Ask the Analyst: Four reasons to make subscriber-to-analyst interaction a breeze

Analysts are your greatest asset, so why hide them away? You could deepen trust, increase revenue, and discover new customer insight by making it easier for subscribers to contact analysts via your content management platform.

Easy Communication

Information consumers have little patience with digital services that don’t meet their needs. A slow-loading website, overly long forms, or multiple window journeys cause frustration and prevent users from completing the task they set out to do.­

When a subscriber consumes your content, they may have questions. It may occur to them that an analyst could answer this question for them. But, to access an analyst, they must first find the contact page, perhaps complete a form, or worse: navigate a company switchboard.

Hunting for contact details takes effort and time that they may not have or are unwilling to commit to at that moment. Your subscriber will move on to another task, perhaps feeling frustrated or disappointed.

Now imagine the same subscriber opening a chat window or clicking on an analyst’s profile and sending them a direct, instant message. The analyst can answer questions more quickly, leaving the subscriber feeling that they are a valued customer and satisfied that their question has been answered.

Analyst enquiries are the starting point for relationship-building and revenue-generating opportunities. But they come at a cost, so they should not become a substitution for poor site search or organisation.  The aim is to open conversations that strengthen the relationship and subsequently increase the chance of retention – not for your analysts to be inundated with mundane questions.

Here are four key reasons why you can’t afford to have inefficient subscriber-to-analyst communication:

1. Busy businesspeople seek information from analysts they can trust

Direct contact between analyst and subscriber is essential for developing trust. Consumers of market intelligence are often time-poor senior business leaders who need reliable data and opinions at their fingertips.

Yet, ironically, the proliferation of content has made finding quality information harder, not easier. Add to this the growing volume of content written by Artificial Intelligence, and it’s becoming ever more difficult to identify research produced by genuine industry experts.

Analysts, therefore, are highly valued and effective sources of information. According to Financial Times research, analysts are the most effective source of market intelligence for strategic decision-making by Directors (57%), C-suite (54%), and Chairman (51%). They are considered more important than other sources of information, including global media outlets and own-commissioned research.

As trust in the analyst increases, confidence in the organisation also increases, potentially resulting in additional revenue-generating opportunities.

2. Increase revenue outside of business-as-usual subscription services

One-off queries are the ideal opportunity to investigate a subscriber’s exact content requirements. This could include selling more of an analyst’s time, a commonly under-utilised asset.

For instance, one enquiry could lead to a paid-for 30-minute discussion that provides more insight into report findings. It could also pave the way for analysts to offer briefings alongside and to support new report sales.

From an initial enquiry, more considerable revenue opportunities can be generated, including commissioned consulting work, training, or membership events. One Publish Interactive customer, for example, secured a $300,000 consulting project following an ‘Ask the Analyst’ query through the platform.

3. Grow Per-Account Value

The additional revenue generated from the sales of services, such as analysts’ time and consulting commissions, increases the value of each account.

Many market analysis publishers believe the path to sustained growth lies in increasing customer numbers. Yet, by improving Per Account Value (PAV), publishers can reduce their reliance on costly acquisition tactics to maintain growth.

Creating a smooth subscriber-to-analyst communication pipeline allows market analysis publishers to take advantage of these PAV-growing activities. After all, if subscribers can engage with your content on a human level beyond the words on a page, the value they see in your service will grow. This, in turn, will ensure retention and help you stand out from other content providers.

4. Unlock customer insight

To stand out and grow PAV, publishers must provide a dynamic content service to customers by understanding the topics, trends, and content formats that deliver value to their subscribers.

Customer insight is essential for developing new products that meet the needs of today’s fast-paced organisations. Combined with platform analytics data, you can gain powerful insight into how your customers use your service.

These insights can inform future content commissions or even lead to improvements to your overall service, such as the optimisation of information discovery journeys.

Smooth the Subscription Curve

Facilitating smooth communication between subscriber and analyst requires little effort from the publisher but generates value for both.

Subscribers can extract more value from their subscriptions, leading to increased trust in and reliance on your services. Content dependence moves subscriptions from a ‘nice to have’ to an essential tool your customers can’t do without, which in turn smooths renewals and reduces churn.

The 5 phases needed to launch an industry-leading research delivery platform

While no two research portals are the same, every Publish Interactive project moves through 5 phases, refined during our 20 years in business working with leading market analysis publishers.

A Tried and Tested Process

Launching a new subscriber portal can be a daunting prospect – especially if you try to tackle the whole project internally.

By enlisting the help of Content Catalyst and our flagship content delivery product, Publish Interactive, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know your DNS from your metadata. Our Customer Success team will support you as you work through our 5-phase launch process, from the initial technical setup to system roll-out.

