Securing high-value content: How to ensure the right content doesn’t fall into the wrong hands

As thieves try to steal expensive content and customers ignore the terms of their subscription licence by ‘sharing’ with colleagues, securing paid-for published reports and data must be a priority for market analysis firms.

As a publisher of market intelligence, imagine the following scenario. Coca-Cola*, one of your largest corporate accounts, purchases an enterprise license for your annual overview of the global soft drinks market. The report is delivered to them as a PDF, and you assume it is being used internally as per the stated licensing agreement. However, you soon learn that Pepsi* are using data in presentations and business reports that could only have come from one place: your annual overview of the global soft drinks market. But you know that Pepsi didn’t purchase a copy!

Often in this situation, content is not shared with malicious intent: many customers simply have a laissez-faire attitude to licensing and sending a report to a friend in a rival organisation is often done thoughtlessly due to the ease of sharing PDFs. In other instances, it is done deliberately to steal revenues and undercut the publisher’s hard work. Regardless of intent, both forms of distribution are financially damaging for publishers.

*(disclaimer: Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been referenced purely for illustrative purposes and this example does not reflect on the integrity of their employees!)

Production Costs

Business information’s value is unquantifiable, but the content’s price reflects the production costs for a niche market, the expertise of the author and the cost of research and data collection.

Syndicated market research reports are undoubtedly highly valuable products. Every report is produced by several teams, from the authoring analyst (or analysts) to editorial who ensure factual correctness and consistency, followed by production who work on design, layout, and quality control. Sales and marketing teams then join the fold to decide how to package and sell the content. This process involves many people, many hours of work, and significant expense to the publisher.

Securing this painstakingly produced, high-value content is at the forefront of any provider’s mind and is increasingly relevant as cyber-security concerns seep into our everyday working and personal lives. Content is extremely easy to steal or lose control of in a complex and ever-changing digital security landscape. Publishers should be aware of the common security hazards, and solutions, that regularly trouble providers of market intelligence.

Copyright Theft

At its crudest, copyright theft is stealing, re-packaging and selling, usually at cut-price, the same content publishers have spent weeks or months putting together. Copyright theft is a growing issue in the B2B publishing community, as with increasing regularity, organised networks work together to obtain high-value content, remove any references to the actual copyright owner from the report, dataset or video and market it often for a fraction of the price.

One industry figure posting in the Renewd online community, a network for subscriptions professionals and B2B publishers, identified over 80 pseudo-information firms working together to disseminate copyrighted material and shockingly found over 90 examples of their content listed on 11 individual sites. Networks of this nature will grow in number and become more sophisticated in their tactics, so publishers must be aware of this threat.

Solution: Vet all purchasers of your content – ensure that buyers input some personal information before making purchases. If, for example, an individual is trying to buy a $4,000 report and has no associated company of note this should raise alarm bells.

Mass Sharing

In a similar vein to copyright theft, mass sharing involves the downloading of licensed content and distributing without the permission of the publisher. Often unlicensed distribution of content is committed by one of your loyal (or so you thought) subscribers rather than an anonymous denizen of the internet.

There are 3 main forms of mass sharing:

  1. The internal sharer – occurs when a registered user downloads a whole report and uploads it to their corporate intranet or internal knowledge centre.
  2. The external distributor – this offence arises when a user shares content with friends outside of their organisation.
  3. The home drive saver – involves fewer people but still takes the content out of the publishers’ possession and could evolve into the other two distributors in the future.

Commenting on this type of threat, Edwin Bailey, Director of Marketing at Content Catalyst, who has over 20 years of experience in licensing content said; “Content delivered as PDFs via email is most at risk to this form of theft, and although publishers may have DRM systems in place these can be easily bypassed via password sharing or manipulation of the PDF document’s properties. Most subscribers are, of course, reliable and trustworthy. However, it only takes one user to bypass these rudimentary safeguards before your content is freely passed around another corporate account without your knowledge.”

Solution: Invest in a content delivery system capable of tracking content usage and managing access rights. Analytics and licensing allow greater control over usage and enables site administrators to keep tabs on potential rule-breakers. Having settings that prevent users from downloading whole reports offline can also be an effective preventative measure.

“Most subscribers are, of course, reliable and trustworthy. However, it only takes one user to bypass these rudimentary safeguards before your content is freely passed around another corporate account without your knowledge.”

Edwin Bailey

Director of Marketing, Content Catalyst

Corporate account sharing and fair use policy

Fair use policies have often been a sticking point between publishers and clients. Breaches of fair use frequently come in the form of password sharing amongst colleagues. Corporate licenses are granted with certain limits – a common restriction being the number of users associated with the account. Once the company reaches the pre-agreed number of users accessing the provider’s content, the client should move to the next pricing bracket and be charged a higher fee for access.

