A brand tracking study can help take the guesswork out of market fluctuations or dips in sales by providing continuous and fresh insight into any industry and target audience.
Sometimes it feels as though there is no rhyme or reason as to why our business is performing well or why it is not hitting revenue goals. Brand tracking can help measure this type of uncertainty.
Tracking studies provide real-time insight into the ever-changing attitudes, behaviors, and opinions of the customers and prospects of an organization. These tracking surveys are a popular approach in market research with consumer brands.
The study helps you keep a true and continual pulse of the consumer. Knowing them so well through the data you collect that you can begin to predict and tactical act on shifts in attitudes and behavior.
In this ultimate guide, our market research company will cover what a brand tracking survey is, the uses for conducting this type of study, the benefits of doing so, and more.
To skip ahead to a section, click a title from the list below:
- What are brand tracking studies?
- How often are surveys conducted in a brand tracker study?
- How can my business benefit from a brand tracker survey?
- What are the different types of brand tracking studies?
- What is the process of conducting a brand tracker study with a third-party?
- Example questions to include in a brand tracking survey.
Let’s face it. Nothing lasts forever – and that includes the data collected from your last market research study.
The purpose of a brand tracking study, also referred to as a brand tracker survey, is to collect information over time (monthly, quarterly, yearly) by means of generating and measuring data on an ongoing basis.
This allows organizations to regularly identify trends, make comparisons to competitors, and detect warning signs early on before they make a lasting impact on the business.
The more that businesses can ask for feedback from customers, prospects, or the general public, the more they can understand what marketing strategies have worked and offered the best return on investment (ROI).
Better yet, tracking studies help with making important business decisions based on hard and true facts, rather than just guessing.
Regardless of what it is you are measuring or who you are surveying, brand tracking studies depict a wave of changes among the market over a period of time. This insight is far superior to a snapshot of a sample of people at one point in time.
There is no hard and fast rule for how often a company should run a survey as part of a tracker study. Most commonly, our clients conduct a survey monthly, quarterly, or annually.
It mostly depends on the goals and objectives for conducting a tracker study, as well as the industry your business is in.
For example, a bank or credit union may be more inclined to run a monthly tracker study to review the rates, promotions, and trends of competitors. These offerings are the main decision factor in why customers or members choose a financial institution.
They are also offerings that are constantly changing. For this reason, it is most helpful for banks and credit unions to have updated information in the form of a monthly tracking study.
In another example, the audience can determine how often you run a survey for continuous measurement and tracking purposes.
An employee survey is more likely to be conducted annually, while a consumer behavior survey is more likely to be conducted quarterly.
If you are unsure how often you’d like to survey your audience, a market research partner such as Drive Research can recommend the best approach based on your objectives, audience, and budget.
What is better than executing a market research study? Conducting marketing research regularly to track the performance of your business.
In this section, our marketing research company dives into exactly how your organization can benefit from a tracker survey.
Benefit #1: Successfully meet goals and objectives 🎯
Successful businesses are built on creating goals and objectives that are challenging to reach. It is necessary to define the desired achievements and identify the specific actions it will take to meet these goals.
Oftentimes, businesses share general, common goals among areas of profitability, customer satisfaction, community awareness, retention of employees, and so on.
What is the best way to achieve these goals? By tracking your progress and key benchmarks on a continuous basis.
In other words, these areas or aspects of a business should be evaluated and compared to one another as time goes on, whether this is monthly, quarterly, or yearly check-ins.
This not only helps businesses track their current progress of meeting their long-term goals but also showcases which areas of their business have improved year over year and what areas need closer attention.
Benefit #2: Benchmark data ✔️
Benchmarks in market research are measurements or data that you compare to your own scores, industry scores, or best-in-class scores to understand the context. A statistic on its own is just a data point unless you know how it compares.
While a market research company can easily share where your scores line up to competitors, the industry as a whole, and best practices brands - the best benchmark is yourself.
Each new tracking survey is like a yardstick. Your first survey in a brand tracker study becomes your baseline. It provides key measurements to compare future survey results against.
