Top 20 most effective corporate digital estates

group of communications professionals working on website updates
group of communications professionals working on website updates

Measuring corporate digital estate effectiveness

Every working day at global corporations, digital professionals work to tell compelling stories, market brands, run campaigns, help audiences access relevant content and build sites to support suppliers, customers and other business relationships.

And, in embracing digital content global corporations have built complex digital estates comprising thousands of interconnected social media accounts, websites, subsites and microsites for different audiences.

But, in the midst of complexity and constant content updates it is tough to know if digital estates and their websites are actually effective. Do they meet audience needs? Do they communicate an organisation’s key messages? Do they use leading design and development practices?

To answer those questions (and more), we’ve developed an assessment methodology to measure digital estate effectiveness. We call it, eQ (effectiveness Quotient).

To see how it works we’re reporting on an eQ assessment exercise we ran across 200 global corporations with complex, multi-country, multi-brand operations. To really test our approach, we ranked the 200 corporations by digital estate complexity, using our software to map and tally the digital estates.

We then turned our attention to the twenty corporations with the biggest, most complex digital estates, concentrating on their group/corporate websites for detailed assessment and ranking.

Each group/corporate website was assessed on how well it communicates, for a communication score (out of 600), how well it addresses its audiences, for an audience score (out of 600) and the strength of its implementation for a platform score (out of 400). A website can have a maximum eQ of 1,600.

Here’s what we found.

The top 20 most effective corporate digital estates

Each scorecard shows a website’s overall eQ as well as the split of the platform, communication and audience scores. Hover over a relevant doughnut chart to reveal the composition of the total score. Select a tab to sort the scores by platform, communication or audience.

The platform, communication and audience scores each comprise five further sub-elements. We discuss these below. Overall, we assess over 100 distinct factors in evaluating a website’s eQ.

About twenty percent of the assessment factors are measured directly from data our software gathers from websites. The balance of the assessment requires a mix of experience, expertise and judgement. And, we use a carefully calibrated scoring framework to provide assessment reliability and consistency.

eQ 1,250

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Household Products

Unilever website screenshot

eQ 1,246

Health Care | Medical Equipment & Devices | Medical Equipment

Philips website screenshot

3

3M

3M logo

eQ 1,243

Materials | Chemicals | Specialty Chemicals        

3M website screenshot

4

Kone logo

eQ 1,231

Industrials | Electrical Equipment | Comml & Res Bldg Equip & Sys

Kone website screenshot

eQ 1,230

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Johnson & Johnson website screenshot

eQ 1,208

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Novartis website screenshot

eQ 1,207

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Beverages

Coca-Cola website screenshot

8

Bayer logo

eQ 1,204

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Bayer website screenshot

eQ 1,201

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Packaged Food

Nestlé website screenshot

10

Merck logo

eQ 1,198

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Merck website screenshot

11

Daimler logo

eQ 1,191

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Daimler website screenshot

11

GSK

GSK logo

eQ 1,191

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

GSK website screenshot

13

BASF logo

eQ 1,190

Materials | Chemicals | Basic & Diversified Chemicals

BASF website screenshot

14

VINCI logo

eQ 1,175

Industrials | Engineering & Construction Svcs | Infrastructure Construction

VINCI website screenshot

15

Roche logo

eQ 1,171

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Roche website screenshot

eQ 1,163

Industrials | Transportation & Logistics | Courier Services

DP DHL Group website screenshot

eQ 1,140

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Groupe Renault website screenshot

18

Pfizer logo

eQ 1,124

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Pfizer website screenshot

eQ 1,117

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

BMW Group website screenshot

eQ 1,096

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Volkswagen Group website screenshot

eQ P 350

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Household Products

Unilever website screenshot

2

Merck logo

eQ P 332

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Merck website screenshot

eQ P 325

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Packaged Food

Nestlé website screenshot

4

Roche logo

eQ P 318

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Roche website screenshot

5

BASF logo

eQ P 313

Materials | Chemicals | Basic & Diversified Chemicals

BASF website screenshot

5

GSK

GSK logo

eQ P 313

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

GSK website screenshot

eQ P 310

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Daimler website screenshot

eQ P 306

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

BMW Group website screenshot

eQ P 306

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Beverages

Coca-Cola website screenshot

eQ P 303

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Volkswagen Group website screenshot

11

Bayer logo

eQ P 298

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Bayer website screenshot

eQ P 298

Industrials | Transportation & Logistics | Courier Services

DP DHL Group website screenshot

eQ P 298

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Novartis website screenshot

14

Philips logo

eQ P 296

Health Care | Medical Equipment & Devices | Medical Equipment

Philips website screenshot

15

3M

3M logo

eQ P 294

Materials | Chemicals | Specialty Chemicals        

3M website screenshot

eQ P 291

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Johnson & Johnson website screenshot

eQ P 290

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Groupe Renault website screenshot

