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What is Data Extraction? Definition, tools and use cases

February 15, 2023
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Do you ever feel like you spend entirely too much time gathering data? Well, you're not alone. A lot of people struggle with collecting and organizing information.

Luckily, there is a process that can help make this task a little bit easier: data extraction.

‍What is data extraction, and how can it help your sales process? Keep reading to find out! 👇

  • How Can Data Extraction Help Your Company?
  • Most Popular Data Extraction Tools
  • How can Captain Data help with Data Extraction

What is Data Extraction?

In short, data extraction is the process of extracting information from sources like websites, databases, and files. This can be done manually (and quite slowly) or entirely automated  - with the use of the right tool.

Data Extraction is the first step in the ETL process (extract, transform, and load), also known as the "data ingestion" process, which prepares information for business intelligence or analysis.

In practice, here is what the ETL process for revenue operations looks like:‍

  1. Extract - scrape companies, names, and emails from public sources.
  2. Transform - filter and enrich your list, delete irrelevant entries and format it properly for the outreach tool. 
  3. Load - upload your list into your cold email outreach tool, CRM, or database.

This ETL journey starts with raw data from a range of sources. While manual extraction and transformation are possible, the most efficient ETL process employs software that automates these steps. This software can automatically collect the data, sort it, and clean it for storage and later use.

 <div class="cms-tips"><div>💡</div><p>To master the ETL process, deep dive into this article: Master the ETL process: Extract, Transform and Load your Data.</p></div>

What is Data Extraction Used For?

Data extractionIt enables companies to quickly grab the information they need from websites, databases, and other online places. This helps them understand trends and make data-driven decisions.

20% of the time spent by business development representatives is dedicated to sourcing data. By using automated tools for data extraction, businesses can save a lot of time that they would otherwise spend searching for or entering data by hand. Plus, they can cut down on costs because automation is freeing up people's time and avoids paying lots of money for external or internal resources in development. It increases productivity and ROI ultimately.

One of our case studies at Captain Data reveals that sales representatives from a company reduced their time spent on daily tasks by 80%, enhancing process efficiency. Before using Captain Data, sales representatives manually selected 25 profiles daily through Sales Navigator and added them to their spreadsheet. This spreadsheet included the following information: first name, last name, company name, LinkedIn profile URL, and message sent status. With the implementation of Captain Data, they were able to automate this process, significantly increasing their capacity to search for and extract profiles—reaching up to 125 profiles per sales representative per week.

 <div class="cms-tips"><div>💡</div><p>To explore additional case studies about our data extraction solution, please click here.</p></div>

Data extraction technology is also used all over the world to give people and organizations a quicker and more reliable way to get their hands on huge amounts of data, which would be really tough or even impossible to gather by themselves. The ways data extraction can help businesses are endless - it all depends on how creative we get with it. 

What are the Two Data Extraction Methods?

When it comes to pulling data from different sources, there are mainly two methods: full or incremental extraction. Both ways are about searching and getting data, but they handle the collection and processing differently.

  • Full Extraction: Grabs all data from the source at once. It's great when you need a full snapshot to start with or to build upon.
  • Incremental Extraction: Only extract data that has changed or been updated, keeping track of the latest changes.

How Can Data Extraction Help Your Company?

In present days, companies that do not have a data-driven vision will lose most of their business to the ones that do.

Data extraction can bring valuable insights into various aspects of your business and especially your revenue operations, including customer behavior, market trends, or sales performance.‍

It can also be used to identify growth opportunities, as well as help you optimize your marketing efforts and improve lead conversions with targeted communications.

The main problem is that manual lead generation remains a time-consuming, unreliable and therefore costly process.

However, automating your lead generation is becoming easier with the latest technology! Once automated, data extraction becomes your most efficient method of building a customer database without having to do all the tedious legwork.

4 ways data extraction can add value to your business right away

While data extraction has many uses, these 4 are the ones with the most impact on your bottom line when applied to revenue operations:

1/ Keep your B2B database accurate over time

Businesses must extract data from various sources, cleanse it, and integrate it into their CRM or data warehouse to ensure their database remains relevant and up-to-date.