See where your organization has improved, what areas you can still improve upon, and how customer or employee satisfaction has changed.
This allows your organization to focus on improvement month over month or year over year instead of staying stagnant.
Learn more about benchmarks in market research with this short, 60-second video.
Benefit #3: Identify problems in real-time ⚠️
When consistently monitoring customer satisfaction, your company will likely receive criticism or negative feedback at some point. While receiving these types of reviews can be frustrating, it is necessary to help improve the value of products and services.
By regularly measuring feedback from target audiences, you are able to address concerns and problems in real-time. Case management is a major part of improving the value of market research now.
For instance, say you conducted a customer survey in December. You find that overwhelmingly customers who bought your product in February and March were not pleased with their experience.
Now, it’s been 8 to 9 months since you collected their feedback, and it might be too late to take any action to prevent churn.
Benefit #4: Understand how internal changes impact business 📈
One of the most significant advantages of continuous performance monitoring and tracking is access to a regular stream of data. This helps accurately measure how internal organizational practices influence consumer behavior and purchasing decisions.
Think of modifications you’ve made in staff roles, locations of service, product or service offerings, and so on. Are customers more or least satisfied since you’ve made those changes?
Brand tracking studies provide business with key insight into how changes they’ve made directly impact the behaviors and mindsets of their customers or prospects.
Benefit #5: Update survey questions 🆕
As the feedback evolves from a brand tracking study, so can the questions asked in the survey. Executing continuous research allows for slight changes in the survey document to address more pertinent business questions.
For example, brand tracker surveys may subtly address immediate concerns like a new competitor being introduced to the market. Or how COVID-19 impacts consumer purchasing decisions.
Brand tracker studies offer flexibility and on-demand data, unlike more long-term market research studies.
Benefit #6: Determine the success of marketing and sales campaigns 📣
A brand tracker survey can help answer a broad range of topics as well as specific business components such as marketing and advertising.
Because this type of market research is not a one and done study but rather a wave of customer insights, your business can easily evaluate the impact of marketing campaigns or sales tactics.
There are several high-level marketing analytics commonly used to determine the success or failure of marketing efforts. Think, link clicks, impressions, and reach. However, does this accurately tell the entire story?
As mentioned previously in this ultimate guide, tracking studies can share insight into changes in awareness, perception, likelihood to purchase, and other key performance indicators.
For example, if a marketing campaign resulted in a less than 1% growth in new leads but grew awareness of your company by 25% among your target market - did the marketing campaign really fail?
Maybe the impact of the advertising campaign is longer term.
This type of insight cannot be delivered from digital marketing platforms but can be measured through brand tracking studies.
Benefit #7: Save money on market research 💸
Depending on the market research company that executes your brand tracker study, you may receive a discount when signing up for multiple surveys.
For instance, our market research firm offers our clients discounted rates if they want to conduct a survey on a regular basis.
The reason being when signing off on a package of 3 or 4 surveys, the cost per survey is reduced.
For example, suppose your company plans to run annual employee surveys. In that case, it will be more cost-effective to ask a market research firm for a 3-year contract, rather than paying for each survey individually every year.
This concept is similar to most subscription services you see.
Let’s use Amazon as an example. You can pay $12.99 a month or $119 for an Amazon Prime membership for one year.
If you plan to keep your membership for 12-months, the latter option will save you money in the long run.
There are many reasons a business would use a brand tracking study outside of measuring baseline data, such as sales and revenue.
Because there are many uses and objectives for collecting continuous consumer feedback, there are different types of tracking studies.
The different approaches to tracking surveys include:
- Online customer surveys
- Non-customer surveys
- Employee surveys
- Receipt tracking surveys
- Ad effectiveness surveys
In this section, our market research firm discusses each approach in detail.
1️⃣ Online customer surveys
Organizations commonly use a brand tracker study to understand how their buyers evolve or change. It is valuable to continuously measure shifts in buying patterns, habits, attitudes, and demographics.