For example, a corporate team buying an account with 20 registered users when there are 100 members in their department should be flagged as a risk. If unregistered customer employees then ask the publisher’s analysts or salespeople content-related questions, this is an obvious sign of unauthorised access and may confirm the suspicion of password sharing.

Solution: Tracking IP access is a handy way of getting a sense of the number of devices accessing your site. Again, usage analytics, particularly those related to log-ins and geographical location are vital: if you can see that a certain account is logged in 24 hours a day with constant activity, it’s possible to deduce that the password is not just being shared amongst direct colleagues but across multiple time-zones – a major breach of fair usage policy.

Password breaches

In June of 2021, the largest ever password data breach was leaked – 8.4 billion passwords in total were compromised1. This problem is not sector-specific, but the sheer volume of passwords leaked every year makes this an issue publishers should be wary of.

Tom Gibbs, CIO at Content Catalyst who has been at the forefront of keeping Publish Interactive secure, explains that “the ubiquitous threat of data breaches means publishers should strive to implement security via a combination of best practices and a robust tech ecosystem.” Five security features he recommends that publishers should consider to ensure content security are (these are also all features of the Publish Interactive platform):

  1. 2-Factor authentication – reduces the chance of password sharing among colleagues and external attackers as only permitted IP addresses will receive entry codes.
  2. Password age – a setting that allows site administrators to enforce the frequency that users must reset their password.
  3. Trusted domains – restricts which email domains can access the site.
  4. ReCAPTCHA – this widget will ensure bots are unable to register to your site.
  5. SSO integration – with providers Okta and Microsoft Azure AD, facilitating better password practices and more secure log-in systems.

Solution: Invest in subscription software or a content delivery platform that has a range of features designed to counteract and reduce the threat of content breaches. It’s also important to sign-up to specialist password protectors, such as LastPass for your internal employees and if you are sharing passwords over email, ensure you use encrypted password services, such as PW Push.

A more secure future

Publishers must ensure the security of their content – the myriad of threats can be hard to keep up with, but with the right technology, secure best practice policies and the diligence of employees to monitor and track unusual activity, your painstakingly produced content can be kept safe and secure.

1https://www.itechpost.com/articles/105916/20210608/rockyou-2021-breach-exposes-8-4-billion-passwords-check-now.htm

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Related Content

5 practical ways B2B research publishers can increase subscriber personalisation

Consumers are increasingly expecting personalised digital experiences – but how can B2B publishers embrace this new trend?

A study by Accenture found that a massive 91% of consumers are more likely to make purchases from brands (whether that is a new pair of shoes, a luxury holiday abroad, or even an annual B2B subscription package) that provide personalised digital experiences.1

Digital giants, such as Spotify and Amazon (think of all those personalised mixes and wishlists) have been the personalisation trailblazers, but other digital providers are catching up as demand grows and the digital landscape becomes increasingly saturated.

In the B2B publishing world, understanding subscriber usage, tracking content preferences and buying history, as well as on-site behaviour are vital metrics for the creation of unique, personalised digital experiences.

Although technical challenges are a common issue associated with personalisation, they can be overcome.

But this begs the question: which features and technologies can publishers practically implement on their digital platforms to make users feel like a unique individual rather than one part of a homogenous mass of subscribers?

1. Reading Lists

Just as Spotify attempts to condense your eclectic music taste into one easily digestible ‘Daily Mix’, publishers can similarly curate personalised reading lists for their subscribers.

Lists are collated based on the information provided when subscribers sign-up, including:

• Job title – a reading list could be titled ‘other CTOs are reading…’ for example.

• Company industry

• Geographical location

• Subjects of particular interest

The same Accenture study, Making it Personal, referenced above found that 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to enable a personalised experience, so do not be afraid to ask subscribers for information to enhance the personalisation experience.

Information gathering does not stop here, however. As new subscribers browse and consume content, their usage data and behaviour can be tracked and collated to compile a personalised list, displaying the licensed products of most relevance to them. Consider the similarities with Amazon and many other online shops which use customer buying and search history for on-site marketing ammunition.

If, for example, the user is accessing content continuously updated to reflect live market developments, similar reactive content not yet read could be suggested or added to their in-platform reading list.

2. Upsell & Cross-sell

This usage data can equally be leveraged for unlicensed content to create further personalisation points. Examples of in-platform behavioural usage data leveraged for cross-selling purposes include:

• Recently viewed products (both licensed and unlicensed)

• Most favoured content formats

• Behaviour of similar user personas

• Buying habits – does the user tend to buy products as part of a subscription or one-off purchases?

• Device data (more on this later)

Equipped with this data, marketing sites or content delivery systems can push similar products available to buy outside of existing subscriptions, often in the form of widgets on the site’s homepage or alongside licensed reports.

