About This


The Metric System explores interesting uses of data analysis in business and the world at large. The Metric System is maintained by RJMetrics.

Learn about our solutions for

Follow RJMetrics


Jake Stein Jake Stein

Robert J. Moore Robert J. Moore

cmerrick cmerrick

peterzhang peterzhang

Gaston Burthey Gaston Burthey

Subscribe by Email

Your email:

The Metric System: A Blog About Data by RJMetrics

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Import A CSV Into Your Database


We are happy to announce big improvements to our file upload and CSV import functionality. This will make it much easier to analyze data that reside outside of your database and are not yet integrated into our data warehouse.

Users can now upload files into their RJMetrics data warehouse directly from their web browser and have the data directly imported into our database. Data can be uploaded in either Microsoft Excel or CSV format. When the data format changes or new attributes need to be added those changes can be made right from the file upload page.

Import A CSV Into Your database

This feature:

  • Expedites the process of importing CSV and Excel files into our data warehouse
  • Allows for analysis on new data sets quickly, efficiently, and on an ad hoc basis
  • Eases the process of combining multiple data sources into one coherent picture

Also check out the changes coming to the RJMetrics dashboard and our new settings page.

We're Hiring a UI and UX Engineer


RJMetrics is looking for an exceptional user interface and user experience engineer to join our growing team apply here.

If you come in for an interview, we'll give you a free iPad or $500 cash (your choice). This is not for the person who referred you and it's not contingent on you getting a job offer. It's our gift to you for considering a career at RJMetrics. Prior to an in-person interview, you'll speak with a member or two from our team to make sure we'd be good fits for each other.

RJMetrics is a fast-growing database analytics and business intelligence software company. Our product helps e-commerce, social media, and software as a service companies understand their users and businesses through data analysis and visualization.

You will be THE expert on UI and UX at our company. You know great design when you see it, and you can explain why it's great, even if you didn't create it. You will help us establish and implement a consistent aesthetic throughout our product that users will find both appealing and easy to use. You will juggle multiple projects and provide design insight to different members of our engineering and marketing teams. In addition to wire-framing and Photoshopping, you will consistently contribute production PHP, HTML, and JavaScript (jQuery + Backbone.js) code to our codebase.

You will recognize weaknesses in our organization and won't hesitate to tell us what we are doing wrong and why. You will occasionally pitch in with whatever needs to get done (blog posts, testing, cabinetmaking, etc.). Finally, you will help us hire more people just like you as our company continues to grow.

In return, you will get to enjoy the perks of working at a fast-growing technology startup. You will get to build your own working environment with whatever hardware, software and furniture you need to be most effective. You will be given a stake in the company's success through stock options, along with a competitive salary. You will get medical, dental, and vision insurance, all paid for by the company. If you're here late, we'll even throw in dinner. Most importantly, you will help define the future of a promising company.


  • Experience with or ability to learn object-oriented programming and SQL databases
  • B.S. degree in Computer Science or a related field
  • Must have built or contributed to something awesome that we can try out

This is a full time position located on site. We are located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. We also occasionally speak at conferences, guest post on TechCrunch, get on the front page of Digg, and rap about business intelligence (seriously, search for RJMetrics on YouTube).

Designing a Database Schema


We’ve seen the databases of hundreds of online companies and we have determined that a well designed database schema can make all the difference in the quality of your database analytics. If you are not storing the most useful data as you possibly can, you may be diminishing the value of your business intelligence and this can have a negative impact on your bottom line.

We have organized our knowledge into a white paper that is an informative and succinct evaluation of the most common mistakes that businesses make in schema design and data storage.

This white paper discusses mistakes that can, for example:

  • Make it harder to analyze your business performance
  • Stand in the way of actionable insight
  • Prevent you from understanding key business metrics such as customer lifetime value, retention, and the payback period of various marketing sources
  • Slow down your analytics significantly

We encourage you to read this white paper so that you can become aware of these mistakes and gain a better understanding of how to realize the maximum value of your database analytics. Put yourself ahead of the competition today.