5 phases for launching an industry leading-research portal: 

  1. Technical set up
  2. Site-wide look and feel
  3. Content upload
  4. Set up accounts and users
  5. System roll-out

1. Technical Set-Up

Phase 1 is all about getting the technical bits correct from the outset. As a warning, this is not the most exciting or creative part of the launch process, but it is vital for ensuring your site is hosted and set up correctly.

Setup includes configuring the basic settings, deciding on your domain and setting up your email delivery systems following best practices. As part of your Publish Interactive licence, you also receive full access to the cloud-based email delivery platform, Sendgrid.

We also set up the production environment where your new research portal is hosted and developed. As these basic settings are deployed, you will start forming a picture of where your new research portal fits within your technical ecosystem, including integrations with other business-critical systems. Our professional services team will then work with you to decide on the best implementation method and consider any obstacles to deployment.

2. Site-Wide Look and Feel

Once you have implemented your portal’s technical foundations, the next aspect is to configure the look and feel of your research platform to ensure consistency with your company’s branding.

Beyond the site’s branding, colour scheme and fonts, your platform offers customisable options to reflect your brand identity and provide each of your customer accounts with an experience catered to them, including:

  • Homepage tabs (outlined by a dashed line in the below image)
  • Custom homepage banner (solid line in the below image)
  • Custom category landing pages
  • Export templates

3. Content Upload

The most important part of this phase is setting up your Category Tree. Categories and tags are how the system groups your content. It’s worth spending time getting this right to ensure your content is organised in a way that makes sense to your subscribers. Our in-house content experts will work with your analyst/research teams to optimise your taxonomy to ensure it is user-friendly and content is easily discoverable.

With your categories and tags all set, we can add your analysts and prep your back catalogue for upload. Don’t worry; we won’t ask you to upload one report at a time. Together we’ll agree on the best way to transfer your content using APIs or our bulk upload tool.

4. Set Up Accounts and Users

By this stage, your site will look and feel like it belongs to your organisation. Your category landing pages will now contain promoted reports and all content will be discoverable via the platform’s powerful search functionality and intuitive system of categories and tags.

Now, you can finalise your licensing structure and transfer existing customers onto your new system with their pre-existing subscription plans still applicable. Often, this process is automated using integrations with your chosen CRM system that holds all your licensing data, such as Hubspot, Salesforce, or MS Dynamics.

At this point, you will also decide whether your site is open or closed. Open means anyone can browse your site, even if visitors do not have access to your research content. Closed sites are protected by a user authentication system meaning the site visitor must have a subscription and login details.

5. System Rollout

How long it takes to get to the launch stage depends on the size and complexity of your development. On average, it takes publishers 2-3 months from set up to launch, although some organisations achieve it in less time.

Delta-EE, a leading energy consulting firm, launched its upgraded research portal ahead of schedule. Commenting on the launch, Jennifer Aran, Head of Products at Delta-EE, said, “we wanted to provide a better user experience for our clients and Publish Interactive has provided the simplicity and flexibility we needed to do that. The team has been helpful throughout the onboarding process, and we even managed to launch ahead of schedule thanks to their support”.

How we support publishers during the launch process

Throughout your launch process, you will have weekly catch-ups with our experienced in-house Launch Manager, who will help to guide and advise you on your launch.

We also offer a Premier Support Package during the launch phase that includes training for your team, priority and custom development, and regular catch-ups with our CTO, who will advise on big-picture technical concerns.

Contact us if you’d like to know more about the Publish Interactive platform or for more information on the launch process.

Time for a website and research portal overhaul? Improve efficiencies with this project management approach

Development to market analysis publishers’ marketing and content delivery sites is often plagued by delays and overspending. A change of outlook is required…

One Project, Not Two

Publishers of market analysis are familiar with the headaches caused when their core customer-facing sites – their marketing site and content delivery platform – require an overhaul.

With good reason, publishers often complete this work concurrently given it is vital that the sites seamlessly connect and reflect one another from an aesthetic perspective. But all too often, the projects become misaligned. One project inevitably blocks the other’s completion, causing delays, money sinkholes, and, ultimately, frustrated clients.

Publishers need to rethink their approach. Instead of two separate projects completed simultaneously, they must view them as the same project.

For clarity:

Marketing site: 

The website prospects and existing customers visit to learn about your company, the services you provide, and understand your authority within your niche.

It’s often the first thing prospective customers see about your company, so good first impressions are vital!

Marketing sites are always open and not protected by any user authentication systems.

Content delivery site (often referred to as a research portal or content library):

The platform showcasing your library of syndicated research reports and data, consulting deliverables and shorter-form ‘news’ content.

