Grab a piece of paper and pencil….
Now, make a list of three things you could do that would make the biggest impact on growing your business.
Do you have your list? Is investing in data one of your items?
If not, it should be.
Data is increasingly becoming an integral part of doing business–those who’ve had more information, have historically performed better than those who haven’t. Even Olympic teams are starting to utilize data as a means to engage in more targeted training, ultimately improving performance.
The main reason certain businesses are reluctant to invest in data is because they aren’t quite sure how to source it. However, there’s good news for you … accessing the data you need to grow your business is easier than ever.
How to get the data you need to grow your business
In order to gain a significant amount of valuable information, in the past, you had to go out and do original research, such as conducting surveys, doing interviews, holding focus groups, or conducting experiments and analyzing the results.. Those days are long gone.
Currently, there’s a tremendous amount of secondary data, information that has been collected and aggregated by someone else, that’s already available for you to capture and utilize. However, it requires investing substantial time to seek and collect, organize and analyze it yourself. That’s a major barrier as well.
The good news is you don’t have to perform all the data capture yourself, and you don’t have to spend a large amount of money to do it.
Now there are numerous resources offering an abundance of information you can use to power your business; however, there is one approach that businesses are turning to with increasing frequency: data scraping.
Here’s how it works: Once you identify what data you need for your business, you then determine what websites or type of online sources have that information available.
Next, code is written creating spiders that go to your target web sites and harvest the data. Finally the data is cleaned up, checked to make sure it is high quality and then delivered to you.
In a very short amount of time you can have more data than you ever thought possible that is relevant to your business, and you can obtain it on a regular basis.
Some companies write the code to create the spiders themselves. Others use data scraping software, while others partner with third parties who specialize in creating custom solutions to give you data that is specific to your needs.
There are a number of benefits to utilizing data scraping for your business. Here are five reasons why you should start investing in it now.
1. Become more effective
You’ve heard the saying, “hindsight is 20/20.” People are often able to look at a situation and ponder what they should have done, because they’ve received new information that would have changed their course of action.
While that may be acceptable in certain circumstances in life, there can be far greater consequences when you have insufficient information in your company.
Have you ever felt as if you needed to make an educated guess for key strategic decisions in your business? If so, know that doesn’t need to be your norm.
By investing in data scraping, essential information is at your fingertips, and you can have it on a regular basis.
For instance, some companies utilize data to help their customers make better pricing decisions. With information about what their competitors are charging for similar products, they can make adjustments, as needed, to their own pricing strategies, rather than building their plan around assumptions.
Here’s another example. One retail company scrapes pricing data from their competitors, and uses it to reverse engineer the costs they are paying their suppliers. With these valuable insights, they are then able to better prepare for their own supplier negotiations to procure more favorable pricing.
2. Improve productivity
Have you ever searched for contact information of people you wanted to cold call? Or visited a target customer, only to realize too late, that the information you had was no longer correct?
If you had extracted data of targeted leads sent to you on a regular basis, problems like these would be a challenge of the past.
Here’s another scenario. Are there people on your team who spend a good chunk of their time researching other websites to find relevant information? Maybe they are analyzing competitor pricing, or other forms of competitive intelligence.
While having information such as this at your fingertips may be useful, it may not be the best use of your team’s time to do all that data capture manually.
With a data set delivered to your business, you and your teams could have the information necessary to do your jobs much more efficiently. And with that saved time of not having to find and verify all the information you capture yourself, you could focus your energy on things that are a much more productive use of your time. Things like actually calling customers or nurturing the relationship with the ones you already have.
3. Establish a competitive advantage
Each day there are more businesses vying for your customers’ attention in some way. As a result of the innovations increased competition brings, the bar gets raised in terms of the value each company needs to deliver to customers if they want to earn and keep their business.
Increasingly, one of the ways many smart companies are positioning themselves to stand out, is by utilizing data. Specifically, they are sourcing a large number of data from multiple sources across the web, and then strategically organizing it in a way that enables them to serve their customers like none other.
And if you’re able to be the pioneer with presenting and utilizing data in a novel way, other businesses in your industry will have to invest heavily to compete with you. An added bonus for you, is that you’ll be first to market in using it, so if you stay nimble, you can maintain a first-mover advantage.
Symphony analytics utilized data they captured to create a competitive advantage for their customers. By analyzing the data they had, they were able to develop predictive models that tailored medication dosages for specific patient populations.
In order for other companies in their field to be able to compete with them in this arena, they’d have to invest in data at a significant level as well.
4. Serve your clients better
One of the great benefits of big data is that it can be sliced and diced in numerous different ways. And when data is analyzed and presented in a unique way, it can provide a multitude of brand new insights that previously wouldn’t have been uncovered.
That’s why books from popular authors such as Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Grant are so popular. They do deep dives into mountains of data to uncover valuable insights their readers use to impact their behavior.
When you have access to a massive amount of data for your business, you can organize it in such a way that it provides a great deal of value for your clients.
Pars.ly is a digital agency that scours the web to get insights on behalf of their clients. Once they have the data in hand, they analyze it to advise their clients on what times of day they should publish their content. They are also able to make recommendations about what type of content their audience is most likely to respond to best.
5. Increase credibility
Have you ever talked to someone who had zero data to back their claims? While what they are saying may be true, when no concrete information is presented as evidence, the credibility of the argument can lie in question.
While politicians may be able to get away with making bold claims without the facts to support it, it isn’t necessarily true in business.
That’s because there’s more competition than ever, and we’re also in an age where we have more data that we’ve ever had before. In fact, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, noted that as of 2010, we create more data in two days than from the beginning of time all the way up until 2003.
That’s a mind-blowing statistic. So, with such an abundance of data readily available to businesses, there’s no reason to not utilize it to your advantage in your business.
A number of businesses utilize web scraping to determine what customers are actually saying about them on social media and review sites.
When they’ve received a number of positive testimonials, they can then lift the nice things their customers say about them in public channels, as a means to provide social proof to their customers that they are, indeed, a good company to work with.
Start using data to grow your business
There’s no need to wait.
There’s more data than ever. There are more vendors than ever to help you source it. And as technology continues to advance, it’s cheaper than ever. There are multiple ways you can use data to grow your business. So, don’t miss out on this prime opportunity to invest, the time is now.