5 practical ways B2B publishers can increase subscriber personalisation

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Reading Lists

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

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

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

Company industry

Geographical location

Subjects of particular interest

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

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

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

2. Upsell & Cross-sell

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

Recently viewed products (both licensed and unlicensed)

Most favoured content formats

Behaviour of similar user personas

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

Device data (more on this later)

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

Example cross-sell widgets

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

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

3. Flexible Licensing

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

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

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

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

4. Device Optimisation

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

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

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

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

5. CTA’s and Landing Pages

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

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

Looking Forward…

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

Five technologies/features you will need to ensure personalisation:

1. Flexible licensing 
2. Comprehensive analytics suite
3. eCommerce & cross-selling tool integrations
4. Content delivery platform (i.e. not relying on email delivery of reports)
5. Mobile-optimised site

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.

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Evergreen content: market analysis for the modern B2B information consumer

Publishers are regularly updating analysis reports to reflect unpredictable market changes and meet the expectations of B2B content and data consumers

While it may conjure up images of pine, cypress, or cedar trees displaying life in otherwise barren landscapes, the term ‘evergreen’, when applied to content, has been banded around digital marketing circles for years with little connection to its dendrological roots.

The evergreen descriptor conventionally refers to content that retains relevance over time, often by repurposing existing materials into new packages and formats. This model allows previously used topics and marketing messaging to drive continued product queries and maintain strong website SEO.

Recently, the term has emerged from the realm of marketing and immersed itself into the lexicon of business information and market analysis publishers to describe content that is continually updated to keep readers informed and engaged.

This trend has been driven by external and internal factors; externally, by ever-fluctuating market landscapes publishers must keep their subscribers updated on, and internally, by a change of mindset from publishers who are re-evaluating the role their content plays and the very nature of the service they provide.

A changing landscape

Unsurprisingly, the last 18 months have transformed the information industry, consumers of business information, and the markets that publishers document. Information and data that might have been relevant for days or even weeks in the past may only have a shelf life of a few hours as uncertainty, improvisation, and rapid innovation have been the predominant market characteristics in this unfamiliar period.

Some markets, such as the travel and airline industries, weren’t simply plagued by uncertainty but completely ground to a halt, making attempts to forecast airline passenger numbers, for instance, a near impossibility.

Continual subscriber engagement

Publishers now need to understand what information customers require, anticipate how this information might change, and foresee how their readers will use this data next. This mindset has been precipitated by the pandemic and feeds naturally into an evergreen content strategy.

Research and analysis products are still typically packaged and sold as individual, static reports, which are either bundled into a subscription package or by selling single copies on a transactional basis. PDFs, by their inherently undynamic nature lock data in the document, meaning new information is only released when the next edition of the report is published.

However, publishers are increasingly sensitive to rapidly changing market information and the entire user workflow from information consumption to what readers do with information next. The introduction of continually updated, evergreen content therefore becomes crucial for those publishers looking to provide consistently valuable, dynamic content to their subscribers and increase content engagement by embedding themselves into their subscriber workflows.

Steve Budd, Co-Founder of Substribe

Steve Budd, co-Founder of Substribe, a UK-based firm specialising in B2B subscription strategy discussed this process: ‘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…B2B customers need to decipher complexity fast and seek context more than content. It is critical to understand what information and data customers need, how it’s changing, and what they do with it next.’

Examples of evergreen content include real-time databases and dashboards as well as targeted analyst reporting. Already published reports can also be continually updated when new information and data is released. Content subsequently becomes an on-demand, reactive, ‘evergreen’ service, rather than a series of static, discreet reports, which become quickly outdated.

“B2B customers need to decipher complexity fast and seek context more than content. It is critical to understand what information and data customers need, how it’s changing, and what they do with it next”

Substribe’s Steve Budd elaborated on this idea: “Information publishers can rethink their approach with an ‘as a service’ mindset to really impact their customer’s workflow and help them succeed. Research companies can play a vital role in helping their customers navigate a new path to success, and those that crack it will be rewarded with deeper and longer-term relationships”.

The concept of research being a service is a fundamental shift in thinking from the transactional mindset of the past and will allow the information industry to keep pace with the increasingly on-demand digital world we now live in and ensure continued subscriber engagement.

Evergreen content delivery

Developments in content delivery technology now enable B2B publishers to plan, produce and execute evergreen content strategies. Traditional content delivery methods, such as delivering PDFs to end-users over email, are not conducive to evergreen content creation.

Once reports are delivered this way, there is no going back. Updates cannot be made due to the PDF’s fixed nature, and instead, consumers must wait until the next edition of the report before receiving the information and data they need.

