Gathering Business Opportunity Leads With Data Scraping
A big part of your outbound sales and marketing strategy is generating and following up with leads, which are critical to acquiring new customers. Web scraping for leads puts control of your business in your hands. You don’t have to rely on buying premade lists from other people or sit around and wait for customers to find you.
Web scraping allows you to find targeted, specific leads that fit your ideal customer demographic. Not only can you find leads, but you can also gain valuable insights into their pain points, preferred communication styles, and information about where you can best reach them. Web scraping gives you the power of big data with just a few simple tools.
If you’re familiar with finding business opportunity leads with web scraping, feel free to use the table of contents to skip around to the sections that interest you most. If this is new to you, you can read through for a complete guide to finding leads for your business with web scraping. Once you learn how to use web scraping in your business, it will become an important part of your business strategy.
What Are Leads in Business?
A business lead is someone interested in what you’re selling. You can generate more customers by following up on business leads, and customers are the lifeblood of any business. Generating good quality leads is the first step in the sales cycle and should be part of every company’s marketing plan.
It’s not enough to generate a high volume of leads. Your leads need to be high quality as well. Generating many low-quality leads will only result in more work for your sales team without increased sales.
Tracking Business Leads
A database of high-quality leads can be invaluable to your business. Once you have contact information for your leads, you can use a marketing automation program to separate them into different segments based on where they fit into your sales funnel. You can then create targeted messages to move your leads through the sales funnel and ultimately create conversions.
Create a customer relationship management (CRM) database
Understanding where your leads are in the buyer’s journey lets you customize your message to generate awareness, interest, or sales. You should create a CRM database to keep track of your leads and automate your sales funnel.
Understand where your leads fit in your sales funnel
Your sales funnel includes all of the steps someone has to take to become your customer. Automating your sales process allows you to track your leads and quickly determine where you should place them in your sales funnel.
While there are many different models of sales funnels, the four general stages of a sales funnel are:
If you target a lead at the top of your funnel with marketing messages from the bottom, you may alienate them before you can convert them into loyal customers.
Buying Business Opportunity Leads
You probably have some built-in methods for generating and following up on leads. For example, you may offer a discount or freebie if someone signs up for your email list. Once you have their contact information, you can incorporate them into your sales funnel.
While collecting leads from your website is a good strategy, it misses the vast majority of people who don’t know about your product or service. Businesses used to rely on cold-calling or cold-emailing to generate leads, but those methods have a meager success rate.
Many companies will sell you a premade database of leads who may have expressed interest in your industry, but these databases can often have significant shortcomings, including:
- Inaccurate information
- Outdated leads
- Leads that aren’t a good match for your product or service
- Duplicate leads
- Leads that are already customers
The best way to generate business opportunity leads is to create your own customized database of leads through data scraping and analysis. Generating your own leads through online data sources such as social media posts provides you with the opportunity to connect with people you may not have thought of.
The Benefits of Generating Network Marketing Leads Through Web Scraping
Learning to collect and analyze data for business leads may sound overwhelming. And it’s certainly not as simple as buying someone else’s list. However, the effort you put into learning will be rewarded many times over. You won’t have to depend on others for high-quality leads that convert well.
Additionally, collecting your own leads will give you more information about your potential customers than buying a list or even collecting email addresses. You can use the data you collect on your leads to understand better how they think and communicate about your product or service. Understanding your leads’ language lets you communicate with a targeted message that addresses their specific concerns.
Web scraping lets you segment your leads and appeal to different groups based on characteristics such as age, interests, or geographical location. You can tailor your messaging to be most effective for each lead.
Incorporate research into your overall data strategy
Generating leads with web scraping is a great way to start implementing an overall data strategy for your company. Lead generation is just one valuable use of web scraping. Once you’ve mastered web scraping for leads, there’s almost no end to how it can benefit your business.
Some of the most widespread use cases for data scraping include:
Customer sentiment analysis
Web scraping can tell you how your customers feel about your products and services or your industry. You may find that some features you’ve been spending a lot of money developing are superfluous. Monitoring what your customers say about your products or similar ones gives you valuable feedback that can share the direction of your business strategy.
Conducting market research the traditional way can be expensive and time-consuming. Scraping data is more efficient and effective than doing market surveys and focus groups. You’ll be able to discover what customers do and don’t like about existing offerings in the marketplace.
You can also find out what offerings they wish were available. This information can drive new product development. Then, when you release new products, you’ll know they have an existing market.
Closely monitoring what people say about your brand provides valuable feedback about your current business practices, lets you know what you need to change, and helps you avoid customer service disasters. You can put out small fires before they go viral. People expect brands to respond immediately to their questions and complaints on social media. Web scraping lets you react quickly without having a team sit around on social media sites 24/7.