Visitors sometimes find additional functionality, such as flexible licensing, sales enablement features, user management, and end-user workflow tools on publishers’ content delivery sites.

They are often hosted on a separate domain from the marketing site and require users to log in to access content.

The Planning Phase

It goes without saying that the planning stage is an integral phase of any project – particularly a project involving many moving parts.

Approaching this development work with two distinct project plans means you could miss out on potential efficiencies like streamlined use of internal resource. Decisions regarding budgets, for example, should involve one team who can consider the refresh of both sites as one budgetary expenditure.

Separation also risks scheduling clashes which could place undue stress on internal and 3rd party resources. Your projects risk being delayed and potentially accruing unnecessary costs as divergent priorities and aims negatively impact the progress of one project.

With this in mind, we should consider the foundations central to any project regardless of industry from a single, unified perspective:

  • Aimswhy are we refreshing our online presence? What have our customers asked for that we don’t currently deliver? How will this help our internal analyst, sales, and production teams?
  • Time frameswhen do we want to launch?
  • Internal resourcehow many people are working on the project?
  • Budgethow much do we want to spend?

Your project delivery team should have a clear understanding of each of these before any development work begins.

On top of these foundations are the specific considerations market analysis firms must consider:

Consistency is Key

First off, we need to ensure both sites look the part. Having oversight over both will ensure consistency in terms of the user journey and brand identity.

Inconsistent branding between your marketing and content delivery sites is a glaring and obvious issue. Consider your user journey as they move from the marketing to the delivery site. If the user sees a beautifully branded, slick marketing site upon discovering your company; then, as they go to read your research content, they’re faced with a bland, academic-looking system you’ve gone wrong.

Your brand should still shine despite it hosting your serious assessments of the latest market trends. After all, your research is your product – make it look like a sellable, attractive asset.

One of our publishing partners, ISR, a leading pharmaceutical market research company based in the US, created a clear brand identity across their two sites:

ISR's Marketing Site Homepage
ISR's Research Portal Homepage

Colours, fonts, and imagery are consistent throughout. Ensure your design considerations are the same for both sites, so your product truly lives up to its marketing billing. This process could be more difficult if each site is developed by separate teams with different goals and priorities.

How to get from A to B

So, we now have a clear, consistent brand across both sites. Now we need a seamless gateway connecting your customer-facing marketing site and your content delivery platform.

Typically, this comes in the form of a simple link or button signposting where end-users need to go to access your research content.

This could be ‘client login’ if you want a closed site or ‘access research’ if you opt for the open site route. In either instance, this button should be visible on your marketing site homepage and clearly signposted as users browse through other pages.

The two sites are intrinsically linked to one another, and this button is a natural pathway for your users when they interact with your services, so there must be a coherent, clear connection between the sites. It requires consideration of both sites to ensure the process is smooth and secure.

Integrate your Systems

Next, we must consider the deeper, more technical integrations. Approaching this as one project allows you to adopt the holistic outlook that these deeper integrations demand. Considering the sites as two parts of one whole allows your team to understand how each site feeds into the other, the connections each site needs with other systems and the function these integrations play to complete business-critical tasks.

These integrations include:

  • Single-sign-on (SSO) – creates a seamless user authentication process between your sites and other digital services your end users regularly access.
  • Shopping cart/eCommerce – allows end-users to easily purchase products on either site. Stripe, for example, is an easily installable, flexible plug-in that many content providers use.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system – link all licenses, accounts, purchases, and usage stats into your chosen CRM. Hubspot, Salesforce and many others provide clear integration paths using REST APIs that connect with other software and web applications, such as Publish Interactive.

The Small Print

From here, your project team must decide on the finer points. These points may appear granular but apply to both sites so require oversight of both.

Considerations include:

  • How much ‘freemium’/lead gen content will we offer on the marketing site? And how do we facilitate the user journey from this freemium content to becoming fully paid subscribers regularly accessing our content delivery platform?
  • Are our marketing and content delivery sites SEO-optimised?
  • Do we want our content delivery portal as an open or closed site?
  • If we need to make changes or updates to either site, is our development team ready and able to do this?
  • Which customers can we test our new sites on to ensure they are user-friendly and address the pain points associated with our old site?

One Project, One Project Manager

Finally, you need a trusted colleague to oversee this project – a project manager who can schedule, manage budgets, delegate responsibilities, and keep development work in line with the project’s overarching aims.

Working alongside them should of course be your development, commercial and operational teams delivering the overhaul of your content delivery and marketing sites. These teams should similarly be aware of the work being a single project with a single aim.

