Timeframes, analytics, and objectives

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One of the most misused parts of marketing analytics is the timeframe. Whether it’s daily/weekly/monthly views in Google Analytics or People Talking About This in Facebook or the metric of your choice, we tend as marketers to use the timeframe (no surprise, we’re marketers) that makes things look the best, or at least look meaningful. Most of the time, this is unintentional and not malicious. We look for patterns, trends, and information that is meaningful. Sometimes it’s just what we’re given by the tools we use.

Here’s why timeframes matter in analytics. The timeframe tells you what results you are capable of generating using any given marketing method. For example, let’s say your focus is on audience and awareness building, core functions of things like advertising and public relations. Monthly or even quarterly metrics timeframes are perfectly okay to work with because you’re looking more at the cumulative effect of all of the communications with your prospective audiences. You don’t necessarily need to be top of mind 24×7, just enough that you maintain share of mind.

However, if your focus is on something like direct response, you might want to work in a weekly or daily timeframe. Direct response marketing and lead generation typically have much shorter timeframes, timeframes in which you must meet certain numbers. You might, for example, need to generate a certain number of leads before the end of the month to meet a quota. Working in weekly or daily timeframes in your metrics will tell you how likely you are to achieve your goals.

Here’s an example using Facebook’s People Talking About This. By default, Facebook reports PTAT as a weekly timeframe metric. In your Page’s insights, you can also get daily and 28-day PTAT:


If you’re in charge of growing audience and growing awareness, looking at the monthly PTAT vs. Total Likes is a reasonable thing to do. What chunk of your audience did you reach in the last 28 days?

If you’re in charge of lead generation, looking at the daily PTAT vs. Total Likes is important, because it will help guide your expectations about how many people today will see your offer in a very short period of time.

When you mix the two is when disaster can strike. If you’re a direct response marketer and you see the monthly reach numbers, you might expect that up to 100 people could respond to your offer on any given day, when the reality is that at best, 20 would be the maximum number of people in a given day. Conversely, if you’re a PR professional, you might be distraught at the idea that 3 out of 1,300 people are seeing your work today, when the reality is that your content is being seen by a hundred in the month. Today’s post might be invisible to an audience member, but tomorrow’s might be quite prominent.

Know the timeframes that your marketing methods operate in, and measure accordingly!

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