When I first read the brief topic for this blog, I immediately knew the answer as my cerebrum quibbed “because you are going to take SO LONG to write it”.
I was convinced it would take me forever to write this piece.
The good news is that I did manage it in the end and the reason it takes so long for content marketing to work is not that writers are slow at delivering content.
(In fact, the average writer takes about 4 hours to write a blog, which is quite bloody astounding if you consider that many full-grown humans can’t even put together a grammatically correct grocery list in that time.)
It, actually, has everything to do with what you publish, why you publish and how frequently you publish.
Here’s how it works ...
How Long Does it Take for Content Marketing to Work?
Before we jump into why it takes so long for content marketing to work, let’s first find out how long “long” actually is.
Digital marketing and strategy agency, Sparkd, says that “while the actual amount of time will depend on your business and circumstances, for a small to medium-sized business, a strong content marketing strategy generally takes between six and nine months to yield real results.”
Most industry experts agree with this. Marketing Insider Group adds that “you might see results more quickly, depending on how much effort you put into strategy, production, and promotion”.
In addition, as Growth and Convert notes, your metrics will also determine when you start to see results. For instance, a small business with a DA of 27 who only has the resources to blog four times a month won’t see results as quickly as a medium to large business with a DA of 62 and an organic baseline of over 20 000 hits.
Depending on what you want to achieve (rank number 1, increase sales or grow followers), you may see results much faster than others (on the flip side, of course, it could also take a while longer).
This may seem like a lifetime in today’s instant and always-on world, but as Marketing Insider Group notes: “Don’t rush the process or expect results prematurely. If you do, you’ll be disappointed and quit too early. It takes time for content to gain traction on search engines and your business brand to build authority and awareness online”.
And that brings us to our question ...
Why Does it Take So Long for Content Marketing to Work?
The short answer is Google.
That’s because their algorithm for determining which pages to recommend to readers searching a keyword or phrase favours established websites with a history of consistently and regularly publishing high-quality, reliable content.
To learn more about how search works, check out this video by ex-Google software engineer, Matt Cutts.
So the newer you are to the game, the less likely you will be high on Google’s recommendation list.
Content is time-consuming to produce. It requires strategy, research, writing and approval. And we all know that content marketing doesn’t stop at publication. You’ve got to promote it, share it on social media, include it in your email marketing, garner backlinks - and then regularly update it if something becomes outdated or it starts to dip in rankings.
What needs to be understood are the nuances that affect how long content can take to start working for your business.
And for that, you need to understand what content marketing success will look like for your business.
What do you want to achieve with content marketing should be your first question?
- Is it organic growth? If so, at what rate?
- Page 1 ranking (and in this case, for what keywords)?
- Increased content conversions?
- Increased keyword positioning?
These are all different and would require entirely different content strategies to try and achieve one or more of those objectives.
Second to that is understanding your online positioning.
- How well does your website currently rank?
- What is your domain authority?
- What keywords do you already rank for?
- What is your backlink profile?
- How many organic hits are you getting per month?
These baseline numbers, coupled with your goals, will determine what kind of content marketing strategy you require and, ultimately, how long it will take for your content marketing to work.
A low DA site with low organic sessions will require a different keyword and content publishing cadence from that of a site with a high DA and mid-level organic sessions. Depending on your website’s performance, you can try one of these three different content strategies.
What Can I Do to Jumpstart My Content Marketing Performance?
Often the goal of content marketing is to increase organic search volume and to convert them into paying customers, it’s understandable that not everyone can or will want to wait months or even years before their marketing efforts start paying off.
“Remember that content marketing is hard work. The top-performing articles online are long (over 3,000 words). But they get three times the traffic, four times the shares, and three-and-a-half times the backlinks of average-length articles (901-1200 words)” – Marketing Insider Group
Luckily, there are some steps you can take to fast-forward the process a bit so that it doesn’t take so long for your content marketing to work. Here’s what you can do:
Set SMART goals and create a content marketing strategy. This will help you stay focused and create a schedule to publish content to (ticking that all-important consistency box for Google).
Publish more frequently (without skimping on quality). If you want to see results faster, publishing a high volume of content can help. As marketer Neil Patel explains: “Pushing out, more great content will help you rank for more long-tail keywords. And, you can also target different types of audiences with different types of content, using paid social to gain more traffic as part of your marketing strategy”.
And it works; a HubSpot study found that businesses that publish 16 or more blogs a month get 4.5 times more leads than those who only publish once a week.
Of course, blogging is not the only type of content you can create – although it does deliver some of the best results as a Demand Metric study found that companies that blog produce 67% more leads monthly than those that don’t.
Focus on a specific topic (or handful of topics). Create content hubs on core industry topics and terms. This has to do with site architecture as much as it does with creating a repository of great (and helpful) content.
Do proper keyword research. By doing comprehensive keyword research, you can identify content gaps and keywords you can feasibly rank for. Remember, the keywords you select still need to be relevant to your persona and, of course, your business. Make sure you target keywords you actually want to (and can) rank for.
Increase your budget. A fast(er) and effective way to boost your content marketing results is by upping your spending on paid social media advertising to promote your blog posts and grow your audience.
LEARN MORE: 7 Ways to Speed Up Your Content Creation
Content marketing is challenging; it requires strategy, creativity, excellence and perseverance. But, when it pays off, boy, does it pay off.
Not only are companies that use blogging as a marketing tool 13 times more likely to get a positive ROI, but other forms of content marketing, such as email marketing, also deliver massive ROI ($40 for every $1 spent on email marketing, in fact, and $22.24 for SEO efforts). Plus, 72% of marketers agree that content marketing improves overall brand engagement.
So keep at it! Consistency and creativity will be the key to your content marketing success.