Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Optimizing eContent Sales: 5 Strategies for Monetizing Content

Targeted promotions and content bundle upsells are two ideas to test in optimizing sales.
This is the third in a series of blog posts based on our webcast, "10 Factors to Consider when Developing your Digital Publishing Strategy." You can still watch it in its entirety here:
View the Webcast
So far we have talked about the importance of understanding your audience and whether or not to sell direct. Today, we investigate the various monetization strategies publishers utilize. 
The entire publishing industry has been experimenting with pricing and delivery models, from the Netflix-like subscription services offered by Oyster and Scribd, to bundling of ebooks with print editions, to chapter-at-a-time sales and more. Yet no single pricing model has emerged. 
What does that tell publishers? It means that you need the flexibility to experiment with your pricing strategy and adapt quickly to market fluctuations and demands. You will need a commerce and delivery solution that supports experimentation and a wide variety of pricing options.
Before you get started, you'll need to ask:
  • Do we need different pricing depending on customer type?
  • Will we offer discounts and promotions?
  • What pricing strategies do we want to experiment with? 
  • Will we be selling internationally and need to support multiple currencies?

Let's examine 5 Strategies for Monetizing Content:

  1. Free + Paid Combo - Some publishers, like Orca Book Publishers (see Orca case study), offer a combination of free and paid content. Free content can include free trials, free sample chapters, or just a subset of content that is always free with premium content that is monetized. Ideally, you want a delivery system like Tizra that is equipped to handle all pricing models within a single platform.
  2. Subscriptions - Subscriptions come in different forms. Associations such as ARL (see ARL case study), might offer monthly subscriptions to journals or newsletters to members, including libraries and other institutions. While educational publishers like Gibbs-Smith want to offer classroom subscriptions for shared access, as well as individual subscriptions for teachers. 
  3. Content Packaging - Having the ability to unbundle and remix content provides publishers with a great deal of flexibility when it comes to creating content packages that are appealing for different customers. Publishers could deliver one chapter-at-a-time, blend together relevant journal articles and e-books, or create content packages for specific curricula. HighWire Press uses Tizra to offer both journals and e-books through its Folio product (see HighWire Press Release.)
  4. Tiered Pricing - Some publishers, especially associations, want to offer different pricing tiers dependent on set factors such as one price for members vs. non-members. These types of marketing strategies demonstrate the value of membership for associations like IASP and AAOS.
  5. Coupon and Redemption Codes - Many publishers, like OEM Health Information (see case study), utilize coupon codes to run promotions for new or targeted content. Others, like Goodheart-Wilcox (see case study), manage customer access through redemption codes.
All of these strategies are valid, and effective, depending upon your audience. Our suggestion to publishers is to experiment with various strategies and offer your customers multiple ways to purchase your content. By offering this flexibility you have agility to adapt and meet the needs of multiple customer types -- thereby maximizing your monetization. 
Tizra's digital publishing platform is well-suited to handle all of these pricing strategies and provides the flexibility and control you need, within your own site, supporting your own brand. To learn more, contact us today.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Case Study: Orca Book Publishers Unifies its Digital Offerings Using the Tizra Platform


"We needed to find a way to keep all our of customers together on the same site,"
--Melanie Jeffs, Director of Digital Products, Orca Book Publishers

