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.

Going remote: moving to remote working in just five days (and two years)!

By mid-March, it was becoming clear that the UK government was going to introduce a ‘lockdown’ to combat the threat from Coronavirus. As a business we had two major concerns; the safety and health of staff and continuing to provide a business-critical software platform for our customers.

A national lockdown meant that our team were no longer able to work from our head office in Leeds, requiring the business to move all employees to remote working from Monday 23rd March. The week prior everyone worked hard over the five days to ensure we had in place the technical, management and administrative requirements for business continuity. We succeeded, but in reality, it didn’t take us five days – it’s taken two years of preparation.

In December 2017, we adopted Microsoft Teams as the start of our project to increase collaboration and remote working options, as well as put in place measures to ensure business continuity should distribution strike. By January 2019, we had already created a working environment built on cloud services. Many staff were already choosing to work from home one or two days a week and there are team members based in Cambridge, Norwich and Berlin. Furthermore, we have a fantastic network of freelancers, such as designers, developers and writers who are part integrated into our systems.

Transitioning the entire company to working remotely, without any major disruption was technically possible and so far, successful.

Remote working culture challenges

So, the challenge of a sudden, enforced move to a fully remote working is not really technical, it’s the rapid cultural change needed that will test us as individuals.

How can we ensure that all team members (including senior managers) remain task-focused and motivated and not distracted by their domestic circumstances? Many team members are anxious about the Coronavirus situation and worried about being stuck at home for many days. The lockdown situation has added an extra dimension to homeworking for some team members, in particular – parents caring or educating their children and those living, and now working on their own.

Our first response has been to introduce twice-daily informal ‘huddles’ which help the team to react quickly to daily changes and keep up morale through friendly banter.

“As a business, we are feeling our way day-by-day. And, although its only week one, the transition has been fairly smooth with all team members trying their hardest to be positive and professional”, said managing director Mitali Mookerjee. “Our company values of positive​, open​, wellbeing​, innovation​ and empathy​ – POWIE for short – are certainly being tested”, she observed.

“We all have to show support and understanding to each other as we are all in this experience together,” commented the founder Daniel Lord. “Let’s hope for a quick end to this crisis and a brighter future”, he added.

Five tips for our enforced remote working are:

  • Run a daily ‘social’ video call with all team members where the team can chat about our day, make jokes and ‘shoot the breeze’.
  • Block out time in diaries for morning breaks, lunches, walks etc.
  • Abide by a clear start and finish time so team members can separate home and work lives.
  • Use of ‘Set status message’ in collaborative software to communicate your activities (i.e. I’m having lunch).
  • Encourage all team members to be open about any problems they are having.

7 key trends for B2B research publishers in 2020

7 key trends
for B2B research publishers
in 2020

To mark the end of one decade and in anticipation of the next (is it really 20 years since the Millennium!) we have highlighted trends that are likely to shape high-value business-to-business research publishing over the next 12 months and beyond.

Our seven trends that forward-thinking research publishers should consider as we move into 2020 are…

#1 Continued emphasis on subscriptions

Publishers will continue to try and persuade low value customers to become subscribers that provide recurring revenues. There are multiple routes to this goal, including the development of membership programmes with dynamic pricing, or planning an upgrade path from first interaction to fully-fledged high-value customer.

Technology enables this process to run more smoothly by personalising the user journey and establishing a upsell mechanism that encourages single copy customers to develop a deeper relationship with the publisher.

#2 The customer at the heart of decisions

The next 12 months will see greater emphasis on customer centricity and developing this mindset across the organisation. This will mean publishers spending as much time as possible with their customers to really understand the value they provide.

Customer centricity isn’t just about cementing external relationships: product teams will be working alongside customer-facing teams to ensure products are on point. We anticipate that those in customer-facing roles, such as sales, should become more involved in product design and development.

#3 Embedding interactive data

We expect publishers to really start tackling the technical challenge of how to allow users secure and seamless access to different content types. Specifically, we are thinking about how interactive data can be made securely available alongside written analysis – or embedded within.

By making use of single sign-on systems and/or technical integrations, users can be provided with access to the specific content they need even more quickly and easily.

