Which would you choose: wrong data or no data?

I ran polls on twitter and LinkedIn asking people a simple question: which would you choose: wrong data or no data.

I know there’s no context with this question but that’s precisely the point. But more on that later.

On both platforms, the overwhelming majority of votes went to ‘no data’.

And I’m inclined to agree.

Wrong data means our decisions are based on incorrect information which could be potentially problematic.

But no data? that’s literally telling us nothing so we rely on intuition or gut feeling. Sometimes this makes sense – common sense.

For example, during the redesign of gulfnews.com, we asked people where on the site they’d find particular categories.

“where would you find stories about celebrities?”

“where would you go to get movie times?”

“which section would stories about XYZ be kept?”

We could have relied solely on the data in Google Analytics which would show us where people went throughout the site but what if that data was skewed due to configuration issues or the way the site was setup?

We’d have wrong data.

And that’s not something we needed when embarking upon one of the biggest projects at Gulf News.

So when we asked real people how they would use the site, we were in essence, working off ‘no data’. But we were getting quality data. It was common sense: “this belongs/does not belong in this section”.

The point here is that data is everything, but not if it’s wrong.

You’re better off not having any data at all. But this is why it’s critical to have all data collection mechanisms setup as early as possible to ensure you don’t just collect data, you collect quality data.

As for how this relates to SEO and Digital Marketing: start tracking everything as early as possible.

I love data and reporting. I learnt early on in my career how critical data was to everything I ever did.

The good thing with tracking things even before you fully go live (with an example for example) is that you can always setup annotations for key events to place this data into context.

And context is ultimately the king when it comes to data!

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