In just the US alone, there were 27 million individuals running or starting a new business in 2015. With this fiercely competitive startup scene, business owners need to take advantage of every resource available, especially given a high probability of failure. Enter web data. Web data is abundant and those who harness it can do everything from keeping an eye on competitors to ensuring customer satisfaction.
Web Data and Web Scraping
You can get web data through a process called web scraping. Since websites are created in a human readable format, software can’t meaningfully analyze this information. While you could manually (read: the time-consuming route) input this data into a format more palatable to programs, web scraping automates this process and eliminates the possibility of human error.
How You Can Use Web Data
If you’re new to the world of web data or looking for creative ways to channel this resource, here are three real world examples of entrepreneurs who use scraped data to accelerate their startups.
Web Data for Price Monitoring
The key to staying ahead of your competitors online is to have excellent online visibility, which is why we invest so much in paid advertising (Google Adwords). But it occurred to me that if you aren't offering competitive prices, then you're essentially throwing money down the drain. Even if you have good visibility, users will look elsewhere to buy once they've seen your prices.
Although I used to spend hours scrolling through competitor sites to make sure that I was matching all of their prices, it took far too long and probably wasn't the best use of my time. So instead, I started scraping websites and exporting the pricing information into easily readable spreadsheets.
This saves me huge amounts of time, but also saves my copywriter time as they don't have to do as much research. We usually outsource the scraping, as we don't really trust ourselves to do it properly! The most important aspect of this process is having the data in an easily readable format. Spreadsheets are great, but even they can become too muddled up with unnecessary information.
Enriched Web Data for Lead Generation
Founder of GoGoChimp
We use a variety of different sources and data to get our clients more leads and sales. This is really beneficial to our clients that include national and international brands who all use this information to specifically target an audience, boost conversions, increase engagement and/or reduce customer acquisition costs.
Web data can help you know which age groups, genders, locations, and devices convert the best. If you have existing analytics already in place, you can enrich this data with data from around the web, like reviews and social media profiles, to get a more complete picture. You’ll be able to use this enriched web data to tailor your website and your brand's message so that it instantly connects to who your target customer is.
For example, by using these techniques, we estimate that our client Super Area Rugs will increase their annual revenue by $450,000.
Web Data for Competitor Monitoring
CTO of PromotionCode.org
The coupon business probably seems docile from the outside but the reality is that many sites are backed by tens of millions of dollars in venture capital and there are only so many offers to go around. That means exclusive deals can easily get poached by competitors. So we use scraping to monitor our competition to ensure they're not stealing coupons from our community and reposting them elsewhere.
Both the IT and Legal departments use this data--in IT, we use it more functionally, of course. Legal uses it as research before moving ahead with cease and desist orders.
And there you have it. Real use cases of web data helping companies with competitive pricing, competitor monitoring, and increasing conversion for sales. Keep in mind that it’s not just about having the web data, it’s also about quality and using a reputable company to provide you with the information you need to increase your revenue.
Please share any other ways that web data has helped you in the comments below.