Becoming a subscriber-first market analysis provider

Becoming a subscriber-first market analysis provider

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

The pandemic has highlighted that market intelligence providers cannot depend on advertising or selling one-off reports and data to disparate customers. There is a huge opportunity to drive subscription revenue and become a profitable subscriber-first business. This will also help to future-proof publishers’ income and make them less reliant on more fickle revenue sources.

Subscriber first whitepaper

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Digital technology drives subscription services

Digital services of today – regardless of whether they’re online banking, shopping, or ordering a taxi – offer flexibility, convenience, and above all ease of use.

The result of this change is that end users now expect similar levels of service from all their digital providers – including research firms.

They want information that’s easy to discover, easy to access, then just as easy to use – and publishers that embrace this new requirement will lead the market and prosper.

Becoming a subscriber-first market analysis providerHow niche research firms can use technology to successfully shift from a transactional model to recurring revenues examines the ways technology can empower market intelligence providers by helping them develop subscription services that, in turn, enable end-users to maximise their use of the publisher’s research information and data.

In addition, this will help those who already offer digital subscription services to add finesse by optimising operations and maximising the quality of service they offer to end users.

By reading this whitepaper you will be better able to better consider how to:

  • Use technology to offer compelling subscription packages.
  • Lower risks of revenue loss through IP breaches.
  • Develop compelling end-user experiences to generate engagement.
  • Put usage data at the heart of the customer relationship.

Contents

 

Subscriber-first whitepaper cover
Whitepaper highlights how technology can help drive subscription revenue

The subscription economy effect

Why moving to a subscription model helps niche research firms fix costs and remove revenue fluctuation

Fixed costs equals fewer financial worries
Know your income and build on it

How licencing technology helps research firms evolve commercial models

Developing account journeys
Targeted packages
Not just all you can eat
Upgrades and multiple users
Building on trust
Using licensing to drive adoption and sales

Reducing revenue risks by protecting your content
Staff churn and retained access
Mass downloading (and sharing)
Content usage alerts

How end-user tools are critical to the success of a research firm’s subscription model
Which tools are most useful?
Information found. What next?
User tools for productivity

How a subscription model helps publishers improve their knowledge of customer behaviour
Analytics on content usage
Information helps renewals

Figures

Figure 1: From print to digital – 20 years of B2B content delivery
Figure 2: From transactional to personalised: The four types of commercial relationships for high-value market analysis products
Figure 3: Prospect to trial to subscription model

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

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.

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

Embracing the shift to shorter publishing cycles while improving customer functionality

Understand the context behind short-form content’s increasing popularity and gain insight into the workflow processes publishers are implementing to ensure a smooth short-form content creation process

Email me the handbook

The adoption of digital publishing platforms over the last ten to 20 years has enabled publishers to expand their services due to increased capabilities, such as report bundling and through offering subscription packages. Publishers of B2B research are now at yet another stage of the digital transformation: we call it short-formism – the publication of shorter reports more frequently.

This whitepaper explores how publishers of high-value market analysis are increasingly embracing this change and what this means for research, editorial and production workflow. We also introduce a simple framework for managing a continuous feedback loop within workflow to ensure the reader is served with compelling and useful content.

Contents

The move to short-form content
The impact on workflow
The goldfish effect
Purchasing content: the subscription model
Analytics benefits from digital transformation
Four reasons to incorporate usage data into publishing workflow
Optimised data visualisation

Figures

Figure 1: From print to digital – 20 years of B2B content delivery
Figure 2: Increase in the search term “infographic”
Figure 3: A continuous feedback loop for publishers’ workflow

Delivering market intelligence content in an interactive format which is more user-friendly

CCS Insight uses Publish Interactive to deliver a wealth of research content in an interactive format and track subscribers’ interactions.

CCS Insight is a market information, analysis and intelligence firm serving the technology sector. It provides syndicated and custom research to large businesses across the globe. After relying on a custom-made system to distribute its content for several years, CCS Insight’s requirements outgrew the ability of this increasingly dated platform.

Beyond downloadable PDFs

For more than a decade, CCS Insight had been distributing its report content as downloadable PDFs from its subscription website, without being able to fully understand how content was used or its popularity.

CCS Insight has a wealth of research content, and was looking for improvements in its delivery platform to fully realise the value of this material. It needed state-of-the-art search and access tools to enliven the experience and improve workflow quality.

With an increasing number of customers accessing content on mobile devices, CCS Insight also needed device optimization to ensure scrolling around a PDF to read a document became a thing of the past.

“Our method of distributing content was neither interactive nor user-friendly. It was no longer fit for purpose. The look and feel needed updating, the functionality and search were basic, and the back-end was neither easy nor quick to use,” says Robert Caunt, Director of Publishing, CCS Insight.

“The site didn’t say ‘this is a technology company’. As a business in this space, we’re judged in those terms. We needed an upgrade.”

“What appealed to us about Publish Interactive was how the technology met many of our needs. As a specialist content distribution platform for research companies, it was designed for companies like us”

Simon Hodson
Robert Caunt,
Director of Publishing,
CCS Insight

Platform that can grow

With Publish Interactive now powering its new content management and delivery platform, CCS Insight has improved its user experience, enhanced interaction with the hundreds of pieces of content it produces annually and made it easier to distribute material.

“The platform is quicker and better. Search is clear, intuitive and accurate. It can translate content, allow users to copy to a clipboard and create their own reports. It’s also a great tool for providing users with control and enabling them to make better use of our research.