Having this ‘single point of truth’, with oversight over the whole project means they can instil a holistic mindset among the project delivery team. With this, you will alleviate planning and budgetary issues and drastically improve project delivery efficiency.

Tags

  • Integrations
  • Management
  • Technology

Related Content

Promote content like an E-commerce expert: how to boost revenues as a B2B publisher

Online retailers promote products in prime locations on their websites to encourage customers to make other purchases. Publishers using a content management platform can also use this tactic to increase revenue from single copy report and subscription sales.

The role of content promotion in revenue growth

Online retailers like Amazon use strategically placed product promotions on their websites to nudge customers into making additional purchases. Using tools such as promotional banners and sidebar widgets, they promote items on sale, popular products, and goods related to a customer’s initial search.

Market research publishers can implement this tactic using a content management platform such as Publish Interactive. Whether your licensing model is broad all-access subscriptions, personalised content packages, or single copy purchases, promoting your content encourages subscribers to explore more of your portfolio.

Promoting your content has the following benefits:

  • Grows readership and engagement, which is particularly important for renewals
  • Prompts subscribers to buy more one-off reports
  • Encourages upgrades to existing subscription plans

Promoting content also exposes the depth and quality of your portfolio and helps deepen trust with your organisation and its analysts. As a trusted source of quality information, subscribers will be more likely to make additional requests for analyst support, generating additional consulting revenue.

Ways B2B publishers can promote content in Publish Interactive like a leading online retailer

Customisable widgets and tabs

Customisable homepage banners, sidebar widgets and HTML tabs are prime website real estate for content promotions. Advertise your latest reports, trial offers, or programme your banners to display locked content to certain subscriber groups or target accounts.

Publish Interactive homepage layout showing customisable promotional areas with header banner (solid line) and custom HTML tabs (dashed line) outlined

Other users also viewed

The platform will automatically generate links based on other users’ behaviour to other relevant reports or keywords, providing social proof to users that a report may be worth reading based on their activity.

Related Research

When a user searches your portfolio and clicks on a report, the system will recommend other reports that relate to that item based on your category tree as well as any tags or keywords associated with the report.

A report landing page displaying a widget suggesting related research reports

Other content promotion methods

Email Notifications

Alert subscribers when new products are released with email notifications. Integrations with mailing tools like MailChimp are an effective way of keeping readers aware of new releases.

Instant Access Technology

Send direct access links to subscribers via email using Publish Interactive’s Instant Access technology. With this link, they can view content without logging into the platform. Leading pharmaceutical advisory firm TGaS Insights use this feature to transform engagement across their library of life science reports. 

Customer Success Calls

Notify account management teams of key content they should promote/upsell in sales and customer care calls. Position these suggestions as ways of increasing the value subscribers receive from your service rather than a hard sell.

What content should I promote?

The content you promote should support your business goals, such as improving customer service, selling more reports, or upgrading customer subscriptions. There are different types of content you could promote to help reach these goals:

  • New research or series of reports
  • Updated evergreen research
  • Locked items outside of a subscriber’s license
  • Content related to a user’s search history
  • Special offers including timed access to reports and trials

P is for promotion

Promotion is a crucial step in the publishing process and needs to be more than an afterthought. Publishers who think like online retailers and adopt a strategic approach to promoting content can increase revenue from reports, license upgrades, and queries to analysts.

How analyst firms can use subscriber feedback and behavioural data to optimise information discovery journeys

Understanding how to include end-user feedback and behavioural data in the development of information discovery tools is vital for publishers looking to increase engagement and provide true value to subscribers.

Market analysis providers are waking up to the integral role customers play across content strategy and delivery formulation – particularly in relation to tools that aid efficient information discovery.

Discovery tools, such as taxonomy and category trees, workflow tools, and search, are designed to reduce time to discovery – a metric denoting the time it takes for readers to locate, gather, and re-use specific information.

So, where can market analysis providers find customer insight to improve these tools and reduce time to discovery?

  • The qualitative route: driven by Customer Success (CS) activity. CS teams should regularly check in with customers, inform them of new developments (and future releases planned on your product roadmap), and demo new developments to gauge feedback.
  • The quantitative route: data is gathered using analytics tools which track user behaviour. Taking the time to unpack and analyse data reveals true subscriber behaviour and uncovers areas of your information discovery system requiring improvement.

A blend of ‘human’ customer success-generated insights and data-driven analysis of subscriber behaviour provides a clear picture of the steps needed to create an efficient information discovery system within your content delivery platform.

