Congratulations to HSJ who are the winners of Best Online Media Property or Brand: B2B 2017
The Elevator Pitch
HSJ took the calculated risk to move from an advertising-dependent magazine to a digital intelligence service, used by the NHS to improve care and by suppliers to enhance their relationship with the service.
In 2016 HSJ completed this bold transformation through (a) product launches, (b) high subscription growth from orgs and a reduction in churn from individual subscribers, (c) industry shaping coverage, and (d) massive increase in digital engagement. This led HSJ to announce it would exit print in mid-2017, after 125 years.
The value created through this strategy was reflected in the £19m paid for HSJ by Wilmington.
Set The Scene
The major challenges we faced included:
a) Repositioning the brand over time, from a place to ‘read industry gossip and find a job’, for which an annual
subscription of around £200 was appropriate, to an enterprise-wide intelligence provider, able to command five
figure subscription prices.
b) As part of this, surviving a radical change in our revenue mix, growing subscriber revenues quickly (see Results) as recruitment revenues declined (in 2016, recruitment volumes in the whole market for senior health jobs fell 30% YoY).
c) Finding a product that would increase the digital engagement of those subscribers still using print.
d) Selling the benefits of the brand and of digital to renewing subscribers, who faced a price increase of over 25% including 20% VAT as we took them from a print-web package (zero VAT rated) to digital-only packages, knowing that less than 10% of our subscribers expense their subscription.
e) Successfully combining a UK-based team of content experts, with a rapidly growing outsourced team in Mumbai who major on data collection and analysis, and ensuring that despite being geographically remote and outsourced, the Mumbai team feel part of HSJ.
Tell Us The Story
Subscriptions growth was driven by product launches, increases in subscriber engagement and successful migration to digital-only packages.
This was a response to the difficulty NHS leaders have in finding objective sources of best practice, with many
resorting to Google. To solve this, we took all shortlisted and winning entries to HSJ’s awards, and used the Mumbai team to summarise entries, pull out key information, create a searchable database and an easily usable taxonomy.
The result, HSJ Solutions, has 1,500 case studies so far and constitutes the largest available resource of proven NHS best practice.
HSJ has the largest team of NHS experts in the information space – with twice as many correspondents as the BBC.
In 2016 these experts launched weekly expert briefings, emailed directly to subscribers – meaning subscribers do not have to visit hsj.co.uk. These concentrated doses of intelligence are now consumed by all but of a handful of HSJ subscribers.
Ending a weekly magazine after 125 years of publication required careful handling. Our strategy was to (a) stop any new subscriber acquisitions receiving print from July 2016, (b) migrate existing subscribers to digital-only as they came up for renewal during 2H 2016 by phoning them personally and explaining the rationale behind the move and (c) move to fortnightly print issues in September in readiness for a complete end of the magazine in July 2017. See results below – but so far incredibly successful given the increase in price to the individual subscriber.
Subscription revenues increased 23% in 2016 to £Xm.
Subscription revenues were HSJ’s largest income stream, accounting for 40% of overall revenue, up from 29% in 2015.
Following the launch of HSJ Solutions, we won £Xk in new business with an AOV of £Xk – five times the previous public sector AOV.
The number of subscribers visiting hsj.co.uk each month rose 48% from 9735. From a base of 10%, HSJ now has 25% of subscribers with a firm daily digital habit, and 55% with a weekly one. HSJ’s team dominate social media debate, with the editor followed by 37,000 on Twitter and three other team members with 10,000-plus.
Despite removing the magazine from renewing subscribers and having to charge VAT for digital-only subscriptions, annual subscriber churn fell from 25% to 15%.
HSJ was acquired by Wilmington in January 2017 for £19m - seven times EBITDA.
Best Online Media Property or Brand: B2B 2017 sponsored by Vibrant