For this objective, Drive Research would recommend conducting regular customer satisfaction surveys.
With a series of surveys, your team can collect feedback from customers, old and new, to truly understand how their opinions, habits, and emotions change over time.
Additionally, an online customer survey can easily measure changes in brand perception, product awareness, and Net Promoter Score (NPS), and other key performance indicators.
Together, these fresh insights will clearly identify what business factors lead to high satisfaction or low satisfaction among your customer base.
Lastly, if there are major problems stated by your customers, you are able to react quickly.
With this type of real-time data, businesses are able to know exactly why their organization was difficult to work with or what factors didn’t meet the expectations of their customers.
Understanding the major areas of improvement and acting upon them fast allows for a powerful leg up against the competition.
2️⃣ Non-customer surveys
Another approach to tracking studies is for just the opposite audience – a non-customer survey. Just as customer preferences are constantly evolving, so are those of potential buyers.
Surveying non-customers or a general population of consumers on a regular basis can help measure and define these preferential changes.
Wouldn’t it be great to know...
- How likely are potential buyers to switch to a different brand?
- How important is the price when buyers are comparing vendors?
- What is the awareness level among the general population of your organization?
These are often the types of questions asked in a community survey. By asking these types of questions on a more regular basis in the form of a brand tracker study, organizations are able to compare results from each quarter.
As a result, you can easily make changes in your marketing or sales strategies based on data-driven insights.
This type of unique research will help win new business opportunities over your competitors.
3️⃣ Employee surveys
One of, if not the greatest asset, to any organization is its employees. Many studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between positive employee engagement and productivity, high retention rates, and client satisfaction.
To share a few…
- Highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity. (Gallup)
- Highly engaged business units achieve 59% less turnover. (Gallup)
- A 2% increase in employee engagement leads to a 1% increase in customer satisfaction. (Morrison Management)
- Companies with higher employee engagement strategies enjoy 2 times more customer loyalty. (smile.io)
I think you get the point. Employee satisfaction = customer satisfaction.
The best way to keep employee engagement top of mind is by continuously asking for feedback as a tracking study. This will allow human resource (HR) and leadership teams to fix organizational issues as they happen.
You are able to quickly check the pulse of your organization as changes happen in management, workload, and culture.
Like with most tracking studies, conducting regular employee surveys provides you with great benchmarking data.
For the case of employee surveys, common benchmarking data includes:
- Employee net promoter score (eNPS)
- Work engagement
- Relationship management
- Career development
- Work culture or environment
By investing in your greatest asset, you are investing in a successful future for your business.
4️⃣ Receipt tracking surveys
One of the greatest challenges for retail, restaurant, or other brick and mortar locations is accurately measuring customer feedback.
How can you be entirely sure respondents who are taking a survey have recently purchased or visited a store or restaurant.
- Intercept surveys: An interviewer stands outside a specific location and surveys consumers as they exit a store, restaurant, etc.
- Geofencing surveys: A virtual boundary is created around a specific location pinging those who enter or exit the geofence with their mobile ID. Those who enter or exit the geofence receive a survey.
Both intercept surveys and geofencing surveys have their disadvantages, which can cause an organization to go in a different direction.
- The cons of intercept surveys: In the age of COVID-19 and social distancing, consumers may be less inclined to speak with a stranger outside of a store.
- The cons of geofencing surveys: To collect an accurate sample, this approach is mainly beneficial to businesses with hundreds of locations across the country.
Additionally, with the rise of online shopping, there may be less foot traffic for either of these methodologies to be worth it.
Enter receipt tracking surveys.
Did you know, some apps reward consumers for simply uploading a photo of their receipt?
Some will even provide incentives for those who just scan the barcode on a receipt or product.
Market research companies like Drive Research can utilize this database to survey customers who recently uploaded a specific store receipt. This verifies a consumer recently shopped at a store and what products they purchased.
Going one step further, brands can survey customers of competing stores to understand the decision-making process of why they selected this store over yours.