Keeping an eye on what others in your industry are doing is crucial if you want to remain competitive. You need to know what you’re competing against, not necessarily so that you can copy them, but so that you can address any discrepancies. For instance, you don’t need to be the lowest-priced offering, but if your prices are significantly higher, you’ll need to explain why in your marketing.
It’s also a good idea to monitor what your competitors are offering, so you can go above and beyond. By analyzing what others are offering in conjunction with your own market research, you can customize your product or service and your marketing message for greater impact. You can also monitor what your competitor’s customers are saying about them, allowing you to play off their strengths and fill in the gaps where they have weaknesses.
Creates a valuable asset
The leads you collect will be valuable to your business because they’ll help generate sales. However, that’s not the only value you create by collecting data. Data is now considered heavily in a company’s valuation. Therefore, the information you collect and analyze will be regarded as an asset to your company.
How To Use Web Scraping for New Business Leads
Before taking advantage of all the benefits of web scraping for free business leads, you should probably have a basic understanding of how web scraping works. Web scraping is the process of collecting publicly-available data from a website and exporting it into a readable format such as a JSON or CSV file.
When most people talk about web scraping, they’re usually referring to using a bot to perform all the repetitive tasks. However, web scraping can be done manually. While it certainly isn’t an efficient data collection method, if you want a better idea of how the process works, you can sit at your computer with a spreadsheet program and manually extract the data.
This is pretty much what a web scraping robot does, but much faster. Web pages are formatted with HTML, and you program a scraper by telling it exactly what data you want based on its HTML tags and attributes.
The web scraping process
When you set up a web scraper, here’s how the process usually works:
- First, you’ll input the URL or URLs you want to scrape; this may be one page or an entire website.
- The scraper will render the HTML code for the web page or pages.
- The scraper will extract the data using the tags or attributes you specified.
- The web scraper exports the data in the format you’ve selected.
Advantages of web scraping over other types of lead generation
With over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated daily, you know the data you need is out there. Some of the advantages of web scraping for small business leads include:
- Saves time compared to manual data entry
- Dramatically reduces the costs associated with generating leads
- Can be more easily handled in-house
- Customizable, based on parameters you set
- More accurate than manual data entry
- Access to large amounts of data
Where To Find Affordable Business Opportunity Leads
When considering what websites to scrape for leads, you need to understand where your potential customers and clients spend time on the internet. You’ve probably already created one or more ideal customer personas for marketing. These personas are an ideal source of information about what websites may have data on your target customers.
For example, if your ideal customer is a new parent, you may want to scrape internet forums for new parents. You can also scrape industry websites, social media platforms, or business directories. To find websites for generating leads, answer the following questions:
- Where does your ideal customer spend leisure and work time on the internet?
- Are there specialized forums where your ideal customers gather?
- What are your ideal customers talking about on social media platforms?
- What patterns can you see in your current customers?
- Are there social media influencers in your industry?
Once you know where your ideal customers interact on the internet, you can program your web scraper to extract data from those websites. We’ll talk more about ethical web scraping, but for now, you should know that you should only collect the data you need. Although you want to be sure you collect all of the information that will be useful to you, don’t just gather data for data’s sake.
The data you want to collect will depend on your industry and whether you want B2B business leads or direct sales business to consumer leads. If you’re marketing to other companies, you may want to collect data regarding:
- Business type
- Business name
- The name of the person who can decide to purchase your product or service
- The business’s target customer
- Social media profiles
- Address and phone number
If you’re trying to generate direct customer leads, you may want to know:
- Social media profiles
- Marital status
- Geographic location
The more you flesh out your ideal customer, the better you’ll be able to figure out where you should scrape data from and what type of data you need.
Tools for Web Scraping for Free Business Leads
Web scraping can seem complicated, and it does have a learning curve. Some of the tools you’ll need for web scraping include:
A web scraper
You’ll need a web scraper to get started, and many different prebuilt options are available. If you know how to code, you can even build one yourself! Below are some other web scraping options that are available.
You can download and install a desktop web scraper that will run from your computer. You’ll be responsible for updating it regularly.
There are web scrapers that run as browser extensions. These can be a good option if you’re just starting or your project is relatively small.
A hosted solution runs on a third-party server and is probably your best option if you’re doing a larger project or you plan to make web scraping a regular part of your business activities. Scraping Robot is an excellent example of an all-in-one web scraping solution. With Scraping Robot, you only have to worry about analyzing your data and creating leads.
You won’t have to worry about all the headaches that can come with scraping, like proxy management and rotation, server management, browser scalability, CAPTCHA solving, and looking out for new anti-scraping updates from target websites. Instead, they manage all this so you can focus on what matters most: getting valuable data! There are no hidden fees, monthly costs, or complicated pricing tiers.
Many websites discourage bot activity because they don’t want their competitors accessing their data or because they’re worried bots may overload their servers. Most websites employ anti-scraping technology that blocks bot activity. You’ll need to use proxies to avoid getting blocked by shielding your true IP address. There’s an entire section on proxies below.
