How to get the ‘recurring’ into high value, B2B membership revenues

It is now quite common knowledge that a strong, validated high value B2B membership proposition is of great interest to senior executives in B2B media/events businesses. Strong recurring revenues generated by memberships are usually equally interesting and exciting to both existing and potential new investors.

But, it is important to keep an eye on the key word here, which is ‘recurring’. Successfully launching a new membership product that your customers are willing to pay quite a lot to access doesn’t guarantee the revenue will be recurring.

If you are not able to consistently retain your paying members at the same or higher annual yield, you will need to continually ‘top up’ with new members. This ongoing push to acquire new members can be costly and unpredictable.

Don’t get me wrong: member acquisitions are an important part of a membership growth story. But, without the renewals (and ideally upsell) piece working well, your growth is likely to be unsustainable at best, and negative at worst.

According to The Membership Guys, “it costs 7-10 times more on average to win a new member than it does to hold on to an existing one”.

So, when do you prepare your member retention marketing and sales strategy? This must be done before you even start your member acquisition campaigns! One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when launching a membership product is only paying attention to member retention a couple of months before the renewal date – or sometimes even later. To secure properly recurring revenues your investors will love (and expect!) starts the day your member is acquired.


MPG focuses very much on marketing to grow membership revenue, but as marketing, sales, product, account management and customer experience need to be well integrated for member retention to be successful, this blog looks at all of these aspects.

Here are the 5 key areas MPG recommends for focus to achieve good retention of high value, B2B members – to achieve that much sought after consistently recurring, and growing membership revenue:

 

#1 Onboarding

Once your customer has taken that all important step and decided to purchase a membership, you need to remind your new member why they made this purchase and how to get the most out of their investment. So, you need a ‘member onboarding programme’, which should be the first step in member retention.

Here are three things to consider when putting this together.

  • Send a highly relevant welcome email: this is your first opportunity to delight a new member, so don’t waste it with a generic welcome email that makes them feel like they’re just being pushed into your production line. Wherever possible, personalise this communication. Ideally have a real person they’re likely to engage with in future (their account manager, or customer success manager) compiling and sending this email, which should include a product tour or demo video (even if they’ve already seen it) and signposting to relevant content and product features they can immediately start benefiting from.
  • New member interview: make sure you really understand what ‘success’ looks like for every new member i.e. why did they decide to spend the money on the membership? What would a good return on investment look like for the member, and in what timeframe? This is likely to differ by customer and is especially important in the early stages of your membership product life cycle as you gather valuable customer insight. This intelligence is essential to help you further refine and enhance the membership value proposition, while also engaging with every precious new member on a personal level in a way that is likely to be perceived by the member as very good customer care.
  • Keep it simple for your new member! Don’t bombard your new member with an excessive amount of communication and requests for their time and attention. Consider how you give your new members the required amount of time and balanced support to explore your membership offering at a comfortable pace and ‘self-serve’ as much as possible, so they are fully enabled and empowered to make the most of what they have bought.

 

#2 Content

Your content is likely to be one of the main reasons a member signs up. The membership is seen as a means to solve a problem, or a series of problems. These usually include at least two of the following: acquiring new skills, getting valuable intelligence, and accessing a precious, highly relevant network. If you consider these as ‘content’ – joined up and served up in an easy-to-use way, you’re thinking in the right way!

Strong, regular member engagement with your content is important to ensure members get the level of value that is likely to make them renew.

To ensure you are serving up the right content, at the right time, in the right formats for your members, consider how you incorporate the following into your workflow and offering.

  • Relevant, visible, timely content calendar: make sure what you are serving up is relevant and timely to your member’s ‘jobs to be done’ (e.g. an annual planning and budgeting process) and also make sure your members can see what is coming up. Keep reminding them of what they will get in future at critical times so they see their membership as a  key part of their own workflow.
  • Choice/flexibility: not every member will want to consume your content in the same way, so serve it up in a variety of formats. For example, an intelligence report can be delivered as a PDF, with a highlights video, an accompanying webinar and a Q&A session in an online chat group. Not only will this mean different preferences are catered for, but it also means your high-quality content is likely to work harder for you as it is repurposed. This also helps you achieve the ‘quality over quantity’ balance right, making the quantity look & feel substantial enough, while ensuring the quality content is highly accessible.
  • Ongoing member research: ask questions as members use the product to find out what they like and don’t like about how you have packaged up membership features and benefits, and what they find most valuable and useful – and why. If you can combine a series of automated mini-surveys with personalised conversations to work out if your members are achieving their work goals via your membership, you’re likely to get the best kind of intelligence that will help you have exactly the right kinds of sales conversations to retain and upsell members, and improve the product as you go along.

“The closer you can align the way you package your value to the goal that your customer has, the more likely your customer is to trust you for the long term.”
Robbie Kellman Baxter – Membership/subscriptions advisor & best-selling author

 

#3 Engagement

Having the right content is just one piece of the retention puzzle. The next piece is ensuring members engage with the content. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Nurturing: using email nurture campaigns, personalised to the members’ content needs, are a great way to boost engagement, and therefore retention.
  • Incentives: if you can find a way to gamify membership usage in a way that rewards your most highly engaged members, you’re on to a winner. Maybe you could unlock some exclusive content or higher value features for members who ‘give the most’ to using their membership?
  • Engagement scoring: this is simply a way to categorise your members from least engaged through to highly engaged based on specific actions that they take. You want as many members as possible to be within the highly engaged category, as these members have the highest probability of renewing and probably also buying a bigger package e.g. with more users/seats in their licence or a multi-year deal. Those that are least engaged will need some extra attention well before their renewal date.
  • Data insights & analytics: using analytics tools can provide you with insights into what content your members are most engaged with and also how they are using your content and platform. Insights around your top performing pages and site navigation can provide you with ways to improve platform design to quickly help your members get what they need – faster and in a better format. The easier your membership product is to use, the more your members are to use and get value from it!

