How Long Should my Latency Window be?

I went to Baruch College to get my MBA. It was a great experience and I learned a ton. One of my learnings was something that transcended classes and professors. It was an answer to a question. More specifically, it was a universally correct answer to any question, “it depends.” This response hedged the answers that students gave to minimize the chances their answer was not wrong in a black and white sense – and I guess that kind of makes sense – who likes being wrong?

Business is grey – that’s black and white. But sometimes we have to draw a line in the sand to ensure we’re evaluating things consistently.

Since you’re now well versed in latency windows, how should you apply this concept to your marketing programs? We want to give credit to our marketing programs, within reason. A marketing program may lead to a sale, but it may not be the same day, month, or even year that the marketing program touched a consumer or prospect. The variable here is fairly simple: time. So, the answer to the question, how long should your latency window be is, well, it depends.

In general the more transactional your product is – meaning if it has qualities like a low price point, low barrier to purchase, or low consideration – the shorter your latency window should be. The rationale behind a shorter latency window is that it  shouldn’t take much time to get a consumer to convert if your product or service is inexpensive. Latency windows are most applicable to direct response marketing. Programs that are designed to generate a fairly immediate action can be thought about in the context of a latency window.

Common bookends for latency windows are 1 day, 7 days, or 30 days. It’s not unreasonable to consider a 60 day or 90 day latency window if your product or service has a longer sales cycle. These can all be configured in your web analytics platform to capture to effectively tie the marketing program to the sale. Marketing attribution for B2B products and services that might have sales cycles of 6 months or more should be evaluated on a similar time frame.

So, consider what makes the most sense for your product or service and set a reasonable timeframe to give marketing programs credit for sales.

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