Addressing investors and analysts
Corporate websites, especially those of global corporations, are designed to fulfil multiple roles including serving the needs of many different audiences.
Current and potential investors and analysts are primary audiences for corporate websites. As a result, investor relations teams work hard making digital content available to meet the needs of private and institutional investors.
But it can be tough to know if the combination of content, design, information architecture and navigation implemented in a website’s investor relations section is effective.
So, it is important to periodically re-assess a corporate website’s IR section to identify changes that would improve how well investor and analyst needs are being met.
Measuring and assessing websites
At the end of October 2020, we completed an assessment exercise that identified the top 20 corporate websites from a group of 200 global corporations. Our assessment measured three components of effective online presences. The strength of the underlying platform along with website communication and audience effectiveness. Our evaluation framework generates an overall quantitative measure, which we call digital eQ (effectiveness Quotient). In the October review Unilever, Philips and 3M took the top three places in our assessment, as measured by their digital eQ scores.
To ensure our assessments produce actionable insights, we break each of the three digital eQ components into sub-groups. Within the audience component we evaluate how well the relevant sections of the corporate website address five distinct audience segments: customers, suppliers/partners, career seekers, the media and investors. In practice, corporate websites focus more on the latter three sub-groups, so we up weight these sub-groups within our overall evaluation. Corporate websites typically steer customers, suppliers and partners to content or sub-sites specifically designed to meet their needs.
Online investor relations effectiveness
Our assessment of online investor relations effectiveness examined three elements of meeting the needs of investor audiences.
First, we evaluated the resources made available to investors (for example, financial results, investor presentations, recordings of events, etc.) and the degree to which navigation to the available resources is both prominent and unambiguous.
Second, we assessed the ease with which investors and analysts can keep up to date with new developments through press releases, social media notifications or changes to online content.
Third, we examined whether a site’s investor relations section provided clear and distinct paths for analysts, institutional investors and private investors to complete online tasks or find information. In effect, we evaluated how well sites further sub-divide their audiences and in recognition of any differences provided suitably tailored content or navigation to complete tasks specific to those sub-segments.
Our overall digital eQ rating has a maximum score of 1,600. Within the audience component, investor relations is assessed out of a maximum value of 160. As Chart 1 shows, the range of scores is narrow (134-108) and has a median value of 128:
Recommendations for action
A primary role of a corporate website's investor relations section is to manage 'contact' with investor audiences. However, many sites choose to hide their investor relations professionals’ contact details, forcing potential institutional investors and analysts to dig into past financial releases to gather email addresses, direct telephone numbers or other contact details.
Recommendation one: Make it simple for investors, analysts (and journalists) to reach you, by providing specific, unambiguous contact details.
Significant amounts of time can elapse between website re-designs. During those periods, audience needs evolve and new website design best practices can come into being. Staying current with audiences means regularly engaging with website visitors.
Recommendation two: To know what visitors are actually trying to do when they visit an investor relations section, use short, focused online surveys to gather high-quality feedback.
Web analytics data usually shows most corporate website visits are from end users on desktop devices, so they are likely sitting at monitors that accurately render most website content. But visitors arriving via engagement with social media content or email links are more likely to be using mobile devices.
In evaluating a number of investor relations sections, we found numerous examples of site content that did not display correctly on mobiles or tablets.
Recommendation three: It is a small and worthwhile investment of time to ensure content works properly on mobile devices. Moreover, mobile-friendly content improves SEO.
Please be in touch with questions or if you'd like more details: info(at)eqafy.com