Feb 24, 2021
The Easy Hack to Generating Leads: Web Scraping
If you’ve ever copied and pasted data from a website, only on a small, manual scale you’ve done the same task as any web scraper.
Web scraping is the method of extracting or “scraping” information from a website, also known as web data extraction. Unlike the boring, mental process of collecting information manually, web scraping uses smart technology to capture hundreds, millions, or even billions of data points from the almost infinite internet boundary.
The real power of web scraping lies more than a modern convenience in its ability to build and power some of the most revolutionary business applications in the world. ‘Transformative’ does not even begin to explain how web-scraped information are used by certain organizations to improve their operations, informing corporate decisions down to individual customer service experiences.
So, what is a web scraper?
A web scraper is a specialized tool to extract data from a web page accurately and quickly. Web scrapers vary widely, depending on the task, in nature and complexity. It is used to extract large amounts of data from websites whereby the data is extracted and saved to a local file in your computer or to a database in table (spreadsheet) format.
Most websites display data can only be viewed through a web browser. They do not have the functionality to save for personal use a copy of this data. Then the only option is to copy and paste the data manually-a very tedious job that can take many hours or days to complete. Web Scraping is the technique of automating this operation, so that the Web Scraping program can perform the same function within a fraction of the time instead of manually copying the information from websites.
What can web scraping be used for?
A multitude of reasons can be the main motivation behind gathering and storing data that is found on the web. Some of those reasons include marketing research, news and content marketing, and/or lead generation.
Lead generation, as the name implies, is described as identifying the potential target buyers from whom you could gain. It is, without a doubt, an important element for any business’ success, especially for a start-up.
Web scraping is one way you can make sure you are really interested in buying what you are offering for the leads you touch. Web scraping gives you the option to make your lead gathering process more customized to suit the right kind of audience you’re looking to market to, allowing you to specify the exact type of business and location you’re looking to target, thereby reducing the target audience that would be more interested in buying what you’re selling.
How does Web Scraping work?
There are three stages to successful web scraping: Sourcing, Data Extraction, and Cleansing and Structure.
The first thing you need to collect lead generation is to identify the sources you are going to use. You need to define your customer’s target and where they are on the Internet for this. You must therefore continue to ask yourself to whom you are trying to reach out. Would you like clients or would you like to reach out to influencers to help your business grow? You could make the process more focused by clearly defining this information to avoid wasting resources on leads of low quality.
To make it work, first with web scraping tools, you can retrieve the data from the websites of your rivals for consumer demographics. For instance, you might collect data from their online forums to find out who their customers are and what they’re talking about.
- Data Extraction
This process is all about gathering data. You do need to know where to find the target leads, don’t you? Data extraction is a method of retrieving data for further processing (typically unstructured). There are usually three different methods of obtaining these data.
- Write your own script. This would take time, but those developers would have access to it.
- Using software for scraping. Many people have it available as most web scraping tools were built without coding for the newbie. Learning how to use the web scraping technology can take less time and cost less.
- Another way to extract data is to partner with a third party to provide you with customized data specific to your business needs. This is more expensive than using the software, but more detailed and specific data are available.
- Cleansing and Structuring
As the name implies, it is necessary to clean up and organize the data collected. Cleaning is the method by which fraudulent or incorrect documents are found and corrected. Structuring is the re-formatting and software reorganization process. Simply put, at this stage, you need to correctly organize and format your data by replacing, modifying or deleting some data that has been captured.
We have gathered our favorite web scraping softwares to use when you want to collect your own leads! Here are our recommendations:
Octoparse is a modern visual web data extraction software. Both experienced and inexperienced users would find it easy to use Octoparse to bulk extract information from websites with the aid of tutorials that are available online; additionally, for most of scraping tasks, no coding is needed. It will automatically extract content from almost any website and allows you to save it as clean structured data in a format of your choice. Unfortunately, however, Octoparse is not available for MacOS users.
Phantombuster increases the productivity and automates processes for digital marketers, growth hackers, recruiters and developers. They also provide ready-made cloud-hosted APIs for LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and many other platforms to give access to their data and automate actions on their websites. However, it’s not available for MacOS users.
WebScraper.io is a free Chrome extension for both MacOS and Windows users. This tool runs right in your Chrome browser, has detailed documentation and is fairly-straight forward to use. After you build out how you want to navigate and scrape the website you can watch the scraping take place in a secondary browser. After it’s done scraping you can export the data to a CSV file.
Web Crawling on a Side-Note
A web crawler (also known as a web spider) is mainly used to create a copy of all the visited pages, for later processing by a search engine, that will index the downloaded pages to provide fast searches. Crawlers can also be used for automating maintenance tasks on a Web site, such as checking links or validating HTML code or gather specific types of information from Web pages, such as harvesting e-mail addresses.
Web crawlers overlap with web scrapers in a few little ways. Web crawlers operate by searching and evaluating their content for references to other web pages through a collection of web pages, then follow the links to the other websites and check for more information. The process of following and recording these links is referred to as “crawling.”
While crawling through various web pages can reveal useful information about the structure of the web, extracting data from those sites, or “web scraping”, captures the content of those pages which can then be analyzed to reveal more information about the crawled pages. Many web crawlers utilize web scraping to contextualize the pages that they have crawled.
A web scraper’s main purpose is to extract data from webpages. Web scrapers often have the ability to browse to different pages and follow links. Though web scrapers can crawl to different pages their primary purpose is scraping the data on those pages, not indexing the web.
Where to Look for Leads?
Through visiting industry-specific websites, social media channels, or company directories, you will usually find information about potential customers online.
Make sure that the bio, contact information and social media links are collected for each sales lead and any other data that will help you get to know your prospect better.
There are a few websites to help you find the information you need:
Yellow Pages might be one of the largest business directories on the web, especially in North America. If you’re looking for leads in the service industry, this is the best place to start collecting names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails.
Yelp is another darling of the business directory world, boasting over 90 monthly million visitors through their app and mobile site.
Although most people directly associated Yelp with restaurants and bars only, the site actually has listings for all kinds of businesses including doctors, dentists, HVAC repair, electricians, movers and more.
Using web scraping can yield incredible results across multiple business directories. Because it’s an automated method that is incredibly fast, in just minutes you could scrap thousands of high-quality leads.