The Internet has changed several industries, including the marketing industry. Gone are the days when marketers need to go from house to house, handing out survey forms in the hopes of getting some insights into what people want.
The Internet has also introduced tools and systems that have become necessities and indispensable for marketers, and proxies are one of these things. Unfortunately, some marketers are missing out on this useful tool that helps automate data collection and make data analysis much easier.
Basics of a proxy server
A proxy server is a part of any computer network that acts as an intermediary between a user’s device and another server where the user is requesting information from. The resources being requested can be web pages, videos, mp3 files, games or any digital files available on the Internet. Instead of the request going directly from the user to the destination server, it passes through the proxy server first where it is filtered and validated. Two things could happen at this point:
If the resources are cached in the proxy server’s local hard drive, it sends this cached file to the user’s device.
If the resources being requested are not cached, the proxy server passes the request on to the destination server. When the destination server responds, the information once again goes through the proxy server where it is cached, and then on to the user’s device.
Remember that before the proxy routes the request to the destination server, it is first filtered. It is in this process that proxy servers become useful for marketers and business owners because the filtering process includes the anonymization of the user’s IP address.
Knowing your customers should be the very core and ultimate foundation of every marketing strategy. No matter how innovative your strategies are, no matter how many followers your social media accounts have if you don’t know your customers well, these marketing tactics are bound to fail.
This is why marketing agencies invest a huge amount of time, effort, and budget in data analysis since it is one of the most effective ways to get to know their clients. Data analysis lets enterprises know several useful things about their target market, from the demographics, browsing habits, and web usage to hobbies and interests, buying habits, and consumer behaviors.
Now, with half the world’s population using the Internet, there is an unbelievably immense amount of data available online, on every website, but mostly on Google. In 2012, Google started collecting user data from several of its daughter services such as Google Calendar, Mail, Search, YouTube, Maps, Google Play, and a whole lot of different products. Every single Internet user is bound to have an account with a Google product. The user data that Google collects from all these services are lumped together to create a general profile of a person.
For instance, a user whose search history includes baby strollers and breast pumps, and whose YouTube viewing history includes nursery rhymes, can be categorized by Google’s algorithm as a new mother within the 25 to 30 age range.
Another user who regularly watches gaming and toy review channels on YouTube can be seen as a pre-teenager.
Why online marketers need a proxy service: Market research
All these data and user profiles that Google and other websites have is like a gold mine for marketers. Once they get a hold of these data, they can formulate a targeted and effective marketing strategy. Of course, they don’t need all of the data, just specific ones that are relevant to the industry they are in, or in other words, just that of their target market.
Because of the amount of data available online, collecting the pertinent ones is almost impossible without using any tools. Tools collect a huge amount of data in as little time as possible, which is their boon and bane. It’s good because marketers obtain the data in no time, but there is a possibility that the IP address used will be blocked because of the huge amount of activity being done.
This is where proxies come in. Remember that proxies anonymize a user, so when used together with a data collection tool, the user won’t get blocked.
Why online marketers need a proxy service: Competitor analysis
As a marketer, you can identify some of your strongest competitors, and when doing this, keep in mind that you are a global company since you’re operating on the Internet, so your competitors can also be from other parts of the world.
With proxies, you can spoof your location and therefore make data collection more specific geographically.
Once you have the data you need, you can see the type of content your competitors publish, which ones have high traffic and even how many times a week they produce new content. You can use the strengths of your competitors and apply it to your own marketing strategy.
The problem with the way Google’s algorithm categorizes users is that it does so in a macro-level. The new mother whose age is between 25 to 30, for instance, can actually be a 35-year old father of two.
On the other hand, the user who watches gaming and toy review channels can actually be a pre-teen’s mother who only wanted to see and filter what her child is up to.
With the enormous amount of data being collected, there is going to be some mix-ups in the profiling of users. Marketers also need to take into account the fact that some people borrow their family member’s devices to search for something uncharacteristic of the owner’s browsing habits.
Marketers should, therefore, look into the accuracy of the data being collected as well. You can also be the type of marketer who doesn’t look at the demographics but instead creates value for any gender, race, and age group, as long as they are within the target market.
Other ways online marketers can use proxy service
Market research, data analysis, and competitor analysis are major ways any online marketing agency can have an edge over others, and help their clients rise over the competition. Here are other ways marketers and businesses can use proxies:
Ad verification: Marketers can use proxies to test out ad placements, ensuring that partners are complying with the agreed terms.
Marketing automation: You can use bots to generate leads to your website, especially since bringing in new website visitors daily can be very taxing.
Remember that proxies are only tools you can use to make things easier for you as an online marketer. The data that lands on your hands are further subject to your analysis and expertise.