I'm just going to go out and say it. I like data. There I said it! I like data of all shapes and sizes. Messy data. Clean data. Data with numbers. Data with names, both long and short. I'm a data guy.
Now being a data guy means I know where to find data. And what is a set of leads than just a bunch of data?
So here are the three best tools for finding quality leads quickly.
Privacy isn't something synonymous with the internet these days. Between LinkedIn, Facebook and thousands of other networks one's personal information is always only a few clicks away. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means that the responsibility is on the individual to choose much they choose to share online.
Pep talk aside, before we begin talking about how to extract leads here is a list of locations which house a plethora of prospective leads for your present or future ventures.
*Availability is estimated.
Now that we know where we are going to start getting data from, let me introduce three tools that will you help get the job done quickly.
Import.io was one of the first web extraciton tools I discovered a few years back. It's a great piece of software and the company has always been transparent with a 'forever' free model. Of course, if you are interested there is also an enterprise package.
Once you get it running you should have very few data management issues and as long as you identify the fields you want to extract, the software will return the data in those fields back to you, cleanly..
Import.io gives you the ability to choose from four different extraction options. Most of the time, you'll find yourself using either an extractor, or a crawler. The latter being a robot that effectively follows links on your defined page(s) that match a certain type and then extracts data from those pages. To quote, Import.io, "...handy if you don't know all the URLs"
Want to scrape YellowPages or less than 50,000 records at a time? Import should be your tool of choice. It's pretty easy to set up, and doesn't require more than 30-60 minutes of using it until you are comfortable with it.
Since it does run as an app from your Mac or Windows device that means you are really only limited by your computer power. I've found I can get up to 50,000 at any one time without too many issues.
Definitely a great point & click tool. And you'll impress your friends too with you knowledge of web scraping.
Technique: A good strategy to employ when scraping with Import.io is to set up both a crawler and an extractor. The crawler will crawl your defined page(s) for links to the specific product page or person's profile and extract the URLs.
Then once you have configured an accurate extractor all you'll have to do is copy the URLs of the detailed product pages that were harvested from the crawler, and paste them into the extractor.
Kimono / KimonoLabs
Kimono is a very particular tool in the sense that the team behind it have created a very seamless browser extension to instantly extract elements from whatever page/website you may be on. Moreover, for the data driven individual they provide a Google Sheet integration which as you know I'm always a fan of. Amongst other things this integration allows you to have a constantly updated set of new data (without you having to go and grab each time) within a Google Sheet.
Since Kimono doesn't actually run as an app on your computer, you have the freedom of knowing you will still be scraping data even if your browser is closed or your computer turned off. Thereby, making a useful tool for extracting larger quantities of slightly less accessible data.
CloudScrape is definitely the closest you can get to a custom web crawler without actually coding one yourself... and even then.
That said there is a higher learning curve than Import.io or Kimono. Mainly because of the complexity of the 'robots' you can build.
If you are advanced user or would consider yourself relatively savvy, and want to extract say, 500,000 leads which are pre-formatted and separated to your liking then CloudScrape would be very valuable.
If you are a low-mid to level user I would still recommend having CloudScrape in your arsenal. Once you get the basics down there is definitely a euphoric 'a-ha' moment waiting in there for you.