How to develop valuable b2b online content

Most business to business publishers are wrestling with how to generate revenues from their online content.   The realisation that news, even in a niche market, is unlikely to command a subscription from a reader has led many to develop analysis and data services which have greater value.  Case studies from Emap, Incisive and Strategy Eye at the Paywalls conference organised by The Media Briefing on 24 February provided a useful structure for planning online b2b content.  The hierarchy goes from free commodity content to that which is valued in the thousands…

1. Focussed news

News alone, however niched, is hard to charge for online.  However, this is the content that drives SEO and can be shared socially, so it has a value to the publisher.  Curating news sources from elsewhere is a way for a small team to add value in a niche market.  Readers place a premium on convenience, and a good selection of third party news can lift a publisher to being a preferred source rather than just one of many.  Strategy Eye adopt this approach in their Cleantech markets and generate impressive revenues on a very small editorial team.

2. Original content

Comment and analysis by expert journalists saves readers time in trawling free sources, so has a value.  Publishers need to analyse their readership stats and focus editorial teams on the most valued subject areas.  Organising content in a logical manner so readers can sift through it easily is another way to add value and cement a position as a preferred information source.

3. Hard data

Databases save readers time and can be used to make better business decisions.  Emap’s broadcast portfolio developed TCI, a database of 30,000 TV shows, of great value to commissioners.  VRL financial provides stats for business execs in leasing finance that they can export directly into charts.  This type of content can lift subs values to hundreds of pounds pa.

4. Deep analysis and research

Relevant surveys and indepth research by expert analysts can save businesses time and help them make better decisions.  Econsultancy provides best practice reports and buyers guides for its paying subscribers.

5. Workflow

This is the nirvana for publishers; information services that are so integrated into business people’s workflow that they are indispensable and can justify annual rates in thousands.  A famous example is WGSN from Emap which provides global fashion trends for retail buyers.  Incisive’s niche information services for financial communities edge into the same category.

Do you have examples of other business publishers who are successfully developing highly valued online content?  Please comment below, or join the Specialist Media Network on Linked-in and swap ideas with over 500 other specialist media businesses.

Read more about VRL financial in the Media Pioneers series for the Specialist Media Show.

Read more about the Emap and Incisive case studies from the Paywalls conference.

About the author: Carolyn Morgan runs Penmaen Media, who create practical digital media and marketing strategies.  If you’d like some bespoke advice on your digital publishing strategy then please contact us for an initial discussion.