2/ Build a database with advanced insights from your extracted data

Are you looking to enrich your lead database with essential and reliable information to boost your sales team's ability to convert prospects into clients?

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. 

With data extraction, you can easily add more fields to your records and enrich your lists: company LinkedIn profile, number of employees, their contact details, etc.

3/ Analyze your market and competition

By extracting data on your competitors' companies or leads, you can gain insights critical to your analysis, strategy, and understanding of the market.

4/ Improve your data quality

By focusing on the most relevant data sources and reducing the possibility of human error, whether you need to search for relevant contact information or analyze data on consumer preferences and spending habits, data extraction is the way to go.‍

These 4 main uses will allow your business to generate fresh leads at all times, perform better marketing analysis and set up more effective strategies.

Challenges of Data Extraction

Data extraction offers many opportunities, but also some limitations.

Maintenance if done manually

If you choose to update your database manually, you will have to deal with a significant amount of work regarding maintenance and data cleanliness.

Platform limitations

When extracting data from a source you can potentially be rate-limited to the number of data you can extract during a certain period of time. 

It also depends if there is an API or not. There can be specified rate limits or commercial limits to comply with. Not complying with the rate limits can lead to getting limited or blocked from the platform where data are extracted.

Let’s take an example, when it comes to potential prospects, most of the searching is done through LinkedIn Sales Navigator. There is a limit to the number of leads that you can extract (2500 per search).

  • 20 connection requests per day, on a free account;
  • 100 connection requests per day, on a paid account;
  • 250 messages per day, if you paid for Sales Navigator;

As you scale your extraction campaigns, this can quickly become a serious bottleneck, slowing down your growth. 


Another big bottleneck is manpower. There is a very small amount of data that one person can manually scrape.

Why waste your team's time on data entry tasks? Their capacity would be much more efficiently used reaching out to the leads that the extraction brings you.

These challenges can be addressed with a data automation tool capable of updating your database automatically with real-time, reliable data. This allows for the scraping of large volumes of data and scalability. As a result, your team can bypass the tedious task of data extraction and concentrate on their primary responsibilities. Naturally, this must be accomplished using a tool that can manage platform limitations thanks to smart account limit features.

What are the Types of Data Extraction Tools?

Some are command-line-based and require users to have a sound knowledge of how programming works.

Others simply require a user to copy and paste HTML into the tool, with little to no knowledge of how all the pieces work together.

Data extraction tools come into six main types:

  • SaaS solutions: These scalable web-based solutions allow you to crawl websites, pull online data, and then access it through a platform, download it in your preferred file type, or transfer it to your own database.
  • ETL Tools: ETL solutions allows users to extract data from one or more sources, transforming it to fit the target system’s needs, and loading it into the target system.
  • Proxies and datasets: use rotating residential proxies for effective web data extraction.
  • Scraper bots/web scraping APIs: This data extraction solution scrapes any web page with a simple API call or bots.
  • Chrome extensions: Extract data from dynamic websites through directly a google chrome extension on your browser.
  • Open source libraries: Need to extract data on a budget? Look for open-source options, which can be more affordable and accessible for smaller operations.

Each type offers its own set of benefits, so you can choose the best fit based on your needs, whether that's handling big data loads, working within a budget, or needing data on the fly.

 <div class="cms-tips"><div>💡</div><p>Feel free to check them out for yourself, as we prepared an in-depth review of data extraction tools that are now on the market.</p></div>

Benefits of Using Data Extraction Tools

Using a data extraction tool comes with a bunch of benefits:

  • Boosts efficiency: These tools speed up pulling data from different places by automating the process, making it quicker and more effective than doing it by hand.
  • Increases accuracy: While manual data pulling might lead to mistakes, automated tools do it right every time. This means less chance of errors and more consistent data.
  • Ensures consistency: Data extraction tools make sure the data format is uniform across various sources, simplifying the integration and analysis of data.
  • Provides flexibility: These tools can grab data from a bunch of places, like databases, websites, and APIs, allowing you to collect data from many sources all together.
  • Customize: You can adjust these tools to fit your specific needs, letting you pull data in the exact format and timing you want.
  • Cost Savings: By cutting down on manual work and saving time, these tools can help lower costs for businesses and organizations.
  • Facilitates data merging: They assist in combining data from various sources into one main spot, making it simpler to analyze and make decisions. These advantages can help businesses and organizations use their data more effectively, leading to smarter decisions and better results.

