Web scraping is a method of finding and extracting data from websites and databases with the help of various web crawlers, tools such as bots and extensions. It’s a rather futuristic technique: let the robots do the hard, tedious work, while you focus on building strategies and analyzing data. The results of data harvesting prove to be invaluable assistance in the age when you need to be as informed and quick as possible if you want to have a chance in highly competitive modern markets.
Some might assume that spending time and money on website and database scraping is a direction that’s worth taking only if you are well-settled in the market and you want to gather more information on competitors or try new marketing policies. In fact, web scraping is equally or even more helpful for startups, as the advantages of this method may be decisive for development of a new business.
Note: Recent years saw rapid increase in the ranks of data scraping service providers. The idea of web scraping is essentially collecting as much relevant information as possible in a matter of a few hours or days at most. Naturally, teams of professionals with impressive experience in the field, who can access data even on websites that are protected from simple web crawlers you’d use, provide the maximum of what data harvesting can bring to the table. In addition, the speed of work and machine power of data scraping service providers excel that of a startup.
While mature businesses can afford making marketing mistakes or selling one or two non-competitive items in the range of their products, startups don’t have that luxury and they need to jump into the game prepared from the very beginning. Relevant business intelligence gives the most comprehensive picture of the market as of today and helps you make informed decisions. So, that’s reason number one!
1. Research your market
Trends and innovations are plentiful, and new businesses have but little time to generate enough revenue and social buzz to establish their brand. The scraped data (reports, analytical and statistical data, etc.) will allow you to see the general picture of your industry: how it’s faring today, which trends have been popular recently and which ones faded quickly. In this way, you can avoid repeating mistakes of unsuccessful startups, foresee how well yours will do, and possibly predict new trends.
Data extraction by web crawling will also provide you with up-to-date information about similar products or services in the market. Catalogues, web stores, results of promotion campaigns – all that data can be harvested. That is a sure way of setting competitive prices for your product. Undoubtedly, you can’t simply learn how much others charge for this or that product. You need to know your competitors, if you want to be able to challenge their position on the market and win over customers from them.
2. Analyze your competition
It’s not really enough to simply scrape the latest data on competitors’ prices and products. That will only let you know where you’re standing at the moment, but to keep up with competitors, you need to consider monitoring them.
That practice is especially widespread in e-commerce, but even if your startup isn’t focused on that field, competition monitoring is still important. Data extraction works for your advantage here, giving you knowledge of how your competitors’ pricing policies change, in which areas of the market they are stronger or weaker than you, etc.
3. Build networks
It’s not all about competition in business. Some companies will become your partners, and as a new business, you have to reach out to people first. Data harvesting is a reliable tool in putting together a list of contacts of suppliers, potential partners, individuals whose professional skills you might need.
With reliable and fresh data on the field and useful contacts, you’ll be able to build good networking. That will allow you to involve your startup in the market on a greater scale, take part in joint projects and campaigns that will add to your profits and reputation. A cherry on the cake is that networking actually brings you new customers as well!
4. Promote your brand
Promoting is crucial for any business, but for startups, it can be pivotal. Your business needs to stand out amidst the variety of other market newbies, so it’s extremely important to get your marketing game right from the beginning. Using data scraping, you can research your target audience, analyze their preferences, and thus get a picture of how to appeal to the people and convince them to buy from you.
The point is to form a steady customer base that will keep your startup on a level where you can work for growth and not try to remain afloat. As it is, you can also scrape data on advertising in the field and analyze the failed and successful campaigns, learning on mistakes and achievements of well-established businesses.
5. Track your online reputation
As I mentioned before, drawing attention and customers to your startup is a key step, and it should be followed by checking what people think once they’ve heard about or tried your product. The extracted data on reviews and recommendations on specific websites or social media will introduce you to the general opinion of the people. Besides, you can use this technique to identify potential new customers and sway their opinion in your favor by creating targeted ads and campaigns.
Another side of this issue is that startups also suffer from fraudulent reviews, so you’d want to be aware when someone tries to use deception to make your sales drop or damage your reputation with slander.
As you can see, web scraping becomes a multifaceted tool for startups. It’s twice as effective when applied by data scraping providers, as their professional service and advice cannot be overestimated for a new business in particular. Combining relevant information on your industry, competitors, partners and customers with thought-out business strategies and promotion campaigns is a solid way for startups to increase greatly their chances of becoming the next big brand.