Internet Business Competitive Intelligence


by Victoria Kuhn

At Dirigo Design & Development, we help businesses understand the market environment in which they operate. And we develop and execute strategies and tactics with our client–partners to help them reach their customers and prospects.

Dirigo is one of an elite group of agencies in New England that subscribes to the Hitwise Experian, Compete, and Internet Retailer datasets. Experian Hitwise is a big-ticket tool used by 1500 of the top Internet brands. Each day Hitwise provides insight into how ten million U.S. Internet users interact with over one million Web sites across more than 160 industries. Using statistical techniques, Hitwise extrapolates, within confidence intervals, the sample to model the entire U.S. population. Data are captured directly from Internet service providers as clickstream data. This means that Hitwise is gathering precise data on how U.S. consumers use the Internet. Hitwise measures online activities, demographics, and lifestyle/attitudinal behaviors.

Our naturally curious technical marketing team leverages this business tool, hypothesizes about this or that, and seeks broader understanding of the markets in which our client-partners operate. We facilitate performance gains for our clients through constant analysis, testing, and innovation. Here are some of the uses for Hitwise data:

  • Assessing the viability of a new business or launching a product line extension.
  • Determining the number of online visits to your Web site versus your competitors.
  • Measuring your share of market in an industry or within a defined set of competitors.
  • Identifying true competitors and developing strategies to outflank them.
  • Measuring share of keyword or search-phrase traffic with trending over time.
  • Analyzing deep search terms (the long tail).
  • Reviewing competitor search engine marketing (SEM) strategies: paid versus organic search, link building, Twitter/Facebook, blogs, content, e-mail.
  • Characterizing customer and prospect lifestyle and attitudinal behaviors.
  • Strengthening your organization's integrative (online and offline) marketing plan.
  • Understanding a true picture of Web site rankings over time. Are you winning or losing the battle? With search engines employing multiple algorithms to deliver local and personalized search results—not to mention pay-per-click services offering geographic targeting—gone are the days of easily mapping your organization's position.
  • Answering specific questions: What is the impact of Google's December 2010 shopping search engine results page (SERPs) change on your position in the market? Is your decline due to an express algorithm change, decreased interest in a product or set of keyword phrases, Google's traffic shaping engine, or competitive pressures?

Let's take a look at

As a way to articulate our expertise, the fine folks at FetchDog have allowed Dirigo to share more about their organization in a case study using Experian Hitwise data—and we have agreed to not showcase too much.

FetchDog, a Portland, Maine catalog and Internet direct-response start-up, occupies a crowded (and furry) business sector: pets and animals. While it has solid penetration into hundreds of highly prized search terms, we are sharing its growth in the single term, dog beds. We chose to profile this term because it represents the top keyword phrase, accounting for 4.56% of its Internet traffic.

Seventy-one online brands are garnering significant traffic from the term dog beds, with the top brands, including FetchDog, owning nearly one-third of all U.S. search clicks. As of mid-December 2010 FetchDog had the third-largest share of this term.

In contrast, in 2009 FetchDog had little share. By the end of the following year the entire competitive landscape had shifted.

The search term dog beds is one of nearly 200 search phrases containing the words "dog" and "beds" with significant traffic. The phrase takes just over 22% of the traffic in related terms. Four out of five users are happy with the SERPs (e.g., they do not return to the search engine to refine their search).

Using Hitwise we learned which Web sites were visited just prior to Likewise, we gained clarity into which Web sites were immediately visited following These data are not accessible via Web analytics tools (e.g., Google Analytics, Urchin, Webtrends, Omniture).

Hitwise even provides data on tabbed browsing, another area opaque to traditional analytics. Facebook is the first downstream visit (we're not counting because it is FetchDog's custom–shopping search URL). Facebook is typically a high downstream Web site because consumers are interacting with Facebook midstream (i.e., multitasking on additional browser tabs). This is also the case for Windows Live Mail and other popular communication tools. The downstream tool indicates that visitors are leaving FetchDog to browse Oh My Dog Supplies, eBay, and PETCO. Many users open multiple browser tabs from the SERPs when searching for a product or the best price.

We can also analyze downstream industries. A downstream rate of 44% highlights the influence of powerful shopping players like eBay, Amazon, and Shopzilla.

Hitwise provides an online customer segmentation and targeting tool that reveals the demographics, attitudes, and behavioral characteristics of visitors to your Web site—and your competitors' Web sites. Hitwise MOSAIC™ data provide unprecedented insight into the psychographic and lifestyle attributes of an audience, allowing you to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, media plans, and strategic and affiliate partnerships.

FetchDog enjoys broad brand loyalty across the U.S. FetchDog's brand is best known where the U.S. population is concentrated, from the West Coast, to the South, Midwest, and Eastern Seaboard.

FetchDog's most prevalent visitor is from the Affluent Suburbia MOSAIC™ type. This group is comprised of the wealthiest households in the U.S. living in exclusive suburban neighborhoods, enjoying the best of everything that life has to offer. Home ownership is at 94.25%. Over 50% of this group has traveled to a foreign country in the last three years. Eighteen percent are AARP members. More than four in ten have a dog and one-quarter a cat. Twenty-nine percent of this group listens to all-news radio. This cohort frequents,,, and Preferred cars include Mercedes E Class, BMW X5, and Audi A4/A6.

Competitive intelligence and Hitwise are crucial tools

The discipline of competitive intelligence is an important and ethical business function where data and information are collected and analyzed to aid decision making. We routinely monitor emerging business and technology trends to support the health and growth of our client–partners.

Dirigo has a track record of taking businesses to a higher level. We call it technical marketing. We are a team of experienced strategic marketers and computer programmers with more than eight decades of collective expertise. We work with clients in Maine and all over North America.

What is our strategy? It is simple. We listen. We ask questions. We engage in research. We are life-long learners. We leverage our experiences to benefit our clients. We build trust with our clients and we ask our clients to trust us. We practice what we preach inside of Dirigo and with our own brands. And we use strategies, tactics, and processes to meet goals. We partner closely with our clients to turn challenges into opportunities, and we enjoy their successes. Bottom line: We solve complex problems.

Connect With Dirigo Design & Development
and Know Your Competitors and Their Marketing Plans

Understanding your competitive landscape is an important step to achieving success in your organization. Let Dirigo share with you how we help our client–partners develop their brands online and offline to achieve goals. If your organization wants to learn more about your competition and how to win, call Victoria Kuhn at 207-358-2990. We're here to help you connect with your customers, know your competition, and grow your organization.

Principal Author: Victoria Kuhn
Date of Publication: 05/21/2010
Updated: 02/15/2013


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