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    Needless Comparison, Or Is It?

    What is the market doing?  How is my site doing in relation to other sites?  How much time are people spending on my competitors site?  Hitwise can tell you all of this.  The real question is where do you go from there?

    It has been my experience that people fall into two categories on this topic.  In the first group are the people who are absolutely convinced that you need to know how your competitors are doing and that Hitwise data is a must.  Residing in the second group are the people that say that the data may be interesting, but “it doesn’t impact what we as a company need to get done.”  It is important to note that the latter group isn’t saying the data is useless, rather it is just not going to impact what the company does.

    That is what is said in the meeting.

    In practice I have found that the data does impact the business.  People do make decisions on the data – and they should!  Don’t ever believe otherwise.  You have to know what your competitors are doing if you want to position yourself correctly.

    Take the simple statistic of traffic to a site.  On one hand it is easy to say that you cannot change the traffic to another person’s site.  The data is not actionable.  Just focus on your own site.  I ask you to look deeper for a moment.

    You know that your traffic is down 10% – perhaps you even have an alert set for such dips – but their traffic is down 15% to last year.  You could look at this and think that you are doing better than them.  That is good.  Keep doing what you’re are doing.  Then you look at your ‘competitive set’ a.k.a. a group of sites similar to yours.  Their traffic is down 15% as well.  Still looking pretty good for you.  The danger is thinking just that.

    Yes, their traffic is down.  Your traffic is down less.  This is interesting, but you have to look for the real questions.  What are they doing or not doing compared to last year?  What are you doing or not doing compared to them?  This is where the power of the data is; not the data itself but adding that extra dimension.  If you can learn from them as well as yourself you can really help out yourself at a much reduced cost.

    I think this brings about the way that the two groups mentioned at the beginning of this post really need to blend.  The first group – Hitwise junkies – are wrong if they are just looking at the data.  There needs to be an additional dimension added to turn the data into information.  The second group – the nay sayers – are also wrong if they see no value in the data.  The right questions have to be asked.  Comparisons can be made, but there needs to be an intent for action behind them.

    If this blending can happen and form a third group then real information, not just data, is at your fingertips.  Do you agree?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.

    2 responses to “Needless Comparison, Or Is It?”

    1. Ryan says:

      Way to be a buzzkill. When I notice that even though I’m doing badly, it’s nice knowing that everyone else is doing worse. Hence, I’m doing great, even though I’m not.

      It’s really just about thinking through things. It’s easy to fall into traps for finding the bright side of things to make yourself feel better, but most of the time that’s not going to help you grow.

    2. @Ryan Maybe next time I will say how sales are way up and then look for an explanation for that. 😀

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