“We spend a lot on this tracking study. What are we really getting out of it?”
If tracking is your biggest research expense and your biggest value concern, you’re not alone. We’re increasingly hearing from clients that they’re questioning the cost/value equation – they don’t want to dispense with their tracker, but they know things need to change.
We’ve helped numerous clients in the last year streamline trackers and make the changes needed to deliver more value for their stakeholders. The first step towards Tracker Nirvana is always to ID the problem. Here are the most common pain points that we see:
1. You’re tracking too often.
There is a sense of comfort in running year-round continuous tracking, as it gives you a constant up-to-date view of your category. But how much are you paying for this comfort? Continuous tracking only makes sense when your marketing spend is enormous and competitive dynamics change rapidly. Most categories don’t meet that criteria, so results don’t change week-to-week. Take a hard look at the key moments-of-truth in your annual calendar. When are the majority of purchase decisions made? When is the most marketing spending happening?
We recently worked with a retailer client who was looking to save money on their continuous tracker. In reviewing the past results, we noticed that perceptions rarely moved until the holiday season, when consumers are ready to reevaluate retail choices. We adjusted their program to focus continuous tracking only during this peak season, saving nearly $100K without loss of insight.
2. You’re tracking too broad of an audience.
Is your brand truly all things to all people? If it’s not – and most are not – your tracking sample may be too broad. Most tracking should be focused, filtering out consumers that are not consistent with your brand’s promise.
We work with an alcohol brand that has a great offering as a light social drink. For their tracker, we screen out drinkers who are overly focused on wine and spirits, as those drinkers have an expectation of sophistication that is not part of our brand’s DNA. By focusing on drinkers looking for lighter options, the tracker is now well aligned with their messaging goals.
3. You’re tracking metrics that aren’t moving.
Survey questions with long bloated lists of attributes is a common problem. Multiple stakeholders throw in an attribute or two, and suddenly you are tracking over 30 statements. While that first read may be interesting, most will rarely move over time.
In these cases, we recommend separating the dynamic, changing metrics apart from the stable ones. Then we hide the stable metrics, except for a once-a-year read. This keeps a view on all metrics, but frees up valuable survey real estate. We can use that extra space to answer questions you aren’t getting to, or reduce the length to make the study less expensive.
4. You track metrics that your audience doesn’t care about (and are missing the ones they want).
Does your tracking study truly align with the needs of your core constituents? If product managers are stakeholders, do you track product preferences? If advertising teams expect data, do you focus on marcom recall and effectiveness? This seems simple, but we often see important constituents get left out of the tracking formulation process.
Part of our Ignition Session process is a candid review of the existing tracking study with existing stakeholders – and a direct exercise to extract their key objectives. In one recent session, we realized the questions from a client’s internal stakeholders were heavily focused on advertising, which was very different from their initial brand-focused RFP. From that meeting, we adjusted the survey flow to give more space to advertising questions by tightening up the brand section. We now revisit that same survey allocation after every presentation, tweaking space to align with the client’s more pressing needs.
5. Your tracking is too structured.
Closed-end questions are appealing, given that they are fast-to-read and provide the comfort of numbers. But by design, those questions are what you want to ask consumers. They are not necessarily what consumers want to tell you.
That’s why we recommend a more holistic tracking program that augments closed-ended questions with flex modules, webcam confessional videos, open ends, and parallel social media analytics. This wider lens allows us to understand topics that our clients may not have considered, or fast-evolving media stories that closed-ended questions can’t react to quickly.
Addressing these issues requires discipline and a close relationship with your tracking partner, but there are huge benefits to the exercise. Avoiding these common pitfalls can change your stakeholder’s view of tracking work by making it smarter, cheaper, and more effective. If any of these issues sound familiar, let’s talk about how we can help.
Want more on Brand Tracking? Check out our interactive guide to Convergent Tracking.