11 Apr, 2024
5 min read

Back to all posts >

The Art of Research Trackers
Enhancing Insights Through Adaptable and Dynamic Tracking Studies

Research tracking studies are a significant part of most Insight teams’ ongoing budgets, often generating results widely shared across large business audiences. The reception of these results can vary dramatically; when business performance indicators (KPIs) are positive, the tracking study goes unquestioned. However, if these indicators start to falter, the validity of the tracking study itself is often called into question.

Regardless of the type of tracker—be it Brand, Advertising, Communications, Attitude and Usage, Customer Experience, or Customer Journey—these tools typically begin with robust design and clear objectives. Initially, they fulfill their intended purpose, providing valuable insights back to the business. Over time, however, as the business evolves, these trackers may not adapt accordingly. Despite their rigorous design, which continues to churn out the KPIs businesses rely on, there comes a point where it’s crucial to assess whether these metrics still support actual business needs or if they’ve turned into mere “comfort food” for information—appealing yet not driving informed, ROI-focused decisions.

At OGC, our expertise lies in constructing new trackers and revitalizing existing ones. Although each tracker is tailored to specific needs, the underlying questions and decision-making processes share commonalities. In this post, we outline some key considerations essential for both developing new trackers and refreshing older ones, drawing on our extensive experience to guide businesses in maintaining effective and relevant tracking studies.


Issue One: Aligning Trackers with Evolving Business Objectives

In the realm of long-term trackers, the pursuit of research consistency often overshadows the need to deliver impactful business insights. Trackers that were initially aligned with the business objectives might fail to adapt as these objectives evolve, often because the methodology and KPIs are rigidly maintained to preserve research integrity.

When launching a new initiative or reevaluating ongoing ones, it’s crucial to clearly define the business objectives and understand how the tracker will influence these goals across all stakeholders. Consider the tracker’s objectives as dynamic elements that should adapt to shifting business needs. Annually, before renewal, revisit these objectives to assess their relevance and evaluate the tracker’s effectiveness in achieving them. This review should include an analysis of how the information has been utilized to drive business changes and generate revenue. Additionally, consider the potential impact on the business if the tracker were discontinued and identify any current business objectives that are not being addressed.

These objectives should be integrated into the program and serve as the guiding principle for survey design, future modifications, and annual evaluations of the program’s success.

At OGC we are experts in building new trackers and re-energizing ongoing ones.

Issue Two: Research Methodology

Before diving into the design of a new tracking program, it’s essential to perform a comprehensive review of all existing ongoing research, internal data, and third-party data. This holistic evaluation helps identify what information is already available, ensuring the new program complements and enhances this existing base. This strategy minimizes risks such as insights confusion, redundancy, and the unnecessary use of budget and resources.

When selecting research methodologies, it’s vital to weigh the pros and cons of using a supplier’s proprietary “black box” methods versus developing bespoke methods or simpler approaches. Key considerations include the supplier’s expertise and the availability of benchmarks versus the flexibility of the program to evolve with business changes.

For ongoing studies, a thorough evaluation of the current KPIs, their usage, and their business impact is necessary. If a complete overhaul isn’t feasible, establishing a parallel data collection and calibration plan can help transition smoothly without losing valuable insights.

In sample design and the development of research instruments, the focus should not merely be on the methodologies but on what the research aims to address and the required accuracy levels for the business. Engaging with partners in this phase can harness their innovative thinking and expertise, leading to more effective outcomes.


Issue Three: Instrument and Sample Design

The design of the research instrument is critical, whether for launching new studies or updating existing ones. For new projects, the challenge lies in creating an instrument that meets the objectives without becoming overloaded with tangential business queries. It’s crucial at this stage for the team to resist incorporating “nice-to-have” questions that could dilute the focus on essential data.

Once operational, it’s important to keep the instrument aligned with business objectives. An annual review should be conducted to remove outdated questions and integrate new priorities. This process ensures that the tracker remains relevant and focused.

The design of the sample also demands careful attention. It’s not enough to set demographic quotas or cleaning specifications. Since all sample sources carry inherent biases, a consistent blend of sources is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the tracker. Although it’s impossible to completely eliminate sample bias, consistency in sources helps in accurately measuring ongoing changes.


Issue Four: Insights, Reporting, and Communication

The success of a tracker not only relies on a robust analysis plan built around the objectives, methodology, and key performance indicators (KPIs), but also heavily depends on how these insights are presented and communicated to the business. Traditional PowerPoint presentations can become cumbersome and dull over time, while static scorecards, although useful for displaying high-level KPIs, fall short when addressing deeper business issues triggered by shifts in these indicators. In the current dynamic business environment, the most effective method for delivering tracking information is through interactive dashboards that are tailored to the specific needs of each stakeholder. These should be complemented by a periodic communication plan that integrates the tracker with other recent insights, explaining not only the results but also their implications and subsequent steps for the business.


Final Thoughts:

Trackers have been a staple in market research for decades, consuming a substantial portion of budgets and resources within many organizations. While they remain crucial to insights teams, it’s important to view them not as static elements but as evolving components of a broader research strategy. Effective trackers are thoughtfully designed to serve a clear purpose and adapt over time, continually aligning with changing business priorities. At OGC, we excel in helping clients optimize their tracking studies.

If you are experiencing challenges with your trackers, please feel free to set up time with us to explore how we can assist you in enhancing their effectiveness and relevance.


John Schiela, General Manager, Growth and Strategy

You may also like…

Skip to content