There isn’t a business today that can’t benefit from what web scraping has to offer. The practice, which is both legal and ethical, gives a company access to all kinds of data that can help make informed product creation, marketing, and hiring decisions. It can also help you understand your existing clients better than ever, and let you find new target audiences that would be interested in what you have to offer.
The Advantages of Web Scraping
What are the practical benefits of web scraping? Here are some of the many ways you can use the data you collect to empower your business.
- Identify current and future customer trends with accuracy. It’s all too easy to make mistakes when you’re dealing with small or even mid-size quantities of data. A number of variables can affect the data, leading you to misinterpret customers’ (or potential customers’) actions and decisions. It’s hard to make the same mistake with large quantities of information as you can clearly differentiate between consistent trends and patterns and mere coincidences.
- Make data-driven expansion decisions. Are you considering opening one or more branch offices in a new state or city? The data you collect via data scraping can show you where your target audience lives now and where it’s likely to live in the future. It can also help you identify affordable business premises for lease.
- Keep tabs on your competition. Keeping track of your competition is a great way to retain your customers and get new ones at the same time. Web scraping helps you collect data about your competitors so you can compare prices, understand their sales strategy, and anticipate their future moves. If you’re selling goods on Amazon or eBay, web scraping can help you see when a competitor lowers their prices so you can match the price in real-time.
- Keep an eye on your online reputation. What are people saying about your business online? Are you getting fraudulent reviews? Are customers generally happy with your product yet have certain complaints about your goods, services, or customer support? Use web scraping to keep track of what people are saying about you online to improve not just your PR but overall services. It also helps you immediately spot negative reviews as soon as they are posted.
- Stay abreast of industry trends. The world is changing at a rapid pace, making it a challenge to keep up with industry trends and developments that could impact your business. Web scraping is a time-efficient way to stay up to speed with what’s going on in your industry.
What should you look for when you’re choosing a web scraping service?
There are many ways to scrape the web. However, some are more effective than others – here are the aspects to look out for:
- Power. Some scrapers can only scrape a simple, static homepage. They generate some data, but it’s not enough to make important data-driven decisions.
- Maintenance. Some scraping tools and services don’t need much attention, while others need a lot of maintenance to function properly.
- Cost. Pick a scraper that offers good value for the money yet doesn’t bust your budget.
- Your target. Unfortunately, many sites use tools to either block web scraping or intentionally provide the wrong data to web scrapers. Google and social media networks may actively block web scraping tools, while sites such as Amazon might intentionally show the wrong prices. If your goal is to scrape these sites, make sure your chosen web scraping tool can collect the needed information.
Residential proxies are the best option for any company that wants a large amount of accurate data. Residential proxies use IPs of residential users from all over the world; what’s more, they rotate the IPs so other sites cannot detect them. This form of web scraping can be costly but is well worth the price tag as you’ll get a highly effective, relatively low-maintenance process that generates accurate data you can rely on for important business decisions.
A recent study found that managers who made data-driven decisions had the end result meet their expectations 90% of the time and exceed their expectations 40% of the time. What’s more, statistics show that using data to make well-informed decisions can reduce your failure rate by up to 50%. Having the right data can make or break your company, and data scraping is one of the best ways to collect it in a relatively short period of time.
Consider your goals, choose your targets, and select the scraping tool that best meets your needs and budget. The results are sure to be well-worth your efforts.