Four Building Blocks for High-Performing B2B Subscriptions

How to optimise B2B subscriptions for customer success and value

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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.

Contents

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

Figures

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

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

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.

How publishers of market analysis are using technology to streamline subscriber workflows

For publishers of B2B market analysis, creating high-quality content is no longer enough – they must also save their subscribers that most valuable of assets – time.

Time is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity across the board, and the world of B2B publishing is no exception.

Consequently, immediate access to highly targeted, pertinent information and an intuitive, frictionless process to access and re-purpose this information are now key concerns for consumers of market analysis. Publishers can no longer expect to serve up useful content and immediately produce satisfied subscribers – their content must also fit into a well-planned, thoroughly-tested workflow process designed to streamline their subscribers’ time if it is to provide true value.

Here are just a few reasons why publishers should be considering the role their content plays in their subscribers’ day-to-day tasks and we provide an overview of the workflow tools required to streamline these end-user workflows.

Maximising content value in the subscription age

The rise of subscription packages has led to a reciprocal increase in the number of reports users have access to as content becomes more concise and tailored to individual user needs. This trend has meant that ad-hoc purchases of lengthy PDF-authored reports delivered over email and the limited functionality necessary with this delivery method no longer applies to the needs or buying habits of most end-users.

Edwin Bailey, Director of Marketing at Publish Interactive elaborates: “If a subscriber has access to more than one hundred PDF reports, they’re going to need an efficient means of extracting what they need and make all that content work in their favour in a consistent, quick and accurate manner, enabling them to maximise the value of their subscription”.

Large, increasingly diverse libraries of content have made efficient extraction of relevant information a must for publishers and poses a headache for those who have not picked up on this aspect of the end-user journey.

This poses the question: what workflow features can be incorporated into content delivery platforms to streamline the end-user experience?

Search is key

Central to the effectiveness of workflow tools is the quality of search, followed by the structuring of returns. Search functionality is so highly valued that clients have been known to cancel entire global subscriptions if they feel as though their employees cannot quickly and intuitively find the information they need.

The content produced may be valuable, but if it can’t be located what purpose does it serve?

Allowing end-users to search for key terms across an entire library of content, displaying these terms within the context of the report it is found in, and having the ability to filter terms by content type transforms the search-based workflow experience and ensures end-users can quickly find the information they need.

“Search functionality is so highly valued that clients have been known to cancel entire global subscriptions if their employees cannot quickly and intuitively find the information they need.”

Collate and Export

The purpose of workflow tools is to accomplish complex processes with minimal user intervention in as short a time period as possible.

For instance, end-users do not want to compare data or analysis across multiple reports by manually opening and navigating between individual documents. Saving relevant sections, viewing relevant returns for all reports, or viewing corresponding sections side-by-side in report series creates a dynamic, intuitive reading experience free from laborious, manual navigation. Once relevant information is located, it should then be easily saveable to a custom content library for later use.

Allowing subscribers to collate pertinent information in-platform is useful, but publishers have often sought ways to fully immerse themselves into their end-user workflows. In-platform functionality allowing these multi-formatted content snippets to be exported and integrated into a single Office document is a powerful way of achieving this.

End-user workflow framework- png

Creating an intuitive, integrated user journey such as the example above maximises the value and impact of high-quality, informative analysis.

Boosting renewal rates

Following a subscription purchase, the capabilities offered by a content delivery system to streamline workflows and enable the consumer to easily collate bespoke reports could be the overriding factor driving positive renewal discussions. A user-friendly solution will also act as the catalyst for wider use amongst colleagues, expanding the subscriber base within that company and providing further growth opportunities.

From streamlining and automating repeatable tasks and effectively pulling together analysis to increasing overall efficiency and empowering your customers to work more productively, the benefits of having a workflow system in place as part of a subscription model are clear and should be a natural counterpoint to a publishers’ high-quality analysis.

Four questions publishers of B2B information should ask about their subscribers’ work:

1. What tasks does the subscriber use my content for?
2. What (specific) tasks does the user need to perform to get the job done?
3. To perform these tasks what steps does a user need to take?
4. What workflow tools can we provide to reduce friction or speed task completion?

Tags

  • End-user workflow
  • Search
  • Subscribers

Why publishers of market analysis should use analytics to prove value to their subscribers

How does a market analysis firm prove to its subscribers that it offers them great value for money and saves them time? The quality of its analysis might be high, but beyond gathering anecdotal feedback from users, how does it prove to subscribers that it’s meeting their needs?

Interactions

A lot depends on the way the market analysis publisher interacts with its subscribers. If it supplies content as PDFs, spreadsheets, or other documents that can be emailed or downloaded, the firm will be able to establish subjects in which the customer is interested, but that’s about it.

What they don’t know is how useful the document was, how it was used, how many people read it, and scores of other ways the subscriber might have interacted with the content. Establishing this level of detail will take lots of time-consuming and costly follow-up calls or interviews. Even then, the firm can’t be certain that what they’re being told is 100% accurate.

This information void makes it hard for the publisher to prove that its content is useful, used widely and that an investment in it represents good value for money.