Read on as we examine:

  • How to incorporate these two information sources into the development and configuration of your delivery system’s discovery tools
  • What metrics to keep an eye on to minimise time-to-discovery
  • The internal structures needed to ensure customer feedback plays a central role in discovery feature development.
Understanding subscriber usage is key to developing efficient information discovery tools

Taxonomy

Your category tree is the backbone of your content portfolio. Without it, your library would be an unnavigable jumble of reports and datasets, leaving subscribers with little option but to manually scroll through content and hope they come across the right title.

Taxonomies bring structure to content and improve the end-user experience, so their formation requires a significant level of feedback.

Andrew Woods, our in-house content expert at Content Catalyst, suggests that subscribers need practical use of your taxonomy to gather feedback. When they’re using your site, you can see how they discover content and what’s hindering their information discovery journeys.

“If searches are culminating in subscribers not finding content that’s useful to them, this indicates that your category tree needs tweaking. You may also need to educate end-users to ensure they know how to navigate your category tree correctly”, said Andrew.

Andrew is the creator of the ‘5 steps to taxonomy mastery’ (see right-hand box) – a collaborative framework he recommends to all new customers of Publish Interactive when mapping out their category tree:

5 steps to taxonomy mastery:

  1. First draft: create a first draft based on what you know about your subscribers, their expectations of your organisation, and how they interact with your content.
  2. Sense check: share with stakeholders and invite some of your customers to review it.
  3. Gather feedback: revise your categories based on feedback from internal stakeholders, including analysts.
  4. Soft launch: put your category tree live for a test period to gather feedback. Following this, you should analyse data embedded in your content delivery platform and conduct user research.
  5. Launch: amend taxonomy and go live. Book a second review point between 6 and 12 months after launch.

Key user metrics & behaviour to monitor:

  • Number of enquiries sent to Customer Success (CS) team from lost/dissatisfied customers (Help Desk/customer service line)
  • The average time it takes a user to locate a report (Usage analytics)
  • Number of user sessions that ended with no report access (Usage analytics)

Workflow

In contrast to the era of flat PDF delivery, market analysis providers can no longer serve up useful content and immediately produce satisfied subscribers. Content must also fit into a well-planned, thoroughly tested workflow process to provide true value.

When crafting a customer-centric workflow process, catch-up calls with your CS team are a crucial starting point. Use these calls to understand how subscribers access and repurpose content and where perceived inefficiencies lie.

If, for example, customers are struggling to create custom cuts of your reports to re-use in their PowerPoint presentations, this information should be fed back to your product development team, ready for implementation in later development cycles. If multiple accounts raise similar complaints, elevate the development’s urgency.

Careful analysis of usage data will also provide evidence of inefficiencies. Metrics like report reading time reveal whether your workflow tools allow readers to efficiently find information.

Your subscribers are busy, time-poor businesspeople. Internally, set a benchmark for the optimum time spent on a report. Then, with feedback from customers, identify the features causing delays and aim to fix these in later development cycles.

As an example of a fluid, end-user-oriented workflow process, the framework below shows how Publish Interactive users find and repurpose information.

Implement a fluid workflow model – underpinned by intuitive workflow and information discovery tools – and your subscribers will achieve their tasks in record time.

Key user metrics & behaviour to monitor:

  • Average time spent reading reports – adjust depending on report length. This could be as simple an equation as 5 minutes of reading time per 1000 words. (Usage analytics)
  • Average session length – once you implement the new workflow process, is there a marked reduction in time spent in-platform? (Usage analytics)
  • Customer satisfaction compared to the previous workflow system. (Customer survey / feedback in CS catch up calls)

Search

Underpinning any successful workflow process is powerful search. Search functionality is so highly valued that clients have cancelled entire global subscriptions if employees cannot quickly and intuitively find the information they need, meaning subscriber feedback on search quality and the structuring of returns is integral.

Search configuration and UX can lead you down a rabbit hole as the value of filters, weighting, and exact terms/phrases are highly subjective.

Before launching new search UX/functionality, task key subscriber accounts with sense checking the results a few example queries return. This could, for example, be the account’s most regular search. Identify the differences between the new returns and the old. Is the new structuring of returns more useful?

If your previous search functionality only searched by report title, rather than a granular sweeping of every word of your content portfolio, have confidence that the increased specificity will benefit your subscribers. If you’re fine-tuning or testing a new search configuration, be more cautious and receptive to feedback.

Once live, usage data is key for determining the effectiveness of your search functionality.

Key search metrics & behaviour to monitor:

  • Number of searches culminating in no result returns (Usage analytics)
  • Number of reports clicked through to upon running a search (Usage analytics)
  • Average user session length (Usage analytics)
  • Number of enquiries sent to the CS team from lost customers (Help Desk/customer service line)
  • Feedback from customer demos / example search tasks set to clients (CS team)

Analyse and Listen

Like in any healthy relationship, communication is key. Listen carefully to your customers’ opinions and feedback. Combine this with careful analysis of user behaviour and your information discovery tools will soon significantly reduce that all important metric: time to discovery.

