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

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

One Project, Not Two

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

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

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

For clarity:

Marketing site: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Planning Phase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consistency is Key

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to get from A to B

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

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

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

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

Integrate your Systems

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

These integrations include:

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

The Small Print

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

Considerations include:

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

One Project, One Project Manager

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

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

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


  • Integrations
  • Management
  • Technology

Related Content

How market analysis firms can prevent insider content leaks in the hybrid working era

We take a look at the growing issue of insider content leaks, the workplace trends causing their growth, and what features you should include in your content delivery system to reduce the severity and regularity of leaks once they occur.

The two phrases most synonymous with the post-pandemic workplace zeitgeist – hybrid working and ‘The Great Resignation’ – which have come to symbolise increasing worker autonomy to decide how, when, and where we work, are simultaneously raising concerns among many businesses for a different reason: the loss of intellectual property.

This concern is felt acutely amongst providers of high-value market analysis. With content selling for thousands of dollars, any sharing of information with competitors from former employees or those working outside of the controlled office environment is costly.

As employees working from home need access to more information with conventional information-sharing networks eroded outside an office setting, the democratisation of corporate information has become a necessity. This newly granted openness, combined with high staff turnover is understandably causing concern.

If left unchecked, the combination of high employee churn and hybrid working can create a perfect storm of accidental leaks of high-value data and content as well as more nefarious dissemination caused by ‘insider attacks’, where employees purposely share reports and data with new employers, friends at other analyst firms, or rivals.

What is the information industry saying?

Various research reports should read as warning signs for business information firms. A report from the Ponemon Institute documenting data breaches found that 75% of employees say they have access to data they shouldn’t and 25% of employees are willing to sell data to a competitor for less than $8,000. Ponemon also found that insider incidents have grown 47% in just two years.

In its 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon found that a massive 44% of all breaches in organisations of less than 1,000 employees were insider jobs. They also discovered that 93% of breaches were driven by profit, while ‘pure fun’ was another top motivation.

In our recent article, Securing high-value content: How to ensure the right content doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, we looked at the three types of external intellectual property thieves analyst firms are vulnerable to, but the same behaviour can be committed in a similar fashion by internal employees.

Three personas of ‘insider’ information sharers:

The internal sharer –  occurs (often accidentally) when an employee distributes high-value information into an unauthorised area of the internal knowledge centre or sends it to colleagues who don’t have permission to view the content. This results in a higher likelihood of valuable information leaks.

The external distributor – this offence arises (often maliciously) when a user shares content with friends outside of their organisation or with members of their new organisation. Commonly caused by corporate accounts not being fully closed once employees have left the company.

The home driver saver – involves fewer people and is a less immediate threat but still takes the content out of the publisher’s possession and could evolve into the other two distributors in the future.

75% of employees say they have access to data they shouldn’t and 25% of employees are willing to sell data to a competitor for less than $8,000. Insider incidents have grown 47% in just two years.

Research from the Ponemon Institute

Reducing the likelihood of insider content leaks

The question for analysis providers operating in the hybrid working age therefore is: how can ‘insider attacks’ and accidental leaks be stopped in practice without disrupting analysts’ ability to produce reports or find critical information?

Here are four features you should ensure are present in your content repository to reduce the regularity and impact of these leaks on your valuable intellectual property:

1. Prevent full download

This is a helpful preventative measure that limits the amount of data internal users can take offline and disseminate among friends and colleagues at other organisations. This measure, combined with workflow tools that allow for the creation of custom deliverables, means that users – both internal and customer accounts – will not need to download whole reports and will only export the sections they need. Accidental shares of full-length reports will become less common and purposeful dissemination more difficult and time-consuming to commit.

2. View online only

In a similar vein to preventing full downloads (although this method prevents even partial downloads!), setting your content in ‘View Only’ mode means your information and data are safely secured in your content repository and can’t be moved into an unmonitored offline space. A workable middle ground is to set certain content as ‘View Only’ and others as downloadable, depending on the user and what level of access they need to certain information.

3. Licensing

The ability to set different access management rights depending on individual user requirements is underpinned by a flexible licensing system and is critical to the wider issue of protecting internal assets. Licensing systems are now highly flexible and allow administrators to set tailored licenses based on the user’s exact needs and requirements. Administrators can regularly audit and review usage and set personalised access rights depending on seniority, department, or individual need.

4. Content Usage analytics

This can be a difficult concept to convey to employees as you don’t want to create an atmosphere of surveillance and suspicion. However, the ability to track user behaviour and analyse what content has been downloaded from your content library is invaluable when identifying a breach’s origin if you do suspect a data leak.

Finding the balance in the hybrid working era

Publishers of market analysis must be particularly aware of the risks associated with our increasingly hybrid, fluid working world due to the high value and sensitivity of their digital content.

Analyst firms can, of course, completely lockdown their internal content repositories and only allow a select number of system administrators or lead analysts to access resources. But what purpose would this serve? It would plague your employees with inefficiencies, leading to frustration with the lack of information at their disposal.