Changes coming to your RJMetrics dashboards


Following up on the new settings page, we are hard at work on improvements to the dashboards and charts in RJMetrics. We wanted to outline a few of the changes ahead of time so that you know what to expect. We are focused on making RJMetrics the best way for online businesses to get actionable insight from their data, and the new features reflect that. We are also going to retire two of our lesser-used features so that we can put more focus on the areas that matter most.


  • Easier ad hoc analysis - see the impact of your changes right away, no need to save or press preview
  • Single page chart editor - view all of your chart configuration settings at once
  • Eliminating the need for composite charts - anything that you need a composite chart for today will be doable with the new version of the standard chart editor
  • Drag and drop chart creation and editing - start viewing your data without configuration and get moving fast
  • Micro-editor for quick changes - no need to open the full chart editor for changes to the date range
  • Improved visualizations - easier to read and powered by javascript rather than flash

Retired features

We will continue to support both of the features below until September 15. After that, charts that use either will be removed from the dashboards. As a reminder, you can export the visualizations or data behind your charts if you want to hold on to this data.

Twitter - Social media tracking is valuable, but it was never our focus. We have gotten feedback from clients that Twitter alone is not very useful, and adding other social media services is not in our road map. We recommend checking out Argyle Social, Awe.sm, Radian6, and uberVU as great options for tracking and analyzing your influence through social media. For managing your various social media accounts, you can’t beat our client HootSuite.

Rank over time - There are actually two separate ranking features in RJMetrics, and we are removing the one that is very rarely used. You will be still be able to show the top 10 categories or the bottom 5% of users as described in this help center article. However we are removing the ability to choose a specific element and plot changes to its rank over time.

We hope you are as excited as we are about the upcoming improvements to RJMetrics.

New and improved settings page


We released a complete rework of our settings page today. We’re very proud of our team’s work, and we wanted to highlight a few of the benefits our customers will see.

  • Faster navigation
  • Cleaner user interface improved design
  • Better chart management with find as you type, filter by trend, and batch deletion
  • More control over data configuration with the ability to create, edit, and delete restriction sets
  • Faster addition of data sources with the ability to create, edit, and test connections to your database
  • Easier diagnosis of common connection problems with automatic detection of error types and recommendations for fixes
  • More information in the system configuration summary with detail on references (also known as foreign keys)
  • Easier account management with the ability to download receipts for all historical payments

We are updating the relevant articles on support.rjmetrics.com with new instructions and information. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know.

How to A/B Test Using Javascript in Your Posterous Blog


At RJMetrics, we use Hubspot for marketing automation and decided to do some A/B testing to determine which links are more effective on our blog. We set up two buttons, or as Hubspot calls them, "Calls to Action". Hubspot randomly chooses which button to display  and lets us track the results of each. This requires embedding a snippet of Javascript on our blog, which Posterous (our blogging platform) does not allow.   We can get around this limitation using iframes.


1.  Create a new page where your Javascript snippet is housed.  You will need to upload this child page to an online host.  In this example, iframe_link_child.html is populated with a simple link and the following Javascript:


2.  Add an iframe to your new page from your Posterous blog post by editing the HTML and adding:

3.  Update Link Attributes.  If you have links, by default, they will open inside the existing iframe.  To improve the end user experience, it may be necessary to have links open on a new page.  Simply edit the target tag of your link by adding target='_blank' to all existing links in your child page:


4.  Hubspot Specific: Edit Javascript to allow for new target.  If you are using Hubspot's call to actions, you will need to use Javascript to edit the element's target property because Hubspot generates the link on the fly. To do this, execute the following Javascript code:

Voila! Check out our finished Javascript-enabled button on the Posterous platform:

Our Start-Up's First Trade Show: A Data-Driven Recap


Last week, Jake and I attended the 2011 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE 2011) in San Diego.  This four-day event is the world’s largest e-commerce convention, with over 7,200 attendees and 500 exhibiting vendors.