 

#4 Pricing

Overly complicated membership pricing plans can often lead to higher member churn. You need to ensure your members are aware of what it is they are signing up for. There should be no nasty surprises in terms of what is expected and then included – or not.

When considering renewals, there a few options and considerations to build into the initial planning and evolution of your pricing:

  • Upgrades: consider how members can move up the value chain over time – in terms of what they can access and how much they pay. A strong upgrade path may attract more members and enable longer term revenue growth.
  • Downgrades: having a cheaper version of your membership, with less access to certain features or content, is a great way to retain members who may struggle to justify or afford a full renewal every year.
  • Pauses: if you can enable a pause to a membership, your customers will thank you. Giving them the option to pause rather than cancel, can be better for overall retention.
  • Auto renewals: having an auto renewal in place that is properly communicated at the time of signing up helps by removing any friction in the renewal process. The member doesn’t need to do anything to renew and only needs to act if they want to cancel at renewal stage.
  • Mid-term upgrades: you don’t need to wait until a membership is about to expire to offer upgrades. This can be done anywhere in the membership cycle. The members that engage well from the start may present your best opportunities for upgrades ahead of the official renewal date. This could be individual users with high engagement scores or companies that have multiple members on your platform.
  • Incentives: building incentives into your membership marketing strategy can help secure early renewals. In an annual renewal cycle, an incentive scheme can start from as early as 3 months out from your expiry date. Types of incentives you can offer include: remaining membership period for free on renewal; access to exclusive pieces of content; or invitations to community roundtables or networking events. Incentives are not just for current members, they can also be a useful tool for re-engaging with lapsed members.

 

#5 Measurement

As with all other marketing efforts, keeping a close eye on the metrics that matter most is essential!

We recently published a blog on the key strategic KPIs for membership marketing and sales – presenting the core metrics for both acquisition and retention. Below are the main areas your retention metrics should be focussed on:

  • Onboarding
  • Engagement
  • Sales
  • Renewal cycle/timing

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE FULL STRATEGIC KPIS

Whether you have recently launched a membership, already have a strong membership offering, or you are in the early stages of planning, we have some upcoming blogs in the series that will provide you with practical approaches for your membership marketing strategy:

  • The ideal member acquisition process: how to build a marketing and sales funnel that becomes a powerful feeder of new business – to achieve strong membership growth over an extended period of time.
  • The best way to build events (in all forms) into your membership offering: to achieve strong member retention rates and to act as a reliable growth engine for membership revenue.

So, if you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email every time we publish a new blog like this one, or create another resource (e.g. webinar or report) that you will benefit from.


Launching a new membership offering or wanting to grow strong recurring revenue for an existing product?

Team MPG creates and executes on robust membership marketing strategies that support both acquisition and retention growth. Find out more about our approach – get in touch.

 


“I was very impressed with the marketing strategy MPG developed for Environment Analyst. The level of thinking that went into this strategy and how it was delivered has created great value for our business. My marketing manager and I now look forward to working with MPG to execute great marketing together.”

Julian Rose, Director & Co-Founder, Environment Analyst

Topics:

ABM: Looking beyond the buzzword!

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is not a new concept in B2B marketing. However, as an important integrated B2B marketing and sales approach, we don’t think it is widely understood or used as it should be in B2B media/events businesses and professional membership organisations. 

Regardless of the size of your organisation, product types, or the sectors you serve, every senior business leader and marketer should be embracing ABM and integrating it as part of their overall marketing strategy.  

If you’re keen to learn more about ABM – what it is, why it is important and how you put it into practice, read on! 

This article is ‘part 1’ of MPG’s 2 part blog series, created to guide you through a strategic approach to ABM implementation. Next week we will publish part 2, which will be focused on a step-by-step approach to doing ABM well. 

 

What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

Simply put, ABM is a marketing strategy to identify, target and engage a specific set of high-value accounts by creating highly personalised messaging and customer experiences for key individuals within these accounts. 

ABM can also be viewed as a practical application of the Pareto Principle (or 80/20 rule), whereby 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your customers. The return on investment from this form of marketing is delivered through:

  • Higher conversion rates: of prospect to lead, and lead to sale, within your most valuable accounts (i.e. those likely to also renew and deliver a strong lifetime value).
  • Shorter sales cycles: your sales team can be more efficient as they have less work to do to convince all decision makers and influencers to sign off on a deal. Alternatively, if an e-commerce deal, this should happen faster due to quicker internal approvals. 
  • Higher average order values: because all decision makers and influencers are well persuaded by very relevant marketing that their purchase will deliver good value.

Many marketers are already conducting a form of ABM, without calling it that! Sending targeted messaging to specific market segments/data sets via email applies the basic principles of ABM. Recipients get more personalised messaging that addresses their specific challenges and needs. ‘Proper’ ABM is about applying this practice more extensively, and across more channels.

ABM typically has the greatest impact for high-value sponsorships, memberships or subscriptions products, or where you need to have specific companies in your audience and/or at your event to satisfy sponsors. It can also apply to acquiring new sponsors/clients for your events or marketing programmes. 

 

Why is ABM more relevant now that before the pandemic?

Several factors have driven the increased importance, and usage, of ABM in recent months. Unsurprisingly, the seismic shifts seen over the past 14 months is the common thread.

Here are the main factors at play:

#1: As many marketing budgets are reduced and marketing teams are smaller, marketers are under significant pressure to deliver campaigns that positively and visibly impact revenue generation. ABM focuses marketers on the accounts that are going to give them the highest return, and as ABM can shorten the sales cycle, in the shortest possible time frame. 

#2: Increased investment in tech and data management, typically to facilitate virtual events and other online offerings, has the knock-on effect of making ABM far more viable and easy (as possible!) to deploy. Successful ABM relies on well organised customer data within a digital infrastructure that enables automation; as well as engage individuals and groups across digital channels, cohesively. 

