The way we do business has fundamentally changed in the past decade. The ubiquitous nature of the Internet has dramatically impacted the way entrepreneurs think about growing their companies.
A considerable part of this accelerated digitalization is played by data and its potential to change how business is conducted. Knowing how to gather and use data can really make the difference between success and stagnancy. The close analysis of essential information can lead to unconventional products, quality services, and improved strategies.
You may be asking how a company can gain access to a large amount of data, which can jump-start their business in no time. I believe that you have your answer in web scraping.
If you don’t already know what web scraping is, don’t worry. I’ll tell you all there is to know, and then we’ll take a journey alongside a company that uses web scraping at its full potential.
Web scraping 101
Web scraping is a software-driven method of automatically extracting web data. Before this solution, the only alternative was the tedious activity of copy-pasting from one document or source to another.
After collecting the data, the scraper can export the content to numerous formats such as CVS, JSON, or Excel. This ensures that your business has easy access to the information and can analyze or use it in different ways.
Web scrapers come in different shapes and sizes. They can be found in the form of visual software, browser extension, and an API. You can also build your own scraper, but it can be a big hassle if you don’t have a lot of coding experience. If I had to pick, I’d say scraping with an API is the best option. But you don’t have to take my word for it.
Using automated functions that send requests to harvest data from websites, you can skip the inefficient process of manually acquiring and storing information. In this way, you can focus on things that matter for your business, such as growth and optimization. Let’s look at how a brand new company can reap the benefits of web scraping by smartly integrating it into its business model.
Scraping guide for the smart company
There are many reasons why you should implement web scraping within your business. The company that I’ll be talking about benefits from web scraping in five different ways. It uses data extraction to study the market, build great products, monitor the competition, generate better leads, and gather customer feedback.
1. Market research
The company in question wants to introduce its product to a new set of customers. To have an impact on their target audience, they should spend some time researching the latest opportunities in the market. But sometimes, this activity can be burdensome, and there’s no time and resources to waste when dealing with a new market.
The solution, in this case, is web scraping. It can deal with large amounts of data in no time. It’s certainly way faster than any employee with a knack for market research. So the company implements web scraping to extract necessary market information into structured formats that are analyzed later.
The result? Information from news sites, industry blogs, and other essential sources are compiled and stored in a neat, organized fashion. Creating buyer personas and identifying opportunities in a given area is suddenly not complicated anymore.
This is pretty impressive, right? Well, fasten your seatbelt because the company isn’t done with its web scraping tool yet.
2. Better products
Using data to design products and services that stand out is a logical evolution in today’s hyper-competitive landscape. But how does web scraping help the company successfully use scraped information to offer customers outstanding products?
With the power of data, the company can identify essential customer pain points. These can be broken down into four categories: productivity, financial, support and process. You can find an excellent guide here on how web scraping can help with productivity and financial pain points.
Support pain points are areas where your customers feel left out during the buying process. A customer should get all the answers when making a purchase. The company knows this very well, so they scrape review websites and forums. This strategy can make better sense of customer concerns before or after acquiring their products.
When it comes to the process, it’s all about convenience. Customers correlate the buying experience with the product itself. So while it’s obvious that a product should never disappoint, the purchase should be as smooth as possible. By scraping complaints about their competitor’s products and customer support, the company gets a better sense of what customers expect when purchasing. And this takes us to the next point.
3. Competition monitoring
Knowing about your competitors is vital when running a successful business. But hiring a private investigator to spy on them is just not the way to go anymore. It never was. But, giggles aside, web scraping is a great way to collect data from several sources simultaneously. Why not use it to make better decisions and stay ahead of the market?
The first thing our fictitious company does when it comes to competition monitoring is checking their SEO strategy. By scraping competitor websites, you can analyze what keywords are working for them while also making a list of not-so-successful phrases. With this in mind, you can create a strong SEO strategy to bring more traffic to your website.
Having competitive prices is essential to a business. With web scraping, you can do what clients are doing every day: compare prices and discounts. However, unless they’re using a web scraper as well, you’ll gather all this data way faster. By knowing what your competitors charge and how they introduce their products in campaigns, you can stay ahead of them and attract more customers.
There are so many ways to scrape data from your competition. Thankfully, someone wrote an article about how to use this particular data to run a better business.
4. Lead Generation
Say our new company wants to generate leads for its business. We all know this is as hard as it gets, especially when it’s a manual task. Sure, there are lead lists out there, but they’re not that efficient compared to web scraping.
An excellent place to start when scraping for new leads is websites and blogs that operate in a particular industry you are interested in. Extracting comments from blogs and information from social media pages can prove essential when creating a lead list of your own.
After gathering a basic idea of how their possible clients look, the company goes to websites that carry event information and announcements. These websites are useful for lead generation, as they act as a networking opportunity for prospective clients.
For B2B companies, the process is similar, but the data sources are different. In that case, the web scraper should be pointed towards business databases, like the yellow pages.
Lead generation is a never-ending process. But trying to collect all that data manually can be tedious. With web scraping, you can gather more data in less time and reasonably use the extracted information to create a more extensive customer base.
5. Consumer Sentiment
Sentiment analysis is the process of identifying positive, negative, and neutral feelings in text form, such as reviews or comments. Understanding that this is an essential path towards better products or services, the company completes its web scraping journey with this type of research.
To gather information about customer satisfaction, you need to scrape data about reviews and reactions from different blogs and third-party websites. This can lead to changes in products or processes or even innovative ideas that satisfy some customers’ desires.
Nowadays, browsing the internet before making a purchase is standard practice. A business should listen to customer’s complaints, even when they are directed toward the competition.
Grow your business with web scraping
By following these web scraping practices, our company is ready for success. And it’s not even that difficult. You just need to know what data to use and when. The scraper does the rest of the work.
The main advantage of web scraping is its versatility. It can be used for market research, understanding customer sentiment, lead generation, and everything in between. It does sound like a tool for the intelligent company, right?
Obviously, this company doesn’t have to be fictitious. Many businesses implement web scrapers into their models to grow and optimize their work.
Want to beat the market with web scraping but don’t know how? I recommend this article about ten essential scraping tools. Find out which one is fit for your business!