Retention trumps acquisition: how (and why) you should focus internal resources on increasing per account value, not account numbers

While many market analysis firms pursue a growth strategy centred around customer acquisition, firms that focus on the retention of existing customers will reap the most rewards…

A Change of Mindset

When asked, “what is the best way to grow your market analysis business?”, most leaders’ default answer is: “by acquiring more customers, obviously.”

Despite this, acquiring customers is a resource drain. It costs up to 5x more to acquire a customer than retain an existing one.

Many market analysis publishers still believe that the path to sustained growth lies in increasing customer numbers. Growth is integral to any subscription business, but retention is frequently neglected as firms allocate disproportionate resources to prospecting and attracting new customers.

The best way to ensure retention? Increase the value of not just your content but also the perceived value of your company as an entity. To do this, analyst firms must start growing per-account value (PAV) by offering membership services outside their business-as-usual sales of reports and subscription plans.

Once you realise the value of your customers, you will see increased ROI, less subscriber churn, and fewer commercial overheads.

We explore what tactics you can employ to increase PAV:

Sell Analyst Time

Selling analyst time is a commonly under-utilised asset. Consider your customer journey: a subscriber purchases a report or subscription plan and then consumes the relevant information. After that, they may use key findings in their research or presentation. But that’s it – the account’s value creation ends there.

Offering analyst time alongside the sales of reports opens a new revenue stream. It may be a half-hour call to discuss the intricacies of the analyst’s conclusions or to get more insight into a particular chart or dataset. Either way, this time is billable.

Billable analyst time not only increases revenue, it also enhances the authority of your analyst team and, consequently, your company in the eyes of your subscribers. In today’s complex world, consumers crave validation that their digital information is genuine and trustworthy. In fact, 58% worry about misinformation. Assuage these fears by putting a face to the analyst’s name (and the information) and increase chances of retention.

Offer Consulting Deliverables

A consequence of selling analyst time is increased commissions for bespoke consulting projects. Informative discussions with expert analysts improve the chances of new advisory opportunities arising. For example, a Publish Interactive customer once secured a $300,000 consulting project following an ‘Ask the Analyst’ enquiry through the platform.

Consultancy projects are a hugely effective way of increasing PAV. Due to their bespoke nature, high prices are considered the norm. Of course, compared to offering short analyst sessions over the phone, it is more labour-intensive as your team must conduct research and compile an accompanying document or presentation. However, the increase in PAV makes it well worthwhile.

Again, offering bespoke, personal deliverables enhances content authority. Demonstrating your ability to understand your subscriber’s world naturally increases the value they see in your services and helps you transition from content seller to trusted knowledge-sharing partner.

Specialist Data Provisions

Data visualisation tools offer huge potential to grow PAV. The global market is predicted to double by 2027; eventually reaching $19.2 billion in total value. Its projected growth highlights strong appetite for this content format amongst information consumers.

Data visualisation products can be sold as additional modules outside of subscribers’ standard subscription packages, making it an easy upsell opportunity that increases PAV.

In addition, this data format creates a more compelling value proposition. Risk Leadership Network has incorporated Power BI into their instance of the Publish Interactive platform, which, their Head of Product Tom Byford explains, has overcome the challenge of selling networking as a core concept of their membership proposition: “As a concept, it’s not very tangible, which can make it challenging for people to justify funding.”

“If you can present to your superiors that as part of this package you get access to tools that will save time and money, it’s a far more tangible benefit. Although it’s a relatively small part of what we do, in terms of the pitch, it adds an element that makes it easier for people to justify membership.”

Information providers that offer a more varied, multifaceted service strengthen their value proposition. By providing consumers with high-value, easily understandable data alongside other services, you will see increased retention rates, revenue, and PAV.

Workshops + Training

While your events strategy may already include webinars, a great way of further strengthening your value proposition and increasing PAV is by offering interactive, ‘in-house’ events. By only inviting customers, these aim to foster a sense of community within your membership rather than increasing new business opportunities and lead gen.