Ethical Web Scraping for Small Business Online Leads
Web scraping is legal as long as you’re scraping publicly available data for a legitimate purpose. Still, there are some guidelines you should follow for ethical web scraping. Here are some best practices for ethical web scraping:
Target the API first
Before scraping a site, check to see if the data you need is available via API. Using an API doesn’t consume as much of a site’s resources, and you have to send only one request to get data from an API versus many requests when scraping a whole website.
Check the robots.txt file
Many websites include a robots.txt file that outlines their rules for bots. These rules may include what pages you can access or how much of a delay you should set between requests. Before scraping a site, always check the robots.txt file and follow the guidelines.
Although the main advantage of using a web scraper to generate leads is its speed, you need to ensure your scraper operates at a reasonable rate. You don’t want to overwhelm the server and cause it to shut down. So when you’re programming your web scraper, build in a slight delay between requests.
Only collect the data you need
It’s easy to think that if some data is good, more is better. However, scraping a website does divert some of its resources from its primary function to fulfilling your requests. So don’t take more data than you need. You can do this by specifying the data you want to collect. Unfortunately, many web scrapers will collect the entire website if you don’t identify the data you want to gather.
Scrape during slow times
Be courteous by scraping during the hours the website doesn’t have a lot of traffic. For example, program your scraper to work during the middle of the night when traffic levels are lower on most sites. On the other hand, if you’re scraping a website with a lot of seasonal traffic, scrape during the offseason.
Include a user agent string
Since you’ll need to use proxies to avoid getting banned, system administrators can’t identify you by your IP address. However, including a user agent string can provide information about what data you’re collecting and why. This information will help reassure the system administrator that you aren’t launching a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack or attempting a brute-force hack.
Choose an ethical proxy provider
Although they’re used by businesses of all sizes, including Fortune 500 companies, educational agencies, and government organizations, proxies have also been associated with black and gray-hat activities. Choosing a proxy provider with high ethical standards like Rayobyte will help ensure you’re not associated with shady characters or questionable practices.
Problems You May Encounter When Web Scraping for Small Business Leads
Although web scraping is not challenging to learn, there are some issues you may run into when you’re web scraping. Understanding these obstacles and knowing how to overcome them can make your web scraping process much more manageable.
Pagination, also called paging, splits a website’s content into different pages. Web sites do this to efficiently present a large amount of content to their users. Websites vary widely in the structure they use to split up their content. While most websites index pages available for crawling, pages set for infinite scroll or paginated pages may get indexed as a single page.
You need to understand how a website handles paging before you can effectively scrape it.
Numbered pagination is the simplest type of pagination. If you see numbers at the bottom of the website, it’s probably using numbered pagination. To handle this type of pagination, you’ll need to use a scraper that can recognize and interact with numbered links.
There are several types of numbered pagination structures, including:
- Numbered pagination with a “next” button
- Numbered pagination with changing URLs
- Numbered pagination with static URLs
Infinite scrolling pages
A honeypot trap is another problem you may run into when web scraping. This security measure is used to detect and thwart scrapers and other bots. When a bot falls for a honeypot, it can be automatically blocked from the website. Cybersecurity professionals use honeypots to prevent malicious actors from gaining access to their networks.
There are a lot of different types of honeypots but the most common ones you’ll encounter while scraping can be avoided with the following measure:
- Program your scraper to avoid invisible links
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi
- Use proxies when scraping
- Confirm a site is authentic before you scrape
Proxies for Generating Business Leads
Most anti-scraping programs work by identifying an IP address associated with bot-like behavior and banning it from the website. The easiest way to identify a bot is by how many requests it sends. Compared to a human user, bots send many more requests much quicker. So when a website sees multiple simultaneous or near-simultaneous requests from the same IP address, it bans that IP address.
A proxy is an intermediary between your device and the websites you access. When you use a proxy, your request will go to your proxy server, which will attach a different IP address before forwarding it to the website. It’s not enough to switch one IP address for another, however. If you use a different IP address to send many requests at a lightning-fast rate, your new IP address will get banned as quickly as your original IP address.
Using a pool of proxies is the best way to avoid getting banned. When you use a rotating proxy pool, your proxy server attaches a different IP address to each request. If you send 100 requests, a different IP address will be attached to each one. To the website you’re visiting, it will look like one request from 100 different users rather than 100 requests from one user.
Different types of proxies
Proxies can be categorized in many different ways. Understanding the different types of available proxies will help you decide which ones are best for your particular use case.
One way proxies are classified is according to how many people have access to them.
Free proxies may sound like a great option if you want to save money (who doesn’t?). However, in this case, you really do get what you pay for. Free proxies are, at best, overloaded, sluggish, and poor performing. At worst, they can be a serious security risk. There have been cases of hackers offering free proxies to hack into your personal data.