These perks make it clear why using data extraction tools can be a game-changer, helping businesses and organizations get more out of their data, make smarter decisions, and achieve better results.

How to Extract Data with Tools?

So now we know the benefits that data extraction can bring to your company, but how do you actually do it ? 🤔

From experience, here are the typical steps but please note it can vary depending of the tool:

  1. Start with a clear purpose for your data extraction. Why do you need to do it? Is it to find new prospects, perform competitive analysis, find new talents for your company, or build a product tool for your users? The reasons can vary depending on your ultimate goal and needs. First, be sure of what you want.
  2. Identify the data you need to achieve your goal. Make a list of the required data.
  3. Select the applications from which you want to extract the data.
  4. Retrieve the target tables and fields in the parameters.
  5. Once the data extraction is complete, extract the database.
  6. Depending on the tool, you may load the data into your CRM, CSV, etc.

Now we understand that, depending on your goals, one data extraction tool may be more suitable than another for your needs. Selecting the right tool is a crucial step in your data strategy.

That’s where tools like Captain Data come into place

Without having to know how to code, you can easily extract data from any source on the web, enrich it with 3rd party providers and integrate it with your favorite data management tools.

Most Popular Data Extraction Tools

Improving data quality, automating data collection, and making data-driven decisions can be made simpler through the use of these widely used data extraction tools:

  • Captain Data: Automates data extraction and process workflows, suitable for non-developers and scalable for business needs.
  • Diffbot: Diffbot is an extraction software for enterprise companies with specific data crawling and screen scraping needs.
  • Octoparse: A user-friendly, no-code tool for extracting web data, suitable for users without programming skills.
  • Brightdata: Provides comprehensive web data collection solutions, targeting businesses leveraging web data for insights.
  • Web Scraper Chrome Extension: A free tool for extracting data from websites directly within Chrome, suitable for simple scraping tasks.
  • Another free, easy-to-use tool for scraping web data without coding, offering a Chrome extension.
  • Scraper API: Handles proxies, browsers, and CAPTCHAs to simplify web scraping, designed for developers.
  • ScrapingBee: Manages headless browsers for scraping, emphasizing handling sites that require JavaScript rendering.
  • Puppeteer: A Node library for controlling Chrome or Chromium, aimed at developers for advanced web scraping and automation tasks.
  • Scrapy: An open-source and collaborative framework for extracting the data from websites, scalable for large web scraping projects.

 <div class="cms-tips"><div>💡</div><p>💡Feel free to explore our detailed review of the data extraction tools available in 2024, which we've carefully put together for you: 10 Best Data Extraction Tools for 2024.</p></div>

How can Captain Data Help with Data Extraction?

With Captain Data, you can extract real-time and reliable data in auto-pilot across multiple web sources and applications thanks to its advanced automation and integration features. 

Our solution stands as a robust data extraction and enrichment software, ideal for businesses aiming to scale their sales and marketing operations while boosting revenue. Captain Data goes beyond mere data extraction, enabling comprehensive data enrichment, integration, and automated workflow creation for a seamless end-to-end process.

What does it mean to your revenue operations (RevOps)? It offers the possibility to fully automate your ETL process, from extraction to loading.

Set your automations and extract live data from multiple web sources (the solution offer +40 integrations) now or later with our schedule option, enrich your extracted data with additional information, consolidate the data into one database, pull the data directly into your own CRM or CSV. 

How to Automate Data Extraction with Captain Data?

Setup a data extraction automation / workflow in less than 2 minutes on Captain Data: 

Select a single app for simple automation or pick multiple apps for more complex workflows.

