A 4-Point Checklist For Your Next Real-Time Tracking Study
By Sarah Johnson

Actionable data—it’s what we all want.

As a market researcher, you’re always striving to get your hands on data to confidently act upon. It could be information that drives the future of a key product or shifts a marketing strategy that has been losing steam.

But too often, tracking studies are muddled by extraneous information—or even useless information. Because guesses were made. They were made at the very beginning over what your internal stakeholders actually need and want. So what you end up with is a lot of data but no cohesive argument rising to the top.

Without a connection to the core strategy of your tracker, the data likely won’t give you much to actually put into action. Follow these steps to procure more meaningful conclusions from your next tracking study.

  1. Understand the strategic outcome before you begin.

    Without building foresight into the tracker, you will be taking on more cost and time than necessary, with an unclear payoff in the end.

    Instead, start with the analysis, graphics, and documentation you will want after the results come in. Who will want this information, and how do they expect to see the results? How will internal stakeholders use the information? What business problem is the tracker aiming to solve?

    Then come up with the desired outcome and broader strategy from which to start. To get to the point where you are asking the right questions, you have to first ask tough, big-picture questions internally. These questions should form the foundation of your tracker.

  1. Design each question with the strategic purpose in mind.

    Scrutinize the wording by considering whether everything you’re asking ties back to the desired outcome. Ask yourself: how will the insights resulting from this question be valuable to me?

    If a question is being inserted by a stakeholder, press them on why it is important to them, and what value the data will bring.

    Simpler is usually better. Structured as a quick way to keep tabs on a particular group, microtrackers can help streamline and “cut the fat” of your survey questions, and keep respondents happier, which we at InCrowd have learned can also be the key to quality data.

  1. Don’t change the agenda mid-stream.

    Changing or adding questions within a microtracker can really upset your data integrity, and won’t give you what you really want: useful data based on a consistent set of questions and metrics, tracked over time.

    Now, that is very different from leaving space at the end of your tracker that let you insert ad hoc questions that arise, or for a gut-check question a few months along, etc. But the core of your tracker should go untouched.

  1. You are what you measure.

    What kind of reporting and analysis are you seeing? This is something that should have come up in the question design phase, and here it serves the purpose of an important strategic check.

    Look at your real-time data. Is it helping you answer key questions and follow key metrics? Are you getting what you hoped for? For instance, if you wanted to track sudden market changes or competitor’s events, are your results allowing you to see where you’re failing, where you need to improve, or what your target physicians are really looking for? Can you respond quickly based on your tracking data?

    When you’re developing a tracking study, proceed thoughtfully. Keep the questions tightly angled to the core issue under review. By sticking to only the essential nuggets, you can zero in on the core metrics and KPIs that have a direct link to the specific business objective under review and ensure your work has strategic value.

Above all, remember this: A strong and narrow focus means you will have more engaged respondents providing more useful data on a regular basis.


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