If you’ve ever felt like one of your marketing tactics was nothing but a waste of time, this article is for you.

I recently had a conversation with someone who was beginning to feel like their social media efforts were a lost cause. They worried that the time dedicated to planning and sharing content on their networks wasn’t well spent because they didn’t have any data suggesting they had earned leads through Facebook or Twitter. In a nutshell, they didn’t see the point in continuing using social.

And I get it. What’s the point of continuing to execute a marketing tactic if you aren’t sure it’s helping you meet your goals?

While it’s definitely important to audit your marketing to see what’s actually working and where you should change direction, you must be thoughtful about when to cut specific tactics from your strategy.

Before you come to a full stop on that one tactic that’s got you down, let me remind you of three reasons why you should consider sticking with it.

  1. Some tactics take time to produce results

After hitting the “on” switch for a new marketing tactic, you’re likely anxiously awaiting the leads to pour in. I know I am.

Unfortunately, some marketing channels require time to produce results. And by time, I don’t mean hours or days, but rather weeks or even months.

This is, admittedly, a frustrating part of the marketing process.

If you call it quits on your tactic too early on, the momentum you had been working to build will be eliminated. If your tactic was one of many supporting a larger campaign, it may weaken the overall results of that campaign.

So how early is too early to put an end to your tactic, you may ask?

There’s no tried-and-true answer: it will be different for every tactic and dependent on your goals and broader campaigns you’ve tied it to. However, on a high-level, tactics used primarily to build brand awareness (for you, this could be social media) will usually be much slower to produce direct results than those with clear-cut call-to-actions and targeted audiences (such as a targeted PPC campaign on AdWords or Facebook).

  1. Some tactics aren’t designed to directly generate leads

Some marketing tactics are only designed to generate awareness or increase positive brand association, not drive leads. Sure – the awareness or brand association will hopefully result in leads down the road. But it takes time to earn a small spot in the brains of your target audience.

Be honest about what the goal of your tactic is. Sharing blog posts and posting photos of your employees on Facebook is one way to increase brand awareness, but it’s unlikely that someone is going to make a purchase directly after seeing one of your social posts – and that’s totally okay.

Understanding what realistic expectations for outcomes look like will help you better adjust how you think about each tactic. It may sound obvious, but sometimes a reminder helps: if social media was never meant to be a lead generator, you shouldn’t be concerned that you aren’t seeing leads as a direct result from it. That just means your tactic is functioning as it should.

Now, if you are using social media as a paid channel, for example, running Facebook ads to drive traffic to online store, you should be generating leads. We’ll discuss expectations and outcomes for paid campaigns in just a minute.

  1. Some tactics help provide a positive brand experience for those doing due diligence

One of the ways that some marketing tactics – including social and blogging – prove value is by showing the worth of your brand to those who are doing due diligence before they convert.

If you’ve ever gone to a company’s Facebook page to find out a little more about them (How many people like their page? Are they talking about a conference I’ll be at next month? Are they responsive to people who ask questions on their page, and could those questions and answers be useful to me?), you know that social media helps you understand more about a company, how they function and if what they are offering up is a match for your needs.

Basically, people will check your social profiles or read your blog posts to see how legitimate you appear to be. Many people will see a consistently updated and useful (or at least on-brand) social presence or blog as an indicator that a company has their shit together.

As you can see, you shouldn’t rush to stop executing tactics not intended to generate leads. They serve many other purposes that will support your overall goals, even if you don’t get a new customer as a direct result from them.

But what about the tactics that are intended to generate leads? How do you know when they just aren’t working for you, or if they need more time to drive results?

Because tactics like these are more likely to have additional cost associated with them (in addition to the time your team spends executing them), it’s crucial to know whether you are making an investment or throwing money out of the window.

Let’s say you’ve been running Google AdWords ads for a few months. Your ads are receiving clicks, but you haven’t gotten a single lead. In short: you’re paying for visitors who aren’t becoming customers.

There are a few metrics to consider before you shut off your ad campaign. First is volume: how many visitors clicked on your ad and visited your website? If you’ve only received 50 visits over three months, zero conversions is to be expected. Now, if you’ve received 5,000 visits and still haven’t received any, something is amiss. It could be your targeting, your ad copy, your landing page or your offer, but somewhere along the way, visitors are all deciding they don’t want what you’re selling. It’s also possible that Google just isn’t a good way to reach your audience!

In this case, the number of clicks your ad received directly influences how much money is spent in the campaign. Before declaring the campaign a waste of money, review your framework for ROI: it’s possible just one new customer from your campaign will justify the amount spent on it. However, if you review the numbers and find that you are receiving an appropriate number of visitors but can’t afford to keep spending without any return, you’ll want to pause or revamp your campaign.

Ultimately, determining when you should dump a tactic will requiring considering how the time and resources required to continue a tactic compare to the results. You’ll need to have realistic outcomes plotted out to know whether your tactic is actually performing below expectations, too. Sometimes the problem isn’t the tactic itself, but the expectations for it.