#3: ABM has filled the gaps left by live events. Crucial in-person touchpoints have, by necessity, been replaced by deeper, multi-channel digital engagement within well-engineered and creative campaigns.  

#4: Across the board, marketing is becoming more important. Marketing is now playing a much more important role in the rapid digital pivots of brands, products and communities, and overall digital transformation organisations. Marketing is also leading the charge in defining the sales and operations strategies – a role reversal from just a few years ago. Organisations have realised that investment in marketing is essential to building and monetising engaged audiences. This was already happening before the pandemic, but has been thrown into the ‘Covid-19 accelerator’ for full disruption mode!

 

Why ABM is key for customer experience 

ABM allows you to deliver more consistent and compelling customer experiences for your most coveted accounts. In very crowded markets, where there is so much digital noise, ABM can make all the difference in securing the customers you need via a compelling and relevant journey towards your brand and product. 

At its core, ABM is about making marketing and sales even more aligned. By defining and actively targeting high-value accounts, and making this integral to both your marketing and sales strategies, you can make your conversion funnel more efficient and cost-effective. Most importantly, your customers will have a much better and streamlined experience as they hurtle towards the bottom of your funnel. 

 

How should ABM be put into practice? 

In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll be sharing a step-by-step guide to implementing ABM in your marketing. Subscribe to MPG Insights to be notified when it’s released.

 


MPG have been a valuable marketing strategy partner to Kademy’s leadership team. They have helped us decide how best to invest in marketing based on the stage we’re at with our business, and have also given us very practical advice on various marketing initiatives around ABM, content marketing, social media, PPC and website optimisation. Having MPG’s marketing expertise plugged in to our business gives me confidence we’re moving our marketing function forward in the right way.

Alex Hentschel, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Kademy

 


Do you need help developing your ABM marketing strategy? 

Team MPG can help you work out how best to use ABM and deploy this approach for maximum impact. Here are the reasons clients choose MPG for ABM:

  • As experts in all things B2B marketing, Team MPG has the toolkit to ensure your sales team gets focused support to target and convert your most coveted customers.
  • MPG will also help you better integrate your sales & marketing. When using ABM, processes need to be well mapped out and joined up for ABM to have a consistently positive impact on your revenue growth.

Team MPG will develop your bespoke, robust strategy, and set up martech/salestech & processes for ABM success. We can also help you execute ABM campaigns for best impact, and measure this impact with MPG’s unique marketing performance dashboards.

Get in touch

Topics:

The Marketing Mix | The Best of MPG

At MPG’s ‘virtual HQ’, we’ve been working hard at creating and sharing the resources we believe are essential for:

  • Transforming your marketing function – to give you the most ‘future-fit’ marketing team possible
  • Turbocharging your marketing performance – so that your marketing investments deliver a strong ROI

Your free MPG Insights blogs, webinars, e-books and guides have hopefully helped you grow your B2B audience engagement, while also enabling strong monetisation via events, memberships and subscriptions.

We’ve created every resource to deliver actionable and practical insights and tips to make your marketing work better.

This newsletter collates for you The Best of MPG – a summary of all of our most popular blogs and resources into one easy to read email digest. Please pass this on to your colleagues and friends!

We’re also delighted to let you know about our free Strategy Chats Webinar Series, taking place on the first 3 Fridays in March. Joined by an exceptional line up of guest speakers, these quick-fire briefings will cover ‘all things marketing strategy’ for B2B Communities, B2B Memberships and B2B Events. Register for free today.


Our top MPG Insights Blogs


Useful Resources


Not to be missed – upcoming webinar series


FREE WEBINAR SERIES
MPG Strategy Chats: Marketing for B2B Media and Events
5th, 12th & 19th March 2021

March will see MPG hosting a series of free webinars focused on strategies, ROI metrics and key success factors for B2B community marketing, B2B membership marketing and B2B event marketing.

To find out how to ensure marketing is a key success driver in your business, come along to this ground-breaking, 3-part Strategy Chats series.

MPG’s marketing strategists will be joined by the following expert guest speakers:

  • Andrew Brown – Co-Founder & Chairman, FUTURE INSIGHTS NETWORK
  • Mike Hepburn – MD, FT Forums & Board Director Programmes, FINANCIAL TIMES
  • Anna Knight – VP Licensing, INFORMA
  • Tania Marshall – Global Marketing Director, FINANCIAL TIMES LIVE
  • James Mayes – Co-Founder & CEO, MIND THE PRODUCT
  • Laura McQueen – Managing Director, LEADERS IN SPORT
  • Carolyn Morgan – Managing Consultant, SPECIALL MEDIA
  • Simon Murray – Head of Marketing, Money 20/20, ASCENTIAL
  • Julian Rose – Director & Co-Founder, ENVIRONMENT ANALYST

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Whether you’re looking to upskill your whole team through tailored, in-house training, or want to join fellow marketers from around the world on one of our open courses, MPG Academy has a training solution to fit your needs.

MPG recently delivered very relevant training for me – helping me a lot with my marketing planning and practical implementation of best practice marketing. The course materials they provided were phenomenal.

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Delivering winning marketing strategies, outsourced marketing and training to help B2B-community focused organisers engage, monetise and scale their target markets, audiences and customer base.

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Robert Stead, Managing Director, SENSE MEDIA

Topics:

Growth Marketing Hacks: 8 things you can do to convert registrants (non-paying subscribers) to paying subscribers

Download My Guide

It’s fascinating just how much faster things move in a mostly digital world. Meetings done via web calls seem shorter and snappier, events and training courses are compressed into hours rather than days, and marketing campaigns are being planned and executed at lightning speed.

‘Hacking’ has become a buzzword again. Marketers are being asked to make ‘short cuts’ and ‘quick wins’ to deliver a rapid and strong return on what is often a low marketing investment.

Growth marketing hacks are certainly being sought in the world of B2B subscriptions. From the work MPG has done in the B2B media community, there is no doubt that subscriptions are an important growth area and – without much additional marketing investment – have also been growing faster than pre-COVID-19 times. But with so much competition from free online content, how will this growth be maintained?