18

Kone logo

eQ P 284

Industrials | Electrical Equipment | Comml & Res Bldg Equip & Sys

Kone website screenshot

19

VINCI logo

eQ P 278

Industrials | Engineering & Construction Svcs | Infrastructure Construction

VINCI website screenshot

20

Pfizer logo

eQ P 271

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Pfizer website screenshot

eQ C 487

Health Care | Medical Equipment & Devices | Medical Equipment

Philips website screenshot

eQ C 484

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Johnson & Johnson website screenshot

eQ C 476

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Packaged Food

Nestlé website screenshot

eQ C 476

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Volkswagen Group website screenshot

5

3M

3M logo

eQ C 475

Materials | Chemicals | Specialty Chemicals        

3M website screenshot

eQ C 475

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Household Products

Unilever website screenshot

eQ C 470

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Beverages

Coca-Cola website screenshot

eQ C 464

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Novartis website screenshot

9

Kone logo

eQ C 462

Industrials | Electrical Equipment | Comml & Res Bldg Equip & Sys

Kone website screenshot

eQ C 458

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Groupe Renault website screenshot

11

Roche logo

eQ C 456

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Roche website screenshot

12

VINCI logo

eQ C 455

Industrials | Engineering & Construction Svcs | Infrastructure Construction

VINCI website screenshot

13

BASF logo

eQ C 452

Materials | Chemicals | Basic & Diversified Chemicals

BASF website screenshot

13

GSK

GSK logo

eQ C 452

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

GSK website screenshot

15

Bayer logo

eQ C 450

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Bayer website screenshot

16

Daimler logo

eQ C 438

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Daimler website screenshot

17

Merck logo

eQ C 434

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Merck website screenshot

eQ C 410

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

BMW Group website screenshot

19

Pfizer logo

eQ C 408

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Pfizer website screenshot

eQ C 404

Industrials | Transportation & Logistics | Courier Services

DP DHL Group website screenshot

1

Kone logo

eQ A 485

Industrials | Electrical Equipment | Comml & Res Bldg Equip & Sys

Kone website screenshot

2

3M

3M logo

eQ A 474

Materials | Chemicals | Specialty Chemicals        

3M website screenshot

eQ A 463

Health Care | Medical Equipment & Devices | Medical Equipment

Philips website screenshot

eQ A 461

Industrials | Transportation & Logistics | Courier Services

DP DHL Group website screenshot

5

Bayer logo

eQ A 456

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Bayer website screenshot

eQ A 455

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Johnson & Johnson website screenshot

eQ A 446

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Novartis website screenshot

8

Pfizer logo

eQ A 445

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Pfizer website screenshot

eQ A 443

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Daimler website screenshot

10

VINCI logo

eQ A 442

Industrials | Engineering & Construction Svcs | Infrastructure Construction

VINCI website screenshot

11

Merck logo

eQ A 432

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Merck website screenshot

eQ A 431

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Beverages

Coca-Cola website screenshot

13

GSK

GSK logo

eQ A 426

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

GSK website screenshot

14

BASF logo

eQ A 425

Materials | Chemicals | Basic & Diversified Chemicals

BASF website screenshot

eQ A 425

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Household Products

Unilever website screenshot

eQ A 401

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

BMW Group website screenshot

17

Nestlé logo

eQ A 400

Consumer Staples | Consumer Products | Packaged Food

Nestlé website screenshot

18

Roche logo

eQ A 397

Health Care | Biotech & Pharma | Large Pharma

Roche website screenshot

eQ A 392

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Groupe Renault website screenshot

eQ A 317

Consumer Discretionary | Automotive | Automobiles

Volkswagen Group website screenshot
We assess over 120 distinct factors in evaluating a website’s eQ, grouping them into three components: platform, communication and audience scores. Each component further subdivides into five sub-elements.

The table summarises each sub-element's median score. The table should be read as showing accessibility and feedback are areas of website weakness, while addressing investors and career seekers are areas of strength.

Top 20 most effective corporate digital estates

Relative performance of the 15 corporate website effectiveness factors

Strong

Average

Weak

Platform

Communication

Audience

Performance

Social Media

Customers /
Future Students

User Experience

Community

Investors /
Alumni

Accessibility

Messaging

Media

Data Governance

Feedback

Career Seekers /
Employees

Best Practices

Governance Information

Partners /
Suppliers

How we measure a website's or digital estate's eQ

Our eQ score measures how well websites and digital estates work for their audiences and how well they tell corporate stories.

A website's eQ measures 125 different website facets grouped into three components: platform, communication and audience.

