Metrics are NOT Analytics

Have you recently been in a meeting where everyone was talking about analytics, but you weren't quite sure what they meant? I'll help you determine what that buzz word means - but before I do, let me tell you that the people in your meeting probably didn't know what it meant, either.

First, let me make a broad and important statement: Metrics are NOT analytics.

It will probably help to know what the term 'metrics' means, so we will start there. Metrics is a simple term that basically mean numbers, or measurements. In marketing, digital metrics refer to any type of activity that can be counted. Visits are a metric. Bounce rate is a metric. One-dimensional numbers displayed over time on a report are all metrics. So visits this month versus visits last month is a digital metric.

This is the tricky part - a lot of people in that meeting are probably referring to visits over time as digital analytics. They are wrong, but unfortunately the trend is so wide-spread they have no idea they are wrong.

Analytics are generally a calculation of metrics that enables a decision. For example, if the bounce rate is calculated and compared against marketing channels, that set of analytics can inform you which marketing channel is sending better visits to your website. Since you can make a decision, bounce rate by marketing channel are analytics.

On the other hand, bounce rate month over month is a metric because you can't make an informed decision from the data.

Another good example of digital analytics is cost per visit. When most agencies buy ads, they pay per click. So if a user clicks the ad, you pay $2. If the agency were to track the click to the website, you would get cost per visit. This type of measurement is useful in determining the best ad/best channel/best time to get a user to the website by cost. That is digital analytics.

So the next time you are in a meeting and are being presented with numbers, make sure you know the difference between metrics and analytics. And make sure you're pushing to get the analytics to enable decisions about your projects.

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