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7-ways you can reinvent Brand Tracking

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There is no doubt the world is changing. The pace of that change is accelerating.

Brand Tracking studies, once the cornerstone of marketing decisions made the world over are now often too slow, too structured, unable to keep pace with then decision making needs for today’s brands.

Once consumer data was hard to come by, tracking often filled an important gap. Nowadays, the world is awash with consumer data –the challenge is to find what is meaningful in the data.

The danger with a tracking study that doesn’t push the boundaries, is that it remains stagnant, trapped in time. However, with smart integration, good technology and strategic thinking, it is an important tool for any major brand looking to have the optimal case for success.

At Direction First – InSites Consulting, we bring expertise from local and global experts to run tracking for some of the biggest and most dynamic brands in the world. Having reshaped the role of Brand Tracking for the likes of Heineken, CommBank, Red Bull, UNICEF and more – we have seen what can take a Brand Tracker to the next level of success. We want to help organisations to see tracking as not just about a survey with monthly or quarterly reporting, but rather as an integrated research program that works to answer what and why before you need to know it.

Here are seven short tips you can consider to help lift the impact tracking has in your business:

Tracking needs to be short and smart.

Don’t assume participants care about your survey. If it’s longer than 10 minutes, then it’s too long. A good review of your tracker starts with a thorough clean-up of the questionnaire. Force yourself to think what you really need and let go of things that are taking up space and not being used regularly.

Only measure what matters.

Brand image questions are often the worst culprits for driving questionnaire length. Grid style questions with 25 plus attributes are still a (surprisingly) common occurrence. Challenge yourself to look at which image statements are in your tracker and weed out statements that are effectively all pointing to one issue. You may want to consider a cluster analysis to help identify where the key points of difference across the statements lies.

Flexibility is key.

Your tracker should be flexible enough to be able to allow new campaign stimulus to be tracked as and when it goes to air, not having to wait for a monthly change window. It should also be flexible enough to allow regular updates to be shared on simple, engaging dashboards. If the data isn’t easy to access and easy to understand – no one is going to use it.

Visualise and Mobilise

Real time, visual, mobile driven. The industry standard is now mobile, so if your surveys aren’t built for mobile, then you’re missing out on a large section of the consumer base.

Identify the what and understand the why.

Trackers that are purely quantitative in nature risk missing out on being able to easily explain why something is happening. Integrating a structural online community (Such as a Consumer Consulting Square) alongside your tracker allows you to discuss consumer issues, trends and prove/disprove your hypothesis with consumers as you build your thinking in an agile way.

Predict the future.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of just looking at tracking metrics through the same lens. Tracking data sets are often big and complex, but they can also yield hidden gems. You might want to consider integrating external data sources such as sales, media spend or NPS with your tracking data. Techniques such as structural equation models can open entirely new ways of thinking by quantifying the relationships across multiple inputs and outputs simultaneously. Plan to be able to quickly predict the likely impact of a certain event such as changes to NPS or ad spend with confidence.

Collaborate. Collaborate. Collaborate.

The best insights (from any project) but especially when working with a structural piece of work like an ongoing tracking study come from a true collaboration from both the agency and the client. Discussing brand issues, connecting regularly face-to-face and sharing learning from both sides is paramount for the success of any tracker. Don’t wait for the formal presentation to share your thinking, a good consultant will engage with their client regularly to discuss, debate and share.

Tracking, like any piece of structural research is dependent on the people around it to make it a success. Every project is different and requires its own unique approach; however, we believe that buying into these 7-key principles will shift your tracker from a KPI tick-box exercise to the truly strategic business tool that it should be.

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