4 Ways to Communicate More Respectfully with Corporate Website Audiences

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Opportunities to make communication more effective

In our Top 20 most effective corporate digital estates report, we assessed 15 factors influencing corporate website effectiveness. Where effectiveness is measured by how well sites address their audiences and how well they tell corporate stories.

As the chart summarising the overall performance for each of the 15 factors shows, we determined the overall rating of three of the factors as average to weak. Specifically, we assessed Data Governance (privacy, security and cookie practices) as average and Feedback (web analytics, online surveys and chatbots use) and Governance Information (availability and currency of policies, statement and notifications) as weak.

The ranking of the top 20 corporations for the Governance Information factor ranged from 35 out of 50 for Unilever and GSK at the top end to 20 out of 50 for BASF and Novartis at the bottom.

Chart 1: Governance information sub-element scores for the top 20 most effective corporate digital estates as measured by digital eQ

You are potentially disrespecting your audiences

Underperforming in any one of data governance, feedback or governance information diminishes effective communication, but in combination there is a more insidious effect. They convey lack of respect.

Successful relationships with website audiences are founded on respect, and four components aspects, in particular: understanding, integrity, professionalism and trust.

And, the fragility of audience relationships isn’t helped by poor behaviour on and by social media platforms and casual attitudes towards end user data. Both of which serve as reminders of the privacy and security challenges digital content and platforms pose.

Moreover, European (and Californian) data privacy legislation has sensitised website visitors to cookie use and tracking of their digital behaviour and journeys. The legislation should also be sensitising corporations to be more respectful of their audiences. 

4 Actions You Can Take Right Now

As our report’s underlying data shows, there is opportunity to strengthen some of the weaker areas impacting corporate websites and how they communicate with their audiences.

We see four specific actions that digital teams and communications professionals can take to strengthen respect for their audiences.

Understand your audiences. Website design processes involve detailed user discovery exercises to ensure sites will meet audience needs. As time passes end user needs may change. Ongoing surveys and other forms of engagements can measure shifts from original mandates and inform timely updates.

Show integrity. Ask end users for permission before capturing data, loading cookies or handing off information to third parties. A small proportion of the sites we assessed “posted” data to Facebook or third-party advertisers as soon as users landed on the home page. No permission asked. That does not show integrity.

Treat audiences with professionalism. Webpage footers are where visitors expect to find fundamental information about their interactions with a website: cookie statements, privacy policies, GDPR compliance and the like. Make sure all the relevant statements are present (examine your peers’ websites for inspiration), don’t use PDFs (it’s 2020) and date all statements so users know you actually review and maintain these documents.

Create trust. Corporate websites have specific roles and sets of audiences neither of which are bettered by loading trackers, beacons or re-marketing tags when visitors first land on the sites. Strip out the extraneous third-party JavaScript. 

"Ad tech" capabilities belong on other websites within your digital estates, where audiences can reasonably anticipate their use as they buy products, participate in competitions or use coupons.

We welcome questions, comments or observations: info(at)eqafy.com


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