Lies, damn lies and statistics….

We were interested yesterday to read a news story on www.searchengineland.com which highlighted the latest piece of research from Webmarketing 123 called “2011 State of Digital Marketing Report”. Now of course reports like these are the backbone of many sales pitches and can indeed give you a useful insight into what is happening in the market place, and to guide your strategy to ensure a profitable outcome online.

In the main however what you are presented with is information, drawn from raw data and from which you need to derive some intelligence.

Where the real value lies is to be able to synthesise some intelligence from the data as this is the point at which real value is added.

So, back to yesterday’s story and guess what happened? Lots of data had been turned into information but the critical analysis section had been overlooked leaving room for people to arrive at wholly spurious conclusions, some of which bloggers went on to point out are just plain wrong.
For example, one of the points that they made was that despite most respondents telling them that the bulk of their enquiries and sales came from SEO, the report stated that 60% of respondents said they planned to increase their budgets for Social Media Marketing in 2010 but crucially it didn’t say by how much. Increasing from nothing to $2 a year would count as an increase, but would it drive any meaningful business?

Far too many sales pitches are going to be created on the back of statistics like this to try and convince clients to throw hard earned money at Social media when most in the industry understands that getting a solid quantifiable ROI model from Social Media is pretty hard indeed. This is not to say that you can’t make money from Social, just that for most businesses it is pretty hard to measure.

he most impressive response was a hardened veteran who pointed out that reports like this simply categorised SEO, PPC and Social into silos, ignoring the fact that in the real world most of us look on Digital Marketing as a whole, incorporating elements of anything that is relevant to a marketing mix for a client to help them generate the best ROI possible from their limited budgets.

So next time someone offers you a statistic plucked from a survey tell them you want to see how it gets you an ROI and not listen to lies, damn lies and statistics.

Posted in SEO