B2B subscriptions have huge uncovered potential. With lower likelihood of customer churn offering a stable, recurring income, it’s not difficult to see why. In essence, publishers can charge a premium for their content offering, whilst still attracting subscribers in bulk from businesses and organisations. Despite this, a recent report by the International News Media Association showed that the publishing industry is still only at the early stages of breaking into B2B subscriptions. This is likely due to the fact that enterprise accounts require different functionality and more extensive implementation on the publisher's side. The issue lies in consumer-oriented sales and marketing that don’t translate seamlessly to B2B audiences.
From a sales, content, and marketing perspective, publishers have to grapple with different motivations, needs, and expectations. Additionally, B2B subscriptions come with new risks that can be damaging to business, such as account sharing or misuse.
With all these factors considered, publishers might be hesitant to try to break into this new vertical. So to help clear some of the confusion and difficulty, this article offers insight into the essential aspects of an effective B2B subscription management strategy and why the key to success is automation.
Tailored & Bespoke Pricing
There is no room for one-size-fits-all subscription plans when it comes to enterprise subscriptions. Instead, contextualising content and adapting subscription offerings to maximise relevance to each prospective account is critical.
In terms of pricing, this translates to creating bulk subscription discounts, bespoke deals, and tailored fee structures. There are many different ways to approach digital subscription pricing, but publishers should not be afraid to break away from fixed pricing or content offerings - instead, they should look to be creative and bring together unique packages that appeal to B2B audiences. This could include engagement-based pricing structures or– as seen at The Wall Street Journal– custom subscriptions for specific topics within their content such as bankruptcy or private equity.
Publishers should ensure their corporate identity management solution provides a way to create custom pricing and bundles while allowing for automated billing and management (more on this later).
Invest in customer service & support
Investing in high-quality and attentive customer service and support is even more critical when it comes to B2B subscriptions. When dealing with such large and lucrative accounts, offering proactive support for each query or problem is a must. It’s for this reason that the Financial Times offers each of its corporate accounts a dedicated customer success manager. What’s more, for large accounts in particular, customer support can become an additional feature of the product offer, with enterprise deals often including a dedicated support manager.
Dedicated customer support isn’t only about keeping big accounts happy and satisfied with the level of service they receive. It also creates a healthy feedback loop that allows publishers to monitor their enterprise customers’ experience, and gain key insights into their engagement with their product, their usage, and crucially, any potential friction or pain points.
Automation is key
The key to B2B subscription management is automation. To coordinate and handle such large accounts with unique and substantial needs, specialist software that can automate key workflows is essential. This reduces the administrative stress and resources required, while maximising B2B revenue by ensuring the best customer experience possible.
Workflows that can be automated include billing, paywall forms, email sequences, and even personalised pricing structures. All these factors contribute to an effective personalised subscriber experience.
B2B specific management features
As we mentioned, B2B subscriptions come with a whole host of specific needs. That’s why publishers should seek a corporate identity management solution that is specifically designed to combat common risks such as account sharing and security concerns.
For example, some platforms will give publishers the ability to whitelist IP addresses for unlimited on-site access. This reduces friction when it comes to access and authentication at scale, making easy and secure bulk logins easy.
Technology solutions should also help publishers to upsell wherever possible, for example, by allowing publishers to designate ‘soft limits’ on certain accounts. This means that when an account exceeds their maximum logins, the publisher will be able to leverage that moment to upsell and scale their subscription package, rather than simply shut off the customer for hitting their limit.
Unifying and consolidating RevOps (Revenue Operations) is essential for streamlined B2B subscription management. This means aligning all the various aspects of subscription management from sales and marketing to finance and customer success to gain oversight over a customer’s entire lifecycle from a centralised hub.
When it comes to B2B subscriptions, siloed business operations can actually undermine successful customer acquisition and retention. Streamlining and unifying publishers’ various different departments can improve both the customer experience and the management process. For instance, opting for an intuitive and user-friendly tool means that publisher tech teams can implement and fit it into their existing tech stack with ease, while maintaining reassurance that commercial teams can be agile and nimble also. Additionally, if the platform allows for best-in-breed integrations, key user data can be pulled and accessed in a centralised location, making analysis and actionable insights easier for all relevant departments.
Automated subscription funnels
As we mentioned earlier, bespoke pricing is characteristic of B2B subscription models. As such, subscription billing can become fairly complex when managing various enterprise accounts. Specialist paywall management tools should automate the key stages of the subscription funnel including trials, paywalls, and billing whilst also identifying upsell opportunities and accommodating account scaling.
B2B: The future of B2B subscriptions?
More and more publishers are beginning to understand the untapped potential of B2B subscriptions. In tandem, they are also realising the limitations and challenges of their existing infrastructure when thinking about pivoting to an enterprise audience. This is where subscription experience platforms can help - enabling publishers to automate the management process for every stage of a corporate subscription lifecycle. Find out more about corporate subscription management on our website.