaign. While you probably know what many of your top keywords are, this approach makes sure you won’t miss any top keywords, nor will use any keywords you thought were good but actually aren’t. Measure twice.

Enough talk about inbound and the benefits of a direct-response campaign where results are much quicker. As mentioned earlier, this approach works better for mainstream products or services but what if you have a new business. Or what if your company sells something that’s either new to market or requires a long sales cycle to sell? This is where a good brand-building campaign becomes a critical pre-cursor to direct response. Here, we are talking about outbound marketing. What some inbound purists call “interruption marketing” digital branding is actually very important for sales with a long cycle. Brand building is important in these cases because prospective clients are in a longer, more involved process in buying that starts with branding. A good brand-building campaign involves digital display (banner) advertising, YouTube pre-roll advertising and social media advertising are the top digital channels for brand building. Social media marketing, blogging, podcasts and good old, fashion PR are also effective.

How long does it take for a banner advertising campaign to work?

Building brand with outbound digital marketing establishes recognition (of your company’s name, logo, colors and “look” in general), it communicates the Unique Selling Proposition of the products or services you are selling (your Niche), it establishes trust and eventually, preference. Once branding has done it’s work to establish an early, virtual relationship with your prospective clients, a direct response campaign will do much better. So, how long does it take to build brand with digital marketing? A branding effort will generally take six months to one year and involve multiple campaigns that present various benefits to prospective clients.

Before embarking on any digital marketing effort, make sure your website is correctly branded, attractive, succinct, and designed to engage with prospective visitors. More on that in an upcoming blog.

Digital marketing isn’t a one-shot, click-it-and-quit-it effort. It requires ongoing performance evaluation and optimization to achieve full performance. While results often come quickly from certain channels, others take several months to optimize based both on the impact advertising has on target clients and the impact AdEdge has on campaign performance. Sometimes it takes a few months, sometimes up to a year. If you would like to learn more about which digital marketing techniques might work well in your case and what you can expect in terms of performance and timing, feel free to Contact Us for a free consultation, call 203-682-4585 or email [email protected].