5 Ways Web Scraping Can Help You Get Ahead in Your Market
February 17, 2017
As we’ve discussed before, the amount of data created daily in the digital age is staggering (around 2.5 trillion GB). Every organization collects data in some form, but gathering it doesn’t amount to much unless it can be used in ways that lead to success.
At Mozenda, we’re in the business of helping people succeed. Having assisted many Fortune 500 companies with our unique data extraction and web scraping services, we’ve learned some important lessons along the way. Specifically, what are some of the methods used by high-performing organizations? And how can you adapt them for your own benefit?
Automation is an integral component to success. When implemented properly, it frees up employee time, reduces costs, and improves output quality.
Web scraping is automation in action. By configuring software to collect needed data programmatically, you can perform what would normally be hours’ worth of manual labor within seconds.
Almost any web-based process that is traditionally done by hand can be automated, but here are some common examples:
- Generate leads. Gather public contact details to be used as sales leads (doctors, retail stores, real estate agents, etc.).
- Copy and paste data. Not only can Mozenda compile information from a website, it can use previously-gathered data to automatically input values into another website, such as URLs, product IDs, form values, and more.
- Run and download reports. Many web-based systems require a manual login to process a report and then download the resulting data.
- Gather news, articles, blog posts, and more. Keep up with the latest news from specific publications by gathering the content and having the results emailed to you or shared with your team.
2. Business Intelligence
This is a broad topic that covers the many ways to handle business operations via data, and one way to segment that data is by the source: internal and external.
Internal data can be gathered from sales, finance, marketing, HR, and other departments to improve decisionmaking and determine revenue and profit. External data, on the other hand, comes from outside the organization.
Business intelligence powered by relevant external data should lead to insights into new markets, help gauge the impact of marketing efforts, and promote long-term stability—all things a successful company strives for.
- Measure SEO metrics and social network performance. Automate the process of checking your SEO rankings and determining the effectiveness of social campaigns.
- Aggregate product reviews for large-scale feedback. Knowing that a product has an average rating of 2.8 out of 5 doesn’t tell you the whole story about user feedback. Collecting all the reviews of a product means you can start looking for common terms between them to analyze the positive and negative feedback in order to improve the next version, make pricing adjustments, and so on.
- Identify trends in product releases, industry news, etc. Insights derived from macro trends can lead to a better understanding of challenges and opportunities the market is facing. By understanding this data as a whole, you can focus on strategies that go beyond what is happening at your own company and even your competitors.
3. Competitive Analysis
Successful companies don’t just rely on improving their own processes and gauging the results; they also keep an eye on what the competition is up to.
While it’s not possible to directly access an organization’s sales figures and upcoming strategies, there will always be some public data to observe: where resources are being allocated, pricing trends, tactics used to board new clients, etc.
- Collect product/pricing information on similar goods. Know how much competing products sell for in multiple locales and websites. This data can also show when and how often a competitor offers discounts and promotions.
- Monitor marketing and promotional efforts. The more you can find out about a competitor’s strategy, the better you can outmaneuver them.
- Compile data on competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Distinguish your product from others by getting facts from data sheets, user reviews, and other public sources.
4. Custom Projects
Sometimes, the information needed by an organization is not available in an off-the-shelf market research publication. After all, because every company in every market is different, the data needed to power informed decisions will vary in purpose and source.
- Explore market positioning. Assess channel demand for products in various geographical locations.
- Determine training needs. Check various online sources for reviews to decide where additional training or oversight may be needed. Useful for retail, hospitality, dining, etc.
- Archive historical data. Automate the process of saving and storing data for future reference or use.
5. Quality Control
Data doesn’t always have to be about some new groundbreaking way to analyze the industry. Sometimes, the data most useful to an organization is a tool to analyze and improve existing data or keep track of real-world reception.
- Self-audit online properties. Check for inaccuracies, typos, broken links, or missing data on company websites.
- Monitor pricing and product details in distribution channels. Keep tabs on distributor activity and ensure that they operate within agreement terms.
- Scan for feedback. Check forums, message boards, and social networks for positive or negative comments regarding product performance and customer service.
It All Starts With Data
To be clear, Mozenda alone isn’t enough to bring about all the results listed above—they may require some additional tools or expertise. But these processes always start with acquiring more useful data.