For many established research businesses success came through selling reports one copy at a time – but for these business to succeed in the digital age this traditional relationship with the customer needs to change.
Developments in digital technology have had two fundamental effects on the research business: they have altered the way information can be delivered and, perhaps more importantly, they have shifted way the customer wants to engage with that information.
Those two changes are significant. Research firms of today, who want to be leaders tomorrow, are adapting the way they do business to suit the new situation.
How are they changing?
The leading research firms of the future will be those that adopt a business model that focuses on delivery and meeting the changing expectations of the customer. This means adopting a flexible sales model based around a single piece of publishing software that helps fulfil both.
Developing account journeys
What various customer groups want is flexibility, but what the publisher wants is certainty. These two aren’t mutually exclusive – and good publishing technology should offer new and potential customers several routes into the business.
Alongside a host of other functionality, this technology should help all those different customers start their engagement with a publisher’s content in a way that suits them best. So, it should manage subscriptions, but it should also allow publishers to give content away for free, perhaps on a trial basis, and also allow transactional sales too.
It might be best to think of these different ways of putting people in touch with content as a range of starting points that all lead to the same sales journey. They are simply different ways for the publisher to gather some customer information and to begin growing the relationship.
For these multiple entry points into business to work, a publisher will need a flexible approach…
Flexible licencing is the ability to tailor packages of content to suit different customer groups and manage the access rights around those packages – so, for example, how long is access available? Which people can view what content?
As all customers are different and flexibility means different things to different groups. It might be, for instance, that a free trial or single transactional sale might be the point at which a publisher starts a relationship that actions sales and marketing around a limited package of related content.
Once customers are into that ‘account journey’ process, publishers can then develop the relationship, build a unique offering for the customer, sell them further packages and access, and move them to the point where a full subscription is both necessary and vital.
Not just all you can eat
Smart subscription software should have the flexibility for the publisher to accurately tailor access to group level and even to the level of an individual user.
A smart content offering shouldn’t be a choice between simply blocking access entirely, or offering access to a whole portfolio, it should be a developing relationship where the volume and period over which content access is granted can be changed to suit the needs of the customer.
Upgrades and multiple users
Once a publisher has established a relationship with an individual it becomes easier to find out what else they, and their employer, may need in terms of information. The crucial thing is to establish the relationship in the first place, and then build in it.
Often, this individual will act as your advocate to help you win greater trust and increase the number of subscriptions coming from their organisation.
Once this kind of relationship has been established, this is when the quality of your subscription software can really start to make a difference and help develop a lasting partnership with this client business.
Good software should allow you to offer upgrades to related content categories, create targeted packages of content specifically to meet a certain budget, and to add and remove users at the touch of a button.