#4 Making use of accessible AI

In 2020 artificial intelligence and the computing power needed to run advanced algorithms will become more accessible than ever before.

Publishers will have the potential to develop search that understands what is contained in a piece of content and the nature of its relationship to other content types. Deepening the quality of search can help users cut through content noise to specific information that answers their questions.

#5 Shortening time-to-publish workflows

Customers of syndicated market research will increasingly demand more timely data and insight. This puts pressure on publishers to reduce the time spent developing, producing and publishing content. A digital-first workflow – enter-once-distribute-anywhere – will be the goal.

In 2020, publishers will start to look harder for efficiencies in the authoring and production process. This could take the form of automated content reviews, in-platform authoring or on-the-fly design.

#6 Differentiation through content design

We anticipate high-value publishers will place greater emphasis on content design as a branding mechanism. This should help create a sense of authority, value and quality that will set them apart from less compelling sources that are either free or low cost.

We expect content to be more specifically designed for screen consumption, rather than print. As such, data and storytelling content is likely to become more visual with fewer words.

#7 Analytics at the heart of everything

Readership and content usage stats will be increasingly used by publishers to manage their business. Customer usage data will underpin subscription renewal discussions as perceived use of content will be challenged by data on actual use.

Taking cues from the B2C world, editors will use data on topic or article popularity to help with content commissioning.

Authored by

Edwin
Edwin Bailey
Director of Strategy
Mitali
Mitali Mookerjee
Managing Director

Enhancing research loyalty with data

Enhancing research loyalty with data

When it’s time for a research publisher to renew a subscriber account,
good quality user data can play a critical role.

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.

Creating loyalty through understanding

For many publishers, however, establishing even basic usage data can be a challenge that ultimately does nothing to aid the renewal process or boost understanding of the users.

Yet if these challenges can be overcome – and a supply of good quality user data established – a publisher will have the tools needed to help boost engagement and improve customer retention.

In this short guide, we examine three key challenges facing account managers as they attempt to use analytics to establish critical insights and build customer loyalty.

Challenge 1: Faster, easier, and more usable data

A research organisation looking to extract insights from usage data can be negatively impacted if the process to extract them is manual or slow. For data to play a fundamental role in the development of a research business, access needs to be quick, easy, and automated.

Better flow

Improving the ‘flow’ of information can increase use, but this alone won’t herald a data rich age. Information also needs to be presented in a way that helps establish insights immediately.
That means providing the ability to view stats from an account and user perspective or to easily switch to review usage by topic and/or content category.

Visualizing data

Whatever data is sought, it’s a must to display this via a dashboard that summarises activity and enables more considered investigation. Account managers don’t want to rely on asking colleagues for stats, to wait for them to arrive, then be forced to format them in a spreadsheet before they make any sense. Account managers need immediate access and insights.

Challenge 2: Refocus on engagement

Data provides insights that help forge closer ties with customers, but often they’re only used to review client performance or to demonstrate value ahead of a contract renewal.

Usage of this kind is, of course, vital; but if data is only used in this way then a fundamental part of its potential is wasted…

Re-engage to retain.

Regularly reviewing usage stats can help account managers identify, at an early stage, poorly performing accounts and disengaged customers the publisher is at risk of losing.

Sometimes the limited usage challenge is the result of poor data. If the only available stats come from the CRM system, they’re unlikely to have the necessary depth to help identify a disconnected customer.

If detected early, the opportunity exists to turn a disenchanted user into a satisfied customer; but to do this account managers need to be empowered with tools that provide real insights.

Challenge 3: Standardisation

What to measure and report

Usage stats can establish the strength of a publisher’s customer relationships and help identify opportunities for improvement, but none of this is possible without a structured approach to data gathering.

Statistical performance highlights aren’t enough: standardisation is critical. That means a common set of datapoints regularly gathered and reported to help an account manager understand, at any given time, what content is most compelling, what isn’t working, which users are most compelled, and those that are not.

Establishing and reporting even basic datapoints like this can help account managers to accurately establish customer insights that, in turn, can drive their business forward.

As the developer of a leading SaaS research publishing and content management platform, Publish Interactive is well-placed to help research firms maximise their relationships with customers.