This was our first “real” trade show with RJMetrics and it was a new experience for both of us. Our main objectives were to generate sales leads and raise awareness of RJMetrics in the internet retail community. To help achieve these goals, we purchased a 10’x10’ booth in the exhibit hall to peddle our wares.

This post is a summary of our experience as newbies to the trade show circuit. It is the result of data collection and note-taking on both our and other exhibitors’ behavior and performance. The data taught us three main lessons:

  • It pays to be aggressive
  • We have the most success with conference attendees who don’t look like us
  • One of us has a very bright future as a carnival barker

Who wouldn't buy software from these handsome, slightly blurry gentlemen?

Exhibitor Social Dynamics

Within the first hour of the show, we observed quite a bit. Most notable was that trade show exhibitors appear to all fall somewhere on the “aggression spectrum,” with the most prominent approaches including:

  • Disengaged: Exhibitors sitting behind their booths, not making eye contact with anyone, and waiting for attendees to approach them.
  • Passive: Exhibitors standing, saying hello, or otherwise giving physical signs that they are available to speak if passers-by are interested.
  • Passive-Question: Exhibitors attempting to engage passers-by with easy-to-reject questions such as “Can I give you some information on our company?”
  • Aggressive: Exhibitors approaching passers-by with out-of-the-blue questions related to their pitch, such as “do you ship product?” or “who is your domain name registrar?”

Additionally, many exhibitors made use of “enhancers” to help attract attendee interest. (We had none of these to offer.) The most popular ones included:

  • Swag: Pens! Stress balls! T-Shirts! Nothing softens a sales pitch like free junk with your company’s logo on it. While some attendees were lugging bags of this stuff around, we didn’t perceive any disadvantage by not offering it. (This is based on casual observations of our performance relative to nearby booths that were aggressively distributing swag.)
  • Sweepstakes: There was a huge promotion at the conference in which attendees who collected “stickers” from about 40 specific booths would be entered to win a new car. (We could have been one of the 40 booths by shelling out $7,600 to the conference organizers.) We were definitely losing leads to this promotion, as many passers-by used “I have to get my stickers” as a reason for not staying to learn more about us.
  • Hot Girls: The vast majority of attendees were male, and some exhibitors hired models to engage passers-by and lure them in for a conversation. This appeared to be effective. However, I can see how certain attendees might find this patronizing or otherwise offensive.

Data Collection

For that first hour, Jake and I waited for people to come to us. We quickly decided that it would be worth A/B testing other approaches to see how we would do. For the next three days, we recorded the following data points about every interaction we had:

  • Date and Time
  • Badge Type (attendee or exhibitor)
  • Gender
  • Approximate Age (by decade)
  • Ethnicity
  • Number of People in Group (when applicable)
  • Discussion Starter (Jake or Bob)
  • Success or Failure (success was defined as being able to give a 30-second pitch on what we do and learn where the attendee worked and what their role was at the company)
  • Approach Used (see below)
  • We collected data on four different conversation-starting approaches:
  • “What is your average customer lifetime value?” This heavy question was designed to stop people in their tracks and be a lead-in to a conversation about the benefits we provide.
  • “How much of your revenue is from repeat customers?” This was a less intimidating question with the same intention as above.
  • “Does Your Company Generate Data?” This was a question that we knew people should always say “yes” to.
  • “Can I give you some information on RJMetrics?” This was passive-question approach.
  • The Walk-Up (when people came up to us unsolicited).

At the end of the three days, we collected 330 data points, 230 of which were successful conversations and exactly 100 of which were rejections.

Inbound vs. Outbound

One thing was clear: it pays to have an outbound strategy. Only 28% of our conversations were Walk-Ups. This means that employing an outbound strategy allowed us to extract between 3 and 4 times as much value from the show as we would have otherwise.

We initially speculated that the quality of walk-up traffic would be higher than that of random passers-by. However, we observed (unscientifically) that this was not the case. While some very high-value prospects did approach us as walk-ups, we ultimately derived more qualified leads from our outbound conversations.