Example cross-sell widgets

Recent advances in machine learning and analytics technology have expanded the breadth of trackable data metrics and improved the interpretation of this data. This allows site administrators to automate the recommendation process, improve its accuracy, and reduce the cost of these ‘similar products’ recommendation systems.

Ultimately, if subscribers can see the extent of relevant content outside their subscription package, the publisher’s value is enforced, and further purchases will be encouraged.

3. Flexible Licensing

Underpinning this promotion of both unlicensed and licensed content is flexible licensing technology – a crucial asset publishers must utilise as part of the personalisation process.

Licensing facilitates the creation of trials to entice new users to sign-up, time-limited access to unlicensed content for existing customers, and the formation of user-specific content packages based on subscribers’ exact requirements. The flexibility now afforded by licensing technology is allowing publishers to create truly unique content packages.

Licensing enables the greatest degree and flexibility for personalisation – we covered this topic in detail in a recent article of ours:

Underpinning this promotion of both unlicensed and licensed content is flexible licensing technology – a crucial asset publishers must utilise as part of the personalisation process.

4. Device Optimisation

Moving beyond licensing’s role in the personalisation process, the device that end-users access content on reveals much about their behaviour and requirements.

Mobile access might, for example, tell you the user is regularly on the move rather than chained to their desk, so will need bitesize, concise content rather than dense, text-heavy market reports. Short-form content or regularly updated news content can then be pushed to these users rather than those who predominantly access via a desktop.

Equally, desktop users may value visually engaging content that can be displayed at its full potential on a large screen – PowerPoint-authored content could for instance be recommended to these users.

Optimising your mobile offering with either a dedicated application or a mobile version of your website with the same functionality as its browser-based counterpart is also key. Omnichannel consistency will strengthen your appeal amongst all user groups and again increase personalisation levels.

5. CTA’s and Landing Pages

User-specific landing pages are labour-intensive and require cross-departmental collaboration, but can increase conversion rates by up to 10%, according to research by the BCG.2

Creating unique pages for specific user groups with relevant calls to action, such as special offers, free trials or early access to a newly published report are powerful personalisation strategies. Using the data collated during the subscriber sign-up process and on-site behaviour, unique digital experiences can be created for segments of your subscriber base.

Looking Forward…

B2B publishers must embrace the personalisation revolution. Strengthened customer relationships, increased revenues, and improved renewal rates all await those B2B publishers willing to invest time and money into creating unique user experiences. With growing expectations amongst all consumer groups for personalised experiences, this is an exciting time for those B2B publishers able to embrace the personal rather than the general.

How publishers can create personalised user journeys using flexible licensing technology

Flexible licensing technology is now crucial for publishers looking to create highly targeted, tailored user journeys.

Managing customer access rights to high-value content used to be inflexible, insecure, and impersonal.

Broad ‘all or nothing’ packages were the sole purchasing option for prospective customers and publishers relied on the trustworthiness of their subscribers to abide by licence terms. However, technology now enables B2B publishers to offer secure, highly flexible licenses to help convert trialists to subscribers, drive upsell opportunities and create dynamic, tailored content bundles.

Fuelling this shift is the adoption of content delivery platforms and specialised licensing technology capable of delivering highly flexible, adaptable systems of access management. Advanced content licensing systems create seamless user journeys for customers – both prospective and existing – with clear upgrade paths to expanding the breadth of their licenses and subscriptions if implemented correctly.

Licenses can now be granted for content as granular as a single report section, function on a time-sensitive basis or control access to certain content formats, such as the often-sensitive underlying data behind charts and graphs.

The specificity available is transforming how publishers sell their content, revolutionising the way subscribers interact with market analysis and facilitating an automated, personalised user journey.

Trial access

The first stage of the user journey is invariably the trial stage – a stage often possible, but with fewer options available, on outdated content delivery methods but now commonplace and highly adaptable to individual user requirements.

Time-limited trials can be created for new prospects visiting and browsing a publisher’s website for the first time or for existing customers looking to expand their current content packages. Consequently, publishers deploy trials as a form of lead gen for new prospects and as one facet of the customer success process.

Granting existing subscribers free access to content outside of their subscriptions is a powerful way of strengthening client relationships and demonstrates the value of a publisher’s content as the breadth of relevant analysis available to users is displayed. Aside from benefits related to customer success, there are also clear commercial benefits. Encouraging fee increases as subscribers become dependent on temporary trial-access content naturally leads to additional subscription module purchases.

Track & trace

Considering the new user journey again, it is important to note how trial accounts can be marketed to as they navigate through the platform.

Once new users have created an account and log in as part of their trial, they will browse through a publisher’s digital content offering, discover content from across their portfolio and have access restricted to any reports or datasets outside of their limited trial license . As this restriction of access occurs, user behaviour is tracked to create personalised marketing and unique special offers for these trial accounts, encouraging a full subscription purchase.

