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Web scraping for Competitive Intelligence

One way for your business to have a competitive advantage over your competitors is your ability to gather, analyze, and use information collected on competitors, customers, and other market factors. This process is known as competitive intelligence or corporate analysis.

Competitive intelligence is essential for any business to sustain itself in an era of escalating digitization where several new technologies emerge.

In this article, you will discover how you can acquire data from your competitors and the types of data that you can scrape in order for your business to succeed.

What is Web Scraping, and why your business needs it?

Web Scraping is the process of extracting large volumes of data from websites and saving it for future use by your organization for competitive intelligence. It is a sophisticated process involving the person responsible for examining a web page’s code and then scraping all the information that appears on a page. There are automated tools for web scraping in addition to doing it manually. Web scraping would result in immense benefits to your organization when you are carrying out competitive intelligence.

Different approaches to Web Scraping

This section will provide you with an overview of the most common approaches to web scraping:

Static scraping– It would only extract the HTML code of a website without any interaction. Although this scraping method allows you to extract large volumes of data in a short period, this is the least powerful method.

Automated Browsing- With this approach, the program will automate all the processes that you carry out when browsing a website. For instance, it would copy and paste a URL in the browser and then extract content from every page and paste them into an Excel sheet. The beauty of this approach is that it could scrape Ajax-based home pages as well.

Application Programmer Interface (API) – Many organizations provide APIs to extract their data. This makes the scrapping process a lot more convenient compared to other approaches, as you can scrape data without much coding knowledge. Also, the data would be available in a format that is ready to use.

Why your organization needs web scraping

The web usually has enormous data about your competitors in different forms. Therefore your organization could use these extracted data in many ways to accomplish its goals for Competitive Intelligence. One of the critical advantages of having competitor data is that you would grasp its content strategy from the grassroots level. In other words, it appears as if they are telling their whole story to you with successes and failures along the way. There is plenty to learn not only from their successful stores but even their failures.

However, merely with raw data would make sense to you that there would be little benefits to offer. Therefore you need to perform competitor analysis effectively and sort out the data in the most efficient way to draw conclusions from them. For the rest of this article, we would discuss the significant information you can scrape and how it benefits your business.

Benefits of Competitive Intelligence for businesses

Competitive intelligence will equip your organization with large-scale data obtained from extensive market research on your competitor’s best/worst practices, products/services, pricing, and many more – to make smarter decisions and to have an accurate sequence of actions towards competitive advantage.

While every organization ranging from profit to non-profit would love to have a unique set of competitive advantages, not many people know the ways and means of achieving them. This is where Competitive Intelligence, research, and benchmarking play a vital role.

Let’s dive into the numerous benefits that Competitive Intelligence brings to your organization:

  • Predicting your Competitors’ Movements

Data that you obtain from web scraping helps you to determine what your competitors are up to next. For instance, you might get information about a product they are planning to launch or a new service they plan to incorporate into their business. For your convenience, you can hire an organization to collect this information on your behalf. So that you can focus on the other business aspects while getting valuable information on the moves of your competitors.  

  • Track the latest trends in your industry and prepare for future

Having data about your competitors’ new product launches or new services, you may now have competitive knowledge of the industry’s emerging trends. With this in-depth knowledge, you can implement changes in your organization for a better tomorrow. Also, you would be able to forecast ominous awareness into expectations, disruptions, technologies, and many more impacts on your organization. So it is a valuable competitive advantage that you are equipped with.

  • Identify Gaps

By analyzing the data, that you gathered from your competitors would help you to identify the market gaps. Furthermore, such data would enable you to examine how your competitors are growing even in challenging circumstances and the specific areas of their target market. Your ultimate analysis of the data would assist you in exploring a new service or product that stands you apart from your competitors and fulfills a particular need within the market. You would be able to accomplish such an achievement as you study regularly on your competitors’ updates as the market needs fluctuate.

  • Enhances decision making with great ROI

When you have data-supported acumens, it will help you to organize and prioritize business initiatives. You can take a serious look at your current strengths, weaknesses, and gaps mentioned above and then re-prioritize investments and efforts to address them directly. As a result, there would be fewer indecisions and a higher Return On Investment.

  • Boost Product and Service Speeds-to-Market

Speeds-to-market refers to the total time it takes for a product to move into public sales from its initial ideation. Depending on the industry, the average speeds-to-market varies for a product. Also, other factors such as creating, launching, and testing new goods attribute to the average speeds-to-market. When a product or service’s ecosystem is more competitive, it is essential for a company to improve the deliverables for speeds-to-market without compromising quality.