Customize your workflow from scratch or pick the template that fits your use case

Setup your automation in a few minutes:

  1. Copy-paste your search
  2. Connect your LinkedIn account
  3. Configure the workflow
  4. Schedule or launch it

 <div class="cms-tips"><div>💡</div><p>If you want to deep dive into our data extraction solution and discover how we can help you to automate your data extraction, click here.</p></div>

Data Extraction Use Cases with Captain Data

Now that you know the ins and outs of data extraction, let's have a closer look at how you can leverage it for your company.

Here are five popular use cases where our customers use Captain Data to extract and enrich relevant information.

1 - Data extraction for web scraping

Web scraping is at the root of data extraction. It is the #1 classic method to collect and store information from websites.

Scraped data can be used to:

  • Create databases of relevant, up-to-date data
  • Quickly gain insights into specific companies
  • Better analyze the market and competition
  • Create new products, test, and innovate faster

At Captain Data, we have two ready-to-use automations at your disposal. 

Website scraper

Sign Up to use this Workflow

This automation allows you to extract data from any website in a matter of seconds and a few clicks. Scrape relevant information such as emails and social network URLs from LinkedIn or Twitter.

What you’ll need is a list of website URLs → What you’ll get is a list of Social Media URLs and emails.

It is useful when you want to quickly gain insights into a given company and identify decision-makers and potential business opportunities. One way you can be really efficient with this, is to combine the website scraper with other automations like Extract Linkedin company profile.

When you retrieve the LinkedIn URL, Captain Data will extract the company’s information such as country, industry, company counts, employees…

Bonus: you can take this approach one step further and find all the information about the decision makers from any given company that you want to contact: full name, job title, emails and phone numbers. 

Generic Scraper

Sign Up to use this Workflow

This automation allows you to retrieve more detailed information from any given website. However, you need to be a slightly more experienced scraper. But we’re sure you’ll get there in no time 😉

What you’ll need is a list of website URLs → What you’ll get is extracted data based on the specific information you requested and the parameters you entered. 

  • For example, if you're looking at the Hubspot Solutions Directory and you'd like to extract all the partners, you're not going to do it manually. It'll take forever. Captain Data will extract this for you in a matter of seconds.
  • Another example would be G2 reviews: Suppose you want to extract Hubspot reviews . You can use the selectors to do so, ,but you can always choose to extract something else, like the HubSpot Marketing Hub Comparisons on the right of the page.

This can be done with any listing/directory website.

But you can take this automation to yet another level. How?

Just use it within a workflow: if there's something you want to check daily or weekly, such as a price change, you can create your own custom workflow.

In addition, you can use this to perform an automated market study, which would allow you to analyze and look for key trends in a particular market.

2 - Data extraction for Lead Generation

For lead generation, data extraction can be used to:

  • Generate actionable insights as part of a Sales, or Growth strategy. Salespeople use data to enrich a CRM to get more context on leads and potential opportunities.
  • Build an automated sales pipeline
  • Run Outbound and ABM campaigns (at Captain Data, we feel very strongly about ABM and we believe it is the most efficient way to do outbound)
  • Run an inbound strategy to attract your ideal customers to your brand. Utilizing data extraction can assist in identifying qualified leads and understanding their behaviors, thereby optimizing your marketing efforts and enhancing inbound lead generation.
  • When completing a form to download any resources on your website, you can ask your leads to enter full names and emails → you can use data extraction and data enrichment to find more information like phone numbers, company, URLs, or social profiles;
  • Have a powerful SEO strategy (tools like SEMrush or Ubersuggest would not be possible without powerful data extraction);
  • Quickly find out your SEO competitors for a given keyword
  • Find the most relevant keywords for your business and the topics you should be writing about

This is one of our most-used workflows for lead generation: 

Sign Up to use the Workflow

Captain Data has a pre-set workflow that allows you to generate leads from a LinkedIn search. On top of that, you can also use different email finders to find leads' emails. We call this unique Captain Data feature Email Cascade.