Two key things marketers can and should do to maintain and ideally further accelerate strong subscriptions revenue growth are:

  1. Identify the prospective subscribers likely to deliver revenue fastest – with least effort and expense.
  2. For this group of prospective subscribers: optimise every step of the customer journey to convert them to paying subscribers.

The obvious place to start is with your most engaged ‘free subscribers’ – usually people who have subscribed to a newsletter or access to some free content on your site, and are regularly consuming the free content you are making available to them.

Then apply these growth marketing techniques to move them into your paying subscriber base:

#1 Optimise your automated email to new registrants

#2 Use remarketing and uploaded list PPC targeting to hit leads with subscription offer messaging

#3 Offer paid subscription immediately after form completion on ‘thank you’ page

#4 Include paid content in emails and PPC ads

#5 Include a paid subscription ad in all free content

#6 Target all members of decision-making units (DMUs)

#7 Create a dedicated landing page on subscription benefits

#8 Segment PPC by industry/job role for more refined targeting

Get Detailed ‘How To’ Guide

To find out more about how to execute the above growth hacks to boost your subscriber revenue, download MPG’s guide here.

 


Do you need a robust B2B subscriptions marketing strategy?

Join the MPG Academy B2B Subscriptions Marketing Masterclass to learn how to grow recurring subscriber revenue with robust, data-led marketing strategies and campaigns.

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“Operationally, MPG are knowledgeable, focused, open-minded, creative and disciplined. Strategically they are good thinkers, blending an ambition for the possible without losing touch with the practical. I highly recommend the MPG team as value creators and a safe pair of hands!”

Tim Lucas, Managing Director B2B, Bauer Media Group

Topics:

Where are B2B media & events brands investing in 2021?

This article has been co-authored by Helen Coetzee, Founder & CEO of MPG and Carolyn Morgan, Founder & Managing Consultant of Speciall Media.


Uncertainty is the only certainty there is and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.

These rather grim words from John Allen Paulos ring true for nearly every organisation.

Paulos’s work as a Professor of mathematical logic and probability theory is particularly relevant to media organisations today. In 2001 he taught a course on quantitative literacy for journalists at the Columbia University School of Journalism. This course stimulated programmes in precision and data-driven journalism at Columbia and elsewhere.

It is this type of journalism – and the trust audiences have in media brands that do this well – that has fuelled the rise of data-led intelligence products for media companies. Access to these products meets a critical need as organisations seek specific, objective, trusted data and intelligence to make real-time, critical decisions in the fast-moving COVID-19 crisis.

No wonder that offering ‘data products’ within subscriptions or memberships are the #1 priority for investment in 2021 for many B2B media businesses. It has been a hot topic in our recent conversations with B2B media leaders. And at the recent Renewd.net round-table event on ‘planning and budgeting for 2021’ it was the top investment priority. 

And what else have we learnt from our community of senior B2B media and event leaders over the past month, planning for 2021 and beyond?

B2B media and events leaders intend to invest in product, marketing, and sales for these top four revenue streams:

#1 Subscriptions and memberships: with data-led intelligence at their core

#2 Events (virtual or in person): to generate revenue, engagement, and content

#3 E-learning: a relatively new or largely untapped revenue stream for many brands

#4 Marketing solutions: pushing out multi-channel, content-led sponsored campaigns to brand audiences

At the Renewd.net roundtable it was clear that having the right skills and resources in place to make these investments is a core challenge.

Building specific expertise and skills to effectively create, market, sell and deliver data-led subscriptions/memberships, e-learning, events, and marketing solutions will be essential.

Many are embracing a community-focused and brand-led approach to become truly customer-centric. This needs consistent delivery of highly relevant content and data-driven, impactful marketing.  Both are essential for strong audience engagement, crucial to unlocking growth in all key revenue streams.

These skilled product, marketing and sales teams need to be digitally confident, both strategic and agile in their thinking and highly flexible in approach.

With 2020 seeing many staffing and agency budgets frozen or reduced, 2021 will be a year for key hires to be made, and important partners onboarded to ensure investments pay off. Investors want to keep fixed costs as low as possible while ensuring operators have the right skills and resources in place to deliver stronger products and revenue in key areas.

The winning B2B media and event brands will develop capability in four key areas:

 

1. Membership and subscriptions

  • Organisations already focussed on subscription or membership propositions had an easier ride in 2020 than those relying on other revenue streams. They now plan continued investment in growing customer volumes, audience monetisation and in corporate and premium packages.
  •  For event and/or marketing solutions (advertising) driven businesses, 2021 is the year to launch subscription and membership models.  Content created by virtual events makes a valuable addition to a membership proposition.
  • Product and sales require investment when launching or growing a subscription or membership offering. Targeted, data-driven and digitally enabled marketing will generate leads and enable customised promotions to acquire, retain, and upsell subscribers or members. Smart use of martech and automation is essential to build scale.

 

2. Events

  • Digital events have delivered unexpected value; on demand video content delivers unique and long-term benefits for sponsors and subscribers/members. This content can be packaged into valuable products and widely distributed via smart marketing.
  • 2021 will see a cautious, phased return to in person events. Risk can be mitigated and sponsors’ expectations managed through careful plans for virtual alternatives if in person is not viable.
  • Events for spring 2021 are largely planned as wholly virtual, with summer events scheduled to be in person with virtual contingency plans.
  •  In person events are preferred for large flagship events that bring the business community together, or small intimate networking focussed groups.  Mid-sized content-driven conferences work well online so are likely to stay in that format.
  • Hybrid events, although in theory a good option, are considered too expensive to run well and too risky to bank on for most organisations.
  • Sponsors like the wider audience and data from virtual events.  And they value repackaged videos of virtual event content for their own marketing channels. Organisers of 2021 in person events are briefing sponsors upfront on a go/no go decision date on postponement or a virtual alternative.

