Successful companies use data to their advantage, whether it's to generate leads, monitor the competition, or identify industry trends.
Being able to extract web data from websites in an organized, efficient, and scalable way is key to this success. That's why there are dedicated data extraction tools and software to help companies master this process.
A good data extraction service will scrape the information you need from websites and structure it to be easily stored, processed, and analyzed.
Before we present the best extraction software, let’s look at what data extraction is and how it works.
What is Data Extraction?
Data extraction is the process of pulling information from different sources to gain insights and make business decisions. The information can be either structured, unstructured, or partially structured.
In the context of B2B sales, an example is when you extract lead data from a site like LinkedIn to create a targeted prospect list.
Data extraction is the first step of the ETL process (Extract, Transform & Load). An ETL tool takes raw data from different sources, then prepares it for import into another system by organizing into the right format for analysis.
As an example, Captain Data runs similarly to an ETL by:
1. Pulling data from multiple sources across the web based on what you need
2. Aggregating raw data into enriched, structured data
3. Integrating the data into your CRM or other tools
In short, the goal of ETL is to prepare raw data for analysis.
Why do companies need data extraction?
Companies use data extraction for a number of reasons:
- To create databases of relevant, up-to-date data
- To generate actionable insights as part of a sales or marketing strategy. Salespeople use data to enrich a CRM to get more context on leads and potential opportunities.
- To improve data quality by focusing on the most relevant data sources and reduce the possibility of human error
- To better analyze the market and competition
Under the Hood: How Data Extraction Actually Works
Google’s search engine is a prime example of data extraction in action. Google crawls websites and extracts information to display in search results.
But in Google’s case, the data is unstructured and therefore unactionable.
This article focuses on structured data extraction (or “smart data” as we like to call it here at Captain Data). Structured data is organized and ready for analysis.
Captain Data’s automation software uses a technique called web scraping to collect this smart data.
Web scraping or web data extraction
Web scraping is the process of extracting publicly available data from websites. It’s a way to quickly gather valuable information and prepare it for entry into a database. Emails, phone numbers, and postal addresses are examples of data you can scrape.
There are two types of web scraping: manual and automated.
Manual scraping involves copying and pasting information into a database or spreadsheet. Slow and tedious, it’s best reserved for small amounts of data.
Automated scraping is carried out with a data extraction tool that quickly pulls large amounts of data from online sources.
Web scraping is particularly beneficial for sales teams. They use it to:
- Build a list of target companies and leads using data extracted from LinkedIn SalesNavigator, Google Maps, Yellow Pages, etc
- Identify decision makers and potential business opportunities
- Enrich and score leads
- Save time on manual data entry
Introducing Data Extraction Tools
What does a data extraction tool do?
A data extraction tool (or data extraction software) pulls data from forms, websites, emails, and other online sources using automation.
The different types of data extraction tools
- SaaS solutions
- Chrome extensions
- Scraper bots/web scraping APIs
- Open source libraries
- Proxies and datasets
The benefits of data extraction software
- Time-savings: Automate tedious manual data processes
- Greater efficiency: Go faster and do more in less time
- Ease of use: No code data extraction tools like Captain Data make it easy to set up data automation workflows without any technical knowledge
- Accuracy: Minimize the risk of human error
- Scalability: Quickly access large amounts of structured data to grow your business (e.g. leads and sales opportunities)
At a Glance: The 10 Best Data Extraction Tools
- Captain Data
- Web Scraper Chrome extension
- Scraper API
In Detail: The Best Data Extraction Tools for Your Business in 2023
Note: For those who remember Kimono as the best scraping tool back in the day (2014/2015), you won’t find it here as it was acquired by Palentir in 2016.
1. Captain Data
We know we’re biased 😇 but as we see it, Captain Data wins the top spot because it offers so many data extraction and automation scenarios. You can easily extract structured data from over 30 sources including LinkedIn, Google, TrustPilot, and more.
Far more than just a web scraping tool, Captain Data is a complete data automation suite with over 400 ready-to-use workflows. We help sales and marketing teams work smarter and faster without the need to code.
The concept is simple: extract data from anywhere on the web, enrich the data with multiple sources, and integrate it into your CRM, spreadsheets, or other tools.
Diffbot is an extraction software for enterprise companies with specific data crawling and screen scraping needs.
Diffbot provides a suite of features that turn unstructured web data into structured, contextual databases. You can use it to scrape articles, news pages, product pages, and forums.
