How To Streamline and Act On Your Research Tracking Results

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quantilope market research blog | streamline tracking

In this blog post, we review some of the ways to streamline and take action on valuable tracking insights that can positively shift the trajectory of your business planning.  

 

Market research tracking studies are a huge asset for brands; they're a resource brands can come to at any time within their tracking process to see how consumer trends are shifting, how the brand is performing, or how well their recent product/campaign investments have paid off. Below we'll cover how to choose a research tracking tool that streamlines your tracking process, and how to actually act on your insights for noticeable business results.

 

 

Table of contents

 

Introduction to tracking research 

Tracking research involves the consistent collection of data in evenly-spaced time increments (i.e. monthly, quarterly, annually) to monitor patterns, trends, and relationships that inform strategic business decisions. Brands leverage research tracking studies to have reliable, timely information they can use to feed into everything they're doing - from new product development, to marketing campaigns, pricing decisions, and so on. 

Tracking is not a one size fits all; there are countless ways to go about your tracking study - ranging from how/where you run your tracker, to the content you gather, to how frequently you field it. Below we'll dive into some of the options you have when choosing a tracking tool so that you can select one that provides you with streamlined, actionable results every time you run it. 
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7 considerations when choosing a research tracking tool

Choosing the right research tool is a critical step in establishing a streamlined, effective means of tracking. There are many new platforms and traditional research agencies a brand can choose from, so it's crucial to take the time to analyze each potential option. Below are a few areas to consider when vetting your research tracking tool:
  

1. User-friendliness:

Opt for tools that are user-friendly and align with your technical expectations. Intuitive user interfaces and user experience (UX) ensure a smoother learning curve to get started and allow for efficiency in the long-term. Look for tools that offer robust, complex research features without sacrificing the ease of use.

2. Compatibility and integrations:

Assess the compatibility of the tracking tool with other software and systems you currently use. Are you able to seamlessly integrate those systems with the new potential platform or research tool to share and merge data? If not, this could cost you time and limitations in your research later on. 

3. Customization and flexibility:

Assess the customization options provided by the prospective research tool. Brands should always put their own flair and voice on the work they're doing, so the ability to customize any part of your research process is crucial. Choose a tool that offers flexibility in survey setup, fieldwork (e.g. is it panel agnostic?), charting, and reporting. 

4. Collaboration and real-time access: 

A research tool should foster cross-team collaboration and real-time access to the data - without version control issues. At any point in time, a team member should be able to work on a survey setup, begin chart analysis, or access a dashboard/report without having to download and rename a version of the file...a recipe for disaster. 

5. Scalability:

Consider a tool's scalability to ensure your research initiatives can grow and adapt over time. Can the platform handle large volumes of data in a tracker without performance issues? As your brand grows along with market changes, you'll need your research to keep up. 

6. Data security: 

Brands collecting consumer data of any kind can't afford to risk data breaches or holes in privacy standards. Choose a platform or research tool that adheres to the highest data security and privacy protocols; it's even better if they have a certification to prove it (like an ISO 27001 certificate). 

7. Value: 

When choosing a research tool, cost is important - but what's more important is value. What are you getting for the price you're paying? If you're going for the lowest-budget option, will your insights lack substance? And if you're picking the most expensive tool, does it come with a variety of advanced features, reliable customer support, and innovative technologies?
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Setting up an efficient and future-proof research tracker

Setting up an efficient and future-proof research tracker means aligning on key objectives for the business to track, yet leaving enough room for growth and flexibility later on. A common mistake many brands make with their tracking studies is keeping the study so rigid/consistent that they miss out on tracking modern-day metrics or including new research technologies and methods.

The key to any tracking study is of course consistency over time, but that doesn't mean you should never reassess and update it as new business needs arise. Below are a few steps you can take to ensure your tracking approach is efficient and future-proof. 

 

  • Choose an automated, agile platform:

    Using the criteria outlined above to choose the right tool, the first step to an efficient, streamlined tracking study is choosing an agile platform or tool. An automated, agile research tool offers things like real-time access, survey templates, pre-built question modules, instant reporting, and AI features. When you can jump into your survey or report at any time and make necessary changes without holding a project up - that's how a brand keeps up with the pace of the market.  

  • Clarify research goals and requirements:

    Begin at a high business level, aligning on strategic goals that will set the foundation for your tracker. These goals will help guide survey setup, which demographics to capture responses from, and the metrics to report on. With this criteria in mind, backtrack to determine the specific tracking requirements you'll need to get there (i.e. reporting capabilities, panel agnostic allowance, advanced research methodologies, etc.)  

