Data extraction tools or data scraping tools, as they as also known, are currently used by companies all around the world, in different industries and for different purposes. Data extraction, as a process, can be useful for small companies, but also for mid-size firms or corporations. Even if it’s about sales, marketing, optimizing other processes or adjusting costs, you need data! A company that runs on curated information can gain huge advantages within an industry and can progress much faster.
Why would you want to use data extraction tools?
Well, basically because such tools offer an affordable and quick way of collecting information that, once it’s curated, will help with your company’s processes. And you don’t need to be a professional in order to work with data, as long as you’re willing to put some time in to learning few things.
For that exact reason, we’ve compiled below a list of 3 data extraction tools for beginners and pros. So even if you’re a master with years of experience in data-based environments and you joggle with excel tables and spreadsheets with incredible ease or you’ve just started using your CRM, you would still be able to dive into the “data extraction” topic in maximum few days.
The 3 data extraction tools you should check out
Import.io – is probably one of the first providers in the market and provides an excellent tool for the money (starting from $299 / month). It allows creating web scrapers than can be scheduled to run, have linked extractors, understand pagination and can work behind a login (if you can provide the login credentials, of course). We’ve had a chance to test out Import.io and we think it’s a pretty neat tool. Of course, you can do a lot more with it than just extraction, if you’re willing to increase your budget: price monitoring, change reports, image or file downloading or even screen captures. You don’t need to know or understand code, but it does help of you have some previous technical experience.
Portia – is a great tool that allows you to visually set up a web scrapper. Just like in the case of Import.io, you don’t need to know any code, but it does help if you have a technical background. You would need to create a template, and Portia will handle the scrapping based on your “guidance”. You don’t have to download any kind of software kit, you can just use Portia within your preferred web browser. This tool is great for starting companies or for small businesses, as it has a pretty flexible free plan. But if you’d want to do more, you can use a paid option (starting at $250 / site or $2000 / annually) and just enjoy some tailor made solutions.
WebSraper.io – is a tool you can use as a Chrome extension and we suggest you use it because it’s really easy to get started with it. You would need to create a template (the tool developer calls it a sitemap) within your browser, selected the fields you would like to extract the data from and you’re done. The developer has some easy-to-follow tutorials where you can learn how to tackle pagination or popups. You can export the data in CSV and you can copy and paste the sitemap model with ease. This means you can run the scrapper from any computer that has Chrome + WebScrapper installed, based just on one recipe. Just like in the cases of the tools presented above, any technical background helps, but since it’s a visual – data extraction – tool you should be able to learn how to use it quite fast.
What if I don’t know how to curate the data?
The short and harsh response to that would be: hire an IT consultancy company. Such a company would be able to help with extracting the relevant data, curating it and even finding a way to integrate it with your other business processes. On the other hand, if you do like to learn and you have some spare time, you can check out OpenRefine (formerly GoogleRefine).
How do I use the collected data?
It actually depends on the model of your business. You can integrate the data within your CRM or ERP, you can use it within your ecommerce platform, or you can simply have a software development company create a custom app that will calculate and generate reports on when clients are more likely to acquire your products and all based on a set of patterns. Sales, marketing or just research? Data extraction tools got you covered!
Other suggestions regarding data extraction tools
One important thing to be mentioned it: use the tools with caution. It’s usually fine to scrape data, if that information is public. Sensible, private data scrapping & processing is not something we would encourage your to do. Especially due to the EU General Data Protection Regulation release, but also because you should respect privacy. Use data extraction tools if they help you understand the market or if they can help you adjust costs in retail. Use data to add value to your products or services.