How Predictive Analytics Helps B2B Publishers Stay Relevant
“The quest for relevance is now a top priority”, write PricewaterhouseCoopers [i]. They couldn’t be more right. Fantastic content is still the heart of the B2B publishing model, but how we deliver and monetize that content has totally changed.
How do we stay relevant, to earn customer attention and investment? How do we grow, in an age of unlimited free digital content?
Two main revenue models have emerged: subscriptions and events. Relevance – giving customers what they want, when they want it, so they’ll be willing to pay for it – is the central challenge for both.
Predictive Analytics for B2B Sales and Marketing helps solve that relevance dilemma, helping you better understand your potential and existing customers so you can better serve them.
Let’s look at that in practice for both revenue models.
1. Increase Subscription Revenue
As advertising sales decline, B2B publishers have shifted focus towards the subscription revenue model. Targets increasingly revolve around up- and cross-selling tiered subscriptions to current readers, and growing and retaining overall paid subscriber base.
Predictive analytics can play a huge role in meeting and exceeding those targets.
Acquisition – Convert new paid subscribers
One big challenge for B2B publishers today is treading the line between free and paid-for subscription.
How much free content do you need to hook paid subscribers? When are free readers ready to convert? How do we know which free subscribers to target, so we don’t waste a fortune on fruitless tele-outbound but don’t let sales-ready leads fall through the cracks?
Predictive analytics answers those questions. Using machine learning, predictive platforms can help you identify the buyers who’re standing exactly on that line: the segment of your free subscriber base that have need and budget to convert into a paid subscription.
That information is already at your fingertips, hidden in your data and potentially worth millions. Predictive analytics unlocks those insights, so you can act on them.
It looks at your existing customer data to understand which data signals define your paid subscribers. Then it applies that understanding to your free subscribers, analysing thousands of internal and external data points to tell you which prospects are showing intent signals so you can target them appropriately.
For example, BrightTarget helped FTSE250 international information group Euromoney Institutional Investor achieve a 34% reduction in sales activity and a 12% increase in lead conversion rate, to maximise subscription revenues.
We’re not just talking about your existing data. Predictive platforms go beyond that, looking at all available data sources including third party data to form a complex and multi-faceted understanding of buyer behaviour. And machine learning means it learns from itself, becoming more accurate the more you use it.
Growth – Capitalise on upsell and cross-sell subscription opportunities
A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that leading B2B publishers generate up to 50% of their revenue online [I]. Which means we have access to more data than ever – but sifting through this to see possible upsell and cross-sell opportunities is difficult.
That’s where predictive analytics helps.
Say one buyer in an organisation subscribes to your online content. Predictive data platforms can analyse other similar organisations (behaviourally similar, not simple lookalikes) and tell you that those organisations have 200-user access licenses, plus they’ve invested in an additional product you sell, like events.
In other words, you’d know that your one buyer likely has an untapped need which you can upsell and cross-sell into.
If you’re familiar with the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall, this equates to identifying demand units – to wring maximum value from each customer account.
For example, BrightTarget helped Euromoney identify over 90k customers worth up to £7m in publication cross-sales opportunity.
Retention – Maximise lifetime value of current subscribers
The success of the subscription revenue model depends on customer retention. But the problem is, how do we identify which customers might leave in enough time to impact the outcome?
Predictive sales and marketing platforms analyse your customer data to understand why past customers have left without renewing. Then it applies that knowledge to your existing customers to identify flight-risk signals. You get a heads-up, months before a current subscriber will become inactive or fail to renew, so you can take action.
For instance, BrightTarget’s platform predicts subscription churn three months in advance at 80%+ accuracy, with improvements from there as the platform continues to learn and refine its predictions using machine learning.
Looking again at Euromoney, BrightTarget identified over £200K of revenue that was at-risk from churn, and recommended the optimum spend on retention for each account to maximise returns, based on predicted Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
As we’ve said above, this isn’t simple analytics. It’s not just one or two data sources. Predictive platforms combine all the different data sources – like transactional data, usage data and social signals – to form a single customer view of customer behaviour and firmographics.