 

3. E-learning

  • Online training is a good opportunity to maintain and grow revenue.  Face to face training made a relatively easy switch to online delivery in 2020 and will remain largely virtual in future as corporates appreciate the flexibility and cost savings of online delivery.
  • Maintaining revenue levels when switching to virtual has been easy as pricing has remained largely the same for online training. Next year attendees will pay a premium for specific, practical knowledge at a time that suits them.
  • Media brands are experimenting with on-demand, self-directed online learning programmes interspersed with tutor led interactive sessions. Corporate training programmes delivered in a customised and consultative format could become a growing and lucrative business model.
  • A lack of skilled staff has been a key challenge for organisations developing e-learning. Creating, delivering, marketing, and selling e-learning requires a very particular set of technology, tools and skills, as well as subject matter expertise. Sourcing and onboarding these skills takes time and money. Partnering with external experts could help businesses move fast and remain agile while keeping costs flexible.

 

4. Marketing solutions

  • Many media businesses have invested in creating internal marketing agency-style teams to provide commercial clients with content-led campaigns pushed out to their brand audiences across multiple media.
  • Event sponsors are looking for more reliable, year-round digital exposure to a media brand’s relevant and engaged online audience – rather than counting on a few large annual events (virtual or in-person) to achieve their branding, thought leadership and lead generation objectives.
  •  An ‘internal marketing agency’ capability (also known as ‘native digital marketing services’) has been a reliable and growing media revenue stream during 2020. It is seen by many B2B media brand leaders as a key area for investment to continue revenue recovery and growth in 2021 and beyond.
  • As the economy recovers from COVID-19, marketing budgets will expand again, but there are still uncertainties in many industries. A highly flexible and agile approach will be essential for spotting opportunities, creating enticing and valuable marketing packages for clients, and delivering clients’ marketing objectives.
  • Skilled, agile, and flexible commercial salespeople, creative content producers and strong digital marketers will be needed to deliver value for clients in a highly competitive and price sensitive market.

B2B media and event leaders have developed robust strategies on where to invest to build stronger businesses, after a year of setbacks and uncertainty.

The winners will execute well and make sure their investments are focused on creating flexible, agile, and sustainable businesses where product, marketing and sales are delivered by the very best people their money can buy.

 

About the authors

Helen and Carolyn are both members of Renewd.net, a free to join community for professionals dedicated to sharing best-in-class practices for increasing subscriptions, building communities, and enhancing live and virtual events.

Carolyn Morgan has bought, sold, launched, and grown specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. A founder of the Specialist Media Show (sold in 2014), she now advises media businesses large and small on their digital strategy through her consultancy Speciall Media.

 

Helen Coetzee has led marketing teams and advised senior executives on marketing strategy in a variety of large and small B2B organisations. In 2014, Helen co-founded MPG, a marketing agency and consultancy focused on communities, memberships, subscriptions, and events. MPG’s team of specialist marketers is engaged by a range of B2B media and events businesses globally to provide skilled, flexible marketing resources and team development – working as highly collaborative partners with internal teams to ensure marketing is a driver of sustainable revenue growth.

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4 Things you should be doing for a high performance website

Considering your website is your most important marketing channel, do you give it as much attention and investment as it needs? As the host of your branding, messaging, content, lead generation and often also online sales/ecommerce, it acts as the end destination for all of your other marketing activity – so if your website is not performing at its best, the rest of your marketing channels won’t be either.

Optimising your website is critical for your bottom line, especially as we enter a year with continuing remote working and increasing digitalisation and the world’s business will be done online. The smartest companies who will be able to make the most of the post-Covid recovery will have the best websites!

Every brand, value proposition and audience is different, but the key success factors of having a well optimised website are universal. This post focuses on four of these key success factors needed to create a high performance website, whether your core offering is events, subscriptions, membership or community – or a combination of some or all of these.

1. Don’t make your users think (the 5 second rule)

Don’t make me think is well-known adage in the world of website UX. Website users have extremely short attention spans, so when constructing and populating your website, making the user journey as smooth as possible should be a core consideration in your decision making. Slow loading pages, improperly formatted mobile pages, rambling copy, confusing navigation – anything that forces the user to engage their brain to try and figure out what’s going on is an issue, and makes your website ‘hard work’ for your user. You need to make it very easy for your user to quickly get what they need from your website – whether it’s information, a newsletter subscription or a delegate ticket purchase.

A good rule of thumb is the ‘5 second rule’. Imagine you showed your website to an audience member for 5 seconds, before hiding it again. What would they know about your product/service? And would they have been able to at least have found on the ‘form page’ you want them on e.g. lead generation form or event booking form? They will probably need another few seconds to fill in the form – but if they can’t find the form they’re looking for in 5 seconds your website is not in the ‘high performance’ category!

 

2. Don’t try to make everything stand out – or nothing will

A common pitfall with website design is to try and make too many things stand out.

This can lead to an overwhelming and confusing experience for users, where they can’t figure out what they’re supposed to do next or what is most important about the organisation or product.

This can result from too many CTA (call to action) banners or buttons, links, text boxes and/or images. It can also occur when elements are all made an equal size or visual ‘weighting’ or positioning. Elements that are given more breathing room are generally more likely to be noticed and clicked on.

How do you know what’s important and therefore what should stand out? Consider what primary and secondary objective you have with your website.

For many, direct purchases or enquiries are the most valuable action a user can take, and ultimately the one you want to them to take at some point (even if it’s not during their first visit). This is your primary objective.

The design and structure of your site should place the most importance on content and CTAs that serve this primary objective. The button in the top right of your navigation bar (prime real estate on any website) should be reserved for your primary objective – e.g. ‘Buy now’. The main CTA in your header section should be the same. All content on your site should – in some way – further encourage users to take that final conversion.

