Web Scraping: 10 Reasons Why Small Businesses Explore Automated Web Data Scraping
In a competitive business world big businesses always find the going a lot easier than small businesses. Being on top they determine and set the rules of the market. Besides, they have various other advantages at their command such as huge finances for adopting evolving technologies, a great number of people working with market research, and endless possibilities to innovate. Small businesses have to compete with large businesses without any of these which is why surviving in the market becomes an endless struggle for them.
However, there is one lever which small businesses can always use to their advantage – the lever of information. In a fiercely competitive landscape the power of insider information is unbeatable. Knowing what the high and mighty are up to and how they are planning their next moves can give the right direction to your strategy. As small businesses pre-empt the moves of big businesses and realign their strategy accordingly they stand a chance of seizing the early bird advantage. The process of gathering this insider information is called web scraping.
What is Web Data Scraping?
Web scraping is the general term for automated web mining carried out to scoop information from competitors. It is done with the help of a software which simulates human web browsing to collect information from webs without letting them know the intent. Web scraping for small businesses can keep them informed in real time about everything relevant to their business. The two most competitive information they can procure are establishing a sales pipeline and finding how competitors are setting their prices. There are hosts of other benefits as well.
Digitization & Robotic Process Automation
Digitization entails integrating underlying processes in order to transform the workflow of an organization. And it’s here that automation is key. Automation helps to make fundamental changes to how the organizations process flows thus making it more streamlined and efficient. It eliminates redundancies and helps businesses build on their full potential.
How Small business can Explore and Benefit from Web Data Scraping
1) Monitor competitors
Web scraping BOTs helps a business understand what the competition is doing very right and what it is doing wrong. This insight can help them alter service or sales strategies and better combat potential losses. For instance if a streaming platform finds there are few takers for its funny videos, it can scrap competitor sites on funny video titles with over 1 million views to understand what kind of titles are working well. Likewise, businesses can scrape for particular keywords to understand why and when people are using that keyword.
2) Sales leads
Gathering the right leads is a painstaking as well as a time taking job. By the time a small business has a list ready the opportunity might get lost or the scenario might change. As time matters more than anything else in a competitive set up, getting the right information in the shortest possible time is critical to steal a lead. Web scraping ensures you have the right leads before you are ready with your strategy. For instance, let’s take the example of email address gathering. Having them on a platter can give small businesses a head start.
3) Price optimization
If you are a small ecommerce business it’s imperative you stay on top and set competitive prices against your competition. For example, if you raise prices in September to match your competitors, and see a fall in sales in October, it must be because they have lowered their cost. But how do you know? Is it possible to manually analyze 250 competitors? However you can gather all this information almost in no time by scraping their sites. An automated web scraper helps you get the information real time and strategize accordingly.
4) Product Portfolio Optimization
Automated web data scraping helps you optimize your products and brace for competition. Manufacturers like Tesla, Rolls Royce, and Aerospace are using this technique to collect data on various parameters and identify features that will help them improve on their process or revamp it to their advantage. for instance, teams in the semiconductor industry can get advanced information about how adding a certain type of material in IC chips can be a game changer and even the performance of the chip when simulated for different real-world scenarios.
5) Smarter investment decisions
Goldman Sachs Asset Management team scrapped information from Alexa.com to know that there was a sudden and significant increase in visits to the HomeDepot.com website. The asset manager was quick to procure the stock before the company increased its outlook and reap the benefits when its stock appreciated. Like Goldman Sachs, small hedge fund businesses too can leverage web data crawling to bring to light, precise trading signals to identify profitable investment opportunities. Likewise, analysts can scrap financial statements to evaluate the health of a company and advise clients on whether or not to invest in a company.
6) Marketing automation
A web crawler makes a marketers jobs a lot easier than before. It helps marketers generate qualified leads in as good as no time and establish the right touch points at lightning speed. Once they get this information on a platter they can take things to the next level by automating and personalizing the outreach sequence. Automated web scraping also helps marketers automate the process of content gathering; understand customer perspective of competitors through social media discussions and get valuable insights form competitor reports.
7) Increase Customer Engagement
One of the top ways in which small businesses can engage with customers is by offering them personalized engagement. This means delivering only relevant, targeted content and offers based on the history of their engagement with different brands. Web scraping and engagement automation lets you gather information about your customers throughout a conversation across channels, so that you can personalize the experience along the way. This way, you can wean them away from your competitors.
8) Drive Digital Initiatives
Automation helps small businesses drive digital initiatives. For instance, for a marketer, digital is all about getting rid of cold calling and making way for social selling. Your customers are already active in social media and you want to engage with them on platforms, reviews sites, forums, and communities. Automation helps you identify who your prospects are and what is keeping then dissatisfied and then make a personalized offer. Besides, it also helps you reduce expenses on marketing activities, such as billboards, direct mail and television advertisements. With automation small businesses do not have to wait for the phone to ring. They can get proactive and provide a resolution even before the call comes.
9) Cost savings
If you are a start-up financial institution, you may need to employ several staff to verify applications and carry out background checks. Automating the process helps them eliminate the expenditure incurred in maintaining the staff. For instance, automation helps small businesses build a rule-based program to check for common errors and data inconsistencies and save on costs. Similarly having beforehand knowledge of pattern changes can provide a huge advantage to small businesses. Scraping data from a lot of websites can help them understand the change faster and in a cost saving way.
Automation helps small businesses improve productivity levels by several notches. It frees up time for the marketer, the operations team, and the service team, and provides them with all the time needed to focus on core business activities or strategize better. For instance, Freedom Mortgage, a leading mortgage lender automated its loan origination process to validate borrowers within a few seconds. This equipped them with the capability of analysing several thousand applications in a day and cut down on loan closing pipelines.
Web data crawling can be an invaluable asset for small businesses only if they know how to leverage it to the hilt. Given that data scraping is both an art and science that requires expert programming skills, innovative methodologies, adequate mathematical expertise and scientific ingenuity, small businesses need to choose a proven expert to get the most out of this advanced data mining technique.