The platform evaluation assesses a site’s:

  • performance
  • user experience
  • content accessibility
  • governance of collected data
  • technical practices

Measuring these website elements helps diagnose user experience concerns and identifies potential barriers impeding effectiveness or the ability to tell corporate stories.

The communication review examines messaging effectiveness, engagement with a corporation's wider stakeholder community and whether a site is measuring visitor activity and feedback about corporate messaging. Specifically, we examine:

  • social media use
  • messaging
  • community engagement
  • how corporate governance issues are addressed and communicated
  • how websites measure visitor activity and how they gather feedback

The audience evaluation examines which audiences a corporation had chosen to address and, for this exercise, how well a corporate/group website addresses its five primary audiences:

  • career seekers
  • customers
  • investors
  • media
  • suppliers/partners

 

In our overall eQ assessment framework we have assigned the platform component a 25% weighting, while the communication and audience components each receive a 37.5% weighting. As the purpose of eQ is to measure how well websites and digital estates work for their audiences and how well they tell corporate stories, these components receive the highest weighting.

The following six elements have the largest individual impact on a website's eQ:

  • user experience
  • community engagement
  • messaging
  • investors
  • media
  • career seekers

Recommendations for more effective corporate digital estates

Make it simple for investors, analysts and journalists to reach you. The investor and media sections of corporate and group websites should provide named contacts. News and financial releases include these details, so excluding them from the relevant webpages just makes more work for prospective investors, journalists and analysts. 

Help your customers, partners and suppliers get in touch. A group or corporate website is a logical place for potential customers, partners and suppliers to find information or track down products and services. Help these audiences find the information they seek by adding prominent directions, menu options or better navigation.

Gather high quality feedback so you can understand visitor intent. Every site we assessed used web analytics to record visitor behaviour and activity. Few had implemented user surveys, so these sites can't understand why visitors came and what they wanted to do. Gather visitor feedback to improve effectiveness.

Make governance, ethics and business conduct information easier to find. Investors, the media, researchers, NGOs, government officials and others want to understand how corporations do business, how they respond to issues and their processes for whistleblowing and reporting ethical violations. Clear navigation to these website sections affirms seriousness and transparency. Make that navigation clearer.

Implement cookie controls that actually work for end users. We size up a lot of websites and most of the cookie management tools we see neither manage nor control. The information provided is too technical for visitors to understand what they are assenting to. There are good tools available for this task: help your visitors by implementing one of them.

6 Digital practices to adopt and improve effectiveness

To remain effective websites need constant attention. They are a process rather than a project. And, they get better by making many incremental, data-informed improvements. Here are six items for follow up, from our assessment notes and observations for the twenty sites with highest eQ.

English can be tricky. We assessed the English language version of each group/corporate website. Some of these sites' content editors have English as their primary language, many don't. The on-page differences are noticeable, with the more effective sites having fewer typographical errors and employing more idiomatic English. Periodic reviews by individuals with English as their primary language would quickly close the gap and boost the end user experience.

Make content easy to read. Organisations from national governments to specialist user experience consultancies have researched leading practices for user experience design. One of these practices covers minimum font sizes. On a desktop screen don’t make the main text smaller than 19px. On a mobile no smaller than 16px. Your site visitors will thank you.

No advertising. No tracking. Group and corporate websites do not exist to directly sell products or services. Brand, campaign, contest websites, sites with content designed for specific markets have those roles. Pack them with beacons, re-marketing and advertising tags, but take the tags off group websites. When prospective investors or journalists land on a site, there is no need to tell Facebook or DoubleClick.

Talk to your audiences. At the same time as cutting down on the third-party advertising add-ins step up the third-party survey tools. Website content, navigation and effectiveness benefit from user-centred design. You can’t know what audiences want or need to do if you don’t ask them. Start asking them.

Mobile content should work properly.  Web analytics show that most corporate website visits come from desktop users. But, social media users tend to view site content on mobile devices. Spending time to ensure mobile pages work well for end users is a small, but worthwhile investment. We can assure you that in assessing site's eQ we found many examples of site content that did not display correctly on a mobile or tablet device.

It's a big world after all. A number of our top 20 corporations are US-based and this is reflected in their websites. For these corporations, the ‘rest of the world’ appears as a bolt-on rather than a natural extension of the main corporate site. Their web teams would benefit from studying the top-rated European corporate sites to learn about alternative approaches to better serving global audiences.

Next corporate eQ update | January 2021

Our updated top 20 most effective corporate digital estates will appear in January 2021.

In the meantime, we'll be publishing our research recommendations about the issues we uncovered researching and assessing sites for the current top 20 list.

 

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Contacts
North America
 
Europe
 
Locations
North America | Toronto | Canada
 
Europe | Edinburgh | United Kingdom