Reduce time to discovery of business-critical information and you will soon see a return in improved engagement, renewals, and revenue.

Tags

  • Analytics
  • End-user workflow
  • User Journey

Related Content

5 ways market analysis publishers can use subscriber usage data to guide content commissioning

Publishers of market research with a content strategy aligned to subscriber wants and needs will enjoy higher engagement levels and renewal rates. Here are 5 ways publishers can use subscriber insights to inform future content commissions.

The road ahead is ever-changing

The world today for consumers of information services is more changeable and complex than ever. Organisations must decipher complexity fast and are seeking context more than content.

To service this need, publishers must change their focus from delivering one-off static reports to providing continuous value through content.

Steve Budd, Co-Founder of Substribe, a leading B2B subscription consultancy, explained the factors driving this trend: “We speak to hundreds of b2b consumers of information services and it’s clear that their world is now more changeable and complex than ever… It is critical to understand what information and data customers need, how it’s changing, and what they do with it next.”

To provide this dynamic content service to customers, market analysis providers must understand the topics, trends, and content formats that deliver value to their subscribers.

Specialist content delivery platforms like Publish Interactive track subscriber activity and present the data in intuitive dashboards. Data points include downloads, shares, popular searches, and individual account usage. These metrics provide clear insight into the direction your content strategy should head.

An analytics dashboard tracking report access over time in the Publish Interactive platform.

Here are 5 ways you can use usage data to guide your content commissioning:

1. Discover what’s popular or in demand

Use report reads, downloads, and shares to determine the most popular reports. Based on this information, you may then decide to expand your library on this subject or improve or update existing content. Use clicks on reports outside of a user’s license to inform future content commissions or cross-selling.

2. Look for emerging trends

Look for changes in usage data over time. Increasing searches, reads, downloads, or shares on a particular subject area may indicate an emerging trend enabling you to expand your portfolio accordingly.

3. Fill your content gaps

In addition to popular content and emerging trends, it’s good practice to look for gaps in your portfolio. When you observe many related ‘No result’ searches, this indicates a content gap.

4. Understand valuable or desirable formats

Usage data may point to formats that are growing in popularity. For instance, we’ve recently noticed increased demand for interactive PowerPoint presentations and dynamic data visualisation. If you spot similar trends in your content library, focus future content strategy on these valued formats.

5. Find out what your subscribers do next with your content

Using analytics, you can embed your information services into end-user workflows. Look for clues in the data such as use of clippings, download frequency, and number of shares to understand the content most valuable to the completion of subscribers’ daily tasks.

Verify your hunches with customer interviews

Usage analytics are a good starting point, but won’t reveal the complete picture. Verify your hunches with subscriber interviews. When speaking with customers, you may discover surprising or unexpected insights that lead to future content commissions or even changes to your overall service.

Knowing what your subscribers are doing with content and how it feeds into their work tasks is imperative and should be at the heart of all editorial departments. With this understanding, you can ensure the content aligns with user interests and needs, increasing engagement and renewal rates.

5 ways publishers can harness subscription technology to grow

The right technology is vital for market research publishers to grow their business via subscriptions and build a quality service for subscribers.

Digital technology continues to drive subscriptions growth

During the pandemic, streaming services and news subscriptions boomed, and publishers with already successful digital subscription services thrived.

Online video streaming services, for example, reached 1.1 billion for the first time, and companies like Netflix experienced historical growth. According to Zuora, a subscription management company, subscription revenue for publishers grew by 16% in 2020.

Subscriptions may have been around for years, but it’s digital technologies and subsequent changes in consumer behaviour that drives continued growth. As a result, how publishers of market analysis deliver research is also changing.

The pandemic made it even more apparent that publishers can no longer depend on advertising or selling one-off reports or data for growth. Being subscriber-first brings benefits, including less reliance on more fickle revenue sources.

But moving from a transactional to a recurring revenue model, or improving on an existing service, requires the right publishing technology. It should enable publishers to develop a relationship over time that moves subscribers from one-off trial transactions onto a subscription.

From transactional to personalised: The four types of commercial relationships for high-value market analysis products

Here are five ways Publish Interactive can help niche publishers to develop subscription services and enable subscribers to maximise usage:

  1. Shift focus from acquisition to retention

Subscriptions enable a research publisher to forecast the minimum monthly income accurately. This brings assurance and a shift in focus.

With predictable monthly revenues, the sales team need not be preoccupied with making sales to meet core revenue targets. Their time can be better spent developing customer relationships and finding opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell, based on usage data built into the Publish Interactive platform.