Rich information

Usage stats are key. If a market analysis publisher can provide reliable data, not only can it prove its value to the customer, it can legitimately enter negotiations expecting not just to renew, but to enhance the relationship through tailoring the packages it offers to meet the specific needs of each account.

Here are just a few examples of the insights usage stats provide, which can be invaluable during renewal discussions:

  • Which users accessed content
  • What content was accessed
  • How frequently the content was accessed
  • Most popular search terms
  • Most popular content
  • What content was shared among users
  • Whether any communication existed around particular content
  • Most favourable formats
  • Key categories and topics
  • The ways content was re-used once it had been accessed
  • The numbers of hours in-platform content and workflow tools typically saved users

Of course, a market analysis publisher won’t be able to gather data like this unless it uses a smart platform to manage its content delivery and user access. Such is the growing need to provide clients with detailed information on their usage, however, it won’t be long until all publishers are compelled to start using a platform that enables them to demonstrate their usefulness to subscribers.

In addition to simply being able to provide detailed usage feedback, publishers will start to rely on this information, so they can assess the use of their platform and constantly provide the best possible service to their customers.

These requirements mean that within around five years, either through attrition or innovation, the businesses that make up the market analysis sector will be dominated by those who can provide customers with both high-quality research and detailed information on how that research is used.

Kellie

Kellie McMillan
Client Relationship Manager
Publish Interactive

“An account manager who can establish what content has been accessed by users – and their engagement levels – is well-placed to accurately convey to the customer the value of the service they enjoy.”

4 Key questions to answer for successful analytics

1. Can you understand who your active users are?
To fully understand your content usage, you should be able to see every single action a user has taken on the platform, including logins, searches, downloads, and even what part of the document has been re-used.

2. Can you review which content is popular?
Using the information gathered from your analytics, you should be able to understand which topics are most popular and be able to use this information to write content in the future based on demand.

3. Do you know if you are missing potential leads?
If you can see which users have tried to view a report they do not have a license to you can then reach out to offer new sales opportunities.

4. Do you understand true subscriber value?
Looking at the usage of many users within an account will prove the value of the content when it comes to retention of the account. If the content is simply downloaded then shared with other team members you miss that important usage information and don’t understand the true value of the account when it comes to the renewal conversation.

See how Publish Interactive’s Analytics features can transform your usage analytics reporting.

Tags

  • Analytics
  • Subscribers
  • Subscription Renewals

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

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

Subscribers are the publisher’s lifeblood. Retaining them is no longer the sole role of the account manager…

The days of an annual telephone call and a cheque in the post are long gone. B2B information buyers are more under budget pressure, more demanding about what content they invest in, more savvy with their budgets! Here are five tips to boost your subscription renewal rates.

A successful annual renewal can be the difference between enjoying a good year or suffering a bad one, so how does a publisher turn a critical event into a formality? Using technology to engage your subscribers with your content is now an important part of this process.

Tip 1 -Use data as evidence

Stats on how research is used, customer behaviour and content popularity help justify renewal fees. The technology a publisher uses to supply content and interact with business subscribers should provide a wealth of information that enables them to demonstrate the value it provides.

Edify Digital Media – a London-based publisher of leather market information, uses content usage data to understand what their customers like and develop upselling campaigns. Edify’s co-founder Maria Wallace elaborates; “As publishers, user analytics are valuable as they provide information showing what content is of most interest – so we can produce more – and warm sales leads for possible subscription upgrades or new business opportunities”.

Tip 2 – Underplay the renewal and build in reliance

The ideal situation is for the renewal process to become a predictable, administrative task. For example, within the SaaS sector where there is baked-in reliance on the service, renewals are often not a problem. Renewals become an issue for publishers if the content is no longer deemed to provide a good return on the cost.

If an account manager can make use of dashboards and alerts to quickly stay up-to-speed on how content is being used, they don’t need to wait for the renewal. If a new piece of content is published that has high relevance for a customer but lies outside their licence, a manager has a range of options to deepen the customer relationship. They might provide time-limited free access, offer a discount, or even use this content as a way to cross-sell into a new area.

Whichever approach is taken, proactive help of this kind ensures the client maximises their subscription and is regularly reminded of the value the publisher provides.

Tip 3 – Help subscribers use content to perform tasks

In a highly competitive market where content quality and price are often similar, research publishers can use technology to help their users access just the information they need. That means enabling them to buy, search, export and compile bespoke reports in a practical way. Brett Azuma, Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer at 451 Research, commenting on how technology helps publishing content in a granular way said, “It will allow us to play a more integral role in how our clients work. One of our strategic goals is to become more embedded in their workflows… It will be easier for them to find what they’re looking for and extract this into documents or spreadsheets.”

Content that is quick to access is a great way for an end user to gain the knowledge they need, when they need it. But what if subscribers have to compile a report or presentation? This is where content that’s also quick to reuse can set forward-thinking publishers apart. If a publisher can embrace technology to help a user perform such workflow tasks such as saving snippets and downloading into multiple ‘ready-to-go’ formats the content is more likely to become a favoured resource for the subscriber.

Enable subscribers to find and use relevant content in the quickest and easiest way possible with technology and tools that empower, engage and enhance the efficiency of a user’s workflow.