  • Utilize advanced methodologies

    Advanced methods streamline a tracking study by capturing detailed, actionable data in a single question rather than a series of basic U&A questions. For example, a MaxDiff can determine importance or preference among a vast list of features through trade off decisions, a Key Driver Analysis can quickly narrow in on consumer motivations, and a Price Sensitivity Meter can specify an exact price point/range. Not only do advanced methods make studies more efficient for research teams, they also streamline the respondent experience, reducing the chance of respondent fatigue.      

  • Regularly update and evaluate:

    Stay in tune with updates and advancements in research tracking technologies. Tracking studies are a valuable asset to measure your brand performance over time, but as a business changes, your tracking might need to change along with it. Evaluate your tracking metrics periodically to see if they're still feeding your strategy with valuable insights or if there are gaps within your tracker based on new innovations or trends; even if that means migrating your tracking study to a more innovative, tech-forward program, it will be well-worth it in the long run to future proof your brand. 

Efficiency and longevity are two aspects of a tracking study that you can't gloss over. These are elements that will keep your business in healthy competition, and is how brands grow over time. Set your tracker up for success from the start by choosing an agile, automated platform that can adapt to changing business needs and offers the latest research technologies. 
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Interpreting and acting on tracking insights 

Interpreting tracking insights can start as early as wave one - to set benchmark metrics to refer back to in future waves. Start by setting up trended charts so that each new wave of data automatically populates and shows trend lines in comparison to the benchmarked wave; are trends up, down, on par? Keep in mind that trends which remain on par aren't always a bad thing but rather signs of a stable business. 

Over time, you might start to see patterns in your data. Maybe usage of your product rises every summer but falls in colder months, or awareness is highest within the few weeks after you launch a new marketing campaign. These insights are essentially a roadmap of future behavior, so your brand can anticipate how to respond to consumers before they even have a chance to realize it. 

Within your tracking study, it could very well turn out that not all metrics are worth reporting on or sharing with stakeholders. Single out the most actionable insights - ones that have clear recommendations on how the business should proceed and include only these within a streamlined report. Be sure to continue tracking after making these actionable changes, to see whether or not they had the desired outcome.  
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Measuring the impact of your research tracking efforts

Measuring the impact of your tracking study is what gives stakeholders confidence to continue moving forward with ongoing insights.

Aside from monitoring and benchmarking KPIs like brand awareness metrics, brand usage, satisfaction, and others, you can also quantify the success of your research tracker in terms of time and money saved. Is your tracking study capturing comprehensive insights that previously took several ad-hoc studies to accomplish? Are your insights coming in quicker and more consistently than past studies? Are you getting more value from trended insights than what you were paying for one-off studies here and there? A research team's time is valuable; if you can get reliable insights without having to start from scratch each time you launch a study, you're going to be able to spend a lot more time on the actual strategic action than on the tedious setup work; that alone makes a huge impact on a brand.  

Next, look into how your tracking insights have been leveraged across the business. Are other teams leaning on your insights for their own initiatives - like marketing communications or new product developments? Are consumer voices being brought into boardroom conversations as a result of your work? Consider that a success. 

After several waves have gone by, look back on where your business was at the first wave (benchmarked wave), and where you are today. If you've grown, adapted, and aligned with changing consumer trends based on insights you've gathered from your brand tracking study, that's the best sign of impact you can ask for. 
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Common tracking challenges

Tracking research is rather seamless once you get it set up, but there are some common challenges to be mindful of either at the start of your tracking setup, or throughout your tracking study's lifespan. 

 

  • Budget/investment

    Tracking research can add up, depending on who you run your study with, how often you're launching new waves, and how long you keep your tracker live. For companies with leaner budgets, tracking is often passed over in favor of smaller, lesser expensive studies as needed. The downside to this is that you're left with point-in-time insights that don't paint a wider picture on brand performance. As a result, you either end up running additional follow-up studies (costing just as much) or worse - you make decisions based on lackluster insights or gut feel.

    With all the tracking solutions available today, there's one for every type of business need at a variety of price tiers. Choose a platform within your budget that provides the best value: actionable, real-time insights that don't break the bank. 

  • Version control

    If you're all-too-familiar with color-coded documents, text strikeouts, and comments in the margins of a tracking study, you know the pains of version control issues. Version control can become a huge challenge for brands, with teams using outdated versions of a questionnaire, programming the wrong questions, or sharing the wrong information with an end client/stakeholder. 

    Using a tech-forward platform removes the risk of outdated documents floating around between team members. Individuals can access the tracking study at any time, make changes to a single version of a questionnaire, leave comments for other team members, and collaborate on a single dashboard report. 

