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How to leverage brand tracking

If an insight falls in the forest and nobody’s around to act on it, does it matter?

Gathering the data you need for brand tracking relies on being thorough with your research, goals, sample size and survey creation. Collecting this information doesn’t inherently provide a return on your investment—that requires leveraging the data to make informed decisions, enabling your brand to resonate more with customers.

While the data-gathering stage represents a moment in time, leveraging your brand tracking is dynamic. It involves performing strategic testing of campaigns, messaging and brand attributes; checking how tests and brand engagement tactics impact brand perception across brand believers (i.e., those who resonate with and advocate for your brand)  and other customers; and leveraging insights gleaned from your testing to make even more informed decisions next time. Rinse and repeat.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at some of the ways organizations can leverage their brand tracking data to gain the most value from it—ideally, progressing more people through your brand’s funnel of awareness, familiarity, consideration and purchasing (and at accelerating rates).

Ensure data accessibility with the right platform.

The value of your brand tracking dataset is based on its accessibility and utility as a tool that various stakeholders, teams and other relevant parties can use consistently. Organizations make the most of their brand tracking data when it’s collected within a central platform that’s friendly and intuitive for even first-time users and there’s a practice put in place to leverage the data to make informed decisions going forward. 

This ensures stakeholders can contribute and incorporate the information into their work—whether as an insight informing key decisions or by combining it with data from other sources to establish a more holistic view of brand performance.

Ideally, your platform should facilitate:

  • Customized dashboards and reports—These are simplified views of KPIs that enable teams and stakeholders to more easily monitor brand performance over time and inform their decisions. 
  • Import and exports—Brand tracking can be combined with complementary data from other sources to augment insights. For example, historical changes in tracked brand attributes can be analyzed alongside other behavior metrics (e.g., media and campaign engagement) to determine attributions  and potentially inform sales performance fluctuations.
  • Segmentation flexibility—Brand tracking information exists as a “snapshot” representing collective consumer sentiment at a specific moment. As an ongoing utility, it’s more useful to also integrate the ability within your brand tracking platform to capture sentiment of new and different audience segmentations in order to answer questions like, “What elements of our service resonate most with the 30–39 age group?” 
  • Quality assurance checks—Given the effort and investment involved with brand tracking, having a brand-tracking platform with integrated automated quality assurance can help catch and prevent costly mistakes.

Compare against your competitors.

Sales data (e.g., revenue and velocity) provides an objective measure of brand performance, or the “what” status of your brand. However, brand tracking helps provide the “why” and the “how” (i.e., drivers and attribution) behind those performance numbers over time. In addition to tracking how your brand sentiment changes over time, you can also see how your brand compares to competitors across various brand attributes. 

In order to establish “like-for-like” competitor comparison, it’s necessary to include competitor-related questions. Going one step further, you can also set up your brand tracking to measure sentiment by customer segment and other relevant criteria (e.g., brand preference, awareness of major brands in a given market).

Brand tracking is also one of the few options that enables comparison of qualitative metrics that organizations can use to inform decision-making and brand engagement strategies, especially when aggregating tracking by audiences’ responses and psychographics (i.e., the needs, wants, traits, values and other considerations affecting consumers’ buying behavior).

To make meaningful strides in growing your brand and maintaining a competitive advantage, organizations need legitimate brand benchmarks rather than gut feelings and best guesses. Brand tracking enables a more scientific approach to understanding brand sentiment from the people you want to hear from most while also providing valuable brand insights that you can take action against.

Expand utility over time.

The longer an organization has brand tracking in place, the more utility it provides. Although it’s crucial to get your audience sample(s) and brand tracking survey right the first time to enable tracking progress over time, each data collection iteration can be designed to also gain different or deeper insights.

Over time, brand tracking enables you to continually test hypotheses on how strongly various decisions resonate with brand believers and other customer groups using historical performance as a baseline. It’s akin to the scientific method:

  1. Hypothesize—Make a decision (e.g., new campaign messaging or channel, product decisions) informed by your brand strategy platform and extensive research.
  2. Test (experiment)—Launch the change and wait long enough for your customers to engage with it.
  3. Measure—Conduct brand-tracking surveys to collect qualitative data.
  4. Analyze—Determine the impact of the change on different audiences’ awareness, familiarity, consideration and purchasing. Simultaneously, look for attributable causes of increased/decreased engagement through each stage of the customer funnel that can be factored into your next brand decision.
  5. Restart—The next brand “hypothesis” you test will be based on even more informed decision-making that incorporates consumer responses. You’ll be able to more easily determine attributions and predict results with each successive round based on your growing body of knowledge.

Oversample when possible—stronger insights, more flexible segmentation.

Oversampling of participants representative of your target audience(s) always benefits brand tracking. Increasing your sample size ensures the statistical significance of any insights you uncover.

Oversampling also enables the opportunity to further segment your data based on various criteria without sacrificing the statistical significance of your results. In other words, you can’t confidently make a decision on brand attributes, products or campaigns when your segmented audience samples are not sufficient. The flexibility and segmentation capabilities larger samples enable are too valuable to ignore.

Allow brand tracking to inform brand decisions.

Brand tracking enables visibility on how your brand is performing over time. When linked with the brand decisions made in the relevant time period, you can determine the factors attributed to affecting your audience’s awareness, familiarity, consideration and purchasing.

Leveraging these brand tracking insights enables you to make better decisions based on what your audience reports—such as the brand attributes they align most with your brand (versus competitor brands) and how that impacts their engagement with your brand. With each successive round of brand tracking, you’ll be able to further and further hone in on how to make the biggest impact with each new campaign, message, product or other decision.

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