The dual forces of licensing and analytics, working together to manage accessible content, track user behaviour, and feed this behavioural data into marketing, is a powerful strategy for progressing triallists to paying subscribers.

 

How licensing and analytics work together to support trial progression

User-specific content packages

Once the trial is over, the triallist has a decision to make: to purchase a subscription or to look elsewhere for business-critical analysis.

If the decision is to purchase, this is where advanced licensing technology really comes to the fore.

Content delivery platforms and specialist licensing systems can now segment content and create highly tailored subscription packages based on the new subscriber’s exact requirements.

With the ability to grant access to individual chapters in reports or whole libraries of content and manage the length of time users have access to products, the possibilities for both publishers and subscribers to create customised content programmes are endless.

Futuresource Consulting, a specialist research and knowledge-based consulting firm, faced the challenge of working with a ten-year-old system, which made it ‘difficult to change licenses’. However, after adopting Publish Interactive with its advanced access management features, this changed. James Edwards, Marketing Executive at Futuresource, summarised the improvements to their access management capabilities by explaining, ‘the flexibility it offers, in terms of the ability to create different unique access rights, is game-changing’.

Following the integration of CRM or eCommerce software, licenses can be granted without any salesperson or account manager involvement.  The journey from an initial website visit with limited access to freemium content to a fully-fledged subscriber can therefore be entirely automated if integrations are implemented correctly.

“The flexibility Publish Interactive offers, in terms of the ability to create different unique access rights, is game-changing”

James Edwards

Marketing Executive at Futuresource Consulting

How B2B publishers use software integrations to enhance customer experience

Integrations are essential for B2B publishers wanting to deliver information to their subscribers in a timely, coherent manner.

How do we define integration? Fundamentally, it is the process of bringing together two pieces of software into a single, holistic system to solve issues with siloed data and isolated platforms.

It is a process present in almost all digital platforms, websites, and applications – and the world of B2B publishing is, of course, no exception.

For publishers, the rewards associated with 3rd party (often SaaS) integrations include richer engagement and simpler interactions with subscribers, a seamless user journey between platforms and the streamlining of authoring, editorial and commercial processes. Essentially, it is a process designed to enhance the quality and usability of a publisher’s digital offering and make life easier for both the publisher and their subscribers.

But in practice, what integrations can B2B publishers implement and in what ways can these enrich the customer experience and meet business goals?

Phased approach

The simplest, quickest, and most cost-effective form of integration is the addition of a link or button that connects a publisher’s marketing website to their research library and gives customers access to the informative content, intuitive workflow tools and interactive features available in their portal.

The flexibility of integration affords the option of quickly launching a content portal with a simple integration. Later, connections with the marketing website can be deepened as business conditions permit.

These deeper connections include integrations with CRM systems, eCommerce plugins, analytics dashboards, and marketing automation software, which, if done right, will work together to create a frictionless, seamless reading experience for the end-user and an intuitive administrative process for the publisher.

Mark Chadwick, Product Manager at Publish Interactive elaborates, “Integrations help to remove time-consuming manual tasks that often cause a delay in users getting the information they need. For example, an integration that automatically applies a license to a report or subscription as the customer makes a purchase means the customer can access the data and insights straight away. Or, if usage data is integrated into a CRM account, managers can understand a customer’s engagement level, without having to look elsewhere”.

One customer that successfully integrated its CRM system with Publish Interactive is Everest Group. The IT and engineering services research firm seamlessly integrates with Salesforce to ensure individual users were provided with relevant content access in an efficient manner.

Open, easily navigable content

Implementing a cohesive suite of software integrations also provides a flexible content delivery framework for both the end-user and the publisher.

For example, deeper integration between the marketing and content delivery platforms enables users to search for content on either site. Depending on the publisher requirements, the search functionality can then either direct users to product landing pages on their content portal or to product pages on their website. Metadata for individual products can be stored on a secured content platform and extracted with an API to populate product pages on an SEO-optimised marketing website.

“Integrations help to remove time-consuming manual tasks that often cause a delay in users getting the information they need.”

Mark Chadwick

Product Owner at Publish Interactive

Publishers can also provide access to their research library without the need for registration. Gated, premium content can be created and uploaded within a framework for those without a subscription so prospective customers can understand the depth and complexity of the publisher’s offering. This open site model gives publishers two options: allow new users to search first then ask for registration once they have found relevant content available for purchase or take prospective customers to their registration page prior to enabling search.

If CRM or eCommerce systems are integrated into this process, the user journey from an initial website visit with limited access to ‘freemium’ content to a fully-fledged subscriber should be a seamless one without the need for either sales personnel or account managers to manually grant access to these new users.

This flexibility creates fluidity between these integrated platforms, allowing publishers to test different content delivery processes and decide on the most suitable one for their business needs.