For other sites, a primary objective may be lead generation. Filling in a data capture form may be the action you want users to take. Lead generation often works well across a range of touch points, at various levels of the funnel e.g. signing up for a free newsletter subscription, downloading a report advertised in a newsletter and then enquiring about a specific product via a link in the ‘thank you for downloading the report’ email or a link in the report itself.

Even if lead generation isn’t the primary goal, every website should include some form of lead generation as it captures valuable customer data that can be used to enrich and grow your marketing and sales database.

 

3. Build in lead generation intelligently

Lead generation is much more than just sticking a data capture form on our website and waiting for users to find it.

CTAs to your lead generation forms should be integrated as naturally as possible. Is someone viewing the ‘membership benefits’ page? If so, encourage them to download a member case study and ‘enquire about membership’. Are they viewing your event agenda summary? Then push them to download the full version. Work out what you would like your user to do next and point them to that next, desired action.

More generic lead generation opportunities (e.g. ‘Register your interest’) should be accessible from across your whole site, including CTAs and a presence on your top navigation menu. This will ensure users always have a ‘next action’ to take, regardless of where they are on your site. These kinds of more general and ‘low commitment’ lead generation options create an easy way for users to engage with your brand without committing to buying something before they’re ready, but keeps them in your marketing list so that you can further nurture them.

Also consider that visitors may land directly on your lead generation forms; whether from an email campaign, organic URL or social post. It’s important to ensure your lead generation forms/pages provide ample context and persuasive messaging as to why the visitor should surrender their data. What benefit does completing the form give them? A short descriptive paragraph, simple bullet points about the benefits of completing the form and possibly a relevant image (e.g. report cover) are simple but important ways to increase conversion rates.

 

4. Make sure Google can find your site

SEO is an ongoing process and one that is always baked into good website design. Search engines – with the most important one being Google in most regions of the world – want to serve the most relevant and valuable websites. A key factor in their ranking is user experience, which is determined by things like content, time on site, pages visited and device optimisation. Therefore, a good website generally means good SEO.

Also consider your keywords. If your website is for an event about financial technology, then you want to make sure ‘financial technology’ and ‘fintech event’ are scattered across your website content. It’s important this is done naturally within your copy. ‘Stuffing’ keywords – the practise of including the same keyword an excessive number of times on a page – will harm not only the user experience, but also your SEO.

You can also apply keywords when considering more ‘on-trend’ issues. If there’s a new piece of technology that could revolutionise fintech, consider publishing a blog or news article on it with the name included in the headline and within the main body. This will help you rank for a relevant keyword that potential attendees will be actively searching for as it is a ‘hot topic’.

A final consideration is how you can ‘win’ links to your website. Links from other websites (e.g. your homepage URL on a media partner’s site) effectively function as votes for your website in organic rankings, lending authority and trust. Producing great content is a sure-fire way to win links, as users will want to share content they find interesting/valuable on their own sites and via social channels. This should be proactively managed via an advocacy marketing programme that results in your site linking to multiple other highly relevant sites and your content being shared more widely on social media.

The four key success factors we have covered in this blog are important, but certainly not comprehensive when it comes to having a well optimised website! And each of the four factors we have covered could each have their own, very long blog (or even an e-book!).

But, the most important thing of all is to ensure your organisation is investing well in your website. Your senior leadership team must recognise that your website as your shop window – and the shop your users are wondering around in before they agree to buy anything or speak to a salesperson. How your customers and potential customers experience your website could be the difference between surviving and thriving in 2021 and beyond…or becoming a Covid (and digital revolution) casualty.


Get your website optimised

MPG’s website experts can help you optimise your website for optimal performance. Or we can design and build a brand new, high performance website for you!

Whether you’re offering events, subscriptions, memberships or a community – our team can set you up with a winning website.

FIND OUT MOREGET IN TOUCH


Get website optimisation skills into your team

MPG Academy’s trainers can work with your team to ensure they have a strong strategy and the right skills to optimise your website. Request more information about training and development for your team on website optimisation, as well as other key areas of marketing for communities, subscriptions, membership and events.

REQUEST MORE INFORMATION

Topics:

The Marketing Mix | Summer Newsletter

Newsletter • Summer 2020

Virtual Event Marketing • Website Optimisation Guide • Marketing Training

The pace is intense.

In our last newsletter we shared the story of MPG’s work with Social Media Week – a remarkable eight week pivot to create and successfully deliver #SMWONE. The pioneering spirit and ability to think fast, act fast and deliver a great, innovative virtual event experience inspired many. We thank Toby Daniels and Brian Leddy for their vision and leadership in a very challenging time.

Since #SMWONE’s successful delivery, the MPG team of marketing strategists, martech specialists, data specialists and digital marketers have been working with Toby and Brian on the launch of their new SMW+ live and on-demand streaming service. This rapid product and marketing strategy development to deliver a digital subscriptions service for SMW’s community has once again been an exciting and inspiring journey. And the important work of strong execution and ongoing improvements to the approach for ongoing improvements to outcomes is only just beginning!

More MPG clients and community members have been moving rapidly through ‘test and learn’ cycles. The analytics and data collected over the past months on how professionals are engaging with digital offerings – and the marketing of these – has surfaced some interesting benchmarks. We shared some of our key learnings in our latest webinar.

MPG’s Summer newsletter focuses on four important areas that present great opportunity for every organisation focused on growing, engaging and monetizing their communities:

  1. Attracting new sponsors for digital content packages, including virtual events
  2. Attracting a great, engaged audience to your virtual events
  3. Ensuring you have the best combination of ‘must have’ marketing knowledge and skills to successfully take to market your digital events, subscriptions and memberships
  4. Optimising your website to do a great job at engaging and serving your community, while also delivering conversions to customers and revenue

So, take a break from your desk, step out into the August sunshine – and have a good read!