Most free proxies don’t use the HTTPS protocol, meaning they’re not secure and open you up to security risks from anyone on the same network. Even putting aside the security risks, free proxy servers are so overloaded that your speed will slow to a crawl.
Many free proxies are used by bad actors and are more likely to have already been banned. When someone who uses the same proxy IP address as you gets banned, you’ll also be banned if you try to access the same website. This is the “bad neighbor” effect.
Shared proxies can have many of the same problems as free proxies. Even if you’re paying for proxies, if other users have access to them, it can affect your security and performance. While there is a slightly increased barrier to entry with paid shared proxies than with free proxies, they can become overloaded.
Some proxy providers offer the option of semi-dedicated proxies. These are proxies shared among two or three users. If your proxy provider carefully vets their clients, like Rayobyte, this can be a good compromise between price and quality.
Rayobyte also has step-by-step guides for IP address authorization and how to use the proxy tester in their dashboard. These helpful tips, and their great customer service team, will ensure a smooth transition from purchase to the actual implementation of the proxies you purchase.
Dedicated proxies are reserved for your use alone. This is the best option in terms of security and performance. You’ll have optimal performance since you’ll be the only one using them. You also won’t have to worry about your security being compromised by others using the same proxies. The only drawback to dedicated proxies is that they’re the most expensive option.
Another way proxies are classified is by where they originate and who issues them.
Data center proxies
As the name suggests, data center proxies are stored in data centers. These are the cheapest proxies, and they’re plentiful and readily available. They’re also fast, so they’re good for use cases that require speed. They’re not the best option for web scraping leads, however.
The biggest drawback to data center proxies is that they’re more easily identifiable originating in a data center. Since most users don’t access the internet with data center IP addresses, this automatically throws a red flag for many websites. Some websites ban all data center proxies, while others ban entire subnets if they detect bot-like activity from one data center IP address. That’s why Rayobyte has a diversity of C-class subnets, but A- and B-classes as well.
ISP proxies are one of your best proxy options. ISP proxies are IP addresses issued from real consumer Internet Service Providers (ISPs) but housed in data centers. ISP proxies combine the authority of residential proxies with the speed of data center proxies, so in the end, you get the best of both proxy worlds. In addition, Rayobyte puts no limits on bandwidth or threads, meaning more significant savings for you! Rayobyte currently offers ISP proxies from the US, UK, and Germany.
Residential proxies are issued by real consumer internet service providers (ISPs). These are the type of IP addresses most people use to access the internet. The biggest advantage of residential proxies is their authority. You can tap into a network containing millions of devices from all over the world that belong to real users. They have the most authority and are least likely to be detected by anti-bot software.
Rayobyte has a large pool of residential IP addresses capable of handling projects of any size. You can target any country in the world at no extra cost, don’t put any limits on how many concurrent threads you send, and provide a separate, unique IP address for every request.
Because residential proxies have to be obtained directly from end-users, ethical proxy providers have to take extra steps to ensure that they aren’t negatively affected when their IP address is used.
At Rayobyte, we set the industry standard for ethical proxy sourcing. We make sure our end-users provide fully informed consent. We don’t bury our TOS at the bottom of pages of small type. We only use their IP addresses when their devices are either plugged in or charged and if they aren’t using them. We’re always happy to discuss our ethical practices.
Our commitment to ethics doesn’t stop at how we acquire residential proxies. We also vet our customers. There’s no option for buying our residential proxies directly on our website. Potential buyers must demonstrate that their use case is legitimate before we sell them residential proxies. After the purchase of our residential proxies, we continue to monitor their usage for any signs of illegal or unethical use.
Web scraping is a powerful tool for modern businesses, especially when it comes to business opportunity leads. One of the most lucrative use cases for web scraping is generating new business leads. New leads will help your business increase sales and make more money when used correctly. In addition, customizing your marketing based on your leads in the sales funnel will let you target potential customers with messaging that will resonate with them.
Web scraping gives you access to a large amount of data very quickly. By investing some initial time and effort, like reading this article, you can learn almost everything you need to know to scrape for business leads as effectively and ethically as possible. Web scraping is used by data analysts in all types of businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.
Most websites employ anti-scraping technology that will block bots and interrupt your scraping projects, but proxies let you avoid detection by anti-bot software, and you can use data center proxies, ISP proxies, or residential proxies for web scraping. No matter which you choose, Rayobyte provides the best proxies on the planet. Reach out today to find out how we can help you generate more business opportunity leads for your company.
The information contained within this article, including information posted by official staff, guest-submitted material, message board postings, or other third-party material is presented solely for the purposes of education and furtherance of the knowledge of the reader. All trademarks used in this publication are hereby acknowledged as the property of their respective owners.
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