SSO access

As users move between these two interconnected platforms, there must be an integrated, unified identification tool ensuring users are securely and seamlessly travelling between the two sites.

Single sign-on (SSO) is a user authentication service that enables customers to access related, yet still independent web applications using just one set of login credentials and allows for frictionless navigation across an organisation’s digital offering. If a publisher has more than one website, or already uses a CRM system as the single point of customer truth, then SSO is recommended.

Tom Gibbs, Director of Operations at Publish Interactive expands on this point: “SSO ensures ease of access, whilst Publish Interactive’s extensive suite of APIs allow publishers to create, manage, market and provision content through specialist CRMs, marketing automation platforms and CMS”.

The key benefits of integration:

  • Branding continuity across all online assets
  • Cross and upsell opportunities within the platform
  • A seamless user journey across websites
  • A platform for premium content
  • Quick and simple functionality for new content
  • Offers a phased development approach

Examples of Publish Interactive’s API integrations

INTEGRATION WITHOBJECTIVE
ILLUSTRATIVE BENEFITSEXAMPLE 3RD PARTY INTEGRATION
EDITORIAL & RESEARCH
Survey dataDisplay survey data & charts alongside textual analysis.Diversify content offeringMarketsight
Content Management SystemEasily manage, access, & publish web-based content.Streamline the authoring, production and editorial workflowKentico
MANAGEMENT/IT
Login systemsProvide a seamless user journey between different platforms.Enhance the user experienceOkta
Analytics DashboardsTrack content usage.Understand subscriber usage
Data-driven planning of future publications
Google Analytics
MARKETING & SALES
eCommerceAllow customers to make purchases of reports or datasets without having to contact a salesperson or account manager.Increase new business opportunitiesWordpress
CRM systemEnable sales & account management teams to manage customer access.Manage subscriber licensing
Work on upsell / cross sell opportunities
Hubspot
Salesforce
MarketingAutomate marketing operations & connect with existing marketing site.Promote published content
Drive new business opportunities
Marketo

Why publishers need customer success teams to ensure great renewal rates

Speakers at a recent industry conference on b2b subscriptions highlighted the importance of customer success in engaging customers and driving higher subscription renewals

A recent study that identified the top emerging jobs using data gathered from LinkedIn found Customer Success roles to be the number one fastest growing role in 2019 and comfortably in the top ten in an identical 2020 study. Reflecting this emergence, we heard further evidence of the growing importance of customer success teams (CS for short), and the value they bring to customers and colleagues alike at the Substribe Summit, an industry conference organised to showcase the value and power of subscriptions.

Good customer success requires cultural change

Alex Farmer, VP of Customer Success at Cognite, a SaaS company supporting digital transformation in heavy-asset industries, and Kate Forgione, Co-Founder of the Customer Success Network, an online network for CS managers, led a conference session that emphasised the foundational approach required to incorporate CS teams into organisations. Rather than simply re-assigning job titles to pre-existing salespeople, CS teams must develop from structural personnel and procedural changes – starting with the company culture.

This cultural shift can only be delivered when there is a universal, company-wide buy-in and this shift must be reflected in the ways that all client-facing employees are measured and incentivised. In other words, shoe-horning in a new CS department or simply renaming existing job roles will not ensure a successful CS team.

Nick Blunden, President of fashion media company The Business of Fashion, translated this into practical terms and outlined the need for CS teams to have their ‘own reporting, KPI’s and focus’ to distinguish them from renewals and sales teams.

Success & sales teamwork

Despite the need for distinguishment between the teams, another recurring theme from the conference was the necessity for a close, but clearly defined relationship between sales and CS teams. Alix Fennoll-Wattinne, formerly the Head of Customer Success at recurring payments platform GoCardless, examined how both teams must clearly define how deals are handed over, so must know:

  • The role each contact plays within their company,
  • What to expect from each contact or persona, and;
  • What constitutes ‘success’ for the company and individuals within the company.

Farmer and Forgione went further still and emphasised that sales and CS teams must be ‘best friends’ as both teams, not just the CS team, will work together to meet their customer’s goals and ensure a long and successful working relationship.

CS teams need to have their ‘own reporting, KPI’s and focus’ to distinguish them from renewals and sales teams.

Nick Blunden

President, The Business of Fashion

Understand value to the customer and help them realise this

Speakers at the Substribe Summit also outlined the critical role CS teams play in helping customers realise the value of their organisation’s product. Nick Blunden discussed how The Business of Fashion organise webinars to demonstrate the value individual businesses gain from their content, build customised content programmes with bespoke content feeds, and run tailored workshops for customers.

All these initiatives can be spearheaded by CS teams to ensure customers are guided on a journey to maximise the value they receive from their purchase. These initiatives also lead to an improved TTV (time-to-value) rate, a term referenced by Alex Farmer during the conference to measure the time taken for customers to find success following the purchase of a product or service.