  1. Tools help users gain maximum value from their subscription

For an individual subscription to be worthwhile, the user must feel that it benefits them. It must help them do their job better and save them time.

Workflow tools such as search, snippets, and clippings help users achieve this with simplicity and ease. These tools also allow the publisher to understand subscribers better and develop content and services that meet their needs.

  1. Deliver more personalised content

Technology gives publishers the flexibility to serve various customer groups, each with different requirements. It enables them to offer users several ways of accessing content, encouraging them to deepen their relationship with the publisher.

It enables publishers to manage subscriptions but also allows them to give content away for free, perhaps on a trial basis, and allows transactional sales too.

4. Build subscriber trust and deepen relationships

Once a relationship is established, it becomes easier to find out what else they and their employer may need. Often, an individual will act as an advocate to help publishers win greater trust within their organisation, which supports the growth of a subscriber base within that business.

This is when the quality of a subscription software can really make a difference. It can help develop a lasting partnership with customers by allowing them to access new services quickly and easily.

5. Gain a new understanding of subscribers

The most valuable aspect of adopting a subscription model is how it enables publishers to reach a powerful new understanding of subscriber behaviour.

Analytics underpins every aspect of an intelligent publishing platform. It enables a subscription model to exist, but more importantly it adds value to that subscription, or alerts the sales team to declining renewals.

“Subscriptions may have been around for years, but it’s digital technologies and subsequent changes in consumer behaviour that drive continued growth.”

Edwin Bailey

Director of Marketing, Publish Interactive

There is huge opportunity to drive subscription revenue

The pandemic has favoured digital publishers with high quality and trustworthy content. Importantly, delivered with the high level of service that consumers have come to expect from all digital services, including research firms.

With the right technology partner, publishers can confidently take advantage of the continued growth in subscriptions and build a subscriber-first business.

Read the whitepaper: Becoming a subscriber-first market analysis provider

Mastering a subscriber-first approach to content categorisation

Supermarkets are masters of categorisation because they think like their customers. Putting yourself into the shoes of your subscribers is the key to creating a robust and relevant taxonomy.

Supermarkets understand how to group items so customers can easily find what they need (and don’t need). Whilst perusing grocery shelves you might notice that most products have logical positions. Eggs in the baking aisle, fruit and veg grouped together, bin bags placed alongside cleaning products… the list goes on.

However, you don’t expect to find seasoning packets in the meat aisle, for instance. They’re not in the same category. But the clever people running the store know that a customer buying chicken may also buy Fajita seasoning on impulse.

Supermarkets have a deep understanding of their customers and there are complex psychological considerations behind the placement of every product. They study consumers continually so they can respond to even the slightest change in behaviour. Supermarkets even monitor the weather.

Who are your subscribers?

The weather may not affect how your subscribers search for content, but the time of year could. There may be other factors that influence how they search for content, such as their job roles and external market conditions. Just like supermarkets, publishers of market analysis should be acutely aware of these behavioural and contextual factors and categorise their content accordingly.

Andrew Woods, Content Analyst at Publish Interactive, explains that different subscribers have different levels of engagement.

“At one end of the spectrum are subscribers who are time precious. They just want to find what they need quickly and will become impatient with a complex category tree,” he explains.

“At the other end are those subscribers who spend a lot of time on your site looking for information. They may find a complex category tree more valuable.” Consider how engaged your customers are and how they prefer to discover information.

Which sector your organisation operates in can also influence how complex your category tree needs to be. “Subscribers of a well-established, broad pharmaceutical publisher would expect the category tree to be organised in a certain way. These organisations are almost forced to have a more complex category tree,” says Andrew.

“In contrast, niche publishers tend to have smaller category trees. When deciding on categories, consider whether you are baked into an industry and need to follow convention so as not to confuse subscribers. Or are you a niche publisher that can have a smaller and simpler category tree?”

Internal and external analysts are also a good source of information about your content and subscribers. They can provide insight into the current and future publishing strategy, and how subscribers search and use your content.

Taxonomy Definitions

Categories

  • Categories are used to collect similar reports into logical groups that resonate with subscribers’ interests and reading habits
  • They help users filter report lists and understand what topics are covered in the report library
  • Categories define a report either in terms of its content or the type of report
  • Categories determine the structure of the content portfolio.

Tags

  • Tags are labels used to describe the specific details contained within a report.
  • They help users find individual reports rather than groups of reports
  • Tags help users with keyword search and identify notable mentions.

Tag Sets

  • Tag sets allow you organise tags into distinct themes and contextualise individual tags.

