Originally posted on October 18th, 2017
Data extraction consists of more than just scraping valuable business information and compiling it in a spreadsheet for future use. It can also transform your business by keeping you from spending too much time on tasks like manual data entry. You can simply automate it all with a set-it-and-forget-it data scraping process.
The tools used for web scraping have been around for years, but companies are only starting to understand the benefits they can provide. Although web scraping is easy to get the process started, it does take some ingenuity to realize what it can do for your business. If you’ve ever had questions about data extraction and wanted some support in understanding it, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what data extraction really is and what it means for your bottom line.
What Is Data Extraction?
Data extraction basically involves using tools to scrape through online resources to collect information you need. It allows you to retrieve relevant data and look for patterns to integrate into your workflow. There are many web scraping tools to choose from, which can lead to confusion and indecision regarding which is the best for your organization when needed to extract data. Depending on the tools you employ, it can organize your data into a highly usable and valuable resource so you can improve everything in your business, from productivity to market research.
Improving Your Accuracy
Data is everywhere nowadays, and it represents gaining new insights that before just weren’t possible. Extracting data doesn’t just provide valuable information for your business; it can also save you an enormous amount of time, resources and money by automatically gathering the information you need.
Think about all the work that’s needed when handling vast amounts of data, whether it’s gathering customer information from websites or analyzing patterns in sales trends. Most of that process has been taken up by human workers, but even the best employees are still only human in the end. Humans are prone to making errors when researching, studying, and compiling large amounts of data. It’s human nature to make mistakes, whether with our own valuable data and resources or when searching through and recording online information. It’s a reality that all organizations have to face sooner or later.
And even the most meticulous researchers can’t always keep up with the amount of data published online. According to research collected by KissMetrics, corporate data grows at an average rate of 40% a year. But 20% of the average database is dirty. That lack of clean data can negatively impact your business, and no matter how hard data experts work and support each other, they won’t always be accurate 100% of the time during this process.
This is where data scraping and extraction can come into play. The right software can help take human error out of the process, leading to more accurate records and reducing the negative effects of poor data.
Leveraging Competitive Research
One of the keys to business success is observing and investigating what some of your rival companies are up to. This can give you a head’s up on what the future may hold and helps you plan for what’s to come. Figuring out what one of your competitors is doing isn’t difficult with a little online sleuthing, but there is a downside: it takes valuable time to research all those websites. And that’s just keeping up with one competitor. It’s virtually impossible to keep up with the changing landscape of your industry and new competitors that are constantly entering the market.
Instead of keeping track of every competitor and what they’re doing on an ongoing basis, you can use data extraction to get a deeper look into their funding and financial information by scraping sites like Crunchbase. Data extraction automates the process so you instantly get the latest information on your competitors without having to hunt it down. This process saves you time and resources while giving you that valuable data you’ll need to plan ahead.
Consistently Updating Your Product Offerings
The business world moves swiftly, especially in this age of big data. Keeping up with the ever-changing world of ecommerce products can be overwhelming, especially when customers have plenty of options on where to shop. It’s also a poor representation of your business if you’re arriving at a client’s office and showing products that are outdated or out of stock before you realize it. Data extraction tools can help overcome these obstacles.
Whether you need to show clients your products during an office meeting, or just want to stay on top of updating your ecommerce store, data extraction can automatically pull together the information you need while eliminating concerns about lag-time. Beyond your own products, you can leverage data extraction to monitor competitor price changes. In this sense, when you extract data, you not only stay up to data on your own products, you leverage your research on your competitors.
Boost Your SEO
The right SEO strategy can often mean the difference between becoming an industry leader or quickly falling behind other companies. Your online business can only scale so far without rock-solid SEO in place that keeps up with the competition. Web data extraction can help you search for the keywords you’re trying to rank for, and compile content from your own and competitors’ sites to see how it’s ranking. From there, it’s easy to see which pieces of content are landing on Google’s coveted first page. This can help you figure out how to make your own content bigger and better. It may seem like a little thing, but getting on that first page can lead to a surge in visitors to whichever websites you want them to go.
Data extraction tools can also look at long-tail keywords and the types of images and graphics your competitors are using to secure their first-place ranking on Google. This can give you a better idea of what type of formula leads to better rankings. The more information you have about what your competitors are doing, the better you can shape a winning content strategy.
Performing Deeper Client Research
Targeting the right customers can help your business see success, but you also need to know how to effectively communicate and market to them in a way that truly motivates them. One way to do that is by collecting information on their social media and online presence.
Data extraction can pull information from your customers’ social media channels, LinkedIn profiles, business pages, and personal blogs that can help shape your marketing. It’s an easy and effective way to do a competitive analysis of where you stand as a brand. What are people saying about you? What do they praise you for? What are some of their criticisms? Before the era of social media you would need to test focus groups to get opinions on your brand, but social media presents a valuable opportunity you shouldn’t pass up. When you extract data from customers’ channels, you can find out where your strengths are and where you need to improve. You may even get ideas for new products and services.
You can also data scrape information from your competitors’ social media pages to see who their most engaged followers are and which posts are the most popular. This lets you see what effective strategies are already being utilized, giving you a better view of where you may need to change.
Your business can only run smoothly and efficiently if you and your team are productive. Unfortunately, all too often workers feel like they’re getting overloaded with repetitive tasks while they’d much rather be applying their skills in other areas. Research shows that work overload decreases productivity by 68% in employees who feel they don’t have enough hours in the day to complete their tasks. You can’t add more hours to the day, but you can reduce the amount of busy work, like research and data entry, with the right software.
Staying on top of your day-to-day business, from lead generation to closing sales, requires behind-the-scenes data research. You can increase your productivity by using a data extraction tool to perform these activities and keep your business running smoothly. By freeing up employees in this way, you give them more time to undertake other important tasks, ones they actually want to do. The result is an employee who has more job satisfaction, and as any business owner will tell you, a happy worker is a more productive worker.
Studying Financial Markets
Equity researchers, investors, and small businesses alike need to study the financial markets to help inform their investments and see how their assets are performing. Instead of analyzing individual statements and records, and performing market research on different assets, use data extraction to handle these tasks without slowing down your productivity.
If your job involves providing the latest financial advice and insights to clients, the data you’re collecting needs to be highly accurate and valuable. That’s difficult to accomplish by manually sifting through financial information, partly because it’s so time-consuming and partly because it’s so easy to make mistakes. Instead, you need a database of high-quality data to meticulously curate into recommendations for your clients.
Compiling a comprehensive lead generation database requires more than extracting a few names and email addresses. You’ll also want to collect valuable information from leads’ business or personal blog posts, LinkedIn connections and status updates, and resumes.
Extracting high-quality and relevant data helps create a more reliable lead generation system, which reduces your marketing spend. When you know the leads you’re collecting are right for your business, you can spend less time and money trying to entice them to buy your products and services.
Monitoring Your Brand
Don’t wait until a customer becomes angry to step in and resolve a problem. You can stay on top of what people are saying about your brand by scraping together mentions on social media. And for businesses with franchises or multiple locations, you can use data scraping tools to keep track of how team members are engaging and interacting on social media.
Monitoring your brand does more than just keep customers happy; it can start a dialogue and help craft the perfect messaging for your brand. Data extraction helps you make sense of the trends and topics your customers are talking about, which can help you create a more relevant marketing and communication strategy.
Data extraction gives you more peace of mind and control over your business without needing to hire extra hands to address your data needs. And perhaps best of all, this foundation of data extraction can scale and expand with your business as you grow. If you’re looking for a way to improve your productivity, keep on top of your competitors, and increase your accuracy, data extraction can offer the solutions you want.