The Webinar Litmus Test
There are two kinds of B2B publishers — those who charge for a webinar and those who don’t.
This crystallized for me around a table at the SIPA conference here in Washington last week, talking about List Building & Audience Development. Someone raised the idea of gathering names using a free webinar. The publishers shook their heads. “Free?” one said skeptically. “That will cannibalize my webinar sales.”
When’s the last time you charged for a webinar? Did you know some publishers routinely get $295 or $495 per seat for webinars? I doubt 5% of the scores of B2B publishers I’ve worked with for the past few years ask attendees to tender anything other than their registration data. Paid content goes way beyond webinars, but they are a perfect benchmark.
All the talk in the media media is about The New York Times trying one thing or the Washington Post trying another. In B2B we don’t have their challenges. Readers have unlimited choices in finding articles about politics or the latest breaking news. Not so much when it comes to valuable editorial for specific industries and markets. I am convinced it behooves all of us to at least test the sale of content.
With the right systems there are multiple ways to sell good information. I bet you have reports or special features worthy of subscriptions or pay-per-view. Why not try tiered content sales with a low threshold price? Charge more for the content which required a major research effort on your part. “Metering” allows you to find your most likely buyers before they register. The process of “creative gating” can let you test paid content in small and large ways across your online platform. A/B testing will tell you lots.
How’s this for a great idea? We work with Success magazine, admittedly a bit B2Cish. They are riding the shift in content consumption to shorter, more manageable bites. They repurpose some of their long form content, breaking it into 5-7 minute podcasts, and charge $1.29. A buck twenty-nine! Is that a great price to break the barrier and get readers to reach into their pocket, or what? Success sells thousands of these.
SIPA, Specialized Information Publishers Association, represents what was used to be the newsletter industry but more accurately refers to itself as the business information industry. Along with ABM, SIPA merged into SIIA, the Software & Information Industry Association. ABM was the trade magazine industry, which somehow also took the Business Information name, confusing the hell out of everyone and making a merger inevitable. (I suspect this differs from the official history.)
They have much wisdom to offer each other. SIPA folks, as a rule, have a lot to learn about selling sponsorships and marketing services. The ABMers can sure use a reminder that some content is too valuable to just give a way. As was said at SIPA, unless you believe you can sell it, you can’t.
Andy Kowl is a journalist and entrepreneurial publisher with more than 30 years developing, marketing and growing publishing companies. He is senior vice president of publishing strategy for ePublishing Inc., the leading enterprise publishing system (EPS) provider which manages content, audience data, workflow, newsletters and e-commerce for hundreds B2B online publications. He helps publishers increase reader engagement and response by integrating behavioral data with contextual content, and shows them direct ways to monetize the results. Andy writes the B2B Beat blog for Publishing Executive magazine. His background in B2B includes publishing, editing and/or owning magazines and information products covering specialty retail, horse breeding, real estate, credit unions, Wall Street compliance and wireless technology.