All this data is already out there; predictive data analytics lets you harness it. You can focus retention activity where it’ll have an impact, to increase retention and customer lifetime value.
Using BrightTarget, PEI Media identified over £500K additional annual subscription revenue potential from a 2% reduction in subscription churn, through early re-engagement of potential high-value, flight-risk customers.
2. Maximise value from events
As traditional models fracture, many B2B publishers embrace events and conferences as another viable revenue stream. However, the big challenge is fully exploiting the data you already have to prioritise and target potential delegates more effectively.
Here’s how predictive analytics helps.
Acquisition – Find whitespace for events and identify prospective delegates
For many B2B media organisations, the events revenue stream is the least mature in the business. Revenue growth from events can be achieved by expanding your total addressable market for specific events and prioritising your marketing efforts on those prospects most likely to convert to paid delegates.
Predictive Analytics does all of the heavy lifting by identifying your ideal delegate profiles and create advanced segments so that you can identify which prospects you should target, and which will waste your time. Who hasn’t been a delegate before that we can target? How do we pick those people out? This is much more than just targeting previous delegates.
With predictive analytics, your tele-outbound people can focus their time more efficiently, selling more effectively to the leads who’re most likely to become delegates.
For example, BrightTarget’s platform helped CentaurMedia achieve a 47% increase in delegate sales by identifying better prospects.
PEI Media is benefiting from a 30% uplift in global delegate sales by prioritising audience selections using BrightTarget.
Don’t lose your data to ‘unsubscribes’
By targeting your prospects with more relevant offers and reducing the frequency of generic email campaigns, you maintain your prospect pool much better enabling you to continue to market to them for longer without reducing conversion rates.
This is also key for GDPR where you need to demonstrate ‘Legitimate Interest’ in your offer, obviously the more targeted the offer the more legitimate the interest of the prospect will be.
Growth – Capitalise on upsell and cross-sell event opportunities
Again, the mechanism is straightforward: unpicking all available internal and external data to identify the untapped needs you can sell into.
This idea of untapped needs is central to predictive data analytics, however you apply it. Predictive helps you understand what your customers really want, so you can personalise your outreach to better meet those needs.
So, predictive might show you an opportunity to upsell more global delegate places into an existing account, or an opportunity to cross-sell a different event, or an opportunity to cross-sell a different product altogether, like a media subscription.
Predictive is especially useful for organisations with multiple territories and products, because all internal stakeholders are united across a single customer view. You know you’re not neglecting an opportunity to ‘join up’ different areas of your business to different areas of your customers’ business.
Retention – Maximise repeat event attendance
To get most value from your events program, repeat attendance is critical. And as with the subscription use case, predictive analytics plays a major role.
Predictive platforms can identify the signals that identify the delegates that are least likely to attend again, so you can target those potential leavers with personalised offers and messaging. You can of course use this knowledge to help refine your event content to drive repeat attendance. Your retention rate increases, so you maximise lifetime value of each event customer.
Even better for global, multi-brand publishers
If your business is diverse and complex then this is even better for machine learning platforms. The machine can very easily be configured to focus on specific Brands or groups of Brands (Categories) enabling acquisition and retention to focus on specific brands. But just as easily it can work across brands, for say cross selling into your total global customer or prospect base.
B2B Publishers have an abundance of customer data, often fragmented following its digital transformation have made them an ideal candidate for growth by predictive machine learning.
Predictive analytics brings B2B publishers closer to customer needs
Predictive data analytics works by applying advanced data analysis and machine learning to your data, to give you insights that help you sell, grow and retain customers.
Those insights are the key to staying relevant, bringing you closer to customer needs so you can maximise value from the content you produce.
Explore how predictive data analytics will work for your organisation with the BrightTarget predictive marketing accelerator. Quickly prove the ROI potential of predictive using your own data, so you can see the value of predictive with minimal risk or investment.
 From paper to platform: transforming the B2B publishing business model, PriceWaterhouseCoopers