In 2021, a receipt brand tracking survey may be the best approach for retail market research.
5️⃣ Ad effectiveness surveys
As discussed in the previous section of this ultimate guide, one of the greatest benefits to brand tracking studies is accurately measuring the success of our marketing efforts.
Marketing trends and data are constantly evolving.
It can be difficult to understand what type of advertising is most appealing and effective to a target audience. Most paid advertising platforms, such as Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Google Ads offer the same reporting.
After running an ad campaign, you are presented with data points such as clicks, impressions, reach, etc.
Realistically, these analytics do not provide a clear story of how the marketing campaign impacted our target customers’ future decision-making.
Our market research company finds that it is more helpful to answer questions like:
- Has brand awareness improved?
- Has brand perception improved?
- Are people now more likely to buy my product or service in the future?
With ad effectiveness tracking surveys, our experts can easily answer questions like these and more.
Ad effectiveness tracking surveys work with the help of a tracking pixel. A tracking pixel, or web beacon, is an HTML code that can be added to a landing page, email, or digital ad.
For example, when running a digital ad campaign, Drive Research will add a pixel to track people who have seen or interacted with the ad.
As some time has passed, those same people will receive a survey asking questions such as:
- Which of the following brands have you seen an ad for in the past 30-days?
- What is your perception of [BRAND NAME]
- How likely are you to purchase from [BRAND NAME] next time you shop for [PRODUCT/SERVICE]?
- How likely are you to consider [BRAND NAME] next time you shop for [PRODUCT/SERVICE]?
Additionally, this survey can be conducted with people who were served the ad and with those who were not. Comparing the data will show how effective the marketing campaign is in influencing consumer behavior.
The main difference between a brand tracking study and an ad-hoc market research project is that a tracking survey involves multiple stages, where an ad-hoc study is one and done.
For the sake of this ultimate guide, we will break up a tracking study into two phases.
A majority of the legwork happens in phase one. This is when the survey is written, programmed, and fielded.
Let’s dive into the exact process our market research company follows when conducting a brand tracker study.
Keep in mind that a brand tracker survey can be fielded within as little as 24-hours.
Although we talk at length about our process, Drive Research works as quickly as you need us to.
Phase One of Brand Tracking
Step 1: Receive a Proposal or Quote 📄
If you do not already have a dedicated market research partner, you will likely price shop multiple vendors to learn about their costs and processes.
If you do have a dedicated market research partner, it is still in your best interest to request a proposal from other firms. Just because you are used to a particular vendor does not mean they are the best option.
When new clients reach out to Drive Research for a brand tracking survey proposal or quote, they typically include:
- How often they’d like the survey to be run (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.)
- The audience they would like to survey
- Specific screening criteria to qualify the audience
- The geography or market you’d like to conduct the survey
- How many survey responses they would like to collect (or we can provide a recommendation)
With this information, our team quickly works to create a custom proposal.
Our market research proposals include:
- Objectives for the tracking survey
- Our approach to completing the tracking study
This will provide your organization with a clear understanding of what you can expect when working with our research team.
Step 2: Kickoff meeting 🏈
After signing the proposal, Drive Research will create a dedicated project team. This can include a project manager, research analyst, and research assistant.
It is important for our market research company to provide a point of contact for all of our clients.
Once the project team is formed, they will schedule a kickoff meeting with the chosen stakeholders of your organization. The kickoff meeting is a half-hour to hour phone call.
The purpose of this meeting is to learn more about the objectives, audience, and other specifications of your tracking study.
The more we learn about your objectives, the better we’re able to create data-driven survey questions to reveal the most sought after insights.
Step 3: Designing the tracker survey 🎨
Next up, designing the tracker survey questions. Believe it or not, quality survey writing comes with years of experience.
While it may seem easy to create a survey, there are many ways to bias the results with just a simple word change.
Brand tracking research can provide your organization with a wealth of customer or consumer data and insight. If structured and designed well, online surveys will offer high-quality feedback.
However, if your survey is written poorly, it will warrant inaccurate results.