  • Respondent base 

    When running a tracking study, consistency is vital - and your respondent base plays a huge part in that. You need to make sure you're capturing the same type of respondents (i.e. those who represent the same demographics each wave) so that you can fairly make cross-wave comparisons. If you capture only 40-60 year olds in wave 1 and only 20-30 year olds in wave 2, those results are going to be drastically different; any trends you see between these two data sets aren't indicative of market changes. 

    At the same time, you also don't want to capture responses from the exact same individuals each wave. If a respondent keeps completing your survey every month, they're going to start to remember the survey which could bias their responses (i.e. speeding through the survey knowing how long it is, or giving different answers just for the sake of switching it up each time). 

    To ensure you have a representative, consistent sample within each wave of your tracking study, set up quotas that you can use to monitor incoming sample, and remove any respondents who are considered 'duplicates' from past surveys (panel providers can do this easily based on respondent credentials in their system). 

  • Tracker rigidness 
    Consistency is the core element of tracking projects; however, that doesn't mean a tracking study has to stay 100% consistent forever. Because tracking studies are dependent on historical data, brands often shy away from adding in any new metrics (given they won't have anything to trend the data against like all other metrics do, and because the location of this new question in the survey has the potential to bias other previously-tracked question responses). 

    When done with careful thought and reason, it's more than fair to add in new tracking metrics as needed. Make sure that whatever question you're adding doesn't 'lead' respondents to think a certain way as they continue on throughout the survey. Also be sure to leave a note under this newly-tracked metric in your reporting, for full transparency with stakeholders

  • Data organization 

    The amount of data that comes from a tracking study is like a researcher's dream, but only if it's easy to navigate. Traditional tracking deliverables often come in the form of cross-tab files, with sometimes hundreds of sheets. That can become overwhelming for a researcher of any skillset, but especially one new to the industry who isn't as familiar with how statistical testing is labeled, where to find certain data cuts, or how to check for data accuracy. 

    Research platforms house all data in one centralized location where users can filter through each question with the few clicks of a button. This helps researchers focus on the insights that matter, cutting through all the 'noise' of data that doesn't. Choose a research solution where data is organized and accessible in a user-friendly manner. 
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Case Study: How Kraft Heinz transformed cream cheese data into real-world strategy

The Philadelphia team at Kraft Heinz came to quantilope upon realizing the need for a flexible and agile research tracking tool that could keep a pulse on cream cheese consumers over time. The global food and beverage powerhouse landed on quantilope because, as Abbey Hubregsen - Sr. Consumer Insights Manager at Kraft Heinz, recalls: "We couldn‘t just go with a standard attitudes and usage tracker where we get the study‘s results 3 months later and trends have already changed.“  

The streamlined insights from quantilope's automated tracking capabilities allow the Kraft Heinz team to understand consumption patterns, usage, behaviors, motivations, and barriers to cream cheese in the US to be at the forefront of emerging trends. 

“One of the things that’s amazing and really unique about our quantilope tracking setup is that we can pop new emerging trends into our study without impacting the trending of any other data; this helps us to be really agile and mindful of our budget. 


From the tracker, the Philadelphia team noticed that ‘mini foods’ were growing in popularity - an opportunity they ran with to create their mini-cheesecake campaign just in time for Easter holiday treats. Access to real-time tracking data equipped the team to act fast, rather than have to react to keep up. It's this access to early indicators of consumer shifts that help to build more powerful and meaningful connections with consumers.  

For more on Kraft Heinz and their use of quantilope's tracking capabilities, check out the full case study here
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Automated, streamlined tracking with quantilope

quantilope automates the entire end-to-end research process, offering the most advanced research methodologies on an intuitive, hands-on platform. When it comes to tracking, quantilope users have the option to start from scratch, or use a fully-customizable template for inspiration. Whatever type of tracking project brings you to quantilope, you'll always benefit from real-time access, advanced method insights, and support from a team of personally-dedicated research consultants. 

Looking to run a brand health tracking study? quantilope's automated brand health tracking approach is based on the prized work of Jenni Romaniuk (author of Better Brand Health and Research Professor and Associate Director at the Ehrenberg Bass Institute). Using Category Entry Points and Mental Availability, brands will be able to track what exactly prompts a user to shop in their category, and how their brand stacks up to competitors in consumers' minds.  

Brand health tracking not for you? Launch your category, customer satisfaction, or ad tracking study (just to name a few) on quantilope's platform and begin building trended analysis charts the moment the first few respondents complete your survey. As new data is available, any charts you've built will automatically update (this goes for any type of tracking study on the platform). 
 

quantilope takes the manual, unorganized, tiresome work out of tracking research, leaving you with automated, actionable insights. To learn more about quantilope's tracking approach, get in touch below! 

Get in touch to learn more about streamlining your tracking study!

 

 

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