How startups and scaleups can leverage web data for success

Data is touted as the lifeblood of the digital world, the new oil, and the DNA of the Internet – all rightly so. Organisations are increasingly tapping into the vast realm of web data and leveraging the power of data analytics to propel groundbreaking innovations.

Understanding web data

Simply put, web data can be described as structured and unstructured information that is generated, collected, stored, and transmitted through the Internet, and ranges from text and images to videos, audio and other multimedia content. While web data can be collected through several different methods, web scraping and web crawling are the most widely used techniques.

Catalysing growth for startups and scaleups with web data

Given the versatility of web data, startups and scaleups stand to benefit immensely from what it offers, also in ways that are different from how legacy organisations may benefit from web data. For instance, startups are focused on rapid growth and scalability, innovation, and disruption, operating on lean structures and limited resources – how does web data help with their special requirements? As we delve deeper into this topic, we’ll explore the many ways in which web data equips startups and scaleups with valuable and actionable insights to assist in their accelerated growth.

Powering market research

The importance of market research for any organisation cannot be emphasised enough. Especially for startups and scaleups, meticulous research can make or break the chances of success in a highly competitive landscape. More often than not, startups need to validate their business ideas before launching their products or services. Web data, in this sense, is a quick and cost-effective way to test the waters before investing valuable resources into product development. Web data is extremely useful in assessing the size of a market and the intensity of competition within the given market. By providing useful insights into customer preferences, behaviours and trends, web data allows startups to assess market demand and make informed decisions about their offerings.

Web data can contribute greatly to the scaling and expansion efforts of organisations by helping them identify growth opportunities and optimise marketing strategies accordingly. For instance, by identifying the most promising customer segments, startups will be able to optimise their pricing and marketing strategies for maximum impact and desirable return on investment.

Companies can gain insights into how customers are discussing products, services, or brands within a particular market by monitoring conversations and reviews happening online. Using this information, they can refine their offerings and craft their messaging to target their consumer group effectively. In fact, this is a way of testing the waters before actually launching the product, saving a considerable amount of time, money and effort.

Web data also serves as a learning resource to help startups keep up with the best industry practices from industry leaders and insights into what other companies and thought leaders are doing to create their mark in the industry. Learning from success stories of others in business, as well as failures of the past can give a well-balanced understanding of do’s and don'ts.

Keep your friends close and competitors closer

Web data makes it possible for startups to better understand their competitor’s offerings and how they can differentiate themselves. It’s interesting to note that monitoring a competitor’s customer reviews and ratings will also provide startups with information about the strengths and weaknesses of their competitors, enabling them to adjust their offerings accordingly.

Competitive intelligence offers an unparalleled edge to startups by equipping them with strategic, actionable insights that could give them a first-mover advantage. In turn, they can proactively identify and bridge market gaps. Be it product development or marketing efforts, web data comes in handy. Besides, startups and scaleups can make use of web data to stay on top of what their competitors are up to – including innovations, pricing strategies as well as campaigns or offers.

Walking a mile in the consumers’ shoes

Web data puts organisations in touch with the pulse of their customers. There isn’t a need for guesswork and assumptions when you can count on the data to do the storytelling. From nuanced market insights to consumer reviews and reactions, web data is an excellent source of how customers interact with products and offerings, offering a trove of relevant information that can supplement decision making.

Customer segmentation is another activity made easier with the help of web data. One size doesn’t fit all, and hence, insights about different types of customers within the market, and allow for segmentation to craft strategies to suit the unique needs of each segment. Awareness about customer needs and pain points offers companies a chance to proactively meet their requirements, in turn capturing their interest and loyalty. 

Web data offers startups a glimpse into how consumers are reacting to changes in the market such as new product launches and changes in pricing. Moreover, insights into customer sentiment and feedback allows startups to quickly identify any negative feedback or issues and provides an opportunity to address them before they escalate. This also includes understanding brand perception and reputation to stay ahead of the curve.

Getting the most out of marketing and advertising

Data-driven decision making can help startups optimise their marketing resources effectively. For startups, it’s extremely important to make judicious use of marketing money and there is little room for overspending and underutilisation. Web data sheds light on consumer behaviours, patterns and trends allowing marketers to adjust their marketing efforts, focusing on the most rewarding spaces and saving up on potentially wasteful areas. Scaleups can use these insights to course-correct existing campaigns to get the most out of what they pour into their marketing efforts. By optimising and targeting media-buying and messaging, marketers can make sure that they reach the right audience at the right time and the right place with the right message.

By tracking user behaviour, interests and demographics, web data can help startups identify their target audience, enabling them to create targeted advertising campaigns that are more likely to resonate with potential customers and increase the chances of conversion. Consider the amount of valuable information that can be derived from social media platforms where customers spend a lot of their time and the increased likelihood of reaching the right people through these channels by leveraging this information. Similarly, using insights from web data, content marketing can be streamlined to resonate with the target audience, ensuring that content marketing campaigns are engaging.

Web data also facilitates the identification of keywords and phrases that are most commonly used by their target audience in search engines, enabling startups to improve their search engine rankings through SEO optimisation. Organic traffic is immensely useful for startups to establish themselves as an authentic voice and with time, even as an authority. 

Thriving in a dynamic world of transformative shifts

More often than not, the resilience of startups is put to test by drastically changing market conditions impacted by variables out of their control. The ability of startups to weather the storm depends largely on their ability to quickly pivot their strategies and offerings to meet changing market demands and customer needs. Making good use of web data can greatly help startups stay agile and stay ahead of the game.

With predictive analytics, web data can say a lot about the future from past user behaviour and trends. Web data can be used to make informed predictions about future market trends and potential changes. This allows startups and scaleups to adjust their strategies accordingly and avoid being caught off-guard by sudden shifts. It’s not just about staying afloat during challenging times but about turning these challenges into opportunities that can take them to greater heights.

Learnings along the way

Building and growing a company brings with it challenges, for me, three challenges stand out in particular. One of the biggest we faced at was talent acquisition. Finding skilled professionals with expertise in data science, programming, and big data technologies was challenging, especially in the early stages. But luckily we are based in Groningen, a university city in the Netherlands, so there are a lot of smart people here so we could find the best ones. Another challenge we were confronted with was scaling infrastructure. As the volume of data we process grew exponentially, we needed to invest in robust and scalable infrastructure. When we started, we only had a few dedicated servers, these days we have hundreds of dedicated servers all over the world. Lastly, another difficulty was data quality; ensuring the accuracy, relevance, and comprehensiveness of the data we provide has been a continuous challenge. We've had to develop and refine data validation and cleansing processes to guarantee the highest possible data quality for our clients.

Defining success is an important part of growing a business. My definition of success is centered around creating a good product that adds value for our customers and is great for our employees to work on. Success hinges on meeting and exceeding customer expectations. For aspiring entrepreneurs that are looking to start their own businesses, the key really is: identify a problem or gap in the market, create the solution that you love, fail fast by validating it and keep in love with the thing you do because you will be doing it for a while as you didn’t fail while validating. One of the biggest learnings of my career, that is an indispensable part of the process of building and growing a company business is that something does not have to be a 100% before you go to the market. My advice is to start small and nimble, listen to paying customers and create the product in a way that adds value to your paying customers.

From powering market research to facilitating strategy iteration, web data is a remarkable tool in your arsenal to unlock the most compelling of revelations relevant to your sphere of work. By sprucing up the decision-making journey, harnessing the power of web data could potentially guide the transformation of your organisation and help actualise the dream of bringing ‘the next big thing’ to life.