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Bad Tracking Data Will Kill You (Unless You’re Dilbert)

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Bad data will kill you, unless you live in a strip like “Dilbert,” where doing business obliviously never leads to bankruptcy, but pays off handsomely for readers who enjoy a good, satiric laugh.

But this exchange between Dilbert and his ever-clueless boss brings to mind a real bad-data problem that’s no laughing matter for the many market researchers who need a solution.

Tracking studies are going off track because online surveys they typically depend on no longer reach enough of the needed respondents. Today’s data increasingly moves from smartphone to smartphone, the app gets all the appreciation (and use), and questionnaires housed online have become suspect as the data they capture grows less representative, less accurate, and less useful.

Dilbert’s boss wouldn’t care, but market researchers know they must reckon with it.

There’s understandable hesitance about taking a sharp turn from yesterday’s online trackers to advanced mobile methods geared for today’s data ecosystem. Continuity matters. Data consistency matters. Business decision-makers need to make reliable connections between where the relevant data pointed in the past, and how it’s trending now.

The answer is not to jettison online research, which remains valid for some consumer segments, but to integrate and calibrate it with mobile data from the Millennials, minorities and parents of young children who traditional online surveys no longer can reach.

At MFour, we think we have a solution. We invite you to check out our website’s section on tracking studies, which includes a case study, “Putting an Off-Track Tracker Back on Track.” 

The info won’t generate laughs, but what you learn could help turn today’s worries into tomorrow’s reason to smile.