Map out desired outcomes

Helping your customers understand the value you provide must be a joint effort from both the purchaser and the seller said Richard Butterworth, Commercial Director of the market intelligence provider Chemical Watch. He explained how they produce a ‘customer value plan’ at the beginning of each relationship. This covers questions such as:

  • What are their desired outcomes?
  • What does success look like for their business?
  • What value are they receiving from our content?

This process is replicated during renewals and helps Chemical Watch track and monitor customer progress. Farmer and Forgione similarly covered this process by highlighting the importance of allowing key clients to take some ownership of the product roadmap by CS teams listening and onboarding their suggestions and ideas.

Kellie McMillan, Client Relationship Manager at Content Catalyst, agreed with these sentiments. “We organise regular catch-ups with all our clients not only to keep them up-to-date but to listen carefully how they use our software,” she said.

A signed customer contract and an arbitrary figure next to a salesperson’s name on an office whiteboard is not the end of the customer engagement process. The success of customers, and implicitly the publisher, depends on a reciprocal and continual partnership between publisher and customer.

The future of b2b subscriptions conference organised by Substribe was held over 5 days at the end of September and beginning of October 2020

How a technology market analyst firm revolutionised its publishing workflow by ditching the PDF

Delivering high-value content via their online publishing platform improved their editorial workflow efficiencies and pleased customers.

An independent analyst firm for workplace communications technology market was struggling with an outdated editorial workflow system. The research business which covers markets for technologies such as enterprise video, meeting room collaboration and audio-conferencing had a labour-intensive and dated process for its analysts to create and produce reports and briefs.

The firm, which produces around 100 market reports and up to 20 industry briefings each year, made content available to its subscribers through a custom-built publishing system heavily reliant on PDF.

The management realised that for the system to continue to meet the needs of its users, it would have required a significant investment and an increasing level of technical expertise and support.

The firm decided to seek out an alternative solution that could enhance its production process and the way subscribers accessed and interacted with its research content.

Partnering with Content Catalyst and adopting its leading publishing platform Publish Interactive enabled the research firm to bring efficiencies to its editorial workflow and also deliver content to subscribers in a more interactive manner.

Bringing efficiency to report production

Prior to implementing Publish Interactive the analyst firm published all its material in PDF format. Not only did publishing in PDF make research production unnecessarily longwinded, but it also limited the ability of subscribers to re-use the information they had paid for.

“The process was very analyst intensive,” said the firm’s senior analyst. “We do the research, put it into Word, which was semi-templated, but required extensive formatting. We’d then convert this to PDF and upload that document for publication. We knew our publishing process was arcane, as individual analysts were involved in lots of surplus activity. “Adopting Publish Interactive to power our new publishing portal has completely transformed the way we produce content,” he added.

The firm’s analysts now save considerable amounts of time by either authoring reports directly in-platform or uploading fully templated Word documents. Uploading is simple, requiring just a couple of clicks to automatically create interactive content that is ready for editorial review and publication.

“Every single attribute of the Publish Interactive experience is an improvement on what we were previously doing.”

Senior Analyst at a leading research and advisory firm

Delivering a better user experience

Finding a solution that delivers content in a user-friendly ways online and to mobile devices had also become a significant requirement. The old solution only supplied reports as downloadable PDFs and was not responsive to the device on which it was accessed.

“Initially, we viewed the value of our research being just the insights in our documents, but we now realise the value is both the content and how it’s distributed,” said their senior analyst.

Now, all research is made available as interactive content, making it quick and easy for subscribers to locate research that answers their questions.

With Publish Interactive powering the publishing system, users can also make use of smart workflow tools to save and share everything from a vital snippet of information to a whole chapter or report. They can then easily download and re-use information or compile their own bespoke reports in just a handful of clicks.

The response from subscribers ranges from them telling us it’s a welcome update to glowing praise,” remarked the senior analyst.

Edwin Bailey, Director of Marketing at Content Catalyst said; “Because Publish Interactive is a SaaS solution, this leading analyst firm now benefits from a great content management and publishing platform that is in continual development, regularly updated and fully supported by our experienced team.”

The firm’s Senior Analyst added; “Every single attribute of the Publish Interactive experience is an improvement on what we were previously doing.”

The company profiled in this story has been anonymised. 

How publishers can efficiently run multiple brands from a single platform

A publisher running several digital brands on a number of different systems risks workflow inefficiencies and higher production costs

Simplify client management

Running multiple digital publishing brands through a single content and client management platform simplifies and speeds up administrative tasks, freeing up time and valuable resources.

The pain points associated with running multiple clients across disparate systems is removed as the same managerial tools are applied to all clients. Publishers are empowered to manage each client equally well and run operations with greater efficiency and oversight.

