Why publishers of market analysis should use analytics to prove value to their subscribers

How does a market analysis firm prove to its subscribers that it offers them great value for money and saves them time? The quality of its analysis might be high, but beyond gathering anecdotal feedback from users, how does it prove to subscribers that it’s meeting their needs?

Interactions

A lot depends on the way the market analysis publisher interacts with its subscribers. If it supplies content as PDFs, spreadsheets, or other documents that can be emailed or downloaded, the firm will be able to establish subjects in which the customer is interested, but that’s about it.

What they don’t know is how useful the document was, how it was used, how many people read it, and scores of other ways the subscriber might have interacted with the content. Establishing this level of detail will take lots of time-consuming and costly follow-up calls or interviews. Even then, the firm can’t be certain that what they’re being told is 100% accurate.

This information void makes it hard for the publisher to prove that its content is useful, used widely and that an investment in it represents good value for money.

Rich information

Usage stats are key. If a market analysis publisher can provide reliable data, not only can it prove its value to the customer, it can legitimately enter negotiations expecting not just to renew, but to enhance the relationship through tailoring the packages it offers to meet the specific needs of each account.

Here are just a few examples of the insights usage stats provide, which can be invaluable during renewal discussions:

  • Which users accessed content
  • What content was accessed
  • How frequently the content was accessed
  • Most popular search terms
  • Most popular content
  • What content was shared among users
  • Whether any communication existed around particular content
  • Most favourable formats
  • Key categories and topics
  • The ways content was re-used once it had been accessed
  • The numbers of hours in-platform content and workflow tools typically saved users

Of course, a market analysis publisher won’t be able to gather data like this unless it uses a smart platform to manage its content delivery and user access. Such is the growing need to provide clients with detailed information on their usage, however, it won’t be long until all publishers are compelled to start using a platform that enables them to demonstrate their usefulness to subscribers.

In addition to simply being able to provide detailed usage feedback, publishers will start to rely on this information, so they can assess the use of their platform and constantly provide the best possible service to their customers.

These requirements mean that within around five years, either through attrition or innovation, the businesses that make up the market analysis sector will be dominated by those who can provide customers with both high-quality research and detailed information on how that research is used.

Kellie

Kellie McMillan
Client Relationship Manager
Publish Interactive

“An account manager who can establish what content has been accessed by users – and their engagement levels – is well-placed to accurately convey to the customer the value of the service they enjoy.”

4 Key questions to answer for successful analytics

1. Can you understand who your active users are?
To fully understand your content usage, you should be able to see every single action a user has taken on the platform, including logins, searches, downloads, and even what part of the document has been re-used.

2. Can you review which content is popular?
Using the information gathered from your analytics, you should be able to understand which topics are most popular and be able to use this information to write content in the future based on demand.

3. Do you know if you are missing potential leads?
If you can see which users have tried to view a report they do not have a license to you can then reach out to offer new sales opportunities.

4. Do you understand true subscriber value?
Looking at the usage of many users within an account will prove the value of the content when it comes to retention of the account. If the content is simply downloaded then shared with other team members you miss that important usage information and don’t understand the true value of the account when it comes to the renewal conversation.

See how Publish Interactive’s Analytics features can transform your usage analytics reporting.

Analytics

Track user behaviour to assist with retention and enable upsell opportunities to existing customers and new prospects

Build or buy? Why in-house development of B2B publishing platforms rarely meets expectations

One of the key questions for B2B publishers is whether to build proprietary content platforms in-house or work with an experienced supplier. Edwin Bailey, Director of Marketing, assesses the risks associated of in-house development versus outsourcing.

In a competitive digital marketplace, efficiency is king. The right publishing solution is about timely access to authoritative research, data, and analysis to ensure that, as a research or an analysis firm, you’ve got the winning edge.

Add the invaluable ingredient of high-quality content as well as a suite of intuitive, user-friendly tools for simple and quick interactions, and that edge grows further still.

However, the critical question is, do you develop in-house or outsource? With so many variables to consider, we explore why building a proprietary system might not offer a feasible solution for anyone looking to gain competitive advantage.

The C Factor

Perhaps the biggest factor of all is cost. A publishing platform – in-house or otherwise – is in continual development, so surely removing the burden of developing a proprietary system while trying to constantly keep pace with the rapid progression of technology is a no-brainer?

Outsourcing not only removes initial capital expenditure and externalises the costs associated with development risks, updates, and over-runs but also ensures the availability of best quality technology at a fixed price. Outsourcing also paves the way for cost certainty, accurate budgeting, and the freeing-up of capital for use on other opportunities.

