The first stage of any selling process is what is popularly known as “lead generation”. This phase is what most businesses place at the apex of their sales concerns. It is a driving force that governs decision-making at its highest levels and influences business strategy and planning. If you are about to embark on an outbound sales campaign and are in the process of looking for leads, you would acknowledge the fact that the lead generation process is of extreme importance for any business.
Different lead generation techniques have been used over and over again by companies around the world to satiate this growing business need. Newer, more innovative methods have also emerged to help marketers in this process. One such method of lead generation that is fast catching on, and is poised to play a big role for businesses in the coming years, is web scraping. With web scraping, you can easily get access to multiple relevant and highly customized leads – a perfect starting point for any marketing, promotional or sales campaign.
The prominence of Web Scraping in overall marketing strategy
At present, levels of competition have risen sky-high for most businesses. For success, lead generation and gaining insight into customer behaviour and preferences is an essential business requirement. Web scraping is the process of scraping or mining the internet for information. Different tools and techniques can be used to harvest information from multiple internet sources based on relevance, and structured and organized in a way that makes sense to your business. Companies that provide web scraping services essentially use web scrapers to generate a targeted lead database that your company can then integrate into its marketing and sales strategies and plans.
The actual process of web scraping involves creating scraping scripts or algorithms which crawl the web for information based on certain preset parameters and options. The scraping process can be customized and tuned towards finding the kind of data that your business needs. The script can extract data from websites automatically, collate and put together a meaningful collection of leads for business development.
Lead Generation Basics
At a very high level, any person who has the resources and the intent to purchase your product or service qualifies as a lead. In the present scenario, you need to go far deeper than that. Marketers need to observe behaviour patterns and purchasing trends to ensure that a particular person qualifies as a lead. If you have a group of people you are targeting, you need to decide who the viable leads will be, acquire their contact information and store it in a database for further action.
List buying used to be a popular way to get leads, but their efficacy has dwindled over time. Web scraping is fast coming up as a feasible lead generation technique, allowing you to find highly focused and targeted leads in a short amount of time. All you need is a service provider that would carry out the data mining necessary for lead generation, and you end up with a list of actionable leads that you can try selling to.
How Web Scraping makes a substantial difference
With web scraping, you can extract valuable predictive information from websites. Web scraping facilitates high-quality data collection and allows you to structure marketing and sales campaigns better. To drive sales and maximize revenue, you need strong, viable leads. To facilitate this, you need critical data which encompasses customer behaviour, contact details, buying patterns and trends, willingness and ability to spend resources, and a myriad of other aspects critical to ascertain the potential of an entity as a rewarding lead. Data mining through web scraping can be a great way to get to these factors and identifying the leads that would make a difference for your business.
Crawling through many different web locales using different techniques, web scraping services pick up a wealth of information. This highly relevant and specialized information instantly provides your business with actionable leads. Furthermore, this exercise allows you to fine-tune your data management processes, make more accurate and reliable predictions and projections, arrive at more effective, strategic and marketing decisions and customize your workflow and business development to better suit the current market.
The Process and the Tools
Lead generation, being one of the most important processes for any business, can prove to be an expensive proposition if not handled strategically. Companies spend large amounts of their resources acquiring viable leads they can sell to. With web scraping, you can dramatically cut down the costs involved in lead generation and take your business forward with speed and efficiency. Here are some of the time-tested web scraping tools which can come in handy for lead generation –
- Website download software – Used to copy entire websites to local storage. All website pages are downloaded and the hierarchy of navigation and internal links preserve. The stored pages can then be viewed and scoured for information at any later time.
- Web scraper – Tools that crawl through bulk information on the internet, extracting specific, relevant data using a set of pre-defined parameters.
- Data grabber – Sifts through websites and databases fast and extracts all the information, which can be sorted and classified later.
- Text extractor – Can be used to crawl multiple websites or locations for acquiring text content from websites and web documents. It can mine data from a variety of text file formats and platforms.
With these tools, web scraping services crawl websites for lead generation and provide your business with a set of strong, actionable leads that can make a difference.
Covering all Bases
The strength of web scraping and web crawling lies in the fact that it covers all the necessary bases when it comes to lead generation. Data is harvested, structured, categorized and organized in such a way that businesses can easily use the data provided for their sales leads. As discussed earlier, cold and detached lists no longer provide you with enough actionable leads. You need to look at various factors and consider them during your lead generation efforts –
- Contact details of the prospect
- Purchasing power and purchasing history of the prospect
- Past purchasing trends, willingness to purchase and history of buying preferences of the prospect
- Social markers that are indicative of behavioral patterns
- Commercial and business markers that are indicative of behavioral patterns
- Transactional details
- Other factors including age, gender, demography, social circles, language and interests
All these factors need to be taken into account and considered in detail if you have to ensure whether a lead is viable and actionable, or not. With web scraping, you can get enough data about every single prospect, connect all the data collected with the help of onboarding, and ascertain with conviction whether a particular prospect will be viable for your business.
Let us take a look at how web scraping addresses these different factors –
1. Scraping website’s
During the scraping process, all websites where a particular prospect has some participation are crawled for data. Seemingly disjointed data can be made into a sensible unit by the use of onboarding- linking user activities with their online entities with the help of user IDs. Documents can be scanned for participation. E-commerce portals can be scanned to find comments and ratings a prospect might have delivered to certain products. Service providers’ websites can be scraped to find if the prospect has given a testimonial to any particular service. All these details can then be accumulated into a meaningful data collection that is indicative of the purchasing power and intent of the prospect, along with important data about buying preferences and tastes.
2. Social scraping
According to a study, most internet users spend upwards of two hours every day on social networks. Therefore, scraping social networks is a great way to explore prospects in detail. Initially, you can get important identification markers like names, addresses, contact numbers and email addresses. Further, social networks can also supply information about age, gender, demography and language choices. From this basic starting point, further details can be added by scraping social activity over long periods of time and looking for activities that indicate purchasing preferences, trends and interests. This exercise provides highly relevant and targeted information about prospects that can be constructively used while designing sales campaigns.
Check out How to use Twitter data for your business
3. Transaction scraping
Through the scraping of transactions, you get a clear idea about the purchasing power of prospects. If you are looking for certain income groups or leads that invest in certain market sectors or during certain specific periods of time, transaction scraping is the best way to harvest meaningful information. This also helps you with competition analysis and provides you with pointers to fine-tune your marketing and sales strategies.
Using these varied lead generation techniques and finding the right balance and combination is key to securing the right leads for your business. Overall, signing up for web scraping services can be a make or break factor for your business going forward. With a steady supply of valuable leads, you can supercharge your sales, maximize returns and craft the perfect marketing maneuvers to take your business to an altogether new dimension.