How long it takes for marketing to work

Are you wondering how long it takes before your marketing should be expected to begin boosting sales or lead conversion? Do you get impatient to see marketing results? I do! 

As business owners, we should be interested in how our marketing is doing and regularly check performance, but I have also seen clients give up way too quickly on a strategy because they expected too much too soon. Or the wrong results from the wrong type of marketing.

How long should you wait to measure your marketing or make a call on its effectiveness so you can either keep it going or make improvements? It depends on the platform, your audience and what type of results you're after. 

how long for marketing to work

Paid search ads, for example, can take several days - even a couple weeks - to "learn" how to get in front of the right people at the right time. Google utilizes complicated algorithms and testing to help your ad get to peak performance. Facebook does the same and is increasingly allowing more defined targeting with its paid ads. As long as an ad is showing decent adoption each week, I recommend clients give it a solid month before making a judgement call on how well their ad campaign is doing. A good ads manager will make tweaks about once or twice a week but still give it space to let the learning happen. 

Social media posts can also take days to work all the way through your following. I try not to put insights down for a social post until at least 48 hours after posting to make sure it's run its course. Even then, you'll notice older posts still getting traction since they're available to new followers or anyone randomly browsing your account (that's not creepy at all).

SEO doesn’t register with search engines for a few days and can take months to really gain traction. This is because Google and other search platforms are looking for combined SEO tactics to rank your website. It’s the power of the consistent combo. I’ve had clients ask me to help them rank higher about 60-90 days after their website is built. Unless their site was built by someone with very little SEO knowledge (a website builder worth their salt will optimize it fine), the problem is usually that they haven’t given it time to prove itself in cyberspace.

My advice is to take SEO very seriously when you first build your website, it’s much harder to get it caught up after the fact. You can, however, make changes that help a lot - but it still isn’t an overnight solution. AND, while I’m harping on SEO, if this is a priority strategy, you need to have it handled by a pro. For realz.

Some marketing campaigns are more about brand awareness and others are pushing an audience already following you to take the next step to engage with your content or buy. Some strategies are to gain leads and others are about warming up leads for a big promotion you're about to do. These can all factor into how long you need to wait to see if your marketing is actually working. 

You also need to consider the product you’re marketing for. Some purchases - like buying a home, car or college enrollment - require a longer period for the client to make a decision about. If you're a luxury real estate agent pushing high priced properties, that's a BIG ask. You have to let a would-be buyer marinate on that big, important purchase for much longer than, say, a new pair of shoes. 

The bottom line is to commit to a marketing strategy and let it loose for a reasonable amount of time before you make any major changes. Usually, I recommend a solid 90 days for a well planned campaign. With some tweaking along the way, three months will give your marketing enough time to consistently do its job and reveal all its strengths and weaknesses for improving upon. 

Failing to give your marketing time to work will only cause you to assume it was a bad plan and remain in the dark on what your audience wants and will respond to, which is only going to hurt your business and have wasted your efforts.

If you’re tired of guessing and are ready to turn your small business marketing over to a professional marketing director, I’d love to talk with you about your needs and vision.