The point of differentiation to help a publisher drive reliance could include:

  • Options that help a user buy an additional chapter or section – rather than a whole report – from outside their licence.
  • Search functionality that provides specific returns to help a user quickly access relevant sections of text, tables or graphics.
  • Empowering the user to clip a section of content and then compile and export their own bespoke reports containing all the tailored content snippets they have gathered.

Tip 4 – Enhance user engagement

Publishers keen to improve user engagement need to work proactively to help clients maximise their subscription. This means regularly suggesting cross and upsell opportunities and implementing a system of saved searches and alerts to notify users of new and relevant content. TGaS Advisors, a strategic advisory company in life sciences use software functions to drive engagement with their content. Associate Director Tarra Maeshima expands; “Saved searches and alerts are a big deal for customer relationships. Customers only seek information when it’s necessary, so alerts are a useful way for them to stay on top of relevant information and dive into content quickly when answers are needed.”

Tip 5 – Engage subscribers with flexible licences

Publishers looking to become market leaders can benefit from using technology to offer flexible subscription models that more closely fit the clients’ requirements. Instead of offering them access to everything, what about something more nuanced?

Using sophisticated taxonomy, publishers can tag and categorise content in ways that make it easy to provide access to unique verticals of content and simple to add additional pieces – or whole new categories – to a subscription in a single click.

Ultimately, it’s all about publishers offering more value to customers than just the content and then being able to demonstrate the value it provides.

Recap – Our 5 tips to improve subscriber renewal rates

  1. Use data to support the value subscribers get from content
  2. Build reliance on content that makes the renewal seem second nature
  3. Enhance user engagement with task-based workflow tools
  4. Encourage easy content (re)use
  5. Offer subscribers flexible licences

How publishers should use analytics to support subscriber renewal discussions

Stats on how research is used, customer behaviour and content popularity help justify renewal fees.

It is no longer enough for a sales team to go into subscriber renewal discussions simply hoping the client will sign for another year and accept a reasonable increase in fees.

The technology a publisher of high-value information uses to supply content and interact with subscribers should provide a wealth of information that enables them to demonstrate the value it provides to their customers.

Show the value of your content

Publishers need to be able to demonstrate the value they provide. This can mean more than simply ensuring a renewal, it can turn the conversation from ‘please buy us again’ to ‘this is the value, this is how to serve your customers better, this is what we need to do next year’.

Change the approach from a sales pitch to a conversation about a developing relationship. Outline a roadmap for future licencing agreements tailored to the specific needs of the client and move towards a lasting and valuable partnership for each party.

Renewals become an issue for publishers if the content is no longer deemed to provide a good return on the cost.

Use data as evidence

Edify Digital Media, a London-based publisher of leather market information, uses content usage data to understand what their customers like and develop upselling campaigns. Edify’s co-founder Maria Wallace elaborates; “As publishers, user analytics are valuable as they provide information showing what content is of most interest – so we can produce more – and warm sales leads for possible subscription upgrades or new business opportunities”.

Underplay the renewal and build in reliance

The ideal situation is for the renewal process to become a predictable administrative task. For example, within the SaaS sector where there is baked-in reliance on the service, renewals are often not a problem. Renewals become an issue for publishers if the content is no longer deemed to provide a good return on the cost.

“As publishers, user analytics are valuable as they provide information showing what content is of most interest – so we can produce more – and warm sales leads for possible subscription upgrades or new business opportunities”.

Maria Wallace

Co-Founder, Edify

If an account manager can make use of dashboards and alerts to quickly and easily stay up-to-speed on how content is being used, they don’t need to wait for the renewal.

If a new piece of content is published that has high relevance for a client, but lies outside their licence, a manager has a range of options to deepen the customer relationship. They might provide time-limited free access, offer a reduction, or even use this content as a way to cross-sell into a new area.

Whichever approach is taken, proactive help of this kind ensures the client maximises their subscription and is regularly reminded of the value the publisher provides.

See how the Publish Interactive platform can help your publishing company make renewal meetings procedural by viewing our analytics features, or book a product tour to be guided by an expert.

Read the customer story: How Edify Digital Media uses Publish Interactive’s analytics to refine its offering and drive sales leads

Optimising High-Value Subscription Renewals: How market analyst publishers can use technology to retain subscribers

Your job as a publisher is to ensure your subscriber gets excellent value from your content. Prove this and your customer will be eager to renew.

Email me the handbook

This guide is for market analysis publishers and high-value business information providers. Our best practice guide looks at how publishers can:

  • Use usage stats play a vital role in renewals,
  • Demonstrate content value to clients,
  • Build and maintain close user relationships,
  • Offer a point of marketplace differentiation.

The 1,800-word guide includes real-life examples of how research publishers have applied technology to make content more accessible and improve renewal rates.

Contents

  • It’s no longer about individual sales, it’s about relationships…
  • Make annual renewal meetings procedural
  • Run multiple brands from a single platform
  • Build closer customer relationships
  • Be the point of differentiation in competitive markets

If you sell information to a business audience, then this free best practice overview is for you.