Evergreen content: providing 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”

Steve Budd

Co-Founder of Substribe

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

Think like a SaaS business: 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”

Mitali Mookerjee

Managing Director at Publish Interactive

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

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?

Tags

  • End-user workflow
  • Search
  • Subscribers

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.

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  • Analytics
  • Subscribers
  • Subscription Renewals

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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Tags

  • Digital Transformation
  • Management
  • Sales

How B2B publishers use software integrations to enhance customer experience

  • Digital Transformation
  • Integrations
  • User Journey

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

  • Analyst Workflow
  • Content Management
  • Market Reports

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

Tags

  • Analyst Workflow
  • Editorial
  • Management

5 actionable tips to boost B2B subscription renewals to ensure a great year

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.

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.

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.

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

How business information publishers should plan for business post-Coronavirus

We explore six areas that management should focus on to ensure continuity and growth during the Covid era

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.

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.

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.

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.

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