“When can I expect to see content marketing results?”
It’s a question we hear all too frequently in the SEO world, especially when first starting out with client programs. And it’s understandable – clients are investing their time (and dollars) in content marketing and they want to know when those efforts will pay off, especially if they have to justify the expense to company leadership.
But the answer to that question is one that rarely satisfies anyone: “It depends.”
Popular opinion is that content results typically come in around the six to nine month mark.
That’s with the understanding, of course, that it’s the right content hitting the right audience at exactly the right time – and getting picked up by search engines.
But that’s not always the case, even with the best laid-out content marketing strategy. It’s not uncommon for a content strategy to look and feel like it’s going to drive optimal results…and then it doesn’t.
So what kind of answer can you give clients that sets the expectation that content marketing takes time – and potentially even revisiting and reworking that strategy as time goes on?
Let’s take a look:
Set the Content Goals at the Program Outset
As I’ve written previously, content marketing development must involve setting strategic goals in order to be successful. In other words, you need to give due consideration to whatever it is you’re trying to achieve with your content marketing program (organic traffic benchmarks, conversions, leads, etc.).
While there will be overall SEO program goals (example: organic site traffic goals for the year), you’ll want to be sure you outline specific content goals as well. After all, how one person (you) defines success may not be how another (your client) sees it.
It’s a good idea to not only think through goals at the program outset but actually document them so that you know what you’re measuring against as the months tick by. Research, in fact, shows those who document their strategy are more effective in nearly all areas of content marketing.
Even if the goals you set are for your team internally, you’ll want to get feedback from your client as to what they’re expecting from the content program so you can factor in those expectations.
At KoMarketing, we typically perform a thorough content analysis at the beginning of any new content marketing program, where we take a look at main site/blog traffic, organic search visibility, top landing pages, top converting blog posts, competitor sites, and more.
To cap off this analysis, we include a list of specific content marketing tactics we recommend using to meet the goals we have set as a result of discussions with the client and our audit of the site.
For one of our clients in the marketing technology space, for example, we recommended blogging 2-3 times weekly about omnichannel marketing, marketing automation, or digital marketing trends, as we knew these keywords had the opportunity to drive significant organic traffic to the site.
Celebrate the Small Victories
As mentioned above, content marketing results won’t happen overnight – and that expectation needs to be set right from the start.
That said, it doesn’t mean that you can’t highlight smaller content marketing successes along the way. This is, in fact, one of the best ways to reinforce to your clients that the work you are doing is making an impact and will pay off in the long run.
Aside from the monthly SEO reports we provide for clients (which highlight content marketing progress, both MoM and YoY), we also give them updates as to where our SEO and content efforts stand in the middle of the month. That way, we’re keeping them updated on the tactics being executed, as well as the results we’re seeing.
But it doesn’t always have to be as formal as that. You might notice, for example, that a post you’d published recently is now ranking on the first page of Google for your target keyword – and that would be something worth sharing.
The point is to keep your clients apprised of what’s happening with your content marketing efforts as you’re executing them. It’s a good way to highlight smaller successes and remind your clients of all of the tactics in place that are helping them get to their goals overall.
Let’s face it: Being patient is hard. That goes for both clients and agencies working toward driving content marketing results.
But, as with most things in life, content marketing success isn’t something that will happen overnight – or even within the first few months. Putting together winning content programs takes time, energy, and a willingness to go back to the drawing board when results don’t turn out as expected.
So, the next time a client asks you for a specific timeline on when they’ll see results, take the above suggestions into consideration – and then get back to work on your content marketing program!