Offer service consistency

A platform delivering the same content formats and workflow tools across multiple digital brands enables the publisher to offer a common standard to all its customers. Useful functionality, familiar products, valuable tools and high service levels across all brands helps bring service consistency to a publisher’s portfolio.

“Making it easier for clients to understand our entire Power & Renewables content portfolio – and to find and access content for themselves – contributed to growing ‘per user’ engagement levels”.

Matt DaPrato

Product Suite Director, Wood Mackenzie

Create sales opportunities

Using a single platform to power multiple publishing brands enables a publisher to make new content available to subscribers. Through search results and appropriate marketing, a client of Brand A can be made aware of relevant content available via Brand B. Enabling subscribers to access relevant content outside their licence can help generate additional revenues, improve subscriber satisfaction and helps build engagement across a portfolio.

For example, energy market analysts Wood Mackenzie used Publish Interactive to pull together a number of research offerings. Matthew DaPrato, a Product Suite Director at Wood Mackenzie points out: “Making it easier for clients to understand our entire Power & Renewables content portfolio – and to find and access content for themselves – contributed to growing ‘per user’ engagement levels”.

See how the Publish Interactive platform can help your publishing company run multiple brands from a single platform, book a product tour to be guided by an expert.

Read the customer story: How WoodMac used Publish Interactive to merge three digital experiences into a single platform

How publishers should use analytics to support subscriber renewal discussions

Stats on how research is used, customer behaviour and content popularity help justify renewal fees.

It is no longer enough for a sales team to go into subscriber renewal discussions simply hoping the client will sign for another year and accept a reasonable increase in fees.

The technology a publisher of high-value information uses to supply content and interact with subscribers should provide a wealth of information that enables them to demonstrate the value it provides to their customers.

Show the value of your content

Publishers need to be able to demonstrate the value they provide. This can mean more than simply ensuring a renewal, it can turn the conversation from ‘please buy us again’ to ‘this is the value, this is how to serve your customers better, this is what we need to do next year’.

Change the approach from a sales pitch to a conversation about a developing relationship. Outline a roadmap for future licencing agreements tailored to the specific needs of the client and move towards a lasting and valuable partnership for each party.

Renewals become an issue for publishers if the content is no longer deemed to provide a good return on the cost.

Use data as evidence

Edify Digital Media, a London-based publisher of leather market information, uses content usage data to understand what their customers like and develop upselling campaigns. Edify’s co-founder Maria Wallace elaborates; “As publishers, user analytics are valuable as they provide information showing what content is of most interest – so we can produce more – and warm sales leads for possible subscription upgrades or new business opportunities”.

Underplay the renewal and build in reliance

The ideal situation is for the renewal process to become a predictable administrative task. For example, within the SaaS sector where there is baked-in reliance on the service, renewals are often not a problem. Renewals become an issue for publishers if the content is no longer deemed to provide a good return on the cost.

“As publishers, user analytics are valuable as they provide information showing what content is of most interest – so we can produce more – and warm sales leads for possible subscription upgrades or new business opportunities”.

Maria Wallace

Co-Founder, Edify

If an account manager can make use of dashboards and alerts to quickly and easily stay up-to-speed on how content is being used, they don’t need to wait for the renewal.

If a new piece of content is published that has high relevance for a client, but lies outside their licence, a manager has a range of options to deepen the customer relationship. They might provide time-limited free access, offer a reduction, or even use this content as a way to cross-sell into a new area.

Whichever approach is taken, proactive help of this kind ensures the client maximises their subscription and is regularly reminded of the value the publisher provides.

See how the Publish Interactive platform can help your publishing company make renewal meetings procedural by viewing our analytics features, or book a product tour to be guided by an expert.

Read the customer story: How Edify Digital Media uses Publish Interactive’s analytics to refine its offering and drive sales leads

Understanding what revenue risks subscription technology should mitigate

Publishers of high-value market intelligence need to ensure they have the technology building blocks in place to be deliver profitable subscription revenue.

Picture the scene: you run a research firm that emails PDFs to clients, even though this is fraught with opportunities for your report content to be used outside the agreed licence and doesn’t enable you to gather any feedback beyond registering to whom the report was originally sent.

You know your firm needs to move towards a subscription model where a technical solution is put in place to deliver content to clients – but even that is not without peril.

So, when weighing up introduction of a subscription technology, what possible future issues should it be able to mitigate?

Retained access

By far the biggest headache for publishers using a less advanced subscription system is around individuals leaving one job, but retaining access to a publisher’s content. This can endanger IP and damages revenues.

How does a publisher lessen the impact of this kind of behaviour?

Email and ID security

Smart subscription software can limit the impact of unlawful access by only accepting log-ins from company email addresses and insisting on a two-factor identification.

