5 practical ways B2B research publishers can increase subscriber personalisation

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Reading Lists

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

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

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

• Company industry

• Geographical location

• Subjects of particular interest

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

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

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

2. Upsell & Cross-sell

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

• Recently viewed products (both licensed and unlicensed)

• Most favoured content formats

• Behaviour of similar user personas

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

• Device data (more on this later)

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

Example cross-sell widgets

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

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

3. Flexible Licensing

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

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

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

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

4. Device Optimisation

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

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

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

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

5. CTA’s and Landing Pages

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

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

Looking Forward…

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

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 can create personalised user journeys using flexible licensing technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trial access

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

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

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

Track & trace

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

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

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

 

How licensing and analytics work together to support trial progression

User-specific content packages

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The flexibility Publish Interactive offers, in terms of the ability to create different unique access rights, is game-changing”

James Edwards

Marketing Executive at Futuresource Consulting

How Futuresource Consulting offers content licences tailored to a client’s specific needs

After using an adapted off-the-shelf content platform for almost a decade, Futuresource’s requirements had outgrown its capability and the technology was no longer fit for purpose.

Futuresource Consulting is a specialist research and consulting firm serving the consumer and business technology industries. It provides research, industry tracking and benchmarking through quarterly, bi-yearly and annual reports.

Content packages

With its existing system, Futuresource Consulting was unable to offer licenses tailored to client’s specific requirements. It lacked the ability to control access in the way it needed and it was only able to provide broad licenses to large swathes of its portfolio.

Futuresource Consulting wanted to create unique content packages that more accurately matched the individual requirements of its customers. It needed a new content system to enhance the flexibility of its operations. It also needed to enhance access to the 900 reports in its back catalogue and as many as 400 reports it publishes each year for its 3,500 users.

“Our system was nearly ten years old. The look and feel wasn’t great, there was no visibility over content and user management and, critically, it was difficult to change licenses,” said James Edwards, Marketing Executive with Futuresource Consulting.

Smarter licensing

With Publish Interactive now powering its new content management and delivery platform, Futuresource Consulting is able to create tailored licensing agreements. It’s also able to enhance its user experience with Publish Interactive’s advanced search options enabling users to find information from their licensed content more quickly and easily.

“We’re unique in the way we deliver products. We don’t sell the same package twice, so the fit with Publish Interactive was perfect,” added James.

“It’s a huge benefit now that users can search easily for content based on title and keywords, and the flexible its offers, in terms of providing the ability to create different unique access rights, is game-changing.”

Now, instead of providing access to too much content in each subscription, Futuresource Consulting is able to offer clients specific licenses. This flexibility means Futuresource Consulting can offer everything from just a single report chapter all the way up to a whole year’s worth of its content.

Extra gains

By making use of Publish Interactive’s cutting-edge content management and publication system, Futuresource Consulting has also been able to establish much-needed productivity gains.

Not only does visibility over user behaviour now enhance feedback on potential sales leads, the company also benefits from much quicker content uploads and speedier licencing and account testing for new users.

Future functionality

“In the near future, we’re looking at using marketing functionality to help us promote reports more creatively, we’ll also look at implementing interactive reports and the data downloads functions within the platform,” added James.

With up to 40% of its business coming from firms based in Asia, Futuresource Consulting also sees the Publish Interactive’s translation function as a key future selling point.

“Translation will be important to us and we hope to look at adding that in the next 12 months,” James added.

Tags

  • Content Licensing
  • Personalisation
  • User Journey

3 simple search features that encourage subscribers to buy more content

Building a subscription service around your Market Intelligence content is a great way for a research business to ensure a recurring income – but once it’s established how do you encourage further sales?

Building a subscription service around your Market Intelligence content is a great way for a research business to ensure a recurring income – but once it’s established how do you encourage further sales?

Away from the fluctuations and stress of having to bring in revenue each month, teams can be freed to think creatively around how they can enrich their customers’ experiences and add value with new products and additional content bundles. If, however, your subscribers already have access to a wealth of content, how do you encourage them to buy more?

Let’s assume that the subscribers in question only have partial access to your portfolio. In this article, we’re going to look at three simple ways research businesses can encourage greater cross and upsell from a subscriber base by adding basic features to their search returns.

‘Others also viewed’

What’s the best way to let subscribers know about useful content that lies beyond their licence? How about showing them what other people are interested in the same reports or search terms have accessed? This could include those reports to which they don’t have access yet.

If, time and again, a key bit of content seems to be beyond their access rights, they might suddenly find an interest in extending their subscription.

Offer content outside their subscription

Similarly, if a subscriber to ‘Supermarket Food’ content, for example, enters the search term ‘blueberries’ in your database, what about showing – in the returns alongside content to which they have access – relevant content that lies outside their subscription?

If you can provide a button that lets your subscriber instantly buy a report on sales of blueberries and blueberry-containing products – or even add a whole new category to their existing package – then you have just cross-sold to them without breaking a sweat.

Offer granular search results

It’s good to offer fresh content outside of what a user already has access to, but beyond showing them a report title, how do you convince them that these additional reports will be of significant relevance to their work?

In the search results, what about clearly displaying how often their search term appears in a chapter or section within a report that they currently do not have access to? This would let the prospective buyer know how relevant a piece of content is to their research and understand what they are missing.

Now you understand these three simple features, why not give them a try and see if it helps your customers find and buy more content?

Tags

  • Content Management
  • Personalisation
  • Search

Why an integration with Publish Interactive helps Everest Group manage access rights

Everest Group publishes more than 300 new pieces of content every year using Publish Interactive’s cloud-based content solution

Everest Group is a consulting and research firm that advises clients on global services. Its portfolio contains over 2,000 pieces of digital content.

With users numbering in the tens of thousands, managing access rights to such a large content set was complicated, particularly as Everest Group’s homegrown content management system had inherent complexities.

Market Research publishing platform

To support its growing membership base – and ensure they were always able to make use of the best available research technology – Everest Group forged a partnership to use Publish Interactive’s smart content management and publishing system.

Now, Everest Group publishes more than 300 new pieces of content every year via Publish Interactive’s cloud-based content solution. It also provides members with seamless access to its content library, where they can quickly and easily search, save, and share relevant content.

“Using Publish Interactive has significantly improved many of our processes,” says Patricia Blair of Everest Group. “We’re able to move faster, reports are easier to publish, content and memberships are easier to manage. It’s a great improvement on the system we used before.”

Integrating systems

For any publisher, it can be difficult to know how to use technology to seamlessly grant access to its users and account holders – and it’s just as tough to keep records of what individuals and organisations are entitled to access.

Everest Group uses Salesforce as its CRM platform, so it was critical that Salesforce integrated with Publish Interactive’s content management system.

When Everest Group started using Publish Interactive, it needed a way to ensure individual users were provided with relevant content access in an efficient manner. The answer lay in a technical integration between Everest Group’s Salesforce instance and Publish Interactive.

Establishing access rights

The seamless nature of this integration ensures that employees working for an Everest Group membership client can access all the content to which they’re entitled, without Everest Group having to conduct multiple manual processes.

As more content is added to a research offering, member accounts can immediately access the new information, gaining instant value from their membership.

The integration also helps differentiate the access rights granted to individuals with memberships, those who purchase individual reports online, and those who simply access complementary content.

In short, the integration makes everyone’s life just a little bit simpler…

Tags

  • Content Licensing
  • Integrations
  • Personalisation