Becoming data-driven as a business is now a necessity rather than an option. Everyone turns to data – big data in particular – to tackle various challenges that range from understanding the market and figuring out what competitors are doing to finding potential customers and generating leads. The technology behind big data is becoming more accessible too, which is why even small businesses can be data-driven when making decisions and boosting performance.
One of the technologies used in collecting data from the World Wide Web is web scraping. Web scraping may not be a new thing on the market, but the technology itself has become more advanced and more reliable. Can you utilize web scraping to your advantage? More importantly, why does your business needs web scraping? Let’s find out.
What Is Web Scraping
Before we get to how you can benefit from web scraping, we need to first understand what it is and how it works. Web scraping, as the name suggests, is the process of scraping data from the internet. Using several tools, you can collect data from search results, websites, ads, and social media pages, all without having to gather that data manually.
Of course, there are several tools you can use to effectively crawl the World Wide Web and gather information, starting with crawlers. Crawlers automatically crawl through URLs and collect raw information. You have complete control over how crawlers seek information, which means your web scraping operation can be highly targeted.
Parsers will then translate – sometimes reconstruct – the gathered information. Depending on the parsing parameters, collected raw data is then processed into readable information. The next step is visualizing that data, which is usually done using data visualization suites. In visual form, data collected from different parts of the internet can be processed into insights more easily.
Websites and other sources of data don’t always appreciate web scraping. It is not surprising to find a lot of them are equipped with measures for making scraping more difficult. Google, for instance, uses Captcha to prevent automated queries. Other sites use IP monitoring and blocking. This is why businesses also use web scraping proxies as a way to ensure a smooth scraping operation.
Capturing Sales Leads
Now that the tools are in place, you can begin scraping for relevant information based on the needs of your business. If you are seeking information about airline ticket prices, for example, you can adjust the scraping parameters to only gather data that suits your needs. The same is true for when you want to collect contact information and generate sales leads.
The parameters for a scraping project can be very specific. You can scrape the web for any social media links, including LinkedIn links that match certain key phrases. A scraping tool can also collect email addresses and even phone numbers, still using predetermined keywords and phrases as the primary search parameters.
Since you can find contact information across the internet in a relevant and contextual way, analyzing the collected data becomes easier. A capable scraping tool can sort leads based on relevance, giving you the ability to utilize those new leads in an effective way. You can dig deeper into the data too. For example, you can scrape data only from business social media pages.
There is also the fact that you have a vast amount of data streams to tap into. People share contact info on social media pages and other websites. It is not uncommon for businesses to share information about their PICs and even direct phone numbers. These are potential customers waiting to be approached; they are valuable leads worth pursuing.
Using Scraped Data
The next part of the equation is identifying how web scraping can be useful for your business. There are several usage scenarios in which web scraping is an incredibly effective tool, starting with the sales lead generation we talked about earlier. By refining the keywords you target and how the internet is crawled – and by fine-tuning your scraping tools – you can generate leads in an effective way.
Scraping isn’t just good for generating a huge number of sales leads too. The emails you gather from a web scraping project are useful for marketing purposes. Now that email marketing can be fully automated, you can stream data from the scraping project straight to tools like ActiveCampaign or MailChimp for an effective email marketing campaign.
Want to know how your site can perform better in search results? Web scraping can help you with that too. Find out more about the keywords you want to target and use big data intelligence to your advantage. The more you know about high-ranking pages for the keywords, the better you will be at improving your site.
Competitor research is another known usage scenario of web scraping. You can go wide and collect a large amount of competitor data or be specific and understand certain things about the market and your competitors. In a crowded niche, web scraping becomes an efficient tool for staying ahead of the market.
Market research, in general, is certainly easy now that data from your scraping project can be visualized. Whether you are looking for insights about the customer or the overall performance of your products and services from the customers’ perspective, collecting relevant information becomes easy with data intelligence.
It all comes down to collecting, processing, and understanding relevant data to support your business. Web scraping has long been a secret weapon of businesses who rely on big data analysis and data intelligence for decision-making purposes. Now, it can be your secret weapon too.
The interesting thing about web scraping is how easy it is to use. Yes, there are challenges to overcome, but there are readily available solutions to those challenges too. In fact, you can get your web scraping project up and running in minutes.
Web scraping will only get better. No modern business, especially businesses who rely on technology, can fully capitalize on the market – and grow at a faster rate – without relying on data intelligence. Web scraping is simply the easiest and most effective way to get started.
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