I’m pretty excited to announce today that I’ve joined the RJMetrics team to launch their professional analytics services team. This is an amazing group of people, just so down to earth and ridiculously (dare I say “wicked”?) smart. I’ve known Jake (co-founder, COO, and all around good guy) for a while, but to come in and see the entire team in action is pretty incredible.
I wouldn’t have necessarily written a blog post about a new gig, but this one is meaningful to me and I think is actually relevant to the kinds of things that matter to me in the analytics & optimization world.
After founding and eventually leading the acquisition of Sepiida, it’s not a stretch to imagine me in yet another analytics services role. The part I think is noteworthy is that it is at RJMetrics. Clients of ours at Sepiida will know that RJMetrics was one of the tools we presented to our clients when they asked our advice about which analytics tools to use. We were tool-agnostic – finding value in everything from Omniture to KISSMetrics to Google Analytics. Our clients often used a mix of all of these, plus their own home grown stuff, and we knew it often took that mix of tools to get through the business day of measuring, reporting, and optimizing.
Even though we were tool-agnostic, I have to say I personally had a special place in my heart for RJMetrics. Back then, it wasn’t that the user interface was the most slick, or that the price was the best, or whatever – all the product stuff is super important and I very much appreciated the flexibility and power of the product. But it was the quality of their customer service that got me. I had never seen a product company offer that level of “yes, I remember exactly that weird nuance about that one column in your database” attention to detail, or that level of responsiveness, or that level of “yea, no problem, we can get that done” attitude. We got clients from no reporting to full reporting within 2 weeks – just in time to close investor rounds. We optimized complex monetization metrics within a month. It was totally f*ckin’ cool. And why is customer service important to me? I firmly believe there is no totally self-sufficient analytics tool – the human side of analytics is what takes it from cool charts and dashboards to using GOOD data to actually make your business move forward.
And yea, I suppose I had a special place in my heart for their Philly story.
That’s not to say that I wasn’t blind to the challenges of database analytics, especially if you are pricing based on the amount of data in the database. Web analytics tools have their place. I love how easy KISS and MixPanel’s UI makes it to do things like funnel analytics. The catch there of course is that you had better set up all those events properly! (And I’ve seen more than a few not to do so.) I mean, web analytics and database analytics need to co-exist for any successful company. But I do think web analytics are overrated…and this is coming from someone who adores (yes, adores) conversion optimization. Companies should have a strong consistent practice of understanding what is happening on their site and looking for ways to optimize. And companies should have a strong understanding of how site changes, feature additions, etc. impact user behavior. But at some point, those things reach a bit of a stasis point – and you absolutely need to be focused on retention, deeper product marketing optimization, etc. This is where your database is key. The types of post-conversion data you have in your database, or can have in your database, is unmatched by web stream analysis. The opportunities for cross-selling, up-selling, email marketing, reactivation strategies etc. are endless! Plus, I do love databases (brief side note – after a very hard first quarter at Stanford in the MS Computer Science program with whizzes like Marissa Mayer, I eventually ended up teaching databases and algorithms in that program).
So when Jake and Bob at RJ said they understood the needs of their customers to have expert advisors on-hand to guide them with optimizing their business, and were ready to supplement their product with professional services, I said – hell yea! The key to this is that I firmly believe there is no good “analytics insights & recommendations” tool out there – no tool is going to tell you MEANINGFULLY what to do to your business/website/product. You have to figure that out yourself. I’ve seen tools that provide you alerts when such and such keyword is going up or down, or when a conversion rate is hitting some new threshold. SO WHAT? What does that mean you should do? That’s where it takes human capital. That’s where the OPTIMIZATION happens. And I love that the team at RJ gets that. Add to it that a lot of RJMetrics’ customers are start-ups or growth-phase businesses, and you’re in my sweet spot of business and discipline.
You ever have that moment after you’ve made a big decision, when life has progressed a bit, and you have some sort of validation of your decision? That happened to me a couple of nights ago. I was thinking about how RJMetrics prices based on the number of users in your database, rather than the amount of data you want to report on – and how so many other analytics tools out there price based on the number of events you track…and it hit me. RJMetrics prices based on what it believes its tool actually helps you accomplish: growth in your business, i.e. your number of users. Those events-based tools – well, they price you for doing the thing that you have to do in order to hopefully grow your business: analyzing it. That is CRAZY to me…how can I grow my business without measuring, but how do I know how much to measure and what to measure without getting in there and trying a bunch of different things??
That to me, sums up the awesomeness of RJMetrics – the product, the philosophy, and the people.