Download the Case Study

Orca, a Canadian-based publisher of award-winning books for children, teens and reluctant readers, used to maintain separate websites and e-commerce platforms for its various digital offerings. The company had its free teaching resources under its own domain, separate e-commerce stores for the U.S. and Candian booklists, and a third site supporting paid subscriptions to its Text2Reader language arts resources. Maintaining these disparate platforms was a headache and didn't provide a smooth customer experience.
"We needed to find a way to keep all our of customers together on the same site," said Melanie Jeffs, Director of Digital Products at Orca.
After closely examining a number of different e-commerce solutions, Orca selected the Tizra Digital Publishing Platform because it offered:
  • The ability to mix paid and free content within the same platform
  • Support for partitioning off subscriber-only content
  • Remixing capabilities to support creation of new product offerings from existing content
  • Simple management for updating publications and web pages
"The Tizra Platform was the best solution for our needs, providing all the features we needed -- making it possible to keep the same branding and site design across our online properties," continued Jeffs.
Orca was able to implement the Tizra-hosted teacher resource site and easily update it once their new overall site design was finalized. Since implementing the Tizra platform, Orca's digital revenues are already growing and they are enjoying the simplicity and flexibility of the Tizra platform including:
  • Support for multiple content formats including MP3 audiobooks, Text2Reader subscription content, PDF ebooks, and free teacher resources
  • Mobile responsive design templates to ensure the site looks beautiful on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones
  • Opportunities to segment and remix content allowing for sampling and free content delivery
  • Promotional capabilities enable Orca to create special offer codes for subscribers
  • Fast and easy content uploading
  • Simple in-house management of content and commerce capabilities
Learn more about Orca's implementation of the Tizra Publishing Platform and what they are doing next by downloading the case study today!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

AAOS & IASP: A Bit More Than the Obligatory Launch Announcement

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the International Association for the Study of Pain launched eBook sites on Tizra almost simultaneously.











Site launch announcements tend to be a bit like high school football coverage in small-town papers: The only people who pay attention are the players and their families. We think today's news is a little different, though. It involves two very prestigious organizations with similar goals going live on Tizra almost simultaneously, and as a result, serves to emphatically highlight some trends of broad interest in professional publishing.

Why did both the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the International Association for the Study of Pain choose now to go-live with eBook portals on Tizra? Each had their reasons, but a few common threads...

  • Both view delivering value to, and building relationships with, members as mission critical, and therefore wanted a digital publishing platform that would help them understand and optimize every facet of those relationships.
  • Both view their digital publications as an integral part of the value they provide, and therefore want them to be an integral part of the websites through which they connect with their communities.  Tizra made the experience seamless.
  • Both had prior investments in different association management software packages, and needed a publication platform that would integrate with them to provide easy single sign-on access, and a personalized experience for their members.
  • Both wanted solutions that would make their publications discoverable by a wider audience, helping to expand their communities.
  • Both know it's crucial to keep up with rapid change in the ways their communities are consuming information...and needed a solution that could evolve along with them. 
So yes, this is a launch announcement.  But we hope you agree, it's also a sign of some bigger things that bear watching!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Text-to-Speech Options Offer Access to a Broader Market

ReadSpeaker Logo
While the opportunities in digital publishing keep growing, so do the challenges. It's no longer enough to get your content online and figure out how to market and sell it. The digital audience is getting broader and more diverse, which means you need to adapt to new ways of consuming content. Helping publishers meet these challenges is Tizra's mission, as demonstrated in recent enhancements like improved mobile supportenhanced online reading, and better ways to deliver digital first-content.

Now we're going a step farther, and adding text-to-speech capabilities through a partnership with ReadSpeaker, the worldwide leader in this area since 1999. Soon, you'll not only be able to reach users across a wide range of devices and platforms through Tizra, but will also be able to reach all levels of reading ability, different learning styles, and users with visual and other disabilities.

This partnership is a great fit not only because ReadSpeaker's commitment to technical excellence and user-centered design matches our own, but because both companies share the belief that the best way to reach the widest audience is through the the web. The web's open standards mean our systems work together easily and smoothly, and offer the best possible compatibility with popular reading devices and platforms.

How it Works
Readers will start the text-to-speech feature by clicking on a Listen button within the Tizra-hosted content, launching the ReadSpeaker keyboard-controlled audio player. ReadSpeaker's natural-sounding text-to-speech is offered in 32 different languages to address all your audiences, and highlights text as it is read to promote better understanding — especially critical for educational and medical publishers.

Text-to-speech features include:
  • Multiple languages and multiple voices per language
  • Customizable reading area, order and speed
  • Text highlighting with customizable colors and segmenting by sentence or word
  • Pronunciation dictionary
  • WCAG 2.0 compliance
By offering text-to-speech capabilities, you'll be able to extend the reach of your online content to audience segments that are otherwise underserved, including those with visual impairments, learning disabilities including dyslexia, as well as reluctant readers and those who simply prefer audio consumption.

