The idea of data is really exciting for most publishers. There is no question of the potential it holds for gaining greater insight into an audience and more effectively tailoring content and advertising into truly individualized offerings.

One of the first steps is boosting traffic, but then, how well are you using your data to target your audience for trials and how many conversions result from savvy data use?

The truth is a lot of BtoB publishers aren’t quite there yet. Why?

Some publishers cite difficulty integrating their data sources with sales software—even though data integration is one of the most widely applied and best understood integration scenario out there.

Other publishers talk about the challenges of getting their sales team to think more digitally. Many still aren’t fully making the leap from the print mentality. So, let’s talk basic steps to start:

1)   Experiment with your Paywall. Of course, when you first think of a paywall, you are thinking about the direct revenue you generate from it, but data is definitely a perk. Think about all the data (information) that subscribers provide to you. Not only does it help you segment and target more effectively, it gives you data worth sharing with advertisers.

Consider Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI): They collected behavioral data from their website, first to test out their paywall and decide how many free offerings filtered audience members into the subscriber realm. Their traffic increased, and now they are seeing more conversions from fewer trials, with an increase in revenue of more than 22%.

2)   Look for the Meaning in Your Data. The key to finding meaningful data is to cast a wide net, then cinch it up. Start with as many data points as possible, in order to get a comprehensive picture of your audience. This means using a combination of declared data (that which is your audience voluntarily shares through registrations, surveys, etc.) and observed data (that which comes from anonymous audience members performing various tasks/behaviors on your site). Of course, your data should include social media behavior and shopping cart behavior as well.

Next, you need to look for patterns that create a meaningful link between what you are offering (or want to offer) and the interests, needs, perspectives, and intentions of your audience. This is the point at which you sort out the likely buyers/readers from the “maybes” and unlikely readers. Spend your energy on those who are likely to bite and buy. Be as specific in the questions you ask of your data as you can. Specific questions yield specific, more powerful, targeted answers.

These are just two natural first steps towards applying your data for targeting. From these efforts, you gain more traffic and conversions and also gain the ability to target your content more effectively.

NGI has seen the second tier benefits of these simple efforts with increased ancillary product sales and data sales.  They’ve leveraged data to gain more subscribers and used additional data to provide more valued content/products (=revenue) to those audience members.

As a BtoB publisher, have you taken these steps? If not, what are the obstacles for you?