Publishers must adopt new technology, such as specialist content delivery platforms capable of supporting dynamic, multi-formatted content if they want to ensure engagement and produce the content B2B information consumers increasingly demand.

The future of market analysis lies in its ability to accurately represent the complex and changeable business world we now find ourselves in and an evergreen content strategy is a powerful approach to achieve this.

Benefits of adopting an ‘evergreen’ content strategy

1. Ensure engagement by arming your subscribers with the latest information and data
2. Accurately reflect rapidly changing environments by incorporating the latest market data
3. Keep pace with the increasingly on-demand digital and subscription industries
4. Position your research as a service not simply a content library
5. Use technology to deliver content in dynamic, editable formats

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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.

Think like SaaS: the new mindset for publishers of market analysis

The business information and SaaS industries have a lot they can learn from each other. We take a look at how publishers of high-value subscription content can adopt SaaS ways of doing business.

It is no secret that cloud computing services have transformed the world of software and given rise to the booming Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry. What might comes as a surprise, however, is the sheer size of this burgeoning sector: Gartner forecasts that software-as-a-service solutions will generate revenue close to $141 billion in 2022 – a 25% increase on the 2020 figure1.

SaaS negates the need for physical distribution of the software and customers typically pay a subscription fee – often monthly – to access a continually updated application.

A similar revolution has taken place in the business information and market analysis sector. Technology has changed the way information is consumed beyond recognition in a relatively short space of time; a hard copy printed document or PDF now seems antiquated compared with today’s digital experiences.

Subscription propositions to high-value content and data are now completely entwined with technology.

This got us thinking. If publishers can harness technology to better serve their customers, can some of the management techniques prevalent in SaaS businesses similarly be adopted to drive better business outcomes?

We see convergences in the way that SaaS and high-value content businesses are managed and have identified five SaaS management techniques that publishers should use.

User-oriented Solution

The iterative nature of software means components can be added in chunks and the software seamlessly updated. At each iteration, design modifications are made, and new functional capabilities are added.

With this process in mind, it is best to think of published, paid-for content as a portfolio of components that may require regular updating so the end-user can view the content in its entirety, rather than adopting the concept that content is made up of discreet reports.

When viewed from a subscription perspective and as an opportunity to upgrade the customer, service becomes a golden opportunity to engage with customers and increase profitability.

“Flexible subscription models pave the way for stronger customer relationships and are the most reliable way to continue adding value. If customers continually see the value a company provides for them, they will continue to pay for it,” explains Mitali Mookerjee, Managing Director of Publish Interactive.

Adaptable pricing and packaging strategy

The SaaS delivery model affords businesses more control over how they package, deploy and manage their offerings while also giving customers more flexible pricing models.

Flexibility in packaging is the secret to subscription pricing. Any credible SaaS business is product and customer-centric, offering a broad range of options to meet customers’ bespoke needs.

Market analysis publishers can similarly offer highly personalised subscriptions based on their subscribers’ exact requirements, providing them with the content of most value for their business, whilst identifying upgrade paths for future upselling opportunities.

“Flexible subscription models pave the way for stronger customer relationships and are the most reliable way to continue adding value. If customers continually see the value a company provides for them, they will continue to pay for it”

Think monthly, not annually

Publishers have seen a boom in digital subscription revenues during the pandemic, as users spent more time online and sought out new, easily accessible content sources. The convenience of digital subscriptions is now evident and consumers of business information have discovered their appeal over the past 18 months.

This is why publishing businesses are starting to consider using Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) as a measure. As perhaps the most important financial metric of any SaaS subscription model, MRR helps make accurate financial forecasts based on user subscriptions.

It is a KPI that gives accurate information on whether a publishing business is developing and gaining momentum or plateauing.

A publishing company that thinks like a SaaS provider places more focus on the value of a customer relationship over time as the business model is one of recurring revenue with the opportunity for increased yield (spend/customer). The difference is the switch in focus to recurring revenue rather than an annual target – through offering a recurring service on either a monthly or quarterly basis rather than annually.

When implemented correctly, SaaS is a business model that provides customers with an intuitive, tailored experience and arms the publisher with a business model that encourages upgrades, concise revenue forecasting and a customer-centric mindset.

Five SaaS management techniques for publishers

1. Use MRR to measure success
Monthly recurring revenues (MRR) is a SaaS businesses’ mantra as the accumulation of existing and current business will drive an upward MRR trajectory.
Contrast the MRR approach to the annual subs number that most publishers use. The key difference is to remember that your customers are engaging with you all the time and not to be forgotten until the next annual renewal.

