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At several conferences recently, I've had the opportunity to talk with a variety of B2B marketers on the topic of analytics.

During one conversation with a marketing vice-president for a B2B company, he said, "We have our metrics well in hand, we use Google Analytics and a number of other sources." Then, in another conversation, people were using the terms "analytics" and "metrics" interchangeably.

I admit to having been taken by surprise. Though metrics and analytics go hand in hand, and both are used by best-in-class (BIC) marketers to prove and improve the value of marketing, they are not the same.

So, the purpose of this article is to clarify the two concepts and provide a checklist to help you determine your team's maturity level in these two critical proficiencies.

Metrics are standards of measurement, and there are many marketing metrics, including the following:

  • Activity measures related to the number of things you produce, such as the number of new blog posts or the number of events, and the associated hard and soft costs of those things
  • Output measures related to the result of what you produce, such as website traffic, media mentions, and event participants
  • Operational metrics, such as cost per lead and leads per rep
  • Outcome metrics, such as win rate, pipeline contribution, share of preference, and share of wallet

BIC marketers select and report on outcome metrics, and they are able to create a logic chain between and among activity, output, operational, and outcome metrics.

Metrics serve as integral component of accountability. Accountability encompasses making a commitment to a particular action, accepting responsibility for completing that action, and then disclosing how well you performed against your commitment. Accountability requires metrics and measurement.

Measuring your performance may take analytics. Formulating your metrics may take analytics. But analytics is not metrics, and it doesn't require employing metrics at all.

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image of Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.

Twitter: @LauraVEM