What happens to a campaign when data goes wrong?

In 1999 NASA cost itself about $125m dollars when it lost the Mars Orbiter somewhere in space.

How did the most advanced space exploration agency in the world make such a disastrous mess?

It turned out the engineering team responsible for developing the Orbiter used English units of measurement while NASA engineers used the metric system.

The lesson?

This is what can happen when data is inconsistent and not enough thought and planning is put into how it is being used.

NASA, of course, is not the only organisation in history to make a bad mistake based on bad data and the prevalence of bad data within business environments is a concern for many people.

In fact, according to Forbes Insights and KPMG, 84% of CEOs are concerned about the quality of business data they are basing their decisions on – whether this is marketing campaigns or future business direction.

Along with this, a 2018 global data management benchmark report by Experian revealed that 89% of executives believe that inaccurate data has undermined their ability to provide an excellent customer experience in the recent past.

Poor data “leaves many companies trying to navigate the information age in the equivalent of a horse and buggy”, according to Forbes Media’s chief insights officer Bruce Rogers, and it is a statement which serves as a warning in an era when targeted advertising and “personalisation” are becoming standard.

There are many consequences to not taking data seriously and failing to invest the time and effort in making sure decisions are being made with all the facts in mind or focussing campaigns at the right people.

Damaged reputation: Needless to say, NASA’s gaff in not understanding what metrics it should be using and losing the Mars Orbiter didn’t exactly do wonders for its reputation (it appeared in more than a few newspapers and comedy sketches) and the same goes for any business which can’t use data to target its customers properly.

After all, how authoritative can a business be when it can’t even use data properly to target customers – or ends up targeting the wrong customers? Worse though, is the reputational risks now associated with falling foul of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – just look to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to see how bad it could get. Or why not see what lessons can be learned from the data scandal here

Missed opportunity: The doomed Mars Orbiter was set to be the first weather observer to orbit another world and be a big step in the search for signs of life on another planet. Needless to say, it was a bit of a missed opportunity when it vanished in outer space.

Similarly, mistakes made with B2B data prior to launching any kind of campaign can lead to similar missed opportunities.

Knowing how to use data effectively can give a business a leg up over the competition – essential today when every industry is seeing more competition for space and attention than ever. Those businesses which don’t learn how to use data though risk missing out on sales opportunities or even insights into new product developments.

Hit on the bottom line: Not every data mistake is going to cost $125m dollars, the Mars Orbiter is not your everyday business expense, perhaps unless you’re NASA.

But sending messages out to people who are neither customers nor likely prospects is akin to the metaphor of a tree falling in the forest when no-one is around – whether it makes a sound or not is irrelevant because no-one will hear it either way.

Failing to target products and messages towards the right people just means businesses are missing out on sales opportunities and inevitably taking a hit to the bottom line – and it doesn’t take too many hits there for the results to turn fatal.

Mitigating these risks by understanding the need to invest in data is essential for the success of a business or campaign.

Ensuring data is sourced from a reliable supplier, is accurate, compliant and compiled to deliver results is a must.

Rather than being seen as an expense, it is time data was viewed as an investment in future success and then treated with the care it needs to ensure continued success.

If not, like the Mars Orbiter you run the risk of messages, time and money being lost in space.

Related Topics: data