Tracking programs are powerful tools for companies to keep pace with the rapidly evolving challenges of the marketplace. Whether monitoring the health of a brand, keeping tabs on customer engagement, or measuring the effectiveness of brand communications, your organization is undoubtedly tracking key performance indicators over time.
As your organization is finalizing its brand strategy and marketing goals for 2019, here are three critical elements to consider in creating a meaningful, powerful tracking program:
The inherent power of a tracking study is its ability to detect changes over time. That longitudinal view of your brand’s strengths and weaknesses or your customer’s level of engagement is essential when making strategic decisions.
To accurately measure those changes over time, you must ensure the consistency of your measurement. This means taking the time to plan out a proper design that can deliver a consistent, meaningful view of the market while allowing for some flexibility:
Setting aside an appropriate amount of time during the design phase allows for the gathering of relevant information and attaining feedback and getting buy-in from your stakeholders. Use the design process to educate your internal audience on the value of investing time and effort upfront to gain consistent, meaningful measurement across future waves. Getting it right the first time will only add to the credibility and usefulness of the study.
A common problem with many tracking studies is that they immediately become bogged down with questions that stakeholders would like answers to in the short-term but have no intention of using or monitoring over time.
This is not to say that these questions should be disregarded, but only that they are not core to the study’s long-term objectives. Resist the urge to include these in the core study by ruthlessly adhering to the KPIs and metrics that you know will stand the test of time. A simple and streamlined survey will also help avoid respondent fatigue, allowing for consistent and thoughtful answers to the most important questions, which will help to ensure the stability of those measures.
An efficient core survey should leave you room for an additional “floating” section or module that can be introduced and pulled from the survey as needed. These might include exploratory questions that evolve from analysis of past waves, relevant topics of the day, or even repeating assessments that are needed only once every few waves. By budgeting space for this type of section, you not only avoid changes to the core survey, but gain the added benefit of keeping the instrument fresh and relevant to your stakeholders’ needs.
While tracking studies are able to deliver a wealth of knowledge and insights, they are not the entire story. Additional datasets, such as those derived from segmentations, social media listening, or observational purchase/usage data can, and should, be appended to tracking data to create a much richer picture of your brand, your customers, and/or the market as a whole.
The ability to “drill down” on measures not implicitly part of one study or source immediately enhances the value of each individual dataset. Additionally, by “connecting the dots” between datasets, you can find new and deeper insights, as well as gain a level of confidence in the analysis and interpretation of the results.
Want to discuss how your organization can create a more effective tracking program for 2019? Contact us.