Get Text-to-Speech
Text-to-speech is rolling out to current customers over the next two months and will be an available option for all new Tizra customers. Existing Tizra customers can upgrade to incorporate text-to-speech capabilities for their content. Contact Tizra to learn more.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Case Study: ARL Walks the Walk on Accessible Content

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) provides leadership in public and information policy to 125 research and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. A few years ago, in an effort to increase community engagement and reduce costs, ARL made the move from print to digital publications using the Tizra platform.

"Our goal was not just to go e-only, but to get there with enhanced functionality," said Publications Program Officer Lee Anne George.

When evaluating digital publishing platforms, ARL had some critical requirements including:
  • Support for existing publication formats
  • A full e-commerce platform supporting both free and paid content, as well as password- and IP-authenticated access for individual users or entire organizations
  • Mobile responsive design support
  • Full-text searching including relevancy ranking and linking to specific pages in search and social sharing
  • Support for ARL's digital accessibility mandates
After extensive testing, including an extended public beta, ARL Tizra best met their requirements and moved into production starting with its flagship newsletter Research Library Issues.
An important part of the project was to provide open and equitable access to information for those with print disabilities.  "We needed to 'walk the walk' when it came to the accessibility practices we recommend to our members. Tizra's ability and willingness to support our initiatives were an important part of our decision making process," said George.
ARL is strongly committed to providing access to its own web content to people with print disabilities and is currently working to comply with the requirements of W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA (WCAG 2.0 AA). Tizra has worked with ARL to create accessible landing pages for its digital content and is working with ARL in taking additional steps to improve screen reader interpretation, including adding alt text to images, captioning videos, using style settings to define text types, assigning languages and completing metadata.
To learn more about ARL's accessibility initiatives and digital success, download the case study.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Direct or Not? Developing Your Publishing Distribution Strategy

This is the second in a series of blog posts based on our recent webcast, "10 Factors to Consider when Developing your Digital Publishing Strategy." If you weren't able to attend, you can still watch it in its entirety, including the interactive question and answer session here. 

View the Webcast
In the first post of  this series, we talked about the importance of understanding your audience. Today, we turn our attention to another of the most important decisions a digital publisher can make: whether or not to sell direct. As you may have recently read, many large publishers such as HarperCollins, Sourcebooks, and F+W Media, have begun selling digital content direct to consumers through dedicated websites, such as Narnia.com and Pottermore.com, or branded mobile applications. Others are waiting in the wings, but starting to establish direct relationships with consumers through direct marketing and social media.

Of course there are trade-offs to be made, do you cede control and give up a chunk of dwindling profit margins for the reach, scale and time-to-market gained through a channel partner? Before you decide on your digital strategy, let's weigh the pros and cons:

Direct-to-Consumer Digital Sales

  • Relationships -- by selling direct you are able to build a one-to-one relationship with your audience, better understanding their interests, motivations, and preferences.
  • Direct Marketing -- having a direct commercial relationship also enables you to market directly to consumers through email marketing opt-in lists, but also using the storefront to promote new offerings or related content. On the downside, you need to invest more heavily into marketing in the beginning to build these relationships if they are not already established.
  • Profit Retention -- By selling direct, you retain your profits, allowing you to invest in content creation.
  • Control -- when you sell direct, not only do you control the pricing, you also have control over the buying experience and content presentation to support your brand.
  • Flexibility -- there has not yet emerged one clear pricing strategy for digital content sales. By selling direct, you have the flexibility to experiment with pricing, offering options like member pricing, subscriptions, bundling, sampling, promotional codes, and remixing of content, until you find the pricing mix that works best for your audience.
  • Platform Reach -- by offering online content, you can sidestep the limitations of a specific e-reader platform, instead making your content available across desktops, laptops, tablets, e-readers and smartphones.
  • In-house Skills --  if you decide to sell direct, you will need a strong marketing and sales team in-house, and they will need to work closely with your editorial and production teams.  However, it does NOT mean you need to invest heavily in software development or IT infrastructure.  By partnering with a digital publishing platform provider like Tizra, you can focus on strategic tasks like marketing and product development, without reinventing the technology required to sell and deliver your content.
Channel Sales
  • Audience Reach -- the key benefit to channel sales is immediate access to their broad audience reach. That is, if you can pay to rise above the noise in their massive libraries. Presumably, they know their audience well and can suggest your content to targeted audiences. However, you don't get a chance to establish direct relationships with this audience.
  • Revenue Loss -- in return for that reach, big channel players like Amazon and Apple's iBooks keep up to 30 percent of revenue. With falling ebook prices, that is a difficult pill to swallow for many publishers.
  • Limited Control -- working through the channel, you have limited control over the pricing or presentation of your content, limiting your ability to offer different consumption options or promotions to what is supported within the partner's ecosystem.
  • Hands Off -- the purpose of the channel is to provide the reach and the fulfillment, which means you have a hands off approach to commerce, content management, scalability, and customer support. The channel partner "owns" the customer relationship.
Whether you decide to focus on direct sales or continue to prioritize channels it is becoming abundantly clear that all publishers need to find ways to build direct relationships with consumers or risk being disintermediated by powerful retailers who increasingly have designs on publishing themselves. To start, publishers can create opt-in email lists, conduct direct marketing campaigns and build relationships via social media to build a brand beyond a single title or author.