Top tip: Think about how your customers interact with your service on a monthly basis
2. Your research is a service
Once upon a time the tech industry used to sell a CD / download with an annual user licence (remember all those MS Office disks?) and sales were expressed as units. The move to selling software-as-a-service on a monthly / annual term with continuous updates and (no more versions!) has created different business models. The same approach can be taken with market analysis and research. Rather than selling individual reports and then bundling into a subscription, why not think about a continuous service with regular updates to constantly engage your customer.

Top tip: Think about what your customer wants from content on a daily basis
3. Bake in dependency
The best SaaS products become so embedded within the user’s business and workflow that customers cannot contemplate leaving. This makes renewals procedural and revenue forecasting straightforward. Can a content business achieve the same? Design your product to be essential and need-to-have, rather than nice-to-have.

Top tip: Ensure customers never have a reason to leave
4. Use Roadmaps
All software companies have a roadmap outlining their proposed improvements and new features. Typical roadmaps, which are often public, evolve on a quarterly and annual cycle as customer feedback drives product development. New features (and enhancements) are rolled out regularly which in turn gives the customer a feeling of great value as they are getting more for their money.

Top tip: Give your customers an idea of how the product will evolve
5. Develop an upgrade path
Most SaaS products have a clear upgrade path for customers, where users will pay for advanced features or increased storage limits for things like data or projects. Over time it is hoped the adoption of more features or higher limits will increase recurring revenue and users have a compelling reason to buy.

Top tip: Give customers a compelling reason to increase their spend

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.

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How publishers can create personalised user journeys using flexible licensing technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trial access

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

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

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

Track & trace

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

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

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

 

How licensing and analytics work together to support trial progression

Copyright: Content Catalyst 2021
Copyright: Content Catalyst 2021

User-specific content packages

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more about Publish Interactive’s integration capabilities:

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

Track usage and identify upgrade paths

As new subscribers explore and consume their tailored subscriptions, engagement will increase as content dependency grows. As the relationship becomes more robust, upgrade paths can be identified with the support of analytics and subscriber feedback. Again, technology can facilitate these upgrade paths with additional licenses added following conversations with account managers or as subscribers automatically add modules in-platform with the help of CRM and eCommerce systems.

Technology is enabling publishers to grant ever more personalised, granular licenses; the specificity now available and its ability to support seamless user journeys have rendered advanced licensing technology an invaluable asset for publishers of market analysis looking to grow revenues and improve subscriber relationships.

Key benefits of advanced licensing technology:

  • Create time-limited trial access to drive upsell opportunities
  • Personalise subscription packages by licensing disparate content from across the content portfolio
  • Use analytics to monitor access and ensure license terms are enforced
  • Facilitate a seamless, tailored user journey from triallist to paying subscriber

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.

How B2B publishers are using software integrations to enhance customer experience and drive new business

Website Image

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

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

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

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

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

Phased approach

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

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

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

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

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

Open, easily navigable content

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

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

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

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

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

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

SSO access

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

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

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

The key benefits of integration:

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

Examples of Publish Interactive’s API integrations

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

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.

Latest Posts

How publishers of market analysis are using technology to streamline subscriber workflows

For publishers of B2B market analysis, creating high-quality content is no longer enough – they must also save their subscribers that most valuable of assets – time.

Time is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity across the board, and the world of B2B publishing is no exception.

Consequently, immediate access to highly targeted, pertinent information and an intuitive, frictionless process to access and re-purpose this information are now key concerns for consumers of market analysis. Publishers can no longer expect to serve up useful content and immediately produce satisfied subscribers – their content must also fit into a well-planned, thoroughly-tested workflow process designed to streamline their subscribers’ time if it is to provide true value.

Here are just a few reasons why publishers should be considering the role their content plays in their subscribers’ day-to-day tasks and we provide an overview of the workflow tools required to streamline these end-user workflows.

Maximising content value in the subscription age

The rise of subscription packages has led to a reciprocal increase in the number of reports users have access to as content becomes more concise and tailored to individual user needs. This trend has meant that ad-hoc purchases of lengthy PDF-authored reports delivered over email and the limited functionality necessary with this delivery method no longer applies to the needs or buying habits of most end-users.

Edwin Bailey, Director of Marketing at Publish Interactive elaborates: “If a subscriber has access to more than one hundred PDF reports, they’re going to need an efficient means of extracting what they need and make all that content work in their favour in a consistent, quick and accurate manner, enabling them to maximise the value of their subscription”.

Large, increasingly diverse libraries of content have made efficient extraction of relevant information a must for publishers and poses a headache for those who have not picked up on this aspect of the end-user journey.

This poses the question: what workflow features can be incorporated into content delivery platforms to streamline the end-user experience?

