Large businesses prosper because they understand the value of data. No wonder, then, that they have exorbitant funds set aside for data gathering and analytics. Luckily, the rise of web scraping services means the insights one can gain from big data aren’t the prerogative of the powerful anymore. A web scraper isn’t only a tool for large business.
As you’ll see from this article, small and medium-sized businesses also can and should leverage web scraping to gain a competitive edge, understand their customers better, and meet the uncertain future with greater confidence.
Web Scraping 101
Regardless of size, a business needs timely & accurate information to adapt and grow. You already know that researching the market, competitors, and customer preferences is essential. Still, you’re likely not doing it at scale.
Think of web scraping as a superior alternative to manual research. These ways are similar in a way that a person and a scraper will try to uncover, organize, and analyze as much data on a topic relevant to your business as their limitations permit. The difference is that the scraper can crawl thousands of sites, locating & extracting the information you need. It does so far quicker & more accurately than any human could.
More importantly, you can choose a location proxy network to scrape specific locales you need. Also, the best web scraper can store gathered data not just in plain text or HTML. Instead, they can populate spreadsheets or JSON files. These formats make it easier to organize the data into insights you can use to inform your business strategy.
What Benefits Does Web Scraping Have for SMBs?
You might have a solid understanding of your business’s metrics, products, and current customers. However, web scraping’s ability to extract data from thousands of other websites offers a much-needed bigger picture. Here are a few of the core benefits even cursory scraping can unlock.
A lack of pricing intelligence is among the leading factors that limit profitability. Analyzing the competition will let you figure out how low you can go to undercut the competition while remaining in the black. Long-term data helps you adjust prices in time for sales or seasonal events. More importantly, having a finger on the pricing pulse may let you catch and exploit trends before others.
Efficient lead generation
Companies that cater to everyone satisfy no one. A sound growth strategy depends on attracting the right leads, which a web scraper can provide for you. The quality of such information is paramount, but the benefits are high, too.
What would you rather have – a list of 100,000 random emails or 5,000 leads with a high conversion probability the scraper dug up based on your refined search criteria? Tailoring an ad campaign or respectfully reaching out to contacts from the latter will yield exceptional results.
SMBs live and die by their online exposure, and search engine optimization is crucial for attaining it. Web scraping can help refine your existing strategy by exposing which keywords your most successful competitors use and how. Understanding what works for them may give you that decisive edge.
Scraping is also convenient for link building when it isn’t clear which keywords fit. You can find a broader set of relevant keywords and identify engaging sites that rank for the KWs. Working out inbound linking with them can noticeably improve engagement and the relevance of your business’s own site.
Interacting with visitors to your site, socials, and stores is crucial for customer acquisition and retention. However, what does the internet at large say about your products? Or the competition’s products? Scraping the comments from various sites gives you enough info to create a sentiment analysis. These are useful for assessing people’s attitudes, tone, and feelings associated with products, brands, etc.
Uncovering these sentiments can be an eye-opener. You might discover a product isn’t doing as well as its fans would suggest. Better still, the analysis might point out problems with your or the competition’s offerings. Address the former while offering a better alternative to the latter! That will paint your business as innovative and customer-centric.
Is Web Scraping Expensive?
No, and that’s one of the best things about it! The web scraping market is competitive, so companies use relatively affordable rates to entice customers to sign up. Some even offer free trials that can ease you into the process.
Providers divide pricing into multiple tiers. These are usually based on the number of pages or returned results and speed of execution. Such flexibility lets you get a cheaper plan first and easily upscale once your data needs increase. While costs differ, even the most expensive monthly plans amount to a fraction of the salary you’d pay a data entry specialist.
SMBs stand to gain a lot from making web scraping part of their growth strategies. Now that you know its benefits and the low cost of entry, there’s no reason not to take advantage of such services yourself.