person Guy Potter access_time January 25, 2018
GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR TRACKING STUDY: IT’S CRUCIAL TO FOCUS ON THE ‘NEED TO KNOW’

Tracking studies are the bread and butter of many a research firm and many a researcher’s career has been made by selling tracking studies.  The attraction is that they are continuous, their costs are predictable and the client can rarely stop them, so they usually become a big WIP revenue line in the annual budgeting process.  The Research Manager becomes a Research Director, the client gets their data and the Research Agency makes their revenue targets.  What is not to like?

However, anyone who has had to work on or present a long running tracking project will have come across a couple of major issues.  Invariably, someone around the table (usually at the far end in the middle) asks -What happened in May?  The answer, tick which one which is the most common:

“The budget was reduced and we only conducted fieldwork in Jan, April, July and October”

“We only did 50 interviews a week so had to roll the data and it smoothed out results”

Either way, the events of May are lost in the annals of time and it is not possible to tell what happened.

MaruUsurv’s approach to tracking is different.  The things that really matter in the questionnaire (and this goes for many research studies) are usually just a few.  The KPIs (again thinking of the person at the far end of the table in the middle) are the key pieces of information.  Most of the rest of the questionnaire is “nice to know”, but not essential to the running of the business.  We therefore recommend that it is these that form the focus and mainstay of the questionnaire and are asked regularly (daily).  The other information, the “nice to knows”, should be asked less frequently.

We are not advocating stopping asking the lengthy tracking questionnaires, this would be a leap too far for many a client.  However, we are advocating deciding on what is crucial to know on a regular basis and setting this up as a regular “thin” tracking study to run alongside the established tracker.  When the time is right, we may just advocate advising tracking only the KPIs and ceasing the main tracker, however we know that for the time being this would be a step too far.  When that day comes, and it is not far away, we will be here!

Guy Potter is maru / usurv's head of research and clients.
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