Effectiveness by Outbound Approach

Naturally, 100% of walk-ups converted into conversations. Below, we show the conversion rates on the other outbound approaches.

Clearly, the more aggressive methods (i.e. asking a pointed question that is difficult to brush off) were the most effective. Asking questions about repeat purchase rates such as “What Percent of Your Customers Come Back to Purchase a Second Time?” was the most effective method, with a whopping 79% conversion rate.

The least effective method of the outbound approaches was the passive-question technique (i.e. “Can I give you some information on RJMetrics?”)


The most common passer-by was in their 30s, and the populations steadily dropped off with each additional decade of age. The percentage of attendees in their 20s (like us) was surprisingly small.

Our success rates were lowest with attendees in their 40s, but increased substantially at each extreme end of the age spectrum. We weren't surpised by our success with 20-somethings, but would not have predicted that we'd have such strong performance with much older attendees.

Race and Gender

We were interested in the breakdown of attendees at the conference and our relative success levels with different groups of people. While there is a potential for selection bias here, we feel that we spoke with a random sample of the conference population. As such, the breakdown of our interactions is likely representative of the conference population as a whole.

72% of our interactions were with white males. Interestingly, it was about as likely that we interacted with someone who was non-white (15%) as with someone who was non-male (13%).

The conversion rates of different race and gender combinations are also quite interesting. We were least likely to convert white males (58%) and most likely to convert non-white females (87%). Overall, our conversion rates on females and non-white attendees were higher than their counterparts.

Jake vs. Bob

So, who was the better pitchman? Despite heroic trash talking, Jake put me to shame. 66% of his attempts converted into conversations (compared to my paltry 55%).

We also looked at conversion attempts for females only. This data revealed that, while Jake still converted attempts into conversations at a higher rate than I did, the gap was significantly smaller. Unfortunately, these rates did not carry over to the after parties.

The ROI of An Aggressive Pitch

All-in, our booth space, display materials, meals, travel, and accommodations added up to about $8,000 of total expense. (This does not include the opportunity cost of our time.)

The exhibit hall was open for a total of 20.5 hours across 3 days, which works out to about $6.50 per minute to participate in the exhibition. As the co-founders of a bootstrapped company, that figure weighed heavily in our minds every time we considered getting some lunch or taking a bathroom break.

If you look at our total interactions, the numbers get even larger. Based on our count of 220 conversations, we paid around $36 per pitch. This is where our aggressive sales strategy really makes a significant impact. If we had only interacted with the 65 walk-ups from the conference, that effective rate would have been $123 per pitch.

In other words, we extracted nearly 3 times as much value from our conference experience by simply getting out in front of the booth and selling more aggressively.

Given these data points, it becomes clear why some companies are willing to invest money in novelties and gimmicks to increase traffic to their booths. Spending a few thousand dollars could double or triple the effectiveness of your experience while increasing your costs by a significantly smaller percentage.

Was it Worth It?

Given the price point of our product, we will break even on this conference if we convert a single lead into a long-term customer. Based on the leads generated and our typical sales cycle, it seems very likely that we will do much better than that.

There were also less tangible benefits to participating in the show. We increased brand awareness, strengthening our relationships with existing customers, scoping out the competition, and keeping up-to-date with emerging trends and technologies.

Perhaps most importantly, however, this experience has given us a new perspective on how to think about the costs of customer acquisition and spending money to acquire new business. If this show turns out to be a profitable endeavor, we will have have a great baseline for the cost of putting people into the top of our sales funnel. With this data, we can feel much more confident about making investments in advertising and other forms of lead generation.

RJMetrics at Internet Retailer Conference 2011

IRCE2011_Logo.jpg (250×125)

We are exhibiting at Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011.  The conference is in San Diego, and it’s taking place June 14 - 17.