Streamline

In short: focus on what you’re good at. As a research or an analysis organisation, use your resources wisely and do not sway from your core competencies. Running a large internal development team solely for your publishing platform is, let’s face it, a costly distraction from your main business.

Outsourcing your publishing platform also offers you the flexibility and agility to respond to critical opportunities.

“it doesn’t matter how good your content is – if technology compromises its ease of access, both customer experience and competitive edge will dissipate.”

Time to market

Building a bespoke in-house system to match your business’ exact requirements and customers’ expectations is a bit like the holy grail. For one, your end-users may already be familiar with high-quality publishing platforms used by other providers and the high benchmark is therefore already set. In short, you are setting yourself up for a fall, perpetually stuck in development hell with technology that is fast becoming outdated.

‘Basic’ in-house amendments could routinely take four to six months and all those coding ‘tweaks’ will become increasingly difficult to manage, allowing your competitors to eclipse you. Any system that can’t rapidly implement new features made necessary by the wider technological ecosystem will quickly become obsolete.

This level of development and creativity demands big responsibility – as is managing the constant investment needed to fund the enterprise. Does your firm have the time and energy for this?

An outsourced solution will reduce implementation time and ensure industry-leading user and publisher experiences, as well as allowing research and analysis firms to publish reports quickly and easily.

And it doesn’t matter how good your content is – if technology compromises its ease of access, both customer experience and competitive edge will dissipate. A research or analysis firm’s platform should enhance content, as well as make it easy to find, understand and export in various user-friendly ways.

Sales impact

Creating a system that can actively help publishers improve sales can take years of development. Content Catalyst has been developing its content platform, Publish Interactive, for more than 12 years to the point where new partners can see tangible sales benefits within weeks. How long would that take if they were developing their own systems? The time frames are incomparable.

Furthermore, a publisher’s entire portfolio is also made instantly available, enabling researchers to find required information quickly and easily, leading to greater and prolonged use. Content analysis can help firms quickly identify popular content with great revenue potential, pinpoint any content gaps, and target content at specific users. Upselling and cross-selling opportunities are also enhanced, including the encouragement of ad-hoc buyers to become subscribers.

Freedom to thrive

Business information providers should ask themselves: do they want to invest time, money, energy, and focus equipping themselves with technology for tomorrow, or should they leave those tasks to the experts and concentrate on making their research the best it can be?

For further information, access our guide to choosing a publishing system:

Choosing the right research publishing software

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About the author

Edwin Bailey
Director of Strategy
Edwin has over 20 years’ experience in commissioning, author relations, reselling, content licensing, publishing sales, marketing and commercial strategy in trade, professional and business publishing.

Analysts: The new Bowies of business?

Market analysis firms can boost profiles by championing their best hidden asset

Arguably, in terms of success, analysts are to research businesses what David Bowie is to music. This may raise a few eyebrows, but there are more parallels to be drawn than you might first think. Ziggy Stardust’s creator was heralded as a skilled visionary who influenced many through presenting a defining image that was enhanced by the intricate lines of his lyrics that were as random as they were complex. In a similar fashion (bear with me), analysts have the skill and expert insight to cut through billions of lines of data and deliver a clear vision of various business sectors. But unlike Bowie, they are the unsung heroes of their world.

And in the same way Bowie used instruments and collaborated with others to further leverage his genius to become a trailblazer, so the gurus of data knowledge must empower themselves further through boosting their business intelligence. We know that one way for a research business to reinforce the expertise of its analysts is through the use of smart publishing technology.

In the public eye

Through default rather than design, analysts tended to remain in the background. Historically, there has been reticence with market analysis firms to promote them as a key selling point. However, in this digital era openness and visibility is crucial – even for analysts. It’s not just about skillset or experience anymore; a company’s credentials now also depend on voice and personality through social media. Analysts no longer need hide their talents under a bushel – it’s time to celebrate these Trojans of number crunching and champion their public value.

In analysts we trust

Intuitive technology allows customers to discover more about individual analysts and enables quick access to the content they produce. As the old adage goes, people buy people. If a user gleans value in the work of an analyst, technology can be harnessed to empower the reader to find even more of their output.

“David Bowie, R.I.P.” by Ronald Douglas Frazier

Rock star reporting

In a recent report, the Financial Times* interviewed over 500 subscribed companies which were either responsible for, involved in, or knowledgeable about their organisation’s use of market
intelligence to support strategic decision-making. The results showed that 51% thought industry analysts were the most effective sources, the highest percentage in fact – second were media outlets at just 33%.