Offering paid workshops or training days that focus on a specific issue or niche is a great way to engage and introduce like-minded customers to one another. These could be held virtually or in person depending on client geographical bases. If, for example, your clients bond over the workshop you have run and this develops into a strong business or personal relationship, they will attribute this connection to the activity of your company.

PAV growth strategies boost revenues and improve the perception of your company’s value among your subscribers – not just because of your informative content but also due to the wide range of valuable membership services you provide.

Increase PAV, Increase Value Prop

As we have seen, PAV is a powerful metric. It denotes the value you extract from your existing customer base and demonstrates growth is not only achieved via costly acquisition strategies.

Another consequence of growing PAV is not as simple as growing revenues: it also increases the value subscribers see in the service you provide. This, in turn, ensures continued retention.

Shifting mindset from simply selling reports and subscriptions to offering a human element to your analysis with personalised deliverables, 1-on-1 conversations, and, most importantly, creating a sense of community among your subscribers and analysts transforms your value proposition.

Think of this concept within the context of sports clubs: people join to play their favourite sport but stay because of the people they meet there.

If subscribers feel a personal attachment or involvement with your company and its membership, they will be certain to continue choosing your services over other ‘traditional’ content providers.

Promote content like an E-commerce expert: how to boost revenues as a B2B publisher

Online retailers promote products in prime locations on their websites to encourage customers to make other purchases. Publishers using a content management platform can also use this tactic to increase revenue from single copy report and subscription sales.

The role of content promotion in revenue growth

Online retailers like Amazon use strategically placed product promotions on their websites to nudge customers into making additional purchases. Using tools such as promotional banners and sidebar widgets, they promote items on sale, popular products, and goods related to a customer’s initial search.

Market research publishers can implement this tactic using a content management platform such as Publish Interactive. Whether your licensing model is broad all-access subscriptions, personalised content packages, or single copy purchases, promoting your content encourages subscribers to explore more of your portfolio.

Promoting your content has the following benefits:

  • Grows readership and engagement, which is particularly important for renewals
  • Prompts subscribers to buy more one-off reports
  • Encourages upgrades to existing subscription plans

Promoting content also exposes the depth and quality of your portfolio and helps deepen trust with your organisation and its analysts. As a trusted source of quality information, subscribers will be more likely to make additional requests for analyst support, generating additional consulting revenue.

Ways B2B publishers can promote content in Publish Interactive like a leading online retailer

Customisable widgets and tabs

Customisable homepage banners, sidebar widgets and HTML tabs are prime website real estate for content promotions. Advertise your latest reports, trial offers, or programme your banners to display locked content to certain subscriber groups or target accounts.

Publish Interactive homepage layout showing customisable promotional areas with header banner (solid line) and custom HTML tabs (dashed line) outlined

Other users also viewed

The platform will automatically generate links based on other users’ behaviour to other relevant reports or keywords, providing social proof to users that a report may be worth reading based on their activity.

Related Research

When a user searches your portfolio and clicks on a report, the system will recommend other reports that relate to that item based on your category tree as well as any tags or keywords associated with the report.

A report landing page displaying a widget suggesting related research reports

Other content promotion methods

Email Notifications

Alert subscribers when new products are released with email notifications. Integrations with mailing tools like MailChimp are an effective way of keeping readers aware of new releases.

Instant Access Technology

Send direct access links to subscribers via email using Publish Interactive’s Instant Access technology. With this link, they can view content without logging into the platform. Leading pharmaceutical advisory firm TGaS Insights use this feature to transform engagement across their library of life science reports. 

Customer Success Calls

Notify account management teams of key content they should promote/upsell in sales and customer care calls. Position these suggestions as ways of increasing the value subscribers receive from your service rather than a hard sell.

What content should I promote?