Instead, investment in a full-stack content repository and delivery system that possesses the threat-mitigating features listed above, when combined with regular reviews and audits of access permissions will reduce the severity and frequency of accidental content leaks and purposeful insider attacks.

Four Building Blocks for High-Performing B2B Subscriptions

How to optimise B2B subscriptions for customer success and value

Read the whitepaper now

Start your journey to building high-performing subscription products today.

Over the past ten years, subscription models have transformed. They are now less about a payment method and more about choice and convenience for the customer. Consequently, unlocking customer lifetime value is getting harder.

How do companies that want to succeed design an offer that delivers a compelling product and gives the customer great value?

Four building blocks for high-performing B2B subscriptions introduces the methodology publishers need when shifting from a ‘traditional’ subscription product to one optimised for customer loyalty.

The whitepaper, written in collaboration with Andy Burden & Steve Budd of Substribe, a B2B subscription consultancy, introduces the four building blocks that B2B media or services companies must follow to unlock customer lifetime value.

When B2B services help customers do their jobs better, the foundations are set for a healthy subscription business.

Access your copy of the whitepaper today and start your journey to developing subscription products that will generate substantial rewards for your business.


The journey to high-performing subscriptions

The transition to customer obsession

Where are you on the journey?

The drivers of success

Getting the right balance

The four building blocks

1: Purposeful organisation

2: Customer obsession

3: Value-based pricing

4: Time to value

Grow your capabilities for success


Figure 1: The differences between Traditional vs High Performing Subscriptions
Figure 2: The challenging subscription economy
Figure 3: Example capabilities scorecard

Four Building Blocks for High-Performing B2B Subscriptions - whitepaper
This whitepaper introduces the four building blocks to unlocking lifetime customer value.

5 ways publishers can harness subscription technology to grow

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

Digital technology continues to drive subscriptions growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Shift focus from acquisition to retention

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

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

  1. Tools help users gain maximum value from their subscription

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

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

  1. Deliver more personalised content

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

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

4. Build subscriber trust and deepen relationships

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

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

5. Gain a new understanding of subscribers

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

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

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

Edwin Bailey

Director of Marketing, Publish Interactive

There is huge opportunity to drive subscription revenue

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

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

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

Content Search: The customer success superpower

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

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

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

Answer subscriber queries without contacting an analyst

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

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

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

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

Edwin Bailey

Director of Marketing & Product Strategy, Publish Interactive

Use data to initiate value-led conversations with subscribers

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

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

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

Identify up-sell and cross-sell opportunities

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

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

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

Turn renewals into routine admin tasks

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

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


  • Management
  • Search
  • Subscription Renewals

Securing high-value content: How to ensure the right content doesn’t fall into the wrong hands

As thieves try to steal expensive content and customers ignore the terms of their subscription licence by ‘sharing’ with colleagues, securing paid-for published reports and data must be a priority for market analysis firms.

As a publisher of market intelligence, imagine the following scenario. Coca-Cola*, one of your largest corporate accounts, purchases an enterprise license for your annual overview of the global soft drinks market. The report is delivered to them as a PDF, and you assume it is being used internally as per the stated licensing agreement. However, you soon learn that Pepsi* are using data in presentations and business reports that could only have come from one place: your annual overview of the global soft drinks market. But you know that Pepsi didn’t purchase a copy!

Often in this situation, content is not shared with malicious intent: many customers simply have a laissez-faire attitude to licensing and sending a report to a friend in a rival organisation is often done thoughtlessly due to the ease of sharing PDFs. In other instances, it is done deliberately to steal revenues and undercut the publisher’s hard work. Regardless of intent, both forms of distribution are financially damaging for publishers.

*(disclaimer: Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been referenced purely for illustrative purposes and this example does not reflect on the integrity of their employees!)

Production Costs

Business information’s value is unquantifiable, but the content’s price reflects the production costs for a niche market, the expertise of the author and the cost of research and data collection.

Syndicated market research reports are undoubtedly highly valuable products. Every report is produced by several teams, from the authoring analyst (or analysts) to editorial who ensure factual correctness and consistency, followed by production who work on design, layout, and quality control. Sales and marketing teams then join the fold to decide how to package and sell the content. This process involves many people, many hours of work, and significant expense to the publisher.

Securing this painstakingly produced, high-value content is at the forefront of any provider’s mind and is increasingly relevant as cyber-security concerns seep into our everyday working and personal lives. Content is extremely easy to steal or lose control of in a complex and ever-changing digital security landscape. Publishers should be aware of the common security hazards, and solutions, that regularly trouble providers of market intelligence.

Copyright Theft

At its crudest, copyright theft is stealing, re-packaging and selling, usually at cut-price, the same content publishers have spent weeks or months putting together. Copyright theft is a growing issue in the B2B publishing community, as with increasing regularity, organised networks work together to obtain high-value content, remove any references to the actual copyright owner from the report, dataset or video and market it often for a fraction of the price.

One industry figure posting in the Renewd online community, a network for subscriptions professionals and B2B publishers, identified over 80 pseudo-information firms working together to disseminate copyrighted material and shockingly found over 90 examples of their content listed on 11 individual sites. Networks of this nature will grow in number and become more sophisticated in their tactics, so publishers must be aware of this threat.

