SMART Metrics

by Scott Harris


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When dealing with data, be smart. Apply a SMART dashboard to your metrics and data analysis efforts.

Much like SMART goals, SMART metrics ensure you measure the right data and that it is actionable.

When looking at web analytics and marketing campaigns I define my SMART metrics as:

Specific – To be useful, data needs to communicate something meaningful. Data that is not specific enough might as well be inaccurate. Decisions based on inaccurate or non-specific or overly broad data can lead to bad decisions. Be specific with the data you need and test your data collection’s quality.

Manageable – Metrics by their very nature are measurable so with SMART metrics, I aim to collect manageable metrics and digest them in a dashboard format. The curse of knowledge plays a role here. By reporting too many measurements your decision-making can get cloudy, distracting you from acting on the most important metrics. Keep your metric dashboard manageable by limiting it to the most important metrics. You can always use separate more detailed reports for deeper dive analysis.

Actionable – Data are most powerful when they are actionable.  If you can’t act on a metric, don’t waste time collecting, analyzing, and reporting it.  Ideally, your metrics will trigger an immediate action that will improve your bottom line. For example, you can test the subject lines of the emails you send.  Measure the open rates for a group of your emails with different subject lines.  Once you find which version has the best open rate, use this subject line for the rest of your emails to your email list.

Replicable – When starting out, you need to check your data for accuracy. Test data quality by seeing if its measurement is replicable.  For example, if you have traffic monitoring software you like, take another monitoring tool for a test drive and compare the two. Do your numbers match up? If not, find out why and make sure you are collecting accurate data.

Trending – Identify significant movements in specific metrics and determine the cause. Take the appropriate action. If you find that a program or campaign is doing particularly well driving a metric, see where else you can employ that tactic in other programs.

SMART metrics can improve your company’s bottom line.  Use them, see which work best, and monitor them in a digestible format. Your turn, what criteria do you use for your metrics dashboard?