The content you promote should support your business goals, such as improving customer service, selling more reports, or upgrading customer subscriptions. There are different types of content you could promote to help reach these goals:

  • New research or series of reports
  • Updated evergreen research
  • Locked items outside of a subscriber’s license
  • Content related to a user’s search history
  • Special offers including timed access to reports and trials

P is for promotion

Promotion is a crucial step in the publishing process and needs to be more than an afterthought. Publishers who think like online retailers and adopt a strategic approach to promoting content can increase revenue from reports, license upgrades, and queries to analysts.

Closing the deal: The life science market analysis firm harnessing Publish Interactive to grow sales

ScienceandMedicine

Science and Medicine Group’s sales team rely on Publish Interactive’s customer intelligence features to understand subscriber behaviour and content engagement

SMG

Science and Medicine Group, Inc. is a leading research and advisory firm serving the life science and diagnostic industries. It owns a proprietary, international community of more than 55,000 scientists and biomedical researchers to provide insights that grow businesses and move markets.

Revenue-generating insight

Science and Medicine Group uses the Publish Interactive platform to publish and deliver between 50 and 100 market reports a year which account for around 30% of the firm’s revenue. The market analysis firm benefits from a software system that not only enables it to attract new customers but also for the commercial team to have solid insight into customers and their use of high-value content.

Devin Holland, Science and Medicine Group’s Director of Business Development, finds that the Publish Interactive system successfully helps drive customer growth and create cross-selling opportunities. The platform enables the sales team to glean invaluable client insight through user analytics, allowing them to quickly transform their customer engagements into further revenue. “The strong usage reporting abilities of Publish Interactive are probably one of the most useful elements harnessed by the sales team to both cross and up-sell customers to additional products in our research portfolio,” he said. “The site enables us to monitor and identify the number of overall reports accessed, to see which content areas are of most interest and who is requesting access to them. The more insight we have, the easier the conversation is with our client,” added Devin.

“Understanding customer research trends using Publish Interactive’s enhanced analytics capabilities means we can continually fine tune our offering to build trust and reliability, to further reinforce our position as one of the leading research resources in the life science industry.”

Simon Hodson
Devin Holland
Director of Business Development
Science and Medicine Group, Inc.

High returns & reaping value

The usage stats reporting is also something the sales team leans on heavily for leveraging the value a customer has gained from using the platform. This is particularly effective when approaching clients regarding subscription upgrades or renewals. Even during the 2020 pandemic, Science and Medicine Group had over a 90% subscriber retention rate.

Devin explains: “Having the usage stats to show clients the value they receive from Science and Medicine Group’s content – which is usually between four and five-fold their spend – as a resource for their work is incredibly valuable and often makes a potentially tricky sales conversation pretty easy. We are able to make data-driven arguments that buying our content is a necessary part of our clients’ (now more limited) budgets and means that, if required, we can use this data to justify the price they pay for access. For example, we are seeing the same scenario across many clients where a department has purchased Science and Medicine Group’s content but it is actually being used by their whole organisation. Usage data is vital in justifying an acceptable fee increase for company-wide licenses.”

Devin added: “We find that using the platform for our own internal use not only generates revenue but also gives us a significant competitor advantage. Customer intelligence really is pivotal for the purpose of driving our future growth. Understanding customer research trends using Publish Interactive’s enhanced analytics capabilities means we can continually fine-tune our offering to build trust and reliability, to further reinforce our position as one of the leading research resources in the industries we serve”.

Success benefits

  1. Successfully help drive customer growth and create cross-selling opportunities
  2. Enable the sales team to glean invaluable client insight through user analytics
  3. Quickly transform customer engagements into further revenue
  4. Use analytics data to justify the price paid for access
  5. Using the platform for internal benefits also gives a significant competitor advantage

Tags

  • Content Licensing
  • Sales
  • Upsell

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

Becoming a subscriber-first market analysis provider

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

Guide