Are Stats Misleading You?

Statistics are wonderful, there’s a stat for everything, but stats are not always true or relevant. Then there’s the old joke that 80% of all statistics are made up.

This morning I came across a really interesting tweet that linked to an article posted today (Sept. 20, 2016) by a respected industry journal. It quoted some very interesting stats.

I won’t mention the article or its author, because it turned out to be factually challenged. The stat purported that:

Email marketing is 40x more effective than Facebook or Twitter for customer acquisition.

40x sounds amazing! But it intuitively didn’t jive with a webinar I had just taken in a few days earlier. So I did some digging.

The article’s statistic was attributed to a marketing agency. I followed that link. It lead to an article that was written in August 5, 2016 by another respected industry expert. His article attributed the stat to yet another respected market research firm’s report dated January, 2014.

Surely, a stat from two years ago about something as evolving as social media couldn’t still be true? But it actually got worse. The 2014 report relies on that firm’s own research from 2012. I was floored.

These are supposed to be industry experts, authors with huge followings, firms whose research is relied upon by millions,

But it’s all junk. 

If the statistics being used are no longer relevant, using them is intentionally misleading. It doesn’t take a lot of fact checking to realize some stats are fictitious, or obsolete. That makes both the statistic used, and the article quoting it, junk.

I fear the junk-causing culprit is the over-heated drive for more content. As a copywriter, that seems contrarian, I should love the quest for more content (more $$$). I understand that there is science supporting constant publishing of average content versus sporadic publishing of excellent content. But I question that.

Now, this would be a great opportunity for me to splash a stat proving my statement. Hmm, something like,

Posting more than four blogs a month is 18x more effective than posting only 2-4 articles a month. 

Except, I’m now weary of chasing stat sources. My trust has been shaken. My level of respect for the offending authors has diminished. (Yes, that last stat is bogus, manufactured for illustration purposes only.)

If you, as a marketer or an author, want to keep the trust of your audience, if you want to increase or at least maintain credibility, you need to publish quality content.

Quantity is not better than quality, even if there is a stat that says so.

Stay believable, my friends.

Jefferson Vinall

If you prefer to publish content with integrity and need a writer for that content, contact Touchdown Copywriting about your integrity-based project.