When designed by a third-party market research company, survey results will not be biased or vague.
With each phase of your tracker survey, you will have in-depth recommendations for how to take action with the results.
Additionally, our market research company designs a tracker survey with your objectives in mind. Every survey we write is unique. We do not take a cookie-cutter approach.
After writing your brand tracker survey, Drive Research sends the drafted questions to your team.
This is your chance to make any edits or suggestions before the survey is programmed into our online software.
It is important to our team that both parties are happy with the survey questions respondents will be answering.
Step 4: Programming the tracker survey 🕹️
Once the tracker survey is written and approved by both parties, the Drive Research team starts programming your survey.
What exactly is involved in programming an online survey? Lots!
After the survey questions and response options are added to the software, we perform rigorous programming checks to ensure the survey works as intended.
A testing link is created and sent to all parties of your dedicated research team to review. Our market research company likes having multiple people reviewing a programmed tracking survey because no mistake is left unnoticed.
Before sending the test link to the client, our team checks for common programming errors such as:
- All question types are correct (i.e., if the question is a single response, the respondent should only be allowed to select one answer before moving to the next question).
- All questions offer a “none of the above,” “not applicable,” “unsure,” or another option to skip if needed.
- All piping questions are working as intended.
- All respondents are redirected to the right place after completing the survey.
Once given the go-ahead, the client receives the testing link to review the tracking survey as if they were a respondent.
The client is able to make any comments and request any changes.
Interested in learning more about the process to program a survey? Watch this short video.
Step 5: Sending the brand tracker survey to fieldwork 🚀
Let the fun begin! When launching an online survey, our market research company always recommends first sending it to a small sample of your total respondents.
For example, if you are surveying 1,000 respondents, then Drive Research will first launch the survey to 50 people.
Doing so acts as one last quality check for your first tracker survey.
As responses start to come in, our team will make sure all survey programming is working properly.
Imagine waiting until collecting the full 1,000 responses to realize a major programming error? Talk about wasting time and money.
Most times, the soft-launch checks out and the full tracking study is underway.
During the full-launch, our market research company provides our clients with a live data link. This link shows you up-to-the-second survey results to monitor progress or simply see the data out of curiosity.
The client portal can show both results by all responses or by any demographic breakdown, such as age and gender.
To see an example of what a live data link may look like, click here.
Step 6: Reporting 📊
The last step of the first phase of a brand tracking study is reporting. This stage is where our market research company compiles, cleans, and analyzes all of the data.
Drive Research uses this insight to start drafting a research report. In our world, it is how we tell the brand’s story and recommendations for improvement.
A market research report is much more than charts and numbers.
Yes, this deliverable will present your organization with insights and facts gathered from the tracking survey - but, it also has a level of interpretation.
It is important for Drive Research to not only share the data but explain what this means and how our clients can use it to move their business forward.
In other words, it helps translate insights into action items.
The recommendations we share in a market research report are completely unique to the client, their objectives, and their goals.
This deliverable is the greatest asset to a market research study.
A tracking study report can be delivered in one of two ways:
- A topline report
- A comprehensive report
A topline report shares high-level yet important details and data points from the tracking survey.
Typically this one to a four-page document includes background and approach used for the project, plus featured findings.
A comprehensive report is, well, more comprehensive. It shares the most in-depth findings from the market research. This style of a tracking study report can range from 50 to 200 pages.
Most commonly the comprehensive report includes sections such as:
- Objectives of the study
- Approach or methodology
- Snapshot of results/KPI tracker (scorecard)
- Key findings and recommendations
- Respondent persona(s)
- Appendix of charts and graphs
- A banner file in Excel with significance testing
Below is an example of a brand tracking KPI scorecard from our market research firm.
In comparison to a topline report, a comprehensive report is more expensive.
However, it does offer more of a return on your investment. Other than the amount of data shared, this report can be repurposed as content for websites, webinars, social media, and sales materials.