  • Internal Communication

While competitive Intelligence primarily focuses on your competitors’ data, your organization could also scrape valuable data about your business. Such internal assessments can provide you with how you perform as a company, your strengths, weaknesses, and areas requiring more room for improvement. The data you have gathered from web scraping would help you make implement decisions for the betterment of your business. This is quite handy when the company’s size is quiet and huge and hence arises a need to monitor different departments.

What information can you scrape from websites for Competitive Intelligence?

In this section, you will discover the types of data you can scrape from your competitor websites. This would largely depend on the type of your business, the actions of your competitors, and the needs and wants of your customers. Now let’s focus on some of the critical areas in your competitor’s website that you need to scrape.

Audit competitors’ Product and Service Line

There needs no introduction that you and your competitors target the same customers by selling identical products. Even if your competitors sell the same products, there are plenty of insights to analyze their product lines as no two companies are the same. At the end of the day, each brand tries to portray a different approach to its customers.

When you desire to be competitive in your industry, be mindful of regularly scraping from competitors’ websites. Specifically scrape the features and benefits of their product lines as well as special offers. You can then analyze which products perform better based on their features. With this analysis, you would be able to derive patterns on which products perform great and the ones that perform mediocrely.

After carrying out such analysis, it would provide you insights to improve your product list.

Scraping prices from competitors’ websites

After you scrape the products, the next important aspect is scraping prices. The ideal place to start performing a competitor analysis is analyzing competitor’s as well as industry prices. Scraping prices would help you gain insights into industry pricing standards, understand competition, and gain an edge over competitors.

Just as with product scraping, the price scraping, too, has to be carried out regularly. Otherwise, you will not be able to cement a profitable edge over your competition. Here are some of the benefits of price scraping:

  1. Understand the rate of change in price for a product over time, often known as price dynamics. In addition to monitoring the changes of prices in competitors, you should observe how your competitors react to your prices. 
  1. Helps you to get ahead of your competitors instantly:

When you regularly scrape prices from your competitors’ websites, it would help your competitive advantage immensely. This is because looking at competitors’ pricing strategy and comparing with yours will help you determine where you stand. This would lay the foundation for a better pricing strategy at your end.

  1. Real-time tracking

Some industries update their prices quite regularly, known as dynamic pricing. If your industry belongs to that category, you need to regularly track your competitors’ prices and regularly monitor prices in real-time. This can only be achieved through web scraping.

Scrape competitors’ SEO Strategy

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plays a vital role in driving online traffic in the form of leads to your business. It will help if you use online tools such as content scraper to gain insights into your competitors. These content scrapers would allow you to determine what keywords they are using to drive organic traffic and analyze which blog posts drew more traffic to their sites.

Using some of the scraping methods mentioned in the section different approaches to Web Scraping, you can also determine how they have arranged the site’s coding and other UI/UX factors that affect the SEO to a large degree.

Scrape Competitors’ Social media posts

Social media scraping is another critical aspect of your digital marketing plans. It would enable you to determine your competitors’ interactions with their brands on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others. Customers’ interactions with the company’s social media pages would express their perception of the brands in general.

By scraping competitors’ social media pages, you would determine how often they post, the type of content (text, videos, and graphics) and their quality, their different interaction strategies with customers, and how quickly the company attends to a customer query or complain.

By looking at the strengths and weaknesses of these strategies, you would be able to draft your plan in a way that stands apart.

How Proxies can help you scrape for Competitive Intelligence

In this article, so far, you have discovered about web scraping and how it can be impactful to the Competitive Intelligence of your organization.  However, we hardly dive into how you could scrape the data and the availability of different tools for scraping. One of the most common ways of scraping data through websites is through the use of proxies.

When you scrape from websites using proxies, it will mask your IP  address. Hence it would appear as if the proxy is scraping the target website’s data. Some websites may set limits to the number of times that you could connect to it. So if you connect to the website to scrape from it using the same IP address, you are more likely to confront a block from the website’s administrators.

So even if you use the same proxy for scraping, the proxy would also be likely to be blocked. A turnaround for this issue would be to use a pool of rotating proxies.

When it comes to the topic of proxies, it is a vast area. However, it is worth exploring some of the fundamentals of proxies for web scraping to reap the rewards with your Competitive Intelligence strategy. Here at ProxyScrape, we offer various types of proxies for your web scraping needs. Explore further with this article.

Conclusion

Now you have learned about web scraping and its effects on Competitive Intelligence. Furthermore, in the last section, you might have discovered how proxies could assist you in web scraping. So now it is the time to practice what you have learned in this article to stay ahead of your competitors, enabling your organization to achieve optimum performance. 

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