A great website that keeps up with trends in technology has never been so essential to the success of an IR program. According to a Rivel Research Group survey of 353 buy-side professionals, 75 percent of the global buy-side says their interest in a company is diminished when the website is poorly designed.
At a basic level, investors must be able to easily access your recent investor presentations, earnings releases, and annual report. But above and beyond these basics, investors expect to feel empowered with choice on how to consume information when they engage with your website. This means including mobile- and video-first approaches to content, social media engagement, and interactive information in your 2017 website review.
If you’re thinking about launching a new IR website or refreshing your existing site, here are some 2017 trends that will keep you ahead of your peers.
Mobile: first and fast
In November 2016, Google made an important announcement about its search engine optimization (SEO) algorithms: mobile-first indexing. According to Google, “our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”
With mobile traffic increasing at rapidly growing rates every year, the importance of a fast and well-designed mobile site can’t be overstated. Earlier this year Google and Twitter also announced Accelerated Mobile Pages, which will strip down HTML on mobile sites to allow for very fast loading. The faster a page loads, the more likely someone will remain on your website – so make sure to include a review of your IR website’s mobile strategy in the new year.
Even more video
Video is not a new trend in IR websites, but it is a constantly evolving one. When 59 percent of executives say they would rather watch video than read text content, it’s important to make sure video is a prominent part of your website infrastructure. Video can no longer be considered an add-on to your communications strategy; 2017 is the year it becomes a standard.
Mobile Iron uses video on their homepage to set the stage for corporate storytelling, then includes a video section that takes investors on a journey through the most important pillars of their narrative. Instead of reading a report, investors have the option to scroll through videos that introduce them to Mobile Iron, then delve into detail about their product and architecture, long-term operating model, recurring business, and more.
Instead of reading a report, give investors the option to scroll through videos that introduce them to your company.
When you use video to tell your corporate story, highlight your corporate social responsibility initiatives, or introduce a new CEO, you’re showing investors you value their time and want to entertain and inform them.
Social media for news
We know that fake news was a main topic of discussion for 2016, but the reality is that social media is now a primary source of (real) news for many people. According to a new survey by Pew Research Center, 62 percent of adults in the U.S. get news on social media, which is up from 49 percent in 2012.
Your social feeds deserve some prime real estate on your IR homepage so that your investors can easily consume your news. Leverage your marketing and communications team to ensure consistent engagement with your investors on social media through news sharing, and then ensure your social feeds are prominently featured on your website. Your website is a crucial tool for encouraging a two-way conversation between you and your investors, and integrating your social media activity will continue to feed that conversation.
Flex integrates social media on their website with a social mashup, which allows for easy scrolling through feeds and sharing directly from their website. When investors can access your social feeds directly from your website, you’re enabling them to share your content with their networks while keeping them engaged with your corporate narrative.
Flex integrates social media on their website with a social mashup.
Digital communications are a two-way street, and your IR website should reflect your desire to have a conversation with your investors. As mentioned above, social media platforms are excellent tools to participate in investor conversations – but so is your website itself.
“Why Invest” pages are seeing an increase in demand for IR websites, because they are a great way to highlight your company’s key metrics using dynamic charts and graphs. Kinross Gold uses their Why Invest page to provide potential investors with a quick overview of important KPIs that may influence an investor’s decision to take up a position in their stock. They feature trading metrics, growth opportunities, and sustainable mining initiatives with dynamic charts and graphs, to allow for an easy breeze through the information.
Dynamic tools and feeds that help investors interact with your information will boost engagement and functionality on your website.
Kinross Gold uses their Why Invest page to provide potential investors with a quick overview of important KPIs that may influence an investor’s decision to take up a position in their stock.
Corporate social responsibility
Your website’s main function is to tell investors who you are. Your corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives highlight your company’s position as an influencer who can effect change. Millennial investors are becoming more interested in sustainable development activities, so showcasing CSR initiatives prominently on your website is an important part of attracting a new generation of investors.
When you include corporate social responsibility as a main part of your story, you’re hitting several communications pillars:
- Public relations: CSR makes for great news.
- Talent recruitment: Potential employees are attracted to companies that influence positive change.
- Brand awareness: CSR creates positive associations with your brand that your investors will want to share on their social media feeds.
Many investors view your company’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) data within metrics published by a variety of sources. There is more to your company’s investment story than just financial metrics, and using your website to speak to your company’s CSR story can be a great asset for your corporate communications and IR efforts.
Showcasing CSR has been more of a trend overseas than in North America, but 2017 will see a surge in CSR in the United States and Canada. Winner of the 2016 Web Award for Best Investor Relations Website Gazprom Neft, based in Russia, devotes a tab to their corporate social responsibility initiatives, to show investors their involvement in sustainable development, employee engagement, and support of professional sports.
According to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five adults in the United States has a disability. While accessible websites are not a new trend, public consciousness has caught up with regulations put into place a few years ago, and more investors will expect that your website is accessible to everyone.
As our population ages, it will be important to ensure your IR website is accessible to both people living with a disability and seniors, through options for large print and text to speech. Easy readability is key, so that users can seamlessly see and hear content. It’s also important to make all functionality available from a keyboard, and maximize your website’s compatibility with assistive technologies. For more information on how to make your website accessible, ask your website service provider or review ADA or WCAG compliance guidelines.
Gain an advantage over your peers. When you incorporate even just two or three of these trending elements into your IR website, you’ll be ensuring your investors remain up-to-date with the most cutting-edge tools available.
For more inspiration, check out the winners of the 2016 WebAward for Best Investor Relations Websites.