“The full value of your content can only be realised when subscribers can easily find relevant information via categories or site search. Make it easy for subscribers, and they’ll be better engaged and more likely to become advocates and long-term loyal customers.”

Andrew Woods

Content Analyst, Publish Interactive

Test & Learn

We recommend that publishers don’t get too bogged down in the detail of their category tree during the design stage. Because ultimately, you won’t know if it’s effective until it’s been tested with subscribers. Like the supermarkets, you can continually tweak and change your categories once live, using subscriber feedback.

“You need subscribers to be using your taxonomy to gather feedback. When they’re using your site, you can see how they discover content and what’s affecting them getting to content,” adds Andrew.  “If searches are culminating in subscribers not finding content that’s useful to them, this is an indication that your category tree needs tweaking. It may also be necessary to carry out end-user education to ensure they know how to use search parameters correctly.”

“The full value of your content can only be realised when subscribers can easily find relevant information via categories or site search. Make it easy for subscribers, and they’ll be better engaged and more likely to become advocates and long-term loyal customers.”

5 steps to category mastery

A top-level category is the general master group into which all other categories fall. Sub-categories flow out of top-level groups, delivering an increasingly specific set of subjects to form a category tree.

No two category trees are the same so there are no rules to follow. But to give your category tree strong roots, Andrew recommends taking a subscriber-first approach and following these five steps:

  1. First draft: create a first draft based on what you know about your subscribers, their expectations of your organisation, and how they interact with your content.
  2. Sense check: share with stakeholders, and invite some of your customers to review it.
  3. Gather feedback: revise your categories based on feedback from internal stakeholders, including analysts.
  4. Soft launch: put your category tree live for a test period to gather feedback. This should include analysing data embedded in your content delivery platform, and conducting user research.
  5. Launch: amend taxonomy and go live. Book a second review point between 6 and 12 months after launch.

Content Search: The customer success superpower

Intuitive front-end search and usage data are powerful tools in the sales armoury for market intelligence publishers. These capabilities enable account managers to adopt a customer success rather than a sales-led approach to growing accounts and renewing subscriptions.

Every touchpoint with subscribers is a chance to nurture relationships. Yet, many account managers miss these opportunities because they don’t have the tools that deliver the insights identifying the value for subscribers.

Content search and usage data enable you to better understand the value each subscriber attributes to your products. Importantly, you can use this information to help subscribers unlock more value, resulting in deeper and longer-lasting relationships.

Answer subscriber queries without contacting an analyst

A content query is one scenario where you could use front-end search to grow an account.

Subscribers frequently ask account managers to help them find specific reports or information. But they’re not analysts, so they must refer these queries to someone who is. This incurs a business cost, and subscribers may need to wait hours or days, particularly if an analyst is in a different time zone.

With access to high-powered content search embedded in the Publish Interactive platform, you can answer more of these queries yourself. You can also use the opportunity to show subscribers related content that may be of interest but not apparent by the report titles.

“With Publish Interactive, you can search the knowledge base quickly and easily to demonstrate the broad range of topics, which might not have been apparent from the report titles. This gives clients a direct insight into what they can buy.”

Edwin Bailey

Director of Marketing & Product Strategy, Publish Interactive

Use data to initiate value-led conversations with subscribers

While front-end search enables you to help subscribers find the right product, usage data delivers insight into how they access and use the content.

For example, perhaps you notice that a subscriber only accesses your products, or conducts certain searches, at the end of the month. Maybe they are using it to inform end-of-month reports or beginning of the month plans?

Using this information, you can now open a conversation with them to discover more about how they use your products. You’ve also created the opportunity to up-sell or cross-sell services that they’d find useful during the other three weeks.

Identify up-sell and cross-sell opportunities

You’re more likely to uncover new opportunities to grow revenue when you have in-depth knowledge about subscribers. Science and Medicine Group (S&MG) agree that usage data generated by the Publish Interactive platform enables their account management team to transform customer engagements into further revenue.

“The strong usage reporting abilities of Publish Interactive are probably one of the most useful elements harnessed by the sales team to both cross and up-sell customers to additional products in our research portfolio.” Devin Holland, Former Director of Business Development, Science and Medicine Group

Using analytics, the S&MG team can monitor and identify the number of reports accessed to see which content areas are of most interest and who is requesting access.  They’ve found that the more insight they have, the easier conversations are with clients.

Turn renewals into routine admin tasks

Ultimately, front-end search and usage data give account managers the power to nurture long-term relationships based on customer success.

When subscribers have confidence that your service meets their needs and provides tangible business benefits, renewal becomes a routine admin task rather than an annual renewal call or account check-in.

Tags

  • Management
  • Search
  • Subscription Renewals

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

Tags

  • Management
  • Security
  • Technology

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