“It helps us create new content easily by converting Word documents into interactive content in a quick and intelligent way, while still supporting our PDF back catalogue. What’s more, the platform has the potential to grow with us.”

A re-energised approach

Upgrading to Publish Interactive enables CCS Insight to offer its users a range of workflow tools. In addition, customers can also make use of an intuitive interface that makes it quicker and easier to perform tasks and access content.

“We had a long internal debate about whether to drive people to the website to access content or whether to simply e-mail a PDF. Having the Publish Interactive site has settled that debate,” adds Robert.

“With content on the site, we can find out how, why and what content people are using — and what they’re not using. We can track failed searches and find out what people want, that we don’t yet provide.”

Publish Interactive has helped CCS Insight to speed up its publishing and editing process and made it possible for the technology research business to plan for expanded functionality to embrace video and audio storytelling and new interactive ways to display data.

“Publish Interactive has re-energised our approach to research,” adds Robert. “We’ve been able to take another look at what we do — and make it even better for our subscribers.”

Tags

  • Analyst Workflow
  • Market Reports
  • PDF

How market analysts and intelligence professionals buy, use and apply research in their work

Key drivers for building trust in market analysis

In order to succeed in the intangible world of market analysis you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses.

Email me the handbook

This whitepaper will improve your understanding of how readers and users of syndicated B2B content and market data perform their tasks. The findings draw on first-hand interviews and surveys of senior people working in US and European companies in market and competitive intelligence analysis roles.

Data charts included:

  • Average size of a corporate market analyst and competitive intelligence team
  • Main internal customers for departmental work
  • Main activities market analysts and CI professionals are involved in
  • Average number of syndicated reports respondents purchase a year
  • Major competitive intelligence challenge in a company

The whitepaper will help you understand:

  • What buyers of syndicated market reports think about publishers
  • Key tasks that competitive intelligence professionals carry out
  • Why trust is the most important asset for publishers and in-house market analysts
  • How market analysts can demonstrate value and influence decision-making

If you are involved in either selling or buying high-value B2B content or data, then this whitepaper is essential reading.

Trends in High-Value Research Publishing

Beyond transactions – how understanding user behaviour creates competitive advantage

Email me the handbook

From knowing how content is used to understanding its value and context, publishers of high-value research face a number of varied challenges as they look evolve their businesses for the digital economy.

Reduced customer budgets, new and alternative content types and increasing competition from lower cost producers all contribute to an increasingly difficult trading environment through which publisher need to navigate.

In our Trends in High-Value Research Publishing 2019 whitepaper, we explore how B2B publishers should respond to ensure they remain relevant to customers.

We look at the ‘Three Kings’ of research publishing: data, content and context – and examine how publishers should consider each of these from their customers’ viewpoint as part of their move to create the stronger and long-lasting relationships needed to deliver reoccurring revenues and future value.

How WSL Strategic Retail ensure its How America Shops research is at the cutting edge

Data and insights from WSL Strategic Retail are eagerly sought-after across the retail sector, but the custom-built database it used to house its information and act as a content library was outdated.

WSL Strategic Retail is a specialist information provider that helps retailers reach their target markets. Using survey data, it develops insights and solutions to help businesses understand shoppers’ desires and behaviours.

‘People couldn’t find what they were looking for…’

Thanks to a partnership with Publish Interactive, a SaaS technology provider for the research sector, WSL Strategic Retail has been able to equip itself for the digital age.

“Search is really important,” says Maryann Javier, Visual Brand Manager with WSL Strategic Retail. “With the custom-built system, people couldn’t find what they needed. Using Publish Interactive is a much better way to find and share content.”

WSL Strategic Retail uses Publish Interactive’s smart content management and publishing system to improve the value it offers customers. The full suite of its How America Shops research is around 40 pieces of content annually to which subscribers need quick and easy access.

“Not only can subscribers now easily locate information”, says Maryann, “the smart workflow tools built into WSL’s content library help them to easily re-use the data and find insights quickly.”

“Our clients are using the new library really well. They can find everything they need,” adds Maryann. “This gets noticed by others. They see content they don’t yet own and can buy it. The system is good at exposing people to new reports.”

“Search is really important… With the custom-built system, people couldn’t find what they needed. Using Publish Interactive is a much better way to find and share content.”


Maryann Javier


Visual Brand Manager, WSL Strategic Retail

Low maintenance technology

The ability to provide customers with high-quality search is critical to the development of WSL. Like other businesses of a similar size, however, it found maintaining a high-quality digital service in-house would prove both costly and time-consuming.

“We were quoting with developers to renovate the existing system we had, but technology moves so quickly, we realised we’d need constant upgrades if we continued to develop our own product,” says Maryann.

“Publish Interactive is serviced software, so it’s continually being upgraded by its own team of developers. That’s was perfect situation for us, as we’re a small team with no developers in-house. We get cutting-edge technology to delight our customers, without the hassle of managing it.”

Developing integrations

The next phase of WSL’s development will see it increase the value it offers subscribers by enabling them with greater survey data visualisation and analytics tools.

Functionality made available through Publish Interactive’s integration with MarketSight, will empower WSL’s subscribers to combine data, create their own insights, and embed visualisations into bespoke reports in a way that wasn’t previously possible.

“The reports we publish have all the data cleaned up and converted into totals, rather than spilt out by all demographics or retailers,” adds Maryann. “Our customers know we have that deeper level of data and often ask us to supply it to them.”

“In the future, they won’t have to ask. They’ll simply be able to access that data and visualise it quickly and easily themselves.”

Tags

  • Analytics
  • Market Reports
  • Search