Liam Rogers, Associate Research Analyst at 451 Research, a global research and advisory firm explains the possible reasons behind this: “Truthfully, sometimes analysts are like rock stars – they’re this figure that knows a certain sector really well and people know that they do. They’re a trusted source of informed information. A big part of the job as an analyst is building trust and maintaining relationships and so I think the way we have to do that is changing.”

 

Most effective sources of market intelligence for strategic decision making

Source:  Financial Times, The edge of intelligence report (2020)

Unleash your assets

A smart publishing system should give analysts the means to brand themselves as the saviours of their subject matter, and, through a series of relatively small measures, we’ve given our customers the capabilities to make their analysts the pillar of their digital marketing pursuits.

For us it’s really a no-brainer – both in arriving at this truth and also for firms to implement. When a research provider marries up with the right kind of publishing technology, it can unleash not just analysts’ potential but also that of the firm’s, with the opportunity to create a lasting impact with audiences for years to come.

*Source: Financial Times: The edge of intelligence report

Find out how the Publish Interactive system can raise the profile of your analysts and built trust with your subscribers by speaking with an expert

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.

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

5 actionable tips to boost B2B subscription renewals

Subscribers are the publisher’s lifeblood. Retaining them is no longer the sole role of the account manager. B2B information buyers are more under budget pressure, more demanding about what content they invest in, more savvy with their budgets! Here are five tips to boost your subscription renewal rates..

Subscribers are the publisher’s lifeblood. Retaining them is no longer the sole role of the account manager. The days of an annual telephone call and a cheque in the post are long gone. B2B information buyers are more under budget pressure, more demanding about what content they invest in, more savvy with their budgets! Here are five tips to boost your subscription renewal rates.

A successful annual renewal can be the difference between enjoying a good year or suffering a bad one, so how does a publisher turn a critical event into a formality? Using technology to engage your subscribers with your content is now an important part of this process.

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Tip 1 – Use data as evidence

Stats on how research is used, customer behaviour and content popularity help justify renewal fees. The technology a publisher uses to supply content and interact with business subscribers should provide a wealth of information that enables them to demonstrate the value it provides.

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”.

Tip 2 – 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.

If an account manager can make use of dashboards and alerts to quickly 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 customer 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 discount, 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.

Tip 3 – Help subscribers use content to perform tasks

In a highly competitive market where content quality and price are often similar, research publishers can use technology to help their users access just the information they need. That means enabling them to buy, search, export and compile bespoke reports in a practical way. Brett Azuma, Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer at 451 Research, commenting on how technology helps publishing content in a granular way said, “It will allow us to play a more integral role in how our clients work. One of our strategic goals is to become more embedded in their workflows… It will be easier for them to find what they’re looking for and extract this into documents or spreadsheets.”

Content that is quick to access is a great way for an end user to gain the knowledge they need, when they need it. But what if subscribers have to compile a report or presentation? This is where content that’s also quick to reuse can set forward-thinking publishers apart. If a publisher can embrace technology to help a user perform such workflow tasks such as saving snippets and downloading into multiple ‘ready-to-go’ formats the content is more likely to become a favoured resource for the subscriber.

Enable subscribers to find and use relevant content in the quickest and easiest way possible with technology and tools that empower, engage and enhance the efficiency of a user’s workflow.

The point of differentiation to help a publisher drive reliance could include:

  • Options that help a user buy an additional chapter or section – rather than a whole report – from outside their licence.
  • Search functionality that provides specific returns to help a user quickly access relevant sections of text, tables or graphics.
  • Empowering the user to clip a section of content and then compile and export their own bespoke reports containing all the tailored content snippets they have gathered.

Tip 4 – Enhance user engagement

Publishers keen to improve user engagement need to work proactively to help clients maximise their subscription. This means regularly suggesting cross and upsell opportunities and implementing a system of saved searches and alerts to notify users of new and relevant content. TGaS Advisors, a strategic advisory company in life sciences use software functions to drive engagement with their content. Associate Director Tarra Maeshima expands; “Saved searches and alerts are a big deal for customer relationships. Customers only seek information when it’s necessary, so alerts are a useful way for them to stay on top of relevant information and dive into content quickly when answers are needed.”

Tip 5 – Engage subscribers with flexible licences

Publishers looking to become market leaders can benefit from using technology to offer flexible subscription models that more closely fit the clients’ requirements. Instead of offering them access to everything, what about something more nuanced?

Using sophisticated taxonomy, publishers can tag and categorise content in ways that make it easy to provide access to unique verticals of content and simple to add additional pieces – or whole new categories – to a subscription in a single click.

