COVID-19 has taken a toll on education, the economy, and the way people live. However, it has been a boon to eCommerce. Even before the pandemic began, more businesses were expanding their online presence, and COVID-19 kicked that trend into high gear.
The boost has been comparable to holiday season increases in eCommerce traffic. Global traffic on eCommerce platforms was at 22 billion visits in June 2020 compared to 16.7 billion in January 2020, according to Statista. In April 2020, year over year growth in eCommerce was 129% in the USA and Canada, according to Forbes.
Although more consumers are going online, so is the competition. With more companies competing to grab attention online, businesses must find unique ways to find their customers and market products directly. Data is the key to revolutionizing an eCommerce marketing strategy and to increase brand awareness. The next question is what kind of data do the best businesses obtain and create a niche in the marketplace.
Traditional Sources of Data
So what are the best ways for a business to get useful data? Traditional methods include analyzing consumer behavior through surveys, call centers, and focus groups.
A survey can be conducted on the phone or online. The advantage of surveys is that a large number of people can provide direct answers to questions about a product, company, or service. The disadvantage is that many surveys may go unanswered, and the data from surveys may be more reflective of the kind of people who respond to surveys than the general public.
Focus groups have similar pros and cons to surveys. Like surveys, people are offered the choice of whether or not to participate, often with some incentive, such as a free item. Questions can dig deeply into consumer behavior, but the behavior is self-reported and depends on the honesty and motivation to answer the question.
Although there are digital alternatives to call centers, they are sometimes still used for interviewing consumers about shopping habits and product preferences. Of the traditional data collection methods, call centers may be the least useful because many people prefer interacting online than on the phone. There are many ways people can avoid answering the phone when the caller is unfamiliar.
New Methods of Data Collection
The traditional ways of collecting data described above take the form of a company representative asking a consumer certain questions. The questions may or may not be answered honestly or truly reflect behavior. Today, data collection is derived from consumer activity itself, whether it is from conversions, subscriptions, clicks, likes, and email open rates. Online reviews encourage consumers to give clear feedback on a product. On social media, people share news about products and comment on brands. These data types are more candid and authentic than answers to direct questions and can be valuable for creating a long-term eCommerce strategy.
Obtaining Data through Web Scraping
Valuable data is free and openly available to the public. Retail and tech giants are aware of this and try to prevent others from gathering data. For example, if you try to cut and paste pages with reviews of your product, the website or platform could ban your IP address.
Retrieving data involves multiple processes, such as screenshots, cutting and pasting and downloading. To avoid being blocked, it is essential to disguise your IP address when you want to conduct web scraping for eCommerce data.
Web scraping refers to taking HTML code of certain web pages to mine data from them. If your IP address is identified in the process of web scraping, you could get banned, or your competitors will realize you are getting data from their pages. Therefore, using residential proxies for web scraping is essential. A proxy will provide another IP address that will be seen by the website so you can keep yours private, and you can retrieve data without a trace.
How to Use Data for eCommerce Marketing
When you have retrieved data from websites, you can use it to personalize your marketing strategy and improve messaging. Data will inform you of your customers’ preferences and behaviors and allows you to target your messages directly to them. Segmenting your email lists into groups based on retrieved data will help you target your messages directly to customers.
The collected data can help you analyze the sentiments of your customers towards certain products and marketing. Machine learning tools sense attitudes from texts and analyze reviews, comments, and social media posts retrieved from websites. This information provides clues for upgrading product development so you can create items that will appeal to your audience.
In a highly competitive eCommerce environment, data is the key to making your brand stand out. Although surveys are still a good way to measure customer sentiment, today’s businesses collect data from reviews, social media updates, and visitor activities, such as clicks, shares, and conversions. Retrieving this data through web-scraping can help you personalize your marketing strategy, target messaging, and upgrade your marketing.
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