Best Practice

Retention trumps acquisition: Why you must focus resources on increasing per account value

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While many market analysis firms pursue a growth strategy centred around customer acquisition, firms that focus on the retention of existing customers will reap the most rewards…

A change of mindset

When asked, “what is the best way to grow your market analysis business?”, most leaders’ default answer is: “by acquiring more customers, obviously.”

Despite this, acquiring customers is a resource drain. It costs up to 5x more to acquire a customer than retain an existing one.

Many market analysis publishers still believe that the path to sustained growth lies in increasing customer numbers. Growth is integral to any subscription business, but retention is frequently neglected as firms allocate disproportionate resources to prospecting and attracting new customers.

The best way to ensure retention? Increase the value of not just your content but also the perceived value of your company as an entity. To do this, analyst firms must start growing per-account value (PAV) by offering membership services outside their business-as-usual sales of reports and subscription plans.

Once you realise the value of your customers, you will see increased ROI, less subscriber churn, and fewer commercial overheads.


1. Sell analyst time

Selling analyst time is a commonly under-utilised asset. Consider your customer journey: a subscriber purchases a report or subscription plan and then consumes the relevant information. After that, they may use key findings in their research or presentation. But that’s it – the account’s value creation ends there.

Offering analyst time alongside the sales of reports opens a new revenue stream. It may be a half-hour call to discuss the intricacies of the analyst’s conclusions or to get more insight into a particular chart or dataset. Either way, this time is billable.

Billable analyst time not only increases revenue, it also enhances the authority of your analyst team and, consequently, your company in the eyes of your subscribers. In today’s complex world, consumers crave validation that their digital information is genuine and trustworthy. In fact, 58% worry about misinformation. Assuage these fears by putting a face to the analyst’s name (and the information) and increase chances of retention.

2. Offer consulting deliverables

A consequence of selling analyst time is increased commissions for bespoke consulting projects. Informative discussions with expert analysts improve the chances of new advisory opportunities arising. For example, a Content Catalyst customer once secured a $300,000 consulting project following an ‘Ask the Analyst’ enquiry through the platform.

Consultancy projects are a hugely effective way of increasing PAV. Due to their bespoke nature, high prices are considered the norm. Of course, compared to offering short analyst sessions over the phone, it is more labour-intensive as your team must conduct research and compile an accompanying document or presentation. However, the increase in PAV makes it well worthwhile.

Again, offering bespoke, personal deliverables enhances content authority. Demonstrating your ability to understand your subscriber’s world naturally increases the value they see in your services and helps you transition from content seller to trusted knowledge-sharing partner.

3. Specialist data provisions

Data visualisation tools offer huge potential to grow PAV. The global market is predicted to double by 2027; eventually reaching $19.2 billion in total value. Its projected growth highlights strong appetite for this content format amongst information consumers.

Data visualisation products can be sold as additional modules outside of subscribers’ standard subscription packages, making it an easy upsell opportunity that increases PAV.

In addition, this data format creates a more compelling value proposition. Risk Leadership Network has incorporated Power BI into their instance of the Content Catalyst platform, which, their Head of Product Tom Byford explains, has overcome the challenge of selling networking as a core concept of their membership proposition: “As a concept, it’s not very tangible, which can make it challenging for people to justify funding.”

“If you can present to your superiors that as part of this package you get access to tools that will save time and money, it’s a far more tangible benefit. Although it’s a relatively small part of what we do, in terms of the pitch, it adds an element that makes it easier for people to justify membership.”

Information providers that offer a more varied, multifaceted service strengthen their value proposition. By providing consumers with high-value, easily understandable data alongside other services, you will see increased retention rates, revenue, and PAV.

4. Workshops + training

While your events strategy may already include webinars, a great way of further strengthening your value proposition and increasing PAV is by offering interactive, ‘in-house’ events. By only inviting customers, these aim to foster a sense of community within your membership rather than increasing new business opportunities and lead gen.

Offering paid workshops or training days that focus on a specific issue or niche is a great way to engage and introduce like-minded customers to one another. These could be held virtually or in person depending on client geographical bases. If, for example, your clients bond over the workshop you have run and this develops into a strong business or personal relationship, they will attribute this connection to the activity of your company.

PAV growth strategies boost revenues and improve the perception of your company’s value among your subscribers – not just because of your informative content but also due to the wide range of valuable membership services you provide.

Increase PAV, increase value prop

As we have seen, PAV is a powerful metric. It denotes the value you extract from your existing customer base and demonstrates growth is not only achieved via costly acquisition strategies.

Another consequence of growing PAV is not as simple as growing revenues: it also increases the value subscribers see in the service you provide. This, in turn, ensures continued retention.

Shifting mindset from simply selling reports and subscriptions to offering a human element to your analysis with personalised deliverables, 1-on-1 conversations, and, most importantly, creating a sense of community among your subscribers and analysts transforms your value proposition.

Think of this concept within the context of sports clubs: people join to play their favourite sport but stay because of the people they meet there.

If subscribers feel a personal attachment or involvement with your company and its membership, they will be certain to continue choosing your services over other ‘traditional’ content providers.

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