The Email Cascade works just like a waterfall: if an email is not found with one email provider, we will try with the second one, then a third one and so on. You can choose the email finder you want, and maximize your chances of finding your contacts' email addresses.

What you’ll need is a LinkedIn People Search URL → What you’ll get is a list of leads with contact, company, and email information

Want to take it even further?

  • Use a simple LinkedIn Sales Navigator Search to segment your leads. In fact, we offer real lead segmentation capabilities by filtering precisely the types of leads that you want or do not want. This allows you to be efficient in your research and more restrictive. 
  • You can then push the results to a Google Sheet, your CRM, or a Lemlist Campaign.

3 - Data extraction for Account-Based Marketing

Do you already have your ideal customer and account profiles? Then it’s time to get those contacts' information

You can leverage data extraction for Account-Based Marketing:

  • To take your lead generation to the next level and extract the highest qualified prospects. If you identified the right companies, all you have to do now is engage the right decision-makers with a hyper-personalized campaign

This is one of our most-used workflows for Account-Based Marketing:

Sign up here to use this workflow

This workflow allows you to find the employees of given companies that you previously qualified using Boolean filters (you can consult our complete guide to learn more about Boolean Operators and Google Xray Search) and enrich them to find their email using our Email Cascade feature.

What you’ll need is  a list of LinkedIn Company Profiles → What you’ll get is a list of LinkedIn companies enriched with employee information and verified emails.

As a next step, you could:

  • Push those leads in a LaGrowthMachine campaign or a spreadsheet for your Sales and Sales Ops or Rev Ops team.

4 - Data extraction for Lead Enrichment

Imagine the following scenario: you just got back from a great trade show in your industry, where you generated tons of business leads and opportunities. You go to the website and get the names of all exhibitors and sponsors.

So what now? Go through each company and manually search for their CEO, then try to find their email and Linkedin profile? 

This can take several working days. In business, timing is everything, so you may want to pitch to these companies right after the event, not a week later. 

Data extraction can do that. Based on the company name, it can enrich your data with: 

  • Full name
  • Position
  • Email

And just like that, right after you get back from an event - you have a full list of participants, with the right person and their email! 

No wonder the Enrich Companies & Leads workflow is one of our most popular:

Sign Up to try this Workflow

Enrich people's LinkedIn profiles with their associated company data and find their contact using third-party email finders.

What you’ll need is a list of LinkedIn People Profiles → What you’ll get is an enriched leads list with company information and certified emails.

You can go even further by combining multiple enrichment automation into a personalized workflow:

Let’s expand on our earlier example. Combined enrichment campaigns would allow you to:

  1. Scrape the names of speakers at an event
  2. Enrich the list with their Linkedin profiles
  3. Extract Company, Position, and Contact

With these few extractions, you can have a highly targeted lead list for your outbound team without spending significant hours!

5- Data extraction for social media tactics

You can leverage data extraction for social media:

  • To boost your Social Media audiences
  • To get a competitive edge over your competitors
  • Extract and follow and/or DM the followers of your competitors

One of our most-used social media workflows:

Sign Up to use this Workflow

This workflow is ideal if you want to grow your Instagram audience: It allows you to extract followers from specific Instagram accounts, then follow each account.

What you’ll need is a list of Instagram Accounts → What you’ll get is an automated process to follow those Instagram Account Followers

If you want to go even further, use our workflow editor to scrape any competitor's website (using our website scraper), get their social media links, then extract/follow/DM their followers!

Captain Data’s  Workflow Editor is a feature which allows you to build your own workflows by putting together multiple automations available.


Now you not only know what data extraction is, but you have an overview of all the powerful ways it can help your business!

While the applications are truly limitless, if your primary goal is business growth, you should focus your attention on:

  • Lead Generation
  • Data Enrichment
  • Social Media Tactics

Of course, the potential of data extraction does not end there. You can use data extraction in many different ways. Candidate sourcing, product & ad extraction or customer review monitoring are just some of them. 

Start with something basic, like extracting more leads for your business, and experiment from there!

Captain Data has all of these workflows ready to go, and they can be activated with just a few clicks.


Guillaume Odier
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