Gone are the days where a great idea is all you need for a successful business. Granted, a great idea is the best place to start, but in today’s world the machine of success is much more complex, with many more moving parts. So how do you keep on top of all these parts, making sure each is well-oiled and functioning? The simple answer: with data.
Data, when efficiently gathered and properly analysed, is like a skeleton key; it unlocks every kind of insight your business is after. But while analysing the data well comes down to hiring a good analyst, the process of gathering data efficiently is a little more tricky. With as much data out there as there are grains of sand on a beach, it can feel a daunting task.
But it need not, thanks to web scraping, a process that extracts data from websites. In the past this would require cutting and pasting data manually, but now there are numerous web scraping tools to help you get what you need. Just how beneficial can web scraping be for your business? Well, here are six ways that should squash any doubts you might have.
With Market Research
Say your great idea is, in fact, a great product, and you want to release it into the market. The first logical step is to conduct market research to get a feel for the current climate and to pinpoint where you want to position your product in the market. If your product is particularly unique there is some research for which scraping, at least initially, might not be ideal. But if your product has comparable qualities to existing products in the market, then web scraping can help you assess the market quickly, by gathering everything from qualitative interview and focus group results, to industry news and blogs.
With Competitor Analysis
Once your market research is in full swing it’s natural, and important, that you begin to focus not just on the competition as a whole but on individual competitors. Regardless of whether you believe your product is superior to anything currently on the market, it’s crucial to know how your competitors tick. Web scraping can help this investigation, from gathering information on competitors’ SEO practices and which keywords work for them (and don’t work for them, which is just as important) through to their social media and advertising strategies. Not only does this give you a strong grasp of who you’ll be competing against, it also helps you build your own strategy.
With Generating Leads
Lead generation used to be simply a case of hiring pushy salespeople and conducting huge email blasts. Not anymore. Given the amount of advertising noise that customers have to deal with these days, it’s important that you tailor your approach and your message accordingly to cut through the noise. Again, web scraping can help. Not only can you use it to find relevant information about industry events, which are great for networking, you can use it to find customers who have already shown interest in your product or brand. Your sales team will love this as it will allow them to focus more on selling rather than prospecting.
With Knowing Your Customers
On top of helping you find new customers, web scraping can help you retain existing customers. Collecting data such as reviews and comments for various blogs and third-party websites will give you a much better idea about how customers feel about your product. This will allow you to pinpoint areas for improvement, whether it be in regard to the product itself or with future customer interaction. Be sure to collect the same kind of data about your competitors, too, as this can not only help you avoid mistakes they’ve made but also help you find areas for product innovation.
Over time, if you use web scraping well, not only will it help your strategy as a whole, it can help you define and refine your brand identity. From the colours that customers associate with your brand, to your company’s logo, to the type of language you use in your advertising, right through to the way you train your employees to interact with customers, all of these things can benefit from the data you gather using web scraping. And, if you decide a complete rebrand is needed, web scraping can help you start again from scratch.
Time Management And Efficiency
Last but certainly not least, web scraping can help you save time. At first, you might only notice that you’ve saved a bit of time in one area of your business, but just as the benefits of good business strategies and practices tend to have a flow-on effect, so will your use of web scraping. Each bit of time saved will accumulate until suddenly you have solid chunks of time free at your disposal. On the one hand, if you’re the ambitious kind, you can use this extra time to pursue new avenues for your business or start developing new products or services. On the other hand, though, the time you have freed can be given back to you, as there is possibly nothing more vital to a business than employers and employees that practise a healthy work-life balance.
In the end, like just about anything in life, there is no right or wrong way to run your business. But, if you really want to give yourself and your business the best chance to succeed, using web scraping can, at the very least, help put you in the best position to do so. Then all you need is a healthy dose of dedication and intuition, and a sprinkling of good fortune, and the machine of success will run smoothly.