Phase Two of Brand Tracking
Step 1: Changes to survey 💭
After the first phase is completed, we move forward with the future installments of the brand tracking study.
Before sending the next survey (whether it be the following week, month, or quarter) our team will evaluate if there should be any changes to the survey document.
Your dedicated project team will also contact you to decide if there are any new questions you would like to include or replace.
Because a brand tracking study is an ongoing market research project, there is likely new information you’d like to understand as the year progresses.
There may be a top-of-mind objective such as a new competitor in your industry that you would like to ask respondents about.
With this being said, it is important to remember the goals of a tracking study: to track key performance indicators over time.
For this reason, each survey should always include the same questions that measure this type of data. Any updates to the survey are typically one-off questions.
We employ our own 80-20 rule for brand tracking studies.
80% of the questions should remain static and core KPIs to track over time. 20% of the questions should be swapped out to tackle ever-changing behavior and gather new insights.
Step 2: Survey fieldwork 🚀
Similarly to the first phase, future surveys will be launched into fieldwork after any programming updates need to be made.
This includes both a soft launch and the full launch.
As always, you will have access to the live client portal to see real-time responses. See instantaneous insights as soon as a question is answered.
While respondents are completing the tracking survey, our team will be behind the scenes cleaning the data and performing quality checks.
If your team signed on for a 1,000 respondent package - you would receive 1,000 responses from real people (no fake survey bots) every time.
Interested in learning how to best clean survey data? Drive Research shares our expert tips in this video.
Step 3: Reporting 📊
Again, the last stage in any market research project is reporting.
Depending on the reporting level you signed on for, your team will receive a topline or comprehensive market research report.
Additionally, your dedicated project team will schedule debrief meetings to walk through the new findings and market research report, page by page. This makes sure no question is left unanswered for your team.
As a market research company, our team knows the importance of including the right type of questions in a brand tracking survey.
Even if your organization chooses to conduct the study in-house, or with another partner, we wanted to share some great examples of tracking survey questions.
In this example, we will use Amazon as the sponsor of the study.
Q1: Which website(s) come to mind when you think of online shopping? List up to three websites.
Q2: What features are most important for an online shopping website to have? Select up to three.
- Easy to navigate
- Affordable items
- Wide variety of options
- Detailed product information
- Quality images of the products
- Quality videos of the products
- Other (Please specify)
Q3: List a few positive words you associate with online shopping websites. Enter up to three words.
Q4: List a few negative words you associate with online shopping websites. Enter up to three words.
Q5: Which of the following online shopping websites you regularly visit? Select all that apply.
- Other (Please specify)
- I don’t regularly visit online shopping sites
Q6: Based on your knowledge, what is your perception of the following website(s)? Select a rating for each.
[Show websites visited regularly only]
Q7: On a scale from 0 "Not at all likely" to 10 "Extremely likely" how likely are you to recommend Amazon.com to a friend, family member, or colleague? Select a rating.
Q8: How would you rate your level of satisfaction with the online experience at Amazon.com? Amazon.com is...
[Insert scale from "Much worse than others" to "Much better than others."]
Q9: [If online experience rated the same or worse] How could the online experience at Amazon.com be improved? Enter your response below.
Q10: How frequently do you make purchases from Amazon? Select one.
- Once a week or more often
- Two to three times a month
- Once a month
- Once every 2 to 3 months
- Once every 4 to 6 months
- Less often than every 6 months
Q11: How likely are you to make a purchase from Amazon in the next 30 days? Select a rating.
[Insert scale from "Not at all likely" to "Very likely."]
Drive Research is a national market research company located in New York. Our experts have the knowledge and tools to design a robust brand tracking study, to deliver real-time data for your organization fast.
We have worked with brands such as Amazon, Walmart, Dunkin Donuts, Toyota, and more.
Interested in receiving a custom proposal for a tracking survey? Reach out through any of the four ways below.
- Message us on our website
- Email us at email@example.com
- Call us at 888-725-DATA
- Text us at 315-303-2040
A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Coordinator. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.
Learn more about Emily, here.