When an individual leaves one role, it’s highly likely they’ll be shut out of their old email account; therefore, when the time comes for them to update their log-in details, they won’t be able to access the automated email asking that prompts this change, and their old log-in will become obsolete.

What’s more, two-stage verification of this kind discourages subscribers from sharing log-ins widely with friends and colleagues, as the need to regularly re-verify becomes burdensome.

Mass downloading

The other nightmare scenario is that a subscriber downloads your entire portfolio and then fails to renew their subscription.

There are several ways a smart publishing system can help to alleviate this problem. The first is around access rights; if a subscription simply buys a client unrestricted access to a publisher’s entire portfolio (so-called ‘all-you-can-eat subscriptions’) there is little in the way to discourage this kind of behaviour.

A smart system isn’t going to provide all-you-can-eat access to more than a handful of ‘power’ subscribers. It’s therefore unlikely that the opportunity will exist for a single person to download every piece of content. It’s also a significant deterrent that any information taken in a mass download would have repeated and regular use of the individual account user’s personal details across every piece of content.

An even more significant deterrent to mass downloading is management of the content. Any individual with access to an entire portfolio would also have access to the inbuilt workflow tools needed to search, edit, adapt, and make sense of all that information. A mass downloaded would also mean abandoning this suite of tools. Making sense of such a huge volume of content without these tools would be thankless, unrewarding, and an almost impossibly time-consuming task.

Customer behaviour, renewals, and engagement

Of course, using a smart publishing system can help mitigate a lot of the difficulty around mass downloads as the content usage of individual account holders is monitored in real time. Unusual behaviour can trigger alerts enabling the publisher to intervene.

Related difficulties around managing grace periods, blocking individual access, and dealing with expired subscriptions can also be dealt with through a system that feeds back rich account information to the publisher.

With a system that flags an individual’s poor or limited use of content, non-engagement, and upcoming renewals, the risk of non-renewal can be managed out of the client base through good quality customer service.

Individuals who aren’t making the most of their subscription can be given help by the publisher to maximise its value; this could be as simple as providing tutorials around use of workflow tools, or offers of content that’s more appropriate to their needs.

Whatever the issue for the customer, good quality behavioural information and a system of alerts can help the publisher enact a solution before the situation turns critical and a valuable source of revenue is lost.

Tags

  • Management
  • Subscription Renewals
  • Technology

7 huge losses if you fail to track how your research content is used

If you are providing high-value research, you need know how your customer is using this to ensure you don’t leave money on the table.

If you’re creating expensive research then only making it available to customers via an emailed or downloadable document, there’s no real way to accurately know what happens next – in today’s customer-centric economy, this isn’t good.

Equally, if you provide a subscription that allows a customer access to your portfolio without you trying to understand how and why they use your content, you’re practically throwing away valuable information that could be critical to the future direction of your organisation.

So, what information could you be missing out on and why is that bad for business?

1. Who is viewing the content?

If an admin assistant bought a report then immediately passed it to the Insights Director, do you really want to try and engage the assistant in future? How do you think they’ll respond to marketing and sales? Perhaps not as well as the person who’s consuming your report. But how would you know that?

2. How many people view it?

Is it just the individual who bought it, their whole team, or also people working in another business? If you don’t know, then you have no idea about your potential market. How many separate accounts, license holders, or one-off purchases are you missing out on?

3. How many times is it viewed?

Imagine you sell the same person two pieces of content, but you don’t know that they looked at one piece just once and the other more than 100 times. Without this information, you’d assume they’re equally interested in both subjects. Think how different your sales and marketing approach could be if you knew, in detail, how many people looked at which report?

4. Which sections are interesting, which aren’t?

If you sell someone a report about meat sales and they only read sections related to pork products, how would you know they have no interest in beef, chicken, or lamb? You wouldn’t. As a result, your sale of future content to them will be less precise.

5. How do you make your content relevant?

Without usage data, it will be difficult to create personalised content bundles for customers as you won’t know what they’re interested in. Also, if you can’t gather usage data to find out how content is used by the entire userbase, it will be difficult to know what subjects the audience is interested in and then set an appropriate strategy for future research production.

6. How do you renew subscriptions?

Let’s see: you have no real information on how often your content was used, nor by how many people, and you don’t have figures for all the people in a single organisation that read your expensively-produced research – nor the breadth of topics these people were reading. Can you still make a convincing case for maintaining the same fees? Can you justify a suggestion to expand the account license to include new content, new topics, and new categories that might be of interest?

7. How do you sell additional content?

The answer is: you can still sell it, but you won’t have any information to back up your claims or to ensure it’s relevant to the person you’re selling it to. Now, just imagine approaching the same call knowing their three major topic interests, and armed with an offer for additional content in this area at a cutdown price. Those are two very different scenarios.

Tags

  • Analytics
  • Business
  • Content Licensing