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INSIGHTS

Helen Coetzee | 16/07/2020

How to use marketing to get new sponsors for your digital events

Growing digital revenue by sourcing new sponsors is a great opportunity for many organisations. Marketing has a key role to play here in generating marketing qualified leads for your sponsorship team. Our recent blog gives you a step-by-step approach to acquiring new sponsors via marketing. Read more here >

Helen Coetzee | 19/06/2020

Creating a robust, sustainable marketing function: a strategic, hybrid approach

In these financially stressed times, the question should not be ‘should we use internal or outsourced marketing’, but rather ‘what does the most effective and cost-efficient marketing function look like for us?’. Read more here >

READ MORE INSIGHTS


VIRTUAL B2B EVENTS WEBINAR

Marketing Virtual B2B Events: 9 Key Success Factors

Marketing Virtual B2B Events: 9 Key Success Factors

In our latest webinar, which took place on Thursday 6th August, MPG’s Founder & CEO, Helen Coetzee, uncovered the ‘secrets of success’ in developing the right marketing approach to attract the audience of the size and profile you need to your virtual B2B events.

You can now download the comprehensive content package including:

  • Presentation slides – including additional detail on 9 success factors
  • Full webinar video replay
  • All Q&A responses
  • All poll results

ACCESS CONTENT PACKAGE

 


SPOTLIGHT

How to optimise your website

How to optimise your website

Your website has always been your most important marketing channel. As the end destination that all other marketing activity pushes to, the hub for your content and the place where your target audience converts to leads or registrants; getting your website right can mean the difference between success and failure.

But how can you improve your website, generate more traffic and, most importantly, get more leads and revenue?

  1. Know your user: As with all marketing, the key to success is understanding your audience. Put yourself in the shoes of a new visitor to your website. Does the site load quickly and look professional at first impression? Is it immediately clear who you are and what you do? Are there obvious and compelling CTAs that will pull them further into the site? A user will be considering all these points within seconds of landing, and if they encounter any friction with their journey they may leave, so first impressions really matter.
  2. Create great website content: Once you’ve hooked them, it’s time for your website content to do the heavy lifting. Write copy that communicates the value of your product, focusing on benefit-led copy. How does your offering address a particular challenge your target audience faces? Avoid focusing too much on the ‘what’ and instead focus on the ‘why’.
  3. Understand the rules of design: Design is crucial, and not just because it makes your website look attractive; it’s fundamental to the quality of the user experience. Avoid overly-cluttered pages. Use size, position and colours to emphasise important elements and create a structure. Visitors won’t read line-by-line, they’ll skim read to the parts they’re interested in. Keep it simple!
  4. Create a seamless journey: Effective navigation is what ties it all together. You are taking your visitors on a journey, so make sure you never leave them at a dead end. Link content together naturally, provide CTAs to related pages and push them to a lead gen form or booking page when you think they may convert. Users visit your website to achieve a goal, whether that’s to find out more information, submit an enquiry or make a purchase – make it easy for them to move through your content and present them with things they can’t help but click. The smoother the experience, the more conversions you’ll get.

These are just some of the points you should have in mind when upgrading an existing website or creating a new one.

The MPG team has been designing and building high impact websites for 6+ years. To find out how we can build a great website for you, get in touch.

MPG Newsletter Summer 2020
MPG Newsletter Summer 2020


VOICES

“MPG delivered a great series of tailored marketing workshops for the team at China-Britain Business Council. This training helped us formulate our membership growth strategy and gave us some very useful, practical guidance on improving our digital marketing and sales tactics.”

Claire Urry, Executive Director, China-Britain Business Council

CBBC


The world is presenting every organisation with significant challenges and great opportunities in our quest to innovate and transform to become more resilient and sustainable. The global economy is relying on each of us playing our part. As dramatic as that may sound – it’s true!

The MPG team is grateful to be working with the fantastic people that make up our community. We sincerely hope to help you find the best way to push forward – with strength and confidence!

Topics:

The Marketing Mix | Monthly Newsletter

Newsletter • June 2020

#SMWONE Case Study • Subscriptions Marketing • ROI Measurement

In these tumultuous times, we’ve been heeding the very same advice we give to our clients: listen to your community.

Every industry, and every business, is bearing the brunt of their own unique set of challenges right now. Those that see the other side of Covid-19 will have faced these head on and embraced change and new opportunities – taking on short term financial pain, or making previously unplanned investments in the process.

MPG has been no exception. We are investing in transforming and upgrading our value proposition to meet our customers’ new needs in a new way. In today and tomorrow’s world, having a relevant value proposition is essential, and having an essential value proposition is the ultimate goal!

This monthly newsletter is one of our new initiatives – to share with our community a digest of the most recent and relevant case studies, insights and product updates. MPG Academy and MPG’s Analytics & Intelligence Dashboards are two new offerings we’re excited to share – both designed to help you drive more revenue with smart marketing investments.

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INSIGHTS

A smart strategic play: growing subs revenue

It’s been a fascinating time for the MPG Insights team as we’ve worked with marketing practitioners to get to grips with how marketing can make the best impact in these times. In May’s expert-led webinar we focused on marketing to grow revenue by acquiring new subscribers. About 25% of organisations that tuned in don’t currently have a subscriptions product but are looking to create a subscriptions model for their digital events.

Achieving strong audience engagement – in a very crowded space

We’re heading into a time like no other: the world will be awash with virtual events. In Standing out from the virtual conference crowd: MPG’s top 10 tips we’ve shared our guide to achieving what is essential: getting a great audience for your events.

If you aren’t measuring it, you can’t improve it

You sprint towards your next virtual event. You breathe a sigh of relief when it’s done. But what have you learnt? Apart from how the tech worked, did you gather the data you needed to work out the marketing formula that will drive good attendance to your next virtual event? How to get more intelligence into your marketing for a stronger ROI is a must-read for every business leader.

One of MPG’s biggest investments over the years has been in developing a marketing measurement dashboard ‘like no other’. It draws together key data points and delivers the kinds of insights that these days you cannot do without when marketing events, subscriptions and delivering lead generation campaigns for clients. Read our blog to see why we’ve done this.


