Whether you’re a content marketer or you work in the sales department, any business professional knows the importance of generating sales leads. Without enough leads, you simply won’t get enough business.
But as every professional also knows, lead generation isn’t easy. Generating sales leads takes time and effort. And there are dozens of ways to go about it.
Some simply involve endless browsing through company websites or scanning Google Maps for businesses in your local area, trying to find the contact details of a person of interest. Others use marketing tactics like content marketing, social media, or pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
But what if there was a way to speed up the lead gen process by getting some automated help?
In comes web scraping. Below, you’ll learn a bit more about what web scraping is, how it can help you generate more sales leads than ever, and how you can easily apply it to your business as well. Let’s find out.
What Is Web Scraping?
Web or data scraping is the process of searching and gathering data from the web to further analyze or use. When talking about web scraping, we generally only refer to the automated process.
You see, if you would copy this paragraph of text you’re reading right now and paste it into a spreadsheet somewhere, you would technically be scraping our website. Automated data scraping, however, uses robots, called web crawlers, to do the searching and gathering for you.
You start by giving the robot a certain URL or set of URLs. The bot visits the page, fetches all the requested data, parses it to translate it into an understandable format, and then extracts it all for you in a database of your choosing.
What specific data the bot fetches from the page depends on how your bot is programmed. It may scrape the entire page or only certain bits of data that appear on the page. And that’s where our use for generating sales leads comes in.
How Web Scraping Can Help You Generate Sales Leads
When it comes to identifying leads, you’re often just after a few basic bits of (personal) data. For example, you might want to gather the contact details of companies so you can email or call them to introduce them to your product or service.
As you probably realize by now, web scraping can help you do just that.
For example, you can create a web scraper that’s designed to extract contact details from web pages. All you have to do is feed the scraper a list of seed URLs (that is, the companies of interest), and the scraper will automatically extract the relevant contact details for you and export them into a spreadsheet. This can save you a lot of browsing and clicking and, therefore, precious time.
But that’s not all a web scraper can do for you.
Say you’re working for a company that sells power tools to companies or working professionals in the construction industry. You don’t have any company names yet this time, and you’re really starting from scratch with your lead generation.
Normally, you would probably go on a site like Yelp, or maybe Google Maps, to search for something like “construction companies in New York”. Before you know it, hundreds and hundreds of potential sales leads show up on your screen. How on earth will you ever gather all the contact details of all these companies?
Well, by letting your web scraper loose on Yelp or Google Maps, it will only take a second!
But those are just two examples of how web scraping can help you generate sales leads. You can apply this to so many more sites or strategies. From scraping PPC data from Google to going through databases to have a scraper gather data from Google Shopper via a Google Shopper API scraper.
Still not convinced? Well, did you know you can even build a web scraper that can automatically email the addresses it scrapes for you? You can just sit back and wait for the leads to come to you. Could it be any easier?
And when you read industry reports stating that 61% of marketers consider lead and traffic generation their biggest marketing challenge, just imagine the competitive edge you can have compared to the rest!
So now you understand the value of web scraping for lead generation, let’s have a quick look at how you can get in on the action.
How To Scrape Leads
When it comes to lead scraping – and web scraping in general – you have basically two options:
- Build a web scraper yourself
- Use a web scraping tool
In most cases, option two will be more viable. Although building a (basic) web scraper yourself isn’t incredibly complicated, you do need to have some coding knowledge. It will also take time and effort and, depending on the size of your project, it could quickly turn into a rather large-scale commitment.
Alternatively, you can use a web scraping tool to do the work for you. There are loads of different scraper tools out there, both free and paid for. You can get a general web scraper for multipurpose use or find a dedicated lead scraper tool.
Whichever you decide to go for, web scraping will surely impact your lead gen efforts and help you accelerate your sales lead generation!