Solution: Vet all purchasers of your content – ensure that buyers input some personal information before making purchases. If, for example, an individual is trying to buy a $4,000 report and has no associated company of note this should raise alarm bells.

Mass Sharing

In a similar vein to copyright theft, mass sharing involves the downloading of licensed content and distributing without the permission of the publisher. Often unlicensed distribution of content is committed by one of your loyal (or so you thought) subscribers rather than an anonymous denizen of the internet.

There are 3 main forms of mass sharing:

  1. The internal sharer – occurs when a registered user downloads a whole report and uploads it to their corporate intranet or internal knowledge centre.
  2. The external distributor – this offence arises when a user shares content with friends outside of their organisation.
  3. The home drive saver – involves fewer people but still takes the content out of the publishers’ possession and could evolve into the other two distributors in the future.

Commenting on this type of threat, Edwin Bailey, Director of Marketing at Content Catalyst, who has over 20 years of experience in licensing content said; “Content delivered as PDFs via email is most at risk to this form of theft, and although publishers may have DRM systems in place these can be easily bypassed via password sharing or manipulation of the PDF document’s properties. Most subscribers are, of course, reliable and trustworthy. However, it only takes one user to bypass these rudimentary safeguards before your content is freely passed around another corporate account without your knowledge.”

Solution: Invest in a content delivery system capable of tracking content usage and managing access rights. Analytics and licensing allow greater control over usage and enables site administrators to keep tabs on potential rule-breakers. Having settings that prevent users from downloading whole reports offline can also be an effective preventative measure.

“Most subscribers are, of course, reliable and trustworthy. However, it only takes one user to bypass these rudimentary safeguards before your content is freely passed around another corporate account without your knowledge.”

Edwin Bailey

Director of Marketing, Content Catalyst

Corporate account sharing and fair use policy

Fair use policies have often been a sticking point between publishers and clients. Breaches of fair use frequently come in the form of password sharing amongst colleagues. Corporate licenses are granted with certain limits – a common restriction being the number of users associated with the account. Once the company reaches the pre-agreed number of users accessing the provider’s content, the client should move to the next pricing bracket and be charged a higher fee for access.

For example, a corporate team buying an account with 20 registered users when there are 100 members in their department should be flagged as a risk. If unregistered customer employees then ask the publisher’s analysts or salespeople content-related questions, this is an obvious sign of unauthorised access and may confirm the suspicion of password sharing.

Solution: Tracking IP access is a handy way of getting a sense of the number of devices accessing your site. Again, usage analytics, particularly those related to log-ins and geographical location are vital: if you can see that a certain account is logged in 24 hours a day with constant activity, it’s possible to deduce that the password is not just being shared amongst direct colleagues but across multiple time-zones – a major breach of fair usage policy.

Password breaches

In June of 2021, the largest ever password data breach was leaked – 8.4 billion passwords in total were compromised1. This problem is not sector-specific, but the sheer volume of passwords leaked every year makes this an issue publishers should be wary of.

Tom Gibbs, CIO at Content Catalyst who has been at the forefront of keeping Publish Interactive secure, explains that “the ubiquitous threat of data breaches means publishers should strive to implement security via a combination of best practices and a robust tech ecosystem.” Five security features he recommends that publishers should consider to ensure content security are (these are also all features of the Publish Interactive platform):

  1. 2-Factor authentication – reduces the chance of password sharing among colleagues and external attackers as only permitted IP addresses will receive entry codes.
  2. Password age – a setting that allows site administrators to enforce the frequency that users must reset their password.
  3. Trusted domains – restricts which email domains can access the site.
  4. ReCAPTCHA – this widget will ensure bots are unable to register to your site.
  5. SSO integration – with providers Okta and Microsoft Azure AD, facilitating better password practices and more secure log-in systems.

Solution: Invest in subscription software or a content delivery platform that has a range of features designed to counteract and reduce the threat of content breaches. It’s also important to sign-up to specialist password protectors, such as LastPass for your internal employees and if you are sharing passwords over email, ensure you use encrypted password services, such as PW Push.

A more secure future

Publishers must ensure the security of their content – the myriad of threats can be hard to keep up with, but with the right technology, secure best practice policies and the diligence of employees to monitor and track unusual activity, your painstakingly produced content can be kept safe and secure.



  • Management
  • Security
  • Technology

Related Content

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.


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



  • Digital Transformation
  • Management
  • Sales

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


  • Analyst Workflow
  • Editorial
  • Management

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.

CS teams need to have their ‘own reporting, KPI’s and focus’ to distinguish them from renewals and sales teams.

Nick Blunden

President, The Business of Fashion

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

How publishers can efficiently 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

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.

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.

“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”.

Matt DaPrato

Product Suite Director, Wood Mackenzie

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 an energy industry consultancy merged three research products into a single platform


Becoming a subscriber-first market analysis provider

Understand how niche research firms can use technology to successfully shift from a transactional model to recurring revenues