10 ideas for next generation B2B media

B2B media were first into the digital melting pot, and are now emerging with some inventive new business models.  I picked up some interesting ideas and practical tips from the Business Media Insights conference last week. Here are ten of the best insights from the day – applicable I believe to a wide range of markets…

1.     Print still has a place in the multi-channel mix

The new normal is multi-channel publishing, but many readers still like print, so it needs to be in the mix in many markets.  Marketing Week combines a free print magazine, paid events and paid digital services.  Niche publisher Forum Business Media believes “paper still works.”

2.     Subscription revenues driven by data

It’s essential to understand how subscribers use digital services, how to encourage greater usage and secure growing renewal rates.  Incisive are increasingly focused on enterprise subscriptions to spread content through a client organisation – and are targeting >100% revenue renewals.

3.     Ask subscribers about their ideal mix

Agra invested in qualitative research to discover exactly what mix of content and services subscribers wanted when they switched Public Register to digital only; the editorial team made some of the calls.  A key element of the new package was a print-friendly weekly email digest.

4.     Measure engagement and sharing, not just views

Adrian Barrick of Haymarket is shifting editorial emphasis onto stories that drive comments and sharing from the audience.  Editors have to come to terms with relinquishing some control, but the reward is greater engagement with professional communities, leading to enhanced event attendance.

5.     Treat social media as a publishing exercise

Euromoney listen to prospective event attendees on twitter and develop shareable content that matches their main issues.  Newswhip developed exclusive content and have a regular publishing schedule from a roster of experts plus blog and e-letter to build interest.

6.     Keep testing your marketing

Don’t neglect the ancient skill of A/B testing.  The FT has achieved a 100% increase in subscription sign-ups just by varying the layout of their sign-up page.

7.     Brand content marketing delivers new revenues

Publishers can tap into marketing & PR budgets by offering content marketing services for clients, based on the experience of Guardian Professional and The Drum.  But it is a challenge for editors to create multi-format content to a client brief: the answer may be to create a separate team.

8.     Create lean digital NPD process

B2B data products can command high subs rates, but are challenging to develop in smaller publishers.  Close analysis of content usage, co-creation with prospective clients and involving third parties to build simple digital products for specific slices of an audience could be the solution.

9.     Support your stretched editorial team

Editors now have to be conference producers, online community leaders, data analysts, twitter pundits and commercial copywriters.  Providing new skills, simple tools, and recruiting flexible “digital natives” can ease the transition.

10. Place many small bets and encourage experimentation

Peter Rigby, former CEO of Informa, believes a major contributor to their growth was a flat structure: an archipelago of autonomous business units encouraged to test new ideas, supported through early losses and rewarded for ultimate profits.

So the new B2B media organisation will be more closely entwined with its audience, offering a range of multi-channel products on subscription, endlessly refining content and packages in response to user analytics, and providing broader content marketing services to its commercial partners.  Never standing still, it will be endlessly evolving and adapting by experimenting with new products and business models.

About the author:  Carolyn Morgan has launched, grown, acquired and sold media businesses across print, digital and events.  She has programmed several highly regarded conferences on digital publishing and advises publishers on their digital strategy.

If you’d like a chat about how you can reinvent your publishing or media business for the digital age, please get in touch.

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