It’s tempting to stare at your site’s analytics and wait for the results to roll in after a content marketing campaign launches.
The online world moves quickly, so many marketers also expect quick results from their online content campaigns. While there are certainly exceptions, in most cases, seeing an impact from content marketing takes time.
Which leads us to one of the most commonly asked questions about content marketing: How long does it take to see results?
The Truth About Content Marketing Results
There is no magic number or formula to predict exactly when content marketing will create results. (If a marketer tells you otherwise, be wary. They are dangling unrealistic expectations in front of you.)
But, while there isn’t a number set in stone, there are benchmarks to help you set realistic expectations. Results will vary, but you should see results within six months of starting your content marketing efforts.
This goes for both on-site and off-site content marketing campaigns.
It takes at least 6 months to see results from on-site content marketing.
On-site content marketing includes publishing blog posts, e-books, tutorials, white papers, case studies, and other content on your website. This content attracts and engages both prospects and search engines.
Unless you already have a large audience, on-site content usually won’t produce immediate results. It takes time for content to start ranking in search, which means it will take time for people to start finding your content.
When you consistently publish content that both people and search engines find useful, you should start to see results around the six-month mark. At that time your site’s metrics should reflect increased traffic and search rankings.
It takes 6–12 months to see results from off-site content marketing.
Unlike on-site content marketing campaigns, off-site campaigns leverage content published on sites that don’t belong to you.
Awareness campaigns, viral content, and conversion-driven campaigns are distributed, promoted, or published on other sites in order to lead audiences back to your website. Off-site content placements are typically aligned with goals to:
- Get your brand in front of a new audience
- Attract attention on social platforms where your target demographic spends time
- Improve search rankings through inbound links
Results from off-site campaigns are less predictable than on-site campaigns as there are many more factors at play, but we have found that results for these campaigns also start to consistently show around the six-month mark.
Short-term results such as traffic spikes may occur during the early stages of an off-site content campaign, like our client who saw a 750% traffic increase within four months of launching a viral campaign.
But bottom-line results usually pick up around the six-month mark and continue to increase for one to two years. These results steadily:
- Improve search rankings
- Increase traffic
- Increase conversions
- Increase revenue
- Improve brand recognition
The results of content marketing are not immediate, but good things come to those who wait. A slow and steady approach will create substantial results that continue to work for years to come.
The Progression of the Content Marketing Results Timeline
When we talk about the timeline of content marketing results, it’s also important to mention that results usually don’t hit all at once. Results sometimes come in waves.
Results may spike, decline, and then grow gradually over time. As with the case we mentioned earlier, our client saw a significant spike in traffic at the release of its content campaign. The traffic dropped shortly after but then began climbing, slow and steady, to provide both short-term and lasting results.
Different results will happen at different times. Throughout a campaign, results may show at various intervals of time.
During the first six months, you will likely see results such as:
- Increased traffic
- An increase in the number of backlinks
- Higher rates of social sharing
- A spike in PR mentions
And over time, you will see other benefits such as:
- Sustained traffic increases
- Higher search rankings
- Increased and sustained lead volume
- More conversions
You cannot launch a content marketing strategy and sit at your computer waiting for results to roll in. But with patience and consistency, you can launch a content marketing strategy that will grow and produce valuable, lasting results over time.
Here are a few examples of how we’ve done it for our clients.
6-Month Results: Movoto Case Study
Movoto, a real estate listing website, came to Fractl with goals to increase its brand recognition and gain authority in local markets.
To get it the exposure it wanted, we created the “Twitter Reading Levels” campaign that used an open-source library to compile data from more than 500,000 tweets. We analyzed the number of syllables, words, and sentences in the tweets and used the findings to show each state’s reading levels on Twitter.
The data, which was attractive to a nationwide audience, was then used to create a report and interactive infographic placed on Movoto’s website.
After just six months, the results of the campaign were substantial. The short-term results produced:
- More than 250 placements on high-authority publishers
- Features on Yahoo, People, AJC, The Daily Mail, The Blaze, and AOL.com
- More than 9,000 secured domain authority points
- More than 31,600 views for Movoto’s landing page
- Nearly 14,000 shares on social media
In six months, one campaign was able to help Movoto reach its goal of increasing its brand recognition and online authority.
9-Month Results: BuzzStream Case Study
When BuzzStream wanted to launch campaigns to create long-term brand recognition and position their brand as a thought-leader, we created campaigns that used both on-site and off-site content.
To highlight the software company’s authority in its field, we worked with its team to create research-heavy content that would be featured on other high-authority niche sites. We also created valuable evergreen on-site content and gated on-site content.
This combination of creating valuable, authoritative content for both on-site and off-site use brought BuzzStream the results they were looking for.
In nine months, the 19 research-driven campaigns for BuzzStream:
- Received almost 66,000 social shares
- Broke record for new sign-ups in a week
- Were featured in 320 stories
- Appeared on dozens of high-authority websites
Plus, the long-term results of this approach will bring BuzzStream continued benefit as it will improve its keyword rankings and create conversion opportunities over time.
2-Year Results: eBay Deals Case Study
eBay was already a well-known brand, so when its team came to Fractl, they were looking to focus on promoting branded target categories. They wanted to improve search ranking for their new category deal pages while also getting the added benefit of targeted brand awareness.
We worked with them to create a series of large-scale content marketing campaigns that spanned over two years. Our plan included creating highly relevant content for a target customer and connecting with key influencers who could help our content get in front of the right audiences.
By creating targeted content for specific buyer types (such as “The Male Fashion Fit Guide From Reddit” and our “Smartphone Etiquette” study) and getting placements on high-authority publications, we were able to produce:
- Year-over-year growth for sales, SEO clicks, and traffic
- 2,000 featured stories
- 75,000 social shares
- 192,000 domain authority points
eBay already had wide brand recognition but was looking to connect with a more targeted audience. By getting placements on platforms where that target audience spent time and by creating content directly tied to their interests, we were able to connect with customers relevant to eBay’s new offerings.
Setting Expectations for When You’ll See Content Marketing Results
As you set out on your own content marketing strategy, keep in mind that:
- Content marketing is a long-term strategy. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Expect to see results around the six-month mark for both on-site and off-site campaigns.
- The timeline for content marketing results is not set in stone. Campaigns and industries will produce different results, so don’t expect the same results across all fields and strategies.
- You should be wary of anyone who says otherwise. If you are working with marketers who guarantee results at certain stages or in a very short amount of time, it’s probably too good to be true.
- A clear strategy with consistent execution will produce results. There are times when a content marketing campaign will fail to produce results over any amount of time. But that only happens when the campaigns are not set up with a clear strategy and executed on a consistent schedule.
These truths and tips will help you set your content marketing expectations and plans so you are prepared for success – even if that success takes six months to start showing on your analytics dashboards.
Want to see even more examples of successful content marketing campaigns and the timelines associated with their results? Check out our full library of case studies and see what working with a leading content marketing agency can do for you brand.