Customers like Diffbot for its APIs and advanced technical resources, noting how the tool works particularly well for extracting social media data.
On the downside, some reviewers say that Diffbot has a learning curve. You’ll need to learn its query language if you’re not used to making database queries.
Diffbot offers a two-week free trial with full API access. The cheapest plan starts at $299.
Octoparse is a data extraction service for anyone who needs it, whether it’s for lead gen, monitoring prices, marketing, or research.
A big plus: it’s super easy to use. You just point, click, and extract. No coding skills required.
Scrape all types of websites and generate structured tables of data with Octoparse’s cloud-based web crawler.
You can schedule and run automated tasks 24/7 with Octoparse’s drag and drop workflows. It pulls text, links, image URLs, and more from across the web.
Octoparse offers a free plan with up to 10 crawlers. The standard plan starts at $75/month.
Proxies & Datasets
Brightdata is for all types of businesses wanting to leverage web data to their advantage, including those in finance, retail, travel, cybersecurity, and more.
With plenty of use cases and ready-to-use datasets, the Brightdata Data Collector scrapes and uses an API to send data to the desired app. This way you can collect data at scale with zero infrastructure.
Use cases include market research, SEO, search engine crawling, and stock market monitoring.
Brightdata gives you structured web data that’s compatible with a wide range of applications. Pricing for the Data Collector starts at $350 for 100,000 page loads.
5. Web Scraper
Web Scraper Chrome extension is a free data scraping tool for crawling and analyzing web data.
As far as free tools go, Web Scraper is surprisingly powerful. You can extract data from dynamic websites across all page levels including categories, subcategories, product pages, and pagination.
It offers plenty of examples to get started as well as an easy point-and-click interface. Quickly download tables and lists in CSV format with no code needed.
While the browser extension is free, there are paid plans for those who want automation, more export options, a proxy, parser, and API. Prices start from a reasonable $50 a month for these extras.
Simplescraper, as the name suggests, offers simplified web scraping. Completely free, it’s available to download instantly. Use it to scrape locally, run recipes in the cloud, or create an API.
Each website you scrape becomes an API you can call for fresh data over and over.
Just some of the things you can do with Simplescraper: pull data from thousands of web pages with one click, export to Google Sheets, extract data from behind links with deep scraping. Pretty powerful for a free tool!
Web scraping APIs
7. Scraper API
Scraper API is for all business types, from startups right up to large enterprises.
This data extraction solution handles proxies, browsers, and CAPTCHAs, so you can scrape any web page with a simple API call.
Just submit the URL you want to extract data from and Scraper API will return the HTML for you. It’s great for scaling.
Scraper API offers a free trial with 5000 API credits. Paid plans start from $29 for 250,000 API credits.
ScrapingBee is a solid data extraction tool for general web scraping tasks.
Sales teams use it for lead generation, extracting contact information, and pulling data from social media. Marketers use it for growth hacking and SEO. Perform keyword monitoring and backlink checking at scale thanks to a large proxy pool.
ScrapingBee offers a free trial with 1000 API calls, no credit card required. The entry level plan starts at $49 a month for 100,000 API credits
Open Source Libraries
Puppeteer is a Node library, which makes the process easier than scraping with pure Node. It provides a high-level API to control Chrome or Chromium over the DevTools Protocol.
Puppeteer runs a headless browser you can use to scrape a webpage for its content using HTML DOM selectors. Puppeteer lets you crawl a SPA (Single-Page Application) and generate pre-rendered content (i.e. Server-Side Rendering). You can generate screenshots and PDFs of pages.
It runs headless by default, but can be configured to run full (non-headless) Chrome or Chromium.
It’s possible to build a scraping application between Node.js and Puppeteer.
Scrapy is a free open-source application framework for crawling websites.
Written in Python, it runs on Linux, Windows, Mac and BSD. It’s fast, simple, and scalable for web data extraction.
Build and run web crawlers, then deploy them to the Zyte Scrapy cloud. The extracted structured data can be used for a wide range of applications, including data mining, information processes, and archiving.
Good to know: It can also be used to extract data using APIs (such as Amazon Associates Web Services) or as a general purpose web crawler.
One of the biggest advantages of Scrapy is that requests are scheduled and processed asynchronously. You don’t have to wait for one request to be finished and processed, you can send another request and do other things in the meantime.