Today, companies and businesses are more data-driven than ever.
This means that they don’t have to guess what steps will take their business forward. By using the wide array of data of their industry and successful competitors, they can know exactly what they need to do next to take their products and services to the next level.
You see, data is a King. And companies that don’t collect free, valuable and readily accessible data – will lose out on some pretty epic opportunities of growth.
To make sure your company or business stays ahead of your competitors and makes data-informed decisions, we’ve written this article that outlines five crucial steps that will show you how to find, acquire and analyze industry relevant data for your business.
1. Analyze What Data Your Company Lacks
The first step in becoming more data-driven starts by answering this one question:
What data does my business / company lack that I need in order to become more informed and aware?
Answering this question is extremely crucial to successfully collect data that can actually benefit your company.
One way to do that is to analyze what action do you want your customers to take?
For you, it can be something like shopping for products from your eCommerce store, using your software to accomplish their specific tasks or buying and using a new product you’ve developed.
Once you’ve identified an end goal, you can map your way backward to identify valuable data collection opportunities.
Let’s say you’re selling clothes at your eCommerce store. For that, you’d want people to:
1. Visit your website or app
2. Browse around your inventory
3. Buy single/multiple products
Here, after a little brainstorming, you can easily identify what data you could collect that would make it easier for your customers to take these steps.
For example, to get users to visit your app, you can collect data on where your competitors are advertising their stores. To get customers to browse your inventory, you can collect data on what clothing items are currently trending in competing stores and to get customers to buy your product, you can collect data on how your competitors are pricing their products.
2. Decide What Data You Want To Collect Through Data Crawling
The next step is actually collecting the RIGHT data for your business.
This part is tricky because you can’t just collect data on a whim. New laws like the GDPR explicitly state that you can only collect data that’s relevant to your business and customers.
Plus, data crawling is a time-consuming process – and even though quite affordable, can still cause you to lose money if you don’t collect the right data.
But here’s the thing…
By mapping out opportunities as stated in the first step, you can easily identify which data will prove most profitable to you.
Our suggestion is to start with one single dataset, then move on to collecting the next one if the first one doesn’t bring any meaningful results.
For example, suppose you’re getting a decent amount of traffic to your online store but not many people are buying after visiting.
Then, the logical step would be to either diversify your inventory by scraping other stores regarding inventory items or scraping product pricing so you can price your own items more strategically.
The point is to collect not just relevant data, but the right kind of data.
3. Scrape Strategic Information With Data Scraping
Once you’ve identified what data you want to collect, it’s now time for you to rest and let the data crawling service do their job.
After they’ve identified whether the data you’re requesting can be extracted from a legal source or not, the web crawling and scraping process will start.
What it means is that a friendly bot i.e. an automated piece of software – will crawl the websites and sources you want and extract specific information i.e. product name, customer reviews, price lists etc. and save it for you in a spreadsheet where you can easily analyze the information or save it for later use.
4. Visualize The Data You’ve Collected
So, even though you’ve successfully finished with the data scraping process, you can’t simply use the data as is.
Because the data gained through data crawling is simply too big and complicated to digest and understand with the naked eye.
To make sense of the data you’ve collected, you need to visualize it in order to understand different trends and patterns that can help you make informed decisions.
The reason for visualizing data is simple.
In a spreadsheet, you simply have a long list of data points that all look virtually the same. There’s no way to get a sense of what the data represents.
To understand what story the data is trying to tell you, it’s recommended that you present the data in the form of graphs, charts, and bars.
Once you’ve successfully visualized the data you’ve gained from data crawling, you’ll be easily able to identify emerging trends, absorb information in new ways, make various connections between data and more.
All this wouldn’t be possible if you hadn’t visualized the data.
For example, suppose your data crawling and scraping processes gave you a spreadsheet of price fluctuations among various items you and your competitors are selling.
If you visualize the data, you’ll easily be able to see how much the price of an item decreases and increases and more importantly, when (holidays, Christmas, summer, New Year etc).
This will allow you to strategically change your prices faster in the future – as the data you’ve gathered has given you the ability to predict price changes among your competitors.
5. Improve Your Decision Making
You’ve performed the data scraping process, gained valuable data and visualized it neatly in charts and graphs. Now what?
Well, now’s the time to use that information to make more data-driven decisions.
Remember that price list visualized? Make price adjustments to your products faster to lower your costs and increase profits!
Identified which items are trending more around competitor stores? Order more of them and advertise it to your customers!
As you can see, the data you gain from data crawling services can give you valuable insights that will improve the decision-making process within your company.
It’s up to you to take advantage of this readily available data because you can be sure your competitors will be using it to achieve their goals as well.