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Putting the “Service” in Information Services

by Matt Manning

There is often a tendency for the folks who build and run information services to adopt a “set it and forget it” approach. These services are tough to build and once they are up and running it’s easy to sit back and focus on renewal marketing. This is a mistake. Information services are not just about stable recurring revenues—they are about meeting customer needs, both known and unknown.

The known needs are the reasons people subscribe. Subscribers want new marketing leads and the latest competitive intelligence, but they also have all kinds of unknown and unmet needs. Each one is a major opportunity to improve the ROI for your subscribers and discover new products and services.

So how do you know what you don’t know? Well, the answers are all out there and here’s how to find them.

Content popularity: It is obvious, but producing/overlaying new content complementary to your already popular content is a logical first step. Making popular core data richer these days often involves incorporating “alternate data” sources.

•  Products
   •  Customer reviews/ratings
   •  Sales/web traffic data
   •  Pricing patterns
•  Companies
   •  Rankings
   •  News/social media sentiment information
•  People
   •  Social media appends
   •  Personas (based on web browsing patterns + demographic data)

Search patterns: What items do subscribers search for but don’t find? These “dry holes” hurt renewal rates and need to be patched, but what else are these dry holes telling you? What do subscribers want to find but can’t? This can mean that a whole emerging mark segment may be of intense interest to your users but you’re not keeping up with that need. It’s worth a gander at your server logs to see if you’ve got these kinds of unmet needs in your subscriber pool.

Feature popularity: What tools on your site are used heavily and which ones aren’t? The people who build information services are often surprised at what the most popular features actually are. Tech support request patterns are a good way to tell which tools are popular and which ones are not. Again, adjusting your interface’s emphasis to accentuate the popular features is relatively easy.

Consulting services: Expertise “by-the-slice” has become more common and is a great revenue opportunity for information service firms. If your firm employs writers, analysts, and editors with specialization in particular disciplines, then why not leverage that talent to offer this form of service? Adding consulting can be as easy as putting a prompt like “Need more granular detail?” next to your content and offering “reasonable” pricing for custom consultations starting at as little as a few hundred dollars.

posted by Shyamali Ghosh on October 24, 2016

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