Search is key

Central to the effectiveness of workflow tools is the quality of search, followed by the structuring of returns. Search functionality is so highly valued that clients have been known to cancel entire global subscriptions if they feel as though their employees cannot quickly and intuitively find the information they need.

The content produced may be valuable, but if it can’t be located what purpose does it serve?

Allowing end-users to search for key terms across an entire library of content, displaying these terms within the context of the report it is found in, and having the ability to filter terms by content type transforms the search-based workflow experience and ensures end-users can quickly find the information they need.

“Search functionality is so highly valued that clients have been known to cancel entire global subscriptions if their employees cannot quickly and intuitively find the information they need.”

Collate and Export

The purpose of workflow tools is to accomplish complex processes with minimal user intervention in as short a time period as possible.

For instance, end-users do not want to compare data or analysis across multiple reports by manually opening and navigating between individual documents. Saving relevant sections, viewing relevant returns for all reports, or viewing corresponding sections side-by-side in report series creates a dynamic, intuitive reading experience free from laborious, manual navigation. Once relevant information is located, it should then be easily saveable to a custom content library for later use.

Allowing subscribers to collate pertinent information in-platform is useful, but publishers have often sought ways to fully immerse themselves into their end-user workflows. In-platform functionality allowing these multi-formatted content snippets to be exported and integrated into a single Office document is a powerful way of achieving this.

End-user workflow diagram - png

Creating an intuitive, integrated user journey such as the example above maximises the value and impact of high-quality, informative analysis.

Boosting renewal rates

Following a subscription purchase, the capabilities offered by a content delivery system to streamline workflows and enable the consumer to easily collate bespoke reports could be the overriding factor driving positive renewal discussions. A user-friendly solution will also act as the catalyst for wider use amongst colleagues, expanding the subscriber base within that company and providing further growth opportunities.

From streamlining and automating repeatable tasks and effectively pulling together analysis to increasing overall efficiency and empowering your customers to work more productively, the benefits of having a workflow system in place as part of a subscription model are clear and should be a natural counterpoint to a publishers’ high-quality analysis.

Four questions publishers of B2B information should ask about their subscribers’ work:

1. What tasks does the subscriber use my content for?
2. What (specific) tasks does the user need to perform to get the job done?
3. To perform these tasks what steps does a user need to take?
4. What workflow tools can we provide to reduce friction or speed task completion?

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.

Latest Posts

Market research reports: How short-form is increasingly overtaking long-form content

Why frequency of publication and short, more targeted content is changing publishers’ workflow

With the introduction of digital platforms there has been increased interest in content subscription services as more consumers find them to be convenient, as well as time- and money-saving, allowing the subscriber to buy access to the content they need, with ongoing access to future additions or revisions.

We predict this is a trend that is set to continue with the market continuing to move towards consumption on an ongoing basis rather than through outright purchases. This trend will require publishers of research to embrace another stage of the digital transformation: short-formism. But what is it and what does it mean for research, editorial and production workflow?

The move to short-form content

Short-form content is a type of content that is characterised by shorter reports that are published more frequently.

Wider access to digital information has now led consumers to make quicker decisions, increasing the requirement for ‘on-demand’ information. Publishers have capitalised on the speed at which they can deliver content in this digital format, with shorter and more regular reports being produced to feed this demand. This now means publishers can react quickly in response to events through more real-time content.

In contrast to longer content which involved curation of comprehensive reports by a large team of analysts, short-form content focuses more on singular answers to specific questions. This focused content may be produced by just one analyst, with the creation of multiple different short-form reports on the same topic drastically cutting time between content creation and delivery.

Multiple documents can be stored in a digital content repository to be used on demand to compare and contrast different analyses for different markets, or at different times when new information arises. This allows the subscriber to collect the information they need exactly when they need it, with content being continuously created and constantly evolving.

The goldfish effect

The digital era has radically shortened attention spans (sometimes termed the goldfish effect) and information providers need to adapt to this trend.

Improved search capability is a major factor for consumers and therefore short-form content is ideal and negates the need to trawl through a 500-page report to find the answer. It is specific content that is relevant to their niche or question, saving time collating multiple pieces of content from many articles.

Short-form content has also paved the way for the subscription of information feeds, offering consumers the ability to adjust forecasts and pivot their decisions when new information on market trends is released.

The digital era’s influence on analytics

Nowadays, digital documents provide deep analytical insights, enabling a publisher to understand who is consuming the content and how much is being consumed. This knowledge feeds more interesting content in future and proves the value of the content at the point of subscription renewal.

Read the whitepaper The evolution of B2B content and the era of short-formism

See how Publish Interactive’s feature Instant Insights can help publishers deliver time-sensitive content quickly to subscribers.

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.

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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

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