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[_] How to predict audience growth

Tim Wintle timwintle at
Mon Feb 11 14:05:22 GMT 2013

On Mon, 2013-02-11 at 13:34 +0000, Martin Joiner wrote:
> My site was receiving 100 unique visitors a day this
> time last year. Today it's receiving 200. That can be described as an
> increase of 100 people or 100%. My question is: Assuming I continue doing
> the same amount of development/promotion, *should I expect to be receiving
> 300 hits per day this time next year (ie. another 100 people) or 400 unique
> visits (ie. another 100% rise)?*
> I hope this question has demonstrated that I simply do not understand how a
> typical audience builds and what that looks like statistically.

Hints for what to search for:
 * "arithmetic growth"
 * "geometric growth"

You can't tell the difference from two points - you need a lot of data
plotted over time.

Also look up "seasonal variation" vs "trend" (or read about timeseries
in general).

(Rough process) 

You want to start with the number of visitors you received each day for
the last year (more than one year's traffic is desirable).

Then remove seasonal behaviour from it (i.e. if you get repeating weekly
traffic patterns then you might want to replace the value for a date
with the average value over the preceding 7 days).

Depending on how advanced you want to get, you might find things like
seasonality by day of the month too (e.g. people act differently on the
day they get paid, and might use your site more or less at different
times of the month)

Once you've removed seasonality, you want to find the underlying trend -
either a curve, or some more advanced form of curve.

... that will tell you the underlying growth in traffic.

If you were using this data for technical decisions (e.g. deciding how
many servers you need etc, you'd need to re-add the seasonality - but if
you're looking from a business perspective it's far easier to leave it

> I also don't know what industry factors to research to gauge size of market. Can
> anyone point me to any resources/tutorials/articles that might help me
> understand?

I reckon that depends largely on the target niche. A good place to start
would be to find your largest competitor and find how many people use
their service.

If you are experiencing super-linear growth (i.e. you're growing faster
than a straight line) then you're probably not approaching a saturated
market yet, so the market should be sufficiently bigger than your
current userbase.

hope that helps,