Recap – Our 5 tips to improve subscriber renewal rates

  1. Use data to support the value subscribers get from content
  2. Build reliance on content that makes the renewal seem second nature
  3. Enhance user engagement with task-based workflow tools
  4. Encourage easy content (re)use
  5. Offer subscribers flexible licences

Ultimately, it’s all about publishers offering more value to customers than just the content and then being able to demonstrate the value it provides.

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.

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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 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.
“Adopting Publish Interactive to power our new publish portal has completely transformed the way we produce content”

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 run multiple brands from a single platform

How publishers can 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

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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.

Using a single platform to power multiple publishing brands enables a publisher to make new content available to subscribers.

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.

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

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Optimising High-Value Subscription Renewals

How market analyst publishers can use technology to retain subscribers

Why publishers should use analytics to support subscriber renewal discussions

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.

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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.

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

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Optimising High-Value Subscription Renewals

How market analyst publishers can use technology to retain subscribers

Introducing our latest product – SlideViewer

Why we developed the ability to publish interactive PowerPoint reports

We spend a lot of time thinking about how B2B syndicated research content is published and consumed. One thing we have really noticed is how the traditional A4-style report authored in Microsoft Word is slowly being usurped by PowerPoint. The highly visual content, in landscape form, looks great on widescreen monitors and allows publishers to present data in a more graphic format.

As a leading publishing technology company, our response to these changing publisher customer requirements was twofold: firstly, we needed to improve the landscape view, and secondly, we wanted to add ‘interactivity’ to PowerPoint reports.

Before we started development work, we had three tricky problems to solve:

  1. How could we deliver content in landscape and portrait format in the same interface whilst retaining a consistent end-user experience?
  2. How could we show meaningful previews of pages within search results so end-users have an idea of the contents of a slide?
  3. Could we develop a function for readers to identify tables and figures and extract the underlying data?

Five months after these challenges were proposed we have the solution to all three! Our new module, SlideViewer, showcases PowerPoint content in an easy-to-read landscape format. It also provides search across multiple reports with a great page preview option and the data within tables and figures can be extracted to a spreadsheet for further analysis.

Additionally, within a slide an end-user can clip sections, add notes and share with colleagues reducing the need to download a report for offline reading.

A key outcome of the project is for publishers to heighten subscriber engagement with content. Metrics around this could include increased number of online reads vs. whole file downloads and an increase in content interactions within the platform.

SlideViewer’s benefits are numerous but can be summarised as:

  • Analysts can deliver their interactive PowerPoint-created content using their existing production methods
  • End-users can quickly find and reuse the content they need in their own research without the need to download the whole report; and
  • Publishers can see data regarding usage which will allow them to understand the content’s value to their subscribers.

We have 16 years of experience developing interactive online experiences for research publishers. Our long-standing DocViewer provides a uniquely interactive interface for the search and consumption of longform research reports created in Word.

We know the SlideViewer module will be a hit with our publishers as they get to publish visually appealing content which is easily accessible by their users with no change to their authoring workflow.

How business information publishers should plan for business post-Coronavirus

6 minute read

Six areas that management should focus on

Government responses to the Coronavirus pandemic are having a terrible impact on economic activity. Fortunately, unlike travel or hospitality, the B2B publishing sector is not in the immediate front line of the fallouts from government lockdowns. That said, as the economy rapidly weakens and confidence falls, there will be a longer-term impact on the sector and revenues will be bitten into.

Apart from live events, which are currently either cancelled or postponed to a future ‘normal’, not all is doom and gloom for publishers of high-value B2B information and data products. Aggregated visitor data to our publisher customers content platforms is showing no significant change in numbers since the crisis began.  Perhaps we can conclude from this data that our publishers’ content and data (which covers many industries) is still valuable and needed by their corporate customers.

Further encouraging signals came from a recent survey by B2B media subscription consultancy Substribe, which indicated that over 80% of B2B publishers have seen an increase in customer engagement since mid-March. However, despite this robust percentage, only 40% are confident about growth from their subscriptions. Perhaps the survey question was incorrectly phrased – who apart from grocery stores and video conference tech providers are expecting growth?

So, what should B2B publishers and business information providers be doing to ensure they survive this economic crisis and come out the other side fitter and ready to take advantage of opportunities? I suggest six actions that all publishers should be considering right now.

1.  Intensify focus on retaining your customers.

The old adage for choosing property (and name of a popular English television house hunting programme), location, location, location could be matched in the publishing world by retention, retention, retention. The winners will be companies that retain their customers through this crisis.  Until now, churn is a way of life for subscription businesses. Acquiring new customers is going to be harder and unlikely to replace lost revenue. Think about it this way – zero churn is great for the bottom line because you are not having to replace lost revenue to stand still.

