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There’s a lot that goes into planning a robust franchise digital-marketing strategy, and if you’ve hired an outside team to help craft one, you’ve likely had numerous meetings with writers, SEO experts and account managers to lay out goals and share pain points. You’ve got deadlines to meet and numbers you want to hit, and are looking forward to a healthy ROI, preferably sooner than later. That’s understandable. Who doesn’t want to see quick returns?But here’s the thing: chances are, it’s going to take time… arguably the most important resource you can give an integrated digital marketing campaign.The long gameYears of experience in that field taught me that asking clients to be patient can be tricky — as I can fully appreciate their sense of urgency — and that reassuring them that their marketing dollar is being well spent, despite what may appear to be sluggish results, is a hard sell.The fact is, though, digital marketing isn’t a short-term fix but a long-haul commitment, one that, if executed properly and allowed to mature, will result in real customers and conversions and measurable ROI. It’s a journey, not a destination, which is why, if you’ve partnered with an experienced provider, you’ll be asked to take the long view. Reputable marketers will never promise immediate returns; instead, best practices will focus on long-term strategies, and it can take anywhere from six to twelve months before you begin seeing the kind of results you think a marketing dollar should buy.Related: Digital Marketing 101 for EntrepreneursAnd the thing is, that’s the way it should be. Why? Because shallow roots bear immature fruit. Smart franchise digital marketing is multi-faceted, with a lot of moving parts that might include a new website, blogs, downloads, paid ads and social media. These efforts need to be concerted and responsive, and their results regularly tracked and measured, with adjustments made as necessary — all of which makes it especially important to partner with an outside resource that has the time (there’s that word again) and expertise to manage a campaign effectively.What can affect resultsIt’s vital that a provider knows how to craft a strategy that not only has your future in mind, but also makes an analysis of your past efforts (if any) and which may or may not have worked. Poor or no prior digital marketing can affect your reputation on Google, for instance, and that can affect outcomes, particularly if you need to build or rebuild credibility. This means that you can’t establish or change a reputation overnight, but a good digital marketer can make adjustments that will engender consumer trust and grow brand reputation.Related: How to Build Reputation in an Industry From ScratchBudget will also affect results, and the time it takes to see them. Underestimating how much money you’ll need to see success is a common mistake, but it’s important to remember that a healthier budget will buy you more time, and the more time you have to invest, the faster you’ll see ROI. You also need to be sure you’re working with a provider who knows the importance of where to put that money, and that all efforts align.Your competitors can also affect results. If their online presence is strong (i.e., their integrated digital marketing is working), it will be more difficult to outrank them, at least at first. This, again, reiterates the importance of partnering with a marketer who knows how to leverage all available tools, particularly if you have a product or service that’s high-quality and with strong appeal.What to look for in a good strategyOne of the most important reasons to give your strategy time is that you’ll be looking at a spectrum of key performance indicators (KPIs) that, when taken together, should measure how marketing dollars are performing over time. Typical KPIs include unique monthly visitors to a website, click-through rates on that site’s pages, the average position of a website in search results, cost-per-lead (paid search) and much more. The KPIs your marketing team decides to track should align with your overall strategy, goals and objectives, and it’s important to remember that not all KPIs have a monetary value that corresponds with ROI, at least not directly.Good digital marketers, however, will help you see the connections between KPIs and ROI that might not be immediately obvious. For instance, an increased click-through rate on a website (new visitors who’ve found you through free organic search) and a lower cost-per-lead (conversions as a result of that increased click-through rate) may improve your marketing ROI over that same measured time period. This kind of interplay is often nuanced and can take intuitiveness to identify, which is again why, when it comes to digital marketing and choosing an outside partner, experience matters.Related: Entrepreneur’s 2021 Franchise 500 RankingUltimately, the effectiveness of a strategy is going to depend on the resources you have to put into it, the goals and objectives you’ve established and how you decide to measure success. But one thing is certain: a good franchise digital-marketing campaign is never static; it’s always growing, always adapting and always a reflection of what happened yesterday and what may happen tomorrow. It is never finished. Remembering this can help you enjoy the journey, celebrate achievements and appreciate the value that good marketing is.