Even the Little Guys Can Sell Direct
While smaller publishers may feel they need to hang back and play follow the leader to watch and learn from larger publishers, it is possible for them to be very successful selling direct if they make the right partnership arrangements. These publishers tend to know their audiences well, and can leverage that knowledge by using pre-established technical infrastructure from a company like Tizra, which lets them go live quickly, and maintain control over their products and promotions.

When, for example, family-owned publisher OEM Health Information, Inc. decided to go digital, they knew they wanted to continue marketing to the audience they had cultivated over thirty years in business. Publisher and President Curtis R. Vouwie turned to Tizra because, "Not only did Tizra's software give us the capabilities and control we were after, but their business model was appealing because it let us retain our profits."

To learn how you can sell direct with the flexibility, control and features you need, contact Tizra today. To learn more about how OEM Health went digital, read the case study.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Case Study: Small Medical Publisher Proves You Don't Have to Be Big to Sell Direct


"We were most comfortable with Tizra because of their personal approach. As a small company, we wanted a close relationship with a company that provides the same level of support we deliver to our customers." 
-- Curtis R. Vouwie, President and Publisher, OEM Health Information, Inc.
Download the Case Study

OEM Health Information, Inc. is a small company with an outsized presence in its field.  They have been publishing books on occupational and environmental health topics for over thirty years, and their books are relied on by doctors and nurses who need to be able to access information in a wide range of settings, and have no time for tech hassles.  "We needed an ebook solution that provided simple, reliable access from the clinic or from the road," says President and Publisher Curtis Vouwie.

With a small staff, Vouwie knew he needed outside help in choosing the right digital publishing platform.  He partnered with Laura Fillmore at Open Book Systems (OBS), a publishing services company equipped to help publishers transition to digital. OBS helped OEM determine which titles should be made available in digital form and what capabilities were required in a digital publishing platform. After investigating many options, OBS recommended Tizra.

"It was a very easy decision in the end," says Vouwie. "Not only did Tizra's software give us the capabilities and control we were after, but their business model was more appealing because it let us retain our profits."

Tizra worked quickly to get OEM's ebooks ready in time for an important presentation to over 1,000 physicians. As part of the setup, Tizra also provided web design services, tailoring the look of OEM's Tizra-hosted storefront so it blends seamlessly with their existing website and supports the continued development of OEM's all-important brand. The design also took advantage of responsive techniques to automatically optimize for mobile and tablet users.

After going live, OEM has been able to take a DIY approach to managing its digital storefront, taking advantage of the simplicity and flexibility of the Tizra platform including:
  • Testing new pricing and promotions on the fly.
  • Introducing new products, including digital-only ebooks on niche topics.
  • Keeping content up-to-date without delays from intermediaries.
With the flexibility of the Tizra platform, the company has been able to experiment with new kinds of sales models, including higher-priced subscription options, targeted offers using coupon codes, discounts for multi-title purchases, and downloadable product offerings using Tizra's social DRM watermarking.