If you have not yet signed up, you can use our discount code EC120341 to get $100 off admission. In any case, make sure that you come see us at booth 1940. If you would like to meet up with a member of our team at the show, send an email to sales at rjmetrics dot com. We will be giving demos, answering questions, shaking hands, and kissing babies.

Announcing Trend Management


We’re happy to announce that RJMetrics users can now edit, create, and manage trends from the settings page. This is the first of many improvements that are going to give our end users more fine-grained control over their RJMetrics data warehouses and dashboards.

To manage your trends, go to your settings page and choose trends from the drop down menu. You’ll see a list of the active trends and options to see details on how each is defined. There are also links to edit or delete each trend. When you delete a trend, you will be notified which users and charts will be affected and asked for confirmation. Note that trend management is only available for administrative users, but all users are able see the definition of the trends to which they have access.

You can also add and remove slicers from trends, so that you can manage the dimensions that you and your colleagues have available within the dashboard interface.

We're Hiring A Business Development Analyst / Renaissance (Wo)Man


We are looking to add another amazing person to our team. The description is below, and you can apply here.

If you come in for an interview, we will give you a free iPad or $500 cash (your choice). This is not for the person who referred you and it's not contingent on you getting a job offer. It's our gift to you for considering a career at RJMetrics. Prior to an in-person interview, you'll speak with a member or two from our team to make sure we'd be good fits for each other.

RJMetrics is a fast-growing, innovative database analytics and business intelligence software company. We sell our hosted software to startups and growth-stage e-commerce, social media, and software as a service businesses. We blow our customers away with powerful analytics, ease of use, and exceptional customer service. RJMetrics was launched in early 2009, reached profitability in just six months, and has grown revenue at over 1000% per year. We are located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. We also occasionally speak at conferences, guest post on TechCrunch, get on the front page of Digg, and rap about business intelligence.

We are looking to hire the first full-time member of our team who is not a programmer or one of our founders. You are going to do anything and everything it takes to make sure our company continues to grow and succeed.

Focus areas
You will play a large role in defining what you do on a day-to-day basis. We will give you clear goals as to things we want to improve and the end results we want to achieve. You will devise the best strategies to achieve these goals, and you will work with feedback and collaboration from the rest of the team whenever appropriate. The areas in which you will be spending time include new customer implementation, support, marketing, sales, product management, recruitment, and operations. This list will evolve with your input and the changing priorities of our business.

If you had been working for us last month, you would have worked on some of the following projects:
Helping new customers get up and running on our software
Talking with existing customers to make sure they are getting as much value out of our software as possible
Talking with prospective customers and helping them understand how they would benefit from our software
Gathering and consolidating feedback from customers
Making recommendations and mockups for improvements to our user interface
Evaluating tools to automate our marketing efforts
Attend recruiting events
Interview prospective new employees
Contribute to bi-monthly sprint meetings where we determine the next steps to improve our product
Design and produce marketing collateral
Choose keywords for which we want to rank highly in Google
Create documentation and tutorials on best practices among our clients
Create content for our website
Reach out to members of the press to get coverage for RJMetrics
Write blog posts

Because this position is going to evolve over time, we are prioritizing character, interests, and abilities over specific experience. The requirements are:
Excellent written and spoken communication skills
Deep interest in technology and startups
Track record of learning new skills and putting them to use immediately
Ability to be effective in an unstructured environment
Sense of ownership and pride in your performance and that of the company

Nice to haves
Experience programming
Experience with SQL
Experience with data analysis
Experience with design
Experience with startups
Experience in the technology industry
Experience in online marketing
Experience in sales
Ability to pepper your conversations with allusions to movies and TV shows

What you will get
You will get a competitive compensation package that includes salary and stock options. You will get medical, dental, and vision insurance, all paid for by the company. You will get whatever tools, equipment, and training that will make you most effective. You will interact with the founders of the company on a daily basis. You will get experience crucial to starting your own company in the future. You will help to define the future of a fast growing, exciting company.

This is a full time position located on site.

Apply here

All Posts