Holding onto a customer who is paying half of what they were pre-crisis is better than loosing them completely. So be nice, be smart and be proactive.

2.  Understand the value of your content

As a first-year marketing student will tell you, value is not the same as price. In the intangible world of content and data the value of product is often very much in the eye of the beholder. Your data might be robust and your analysts’ opinion well regarded but understanding why your customers buy your product and what tasks they use it for is not easy.  Start off by asking straight up why your customer values the content. Additionally, use analytics to see which content is being used. Be careful with popular content versus valuable content. Some subjects are popular (like articles on Tesla’s Elon Musk’s latest indiscretions!) but not necessarily useful in your customers’ tasks. In this crisis companies are looking for support to help with forecasting, understanding how competitors are responding and looking for competitive advantage to survive. It is important to convey that you are the trusted guide through this crisis in your messaging.

3.  Invest in delivery platforms

The sudden move to homeworking has made access to paid content and data through the user’s browser an imperative. Companies still relying on terminals or IP-specific access will have to change. We live in an access-anywhere at anytime world and self-service content delivery platforms are a must.

In many cases your customers are performing tasks with your content and data. Will the “Zoom factor” change the way B2B information is packaged?  Ask how you can help with their tasks and workflow  and where they take place. This may open internal conversations about how the actual delivery of content could be improved.

4.   Diversify your portfolio

Although virtually no sector is going to be left unscathed by the economic fallout from Coronavirus containment measures, some sectors are more badly affected than others.  , while others such as transport or construction could suffer as companies in those sectors lose confidence and shed staff. Some information formats are suffering such as live events which are decimated, and advertising-driven publications are seeing sharp downturns. But, other forms such as news, market forecasts (however sketchy!) and peer advice are seeing upticks in engagement and readership.

This begs the following questions for a publishing company’s management. Should they:

  • Specialise heavily in one sector or publish across industry verticals?
  • Offer a range of formats with different type of revenue streams? and,
  • Look to repackage their content for a different audience?

However, whatever the sector or format, I believe the companies that will prosper are those that have a range of offers, solid subscription revenues and, above all, are trusted and valued by their customers.

5.  Accelerate product innovation

Anecdotally the crisis is accelerating the pace of innovation and change in companies. Decision making is quicker and projects that were scheduled to take months are now being completed in weeks. Whether this ‘war footing’ can continue indefinitely remains to be seen, but creativity will become increasingly essential in finding ways to adapt. Companies with high exposure in the live events sector or from advertising revenue will want to quickly rethink the future of their offer. Some ideas I have heard floated could include:

  • Develop a freemium-type model to drive readership in the hope that a profitable percentage can be converted into customers when the economy recovers. For example, a regular, (sector specific) update summarising Coronavirus related news
  • Repurpose old IP (after all its creation is a sunk cost) into a new product. This idea has relevance for conference companies who might have stacks of old presentations.
  • There is a real sense that people are ‘lonely’ in business and want to be connected to those having similar experiences. Can this desire for social connectivity and community within the business world be an opportunity?
  • Look how to double-down on subscription revenues. Can you communicate more value or transition to a membership model with a more personalised offer?
  • Repackage content and sell at a different price bracket of to a different audience.

6.  Prepare for a downturn and change in working patterns

Preparing for an economic downturn is gloomy but also pragmatic. Many sectors are and will experience a slump as the economy goes into recession. Instead of hoping that things will go back to normal (bit vague – what is normal?) all companies must prepare themselves for leaner times. Publishers will be exposed to the vagaries of their customers’ spend and will need to regularly reforecast, find efficiencies and reduce overheads. Additionally, in the short-to-medium term working patterns for staff will change with more homeworking and less face-to-face contact, which will change daily operations. On this point the future is unknown, but the successful companies will be those that develop new approaches rather than reacting with short-term solutions.

Looking to the future

In summary, I think the publishers and B2B info companies that will come through this crisis in good shape are those that work hard to:

  • Build personal relationships with their key customers and empathises with their needs,
  • Communicate the value of their product and reinforce why the content and data is trustworthy,
  • Deliver products that help the users complete a task (particularly important as so many are working remotely),
  • Develop a diversified product portfolio, by sector, usage and audience, and,
  • Think creatively about how to turn a crisis into an opportunity.

The cliched saying that we are living in unprecedented times is of course a truism. We are living in challenging times and are having to rapidly change the way we work. Publishers which will be most successful are those that adapt to this huge challenge facing humanity – a new challenge for everyone involved.