April 5, 2018

3 Viral Business Statistics That Are UNRELIABLE!

The internet is full of data that’s valuable and pertinent to your success. Data provides the ability to capitalize on trends, optimize your marketing, improve your team, and more. New insight can motivate you to change your strategies or services, increase your budget, alter your management style, or even change up operational systems. But how do you know the information you’re acting on is reliable?

Here are 3 business statistics that upon investigation are unreliable! Keep reading to learn who you can trust for valuable business insights.

3 Unreliable Statistics Shared by Multiple Sources

As we were researching the data that quantifies the importance of the patient’s experience for one of our previous articles, we came across an intriguing statistic that we couldn’t verify. So, of course, we didn’t add it to our infographic.

Yet, it was astonishing how many other websites shared this statistic, which mind you, had false confirmation.

In fact, in our research, we’ve come across this problem several times.

BlueIQ Defines Circular Reporting with Business Statistics

Data and statistics can be extremely valuable tools for business management and development. But trusting unreliable information can cost you time, money, energy, and potentially, the health of your practice.

Folks, that’s the inspiration behind this article!

Allow us to debunk a few viral statistics, stress the importance of investigating information, and of course, show you who you can trust for business insights.

1. Word-of-Mouth Referrals Have a 37% Higher Retention Rate

What a wild-goose chase it was trying to validate a 37% higher retention rate! This business statistic definitely supports the argument for a dedicated word-of-mouth marketing campaign.

But is it reliable?

In our research, this statistic was shared all over the internet from authority websites to personal blogs. Everywhere from Futuredontics, who references Forbes, who provides Deloitte as the source (like Social Media Week) who doesn’t provide a source at all, to insightpool, MtoM Consulting and BrightEdge, who site a different Forbes article, who attributes the statistic to a McKinsey study, but doesn’t provide a source link (just like Inc.).

Sheesh, that was a mouthful.

Even worse, NeoReach and several others reference “McKinsey” and link to their article, “A New Way to Measure Word-of-Mouth Marketing,” but that stat isn’t anywhere in there!

Most of these articles quote McKinsey’s finding that “marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising,” which actually is supported by their research. But they also add (usually not in quotes; wonder why 😏), “and those customers have a 37% higher retention rate.”

Despite how hard we searched, we were unable to find any McKinsey study that provided this data. So, where in the world did it come from? How reliable is it?

Well, I think it’s safe to conclude that it’s not reliable at all!

2. Video Generates 403% More Leads

Wouldn’t it be powerful if video generated 4x the number of quality leads!?

. . . but does it?

Initially, we ran across this business statistic conducting research for an article on the power of video marketing. The closing sentences of a Video Brewery article said:

“If you haven’t started your own video marketing campaign, isn’t it time you jumped in with both feet? There’s nothing to lose and about 403% more profit just waiting for you."

Well, of course, we hunted far and wide for the primary source in order to relay a significantly powerful finding to our followers. We found that most articles, like Video Brewery, Capture It Media on LinkedIn, Storyboard Video Marketing on Facebook, and Visual Domain state the source as “An Australian Real-Estate Group.”

But of course, no source link is provided for readers to reference or verify the information (which is our due diligence before we act upon it (or share it, right??)).

While other articles, like House Lens, attribute the data to “A study by international listing website Domain.com.” Others, like Insivia, Inc., and Working the Web to Win, state the source as “An Australian Retailer.”

By far, the most seemingly reliable website was Memory Tree, who provided a source link for all of the statistics they presented (a credible practice); however, they attributed this business statistic to “Australian real estate website domain.com.au” and provided a hyperlink to the Australian website, Business 2.

In fact, most websites that say video receives 403% more leads link to Business 2. Arrgh, of course, Business 2 doesn’t provide a link to the primary source (it’s the only statistic they present without a source link; seems we have a trend here).

Lastly, we scoured domain.com.au to back-up the stat . . . and found squat.

Ultimately, we were unable to find the primary source, whether that be an Australian real-estate group, retailer, website, or even a doggone kangaroo.

So, how reliable is it? We’ve got to say NOT very reliable.

How disappointed are we? VERY! Quadrupling leads with the use of video marketing would warrant a reshuffling of resources for a stronger video marketing campaign in any business.

3. Patient Attraction Costs 5x More Than Patient Retention

We came across this statistic researching data on patient retention (coming soon, watch for "5 Steps to Improve Patient Retention"). It started with a SolutionReach email that said, “Research shows that it costs at least 5x more to find a new patient than to keep yours around.” We love to share valuable information that can impact business decisions, so we took to Google to verify its validity.

Top of the search results is Harvard Business Review, who mentions the information, but doesn’t provide any sources. Next is invespcro, who sites econsultancy, who sites Lee Resources like Evolve Performance Group, Strategic Marketing Solutions, and Forbes (who provides a source link for all data, except this one; quintessential of an unreliable statistic). One or more of these articles probably sited Lee Resources, Inc. from the reference in the book, E-commerce 2018.

And information from a book has to be reliable, right??

Well, in this particular situation, an author can’t validate the book’s source without paying $165 to access the bibliography (and then track down that text to actually validate the information). Unfortunately, the book doesn’t seem to be available in any local libraries either. Nor were we able to find this statistic anywhere on leeresources.com.

Still, books, including textbooks, have mistakes, infractions and errors all the time. Just like online articles, books are written and edited by—wait for it—humans. If acting upon data found in a book, one should check their sources, too.

For instance, take this passage from McDougal Littell’s textbook, The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century:

“1492 Columbus first reaches North America.”

In reality, Columbus never made it to North America as he only traveled to South America and the Caribbean. Yet, the false idea that Columbus “discovered America” has become “common knowledge.”

Moreover, Robert Heinlein’s Hugo Award-winning all-time masterpiece, Stranger in a Strange Land, was published with a character whose name flips between Alice and Agnes on several occasions.

Can you say “oops”?

What’s the Lesson Here???

You can’t trust everything you read on the internet (or in books as a matter of fact)—even if it’s provided by multiple independent sources. Why?

The same reason we as readers sometimes fail to check the information being presented:

Our desire for quick answers may overpower our desire to be certain of their validity.

Case and point: a little investigation can go a long way.

So, check your sources. Before you act on new information, ensure the insight is from a reliable source. Doing so can save you time, energy, and money in the long-run.

Here at BlueIQ, we take the time to investigate the data we share. Our blog, just like our automated business dashboard, aims to provide accurate, actionable data to inform your business decisions.

Plus, bet you didn’t know that we have a historian on our team who understands the importance of primary and reliable sources, ensuring quality research is conducted to verify the efficacy of our business insights.

What are you waiting for? Join the hundreds that trust BlueIQ! Subscribe today.

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