STORIES

MPG Stories will continue to share real-world marketing case studies in what seems to be an ever-popular webinar format. Our next big MPG Story will be livestreamed in July 2020 – stay tuned!

MPG Insights

SEE ALL EVENTS


CASE STUDY

Social Media Week’s Virtually Unstoppable

As you may know, MPG is the marketing partner for Social Media Week. As such, we worked with the Social Media Week team to develop the marketing strategy for their ground-breaking virtual event: #SMWONE. In executing this strategy together, we learnt some valuable lessons we’re happy to share here.

    • Content marketing was more important than ever. The audience needed familiarity with the new virtual format to truly understand its benefits. The #SMWONE Show achieved just that. Hosted weekly in the run up to the main event, the show helped the event community know what to expect. Previews of content via speaker interviews provided real value, and the show doubled as a chance for the Social Media Week team to iron out any technical kinks. The #SMWONE Show was a top generator of leads and proved that content really is king.
    • Ensuring a strong attendance relies on ‘heavy’ conversion marketing. The online nature of the event (which means no commitments like travel and accommodation) meant a big effort was needed to encourage registrants to attend. MPG focused on a dedicated conversion strategy, with a multi-armed approach that included email, social, PPC and SMS and various automated notifications (like session reminders). This activity ran throughout the event and was critical in keeping the audience engaged, the discussions energised – and sponsors happy!
    • Selling tickets during a virtual event delivers incremental revenue. The extended timeline of the event, and on-demand nature of the content, created the opportunity for ticket sales to continue far into – and even beyond – the event date. The price point was reduced at intervals throughout the event to encourage these late ticket sales, with dedicated email and PPC campaigns highlighting the chance to buy these tickets and the savings available. FOMO kicked in and the ticket revenue kept coming..
    • Marketing measurement is essential. The marketing approach was adjusted regularly based on learnings gathered from MPG’s data-rich marketing performance reports. Having a strong grip on this intelligence helped boost the tactics to achieve a successful outcome.

HEAR THE FULL STORY

We look forward to continuing our journey with the Social Media Week team and hope to share more of what we learn as we go along!

MPG Newsletter June 2020
MPG Newsletter June 2020

VOICES

MPG has done a great job introducing and embedding better digital and data-led marketing practices into our business, meaning we can now target and engage our audience much more effectively. We really like MPG’s transparent and ROI-focused approach. Their regular analysis and intelligence reporting on marketing activity and performance is quite unique and has delivered a lot of value to our business.”

Alex Williamson, Co-Founder & CEO, Bio Market Insights

BioMarketInsights


There is great hardship in the world today. We are in a unique time where revival, reconfiguration and reinvention of almost every industry and institution is underway.

The positivity, dedication, creativity and innovation MPG’s clients and wider community have demonstrated is truly inspiring.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us. Enjoy the sunny summer days. Remember to breathe – deeply. And let’s crack on!

Topics:

Growing revenue by acquiring new subscribers: here’s how the experts do it

The world has seen a significant increase in demand for valuable business information and intelligence in all sectors as senior executives face new challenges and opportunities arising from Covid-19’s impact.

In our recent webinar, Expert Panel Discussion: Marketing to Accelerate Acquisition of New Subscribers, Carolyn Morgan of Speciall Media chaired a discussion between Jonathan Perry, Global Marketing Director at PEI Media, Olivia Jones, Head of Membership Marketing at Procurement Leaders, and MPG’s own Helen Coetzee.

WATCH REPLAYGET WEBINAR INSIGHTS

Attendees gained practical advice on developing and growing a subscriptions service via PEI Media and Procurement Leaders’ real-world experience in developing high-performance subscriptions and membership products.

Here are 5 key learnings from the webinar:

1. Free trials can have a negative effect

Procurement Leaders’ experiment with free trials for their membership resulted in an increase in lost opportunities. The issue? The structure of PL’s service meant free access to the website alone did not showcase the full range of benefits the membership offers. Careful analysis of the marketing and sales data meant Procurement Leaders were able to rapidly move on to more effective promotional methods, where they discovered…


2. Events are excellent platforms for promoting subs products

Offering prospects free passes to their customer events proved successful for Procurement Leaders. Visitors were able to network with existing members, providing powerful and authentic word of mouth accounts on the benefits of the product.

Events can also act as a showcase for subscriptions and membership products, providing a sample of the valuable intelligence, data and connections the service provides year-round.


3. Automation is key

Both PEI Media and Procurement Leaders find value in marketing automation for their subscriptions and memberships. From automated lead-scoring (based on level of engagement) to enable highly-targeted and relevant comms, to a series of automations that convert leads from cold to hot, both companies understand the near limitless potential of marketing automation.


4. Lead nurturing is a calculated process

Procurement Leaders’ point-based lead scoring model enables real-time reporting and analysis and a deeper understanding of their audience. The two bases of scoring, demographic and behaviour, ensure only the most relevant and interested parties are targeted with comms. Mapping the score model against the sales funnel allows rapid identification of any dips or spikes. This process means leads are nurtured effectively and sales teams are fed the optimal number of hot leads.


5. Business growth requires marketing growth

PEI Media found their strategy of spreading marketers across their events, subs and other products was not feasible as their business grew. The specific requirements and complexities of each format meant specialised teams had to be formed.

Increased digitisation created further demand for specialist skills. A dedicated operations team was given responsibility for martech and automations, while a team of product marketers were tasked with handling brands, customers and lead and sales targets.

Procurement Leaders found giving the same marketers responsibility for both subscriber acquisition and retention led to better outcomes, as marketers were able to develop a deeper understanding of their customers.


WATCH REPLAYGET WEBINAR INSIGHTS

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our latest webinar, and those catching up on the valuable insights now.

If you need support in marketing your subscriptions or membership, make sure you contact MPG to hear how we help the world’s leading B2B community brands grow their subscribers, audiences, businesses and revenue.

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