How Businesses Can Get the Data They Need

By SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, 11 April 2019, 05:02 Hrs
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How Businesses Can Get the Data They Need



When it comes to business growth and development, data is absolutely essential. Using data, you can learn more about niche markets and find new potential customers to market your products or services to. Today, businesses can find a wealth of publicly available data online, for example, government data, data from social media, or data from e-commerce such as prices and product availability.



When it comes to business success, it’s not just important to gather data on your current and prospective customers. Today, progressive companies are also gathering data on their competitors, so that they have a clearer picture of exactly what they are up against. So, how can your business gather competitor data, and what are the key benefits of doing so? Let’s find out.



1.  Why Collect Competitor Data?



Whether you like it or not, your competitors are out there and they’re coming for your customers. Although it can seem unfair, considering all the hard work that you put into running and maintaining your business, it’s a wise idea to also devote some time and effort into keeping an eye on your competition. Monitoring your competitors on a regular basis allows you to better understand their behavior, making it easier for you to anticipate their next moves. As a result, this allows you to come up with your own competitive strategies to keep your customers and win even more over from your competitors.



Collecting competitor data is one of the best ways to help your company improve and grow. By getting a clearer understanding of what your competitors are doing to get their customers, you can go one step further than them. It also helps you understand more about where and why your competitors may be struggling in the market; as a result, you will know what to avoid. Thanks to the growing digitization of businesses today, there’s more company data available online than ever before. Businesses can use publicly available government data such as company registration information, director information, and census data to find out more about a competitor.



2.  Finding Publicly Available Competitor Data:



The good news is that today, there is plenty of publicly available data on your competitors that you can easily and legally get your hands on. The easiest way to find data is by doing a quick Google search of your competitor’s brands. If you know what you are looking for, you can find a wealth of information by simply searching their website pages. According to senior intelligence analyst for Ernst & Young, August Jackson, you can find all types of hidden pages by simply searching Google for ‘filetype: doc site: company name’. Use various file types such as .xls, .pdf, or .ppt to bring up presentations, data and more. In fact, it’s surprising just how many companies think that nobody can find this information if it isn’t linked to. Another way to reveal more hidden information is by scraping the site’s source code to see which keywords and meta-tags are being used to optimize its search result position.



There are several things that you can learn about a competitor by simply looking at their website. Bear in mind that search engines place sites with high usability in high regard, so it’s worth analyzing this element of your competitor’s website to see if there is anything that you could do better. For example, look at load times, custom 404 pages and broken links, the user-friendliness of the navigation, how well the site works on mobiles and across browsers, typography, calls-to-action, and trust elements on the site.



3.  Buying Competitor Data:



There’s plenty of publicly available data for you to gather free of charge, but what can you do if you need something more? Another option that you may want to consider is paying for competitor data that’s harder to reach. Data sourcing companies exist for the sole purpose of gathering data and selling it to other businesses, so this isn’t just a great way to gather more information on your competitors; it can also work for finding out more about your customers too.



Buying data is a simple process and there are several companies that you can purchase from. The price of the data will vary depending on the type and amount that you are looking for. Ensure that you use a reputable data sourcing company to avoid accessing any sensitive data that should not be collected or sold.



4.  How Screen Scraping Works for Data Collection:



Screen scraping is available as a data collection option for any business. All you will need to get started is a script; this is a very simple computer program which enters a site and saves various data points. It’s a wise idea to use a proxy when screen scraping, as this will allow you to remain undetected. While screen scraping is a perfectly legal method of gathering data from a website, you don’t want your competitor to realize what you are up to. Detection could lead to shadowing, where a scraping target is set to show you incorrect data, ruining your scrape results.



If you don’t use a proxy when screen scraping, it becomes easy for your competitor to determine your IP address and find out exactly who is looking at their data. Your IP address can identify exactly where you are in the world, allowing your competitor to identify you. Using a proxy allows you to access your competitor’s site from a completely different location in the world. Your online requests will be rerouted through a different server. Your request will be sent from your computer to your ISP as normal, but then it will be sent to the proxy server before finally reaching the online destination. Along the way, the proxy will use the IP address that you choose when setting up, which ultimately masks your real IP address.



When it comes to business growth, collecting data on both your customers and competitors is vital. You can do this by accessing publicly available data, purchasing information from data sourcing companies, and by using a screen scraping tool.



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