Trends and tips in specialist information publishing from SIPA congress

Last week I attended the SIPA (specialist information publishers association) annual UK congress, and picked up lots of interesting insights from speakers and delegates, largely b2b publishers of newsletters, events and online content services, but with a smattering of consumer publishers as well.  Many businesses had started out as traditional print newsletters but are now migrating to online information publishing. Here are some trends and tips to help consumer and b2b print publishers alike as they make their digital transition:

1. Target the digital natives

The heartland audience of many traditional publishing businesses are the baby boomers, who like print and are mildly uncomfortable with online content.  However, the under 30s, or digital natives, are rapidly encroaching, and the digital settlers in the middle are influenced more by their younger cohort than the old guard.  So build new information products with the digital natives in mind, allow them to create the product with you, and offer them an experience rather than a flat service.  If your audience is split, you may need to offer two versions in parallel.

2. Think membership not subscription

Subscriptions are a passive method of receiving content in the way the publisher chooses to package it.  Many successful information businesses are seeing growth in membership packages, which encourage sharing, contributing content and networking among members, as well as providing content, and allows them to build their own bespoke package from a range of elements, often with a hefty discount for members.  It’s the individual customer you are aiming to renew rather than a fixed subscription package.

3. Test webinars

In tough times, business people crave best practice from their peers, and when jobs are uncertain, networking booms. However, travel restrictions and understaffing make it harder to attend live events.  Many information businesses are seeing dramatic growth in interest in webinars on hot topics, and these are popular with sponsors who can use them to build leads.

4. Atomise your content

Your publishing or information business might be all about creating great content and driving up traffic to your main site, but you may be able to grow revenues faster by distributing your content across the web, so it can be found where your customers are.  Ashley Friedlein of eConsultancy made a powerful case for blowing up content and broadening reach, and thinking about media brands as a fluid conversation rather than a fixed edition.

5. Diversify from google

Any online content based business is paranoid about their dependence on google, so it is interesting to learn that many digital publishers are building a steady traffic stream using social media.  The Telegraph claims it has driven 75k visitors from twitter, and econsultancy showed a case study where social media were driving similar amounts of traffic as email campaigns.

If you were at the SIPA congress and have comments on the above, or if you weren’t but are grappling with developing your own specialist information business, I’d be keen to hear your experiences and ideas.

Carolyn Morgan’s consultancy, Penmaen Media, creates practical digital media and marketing strategies for businesses who want to use the web to grow their revenues.  If you’d like to discuss how you could develop an online specialist information business, please contact us.

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