As a Chief Digital Officer with an organisation that builds and manages corporate websites, I often have a bird’s eye view in seeing the challenges many companies, business leaders and other CDOs are facing when it comes to keeping up with the latest technology and building a purposeful corporate website that meets both the growing demands of the business and the challenges of engaging with an increasingly diverse group of stakeholders.
One of the major challenges facing organisations today is to reach and engage with these stakeholder audiences. The multitude of channels, explosive growth of global communications and social media have all shifted the balance of power away from the corporate to the stakeholder. Your corporate website is now regarded as the ‘destination’ for corporate information. It is the one place all of your diverse stakeholders visit, and is the perfect opportunity for you to clearly articulate your corporate story coherently and compellingly. As a result, companies are recognising it as one of their most important communications channels.
For the past four years we have been analysing and assessing how well FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies are exploiting their corporate websites to better communicate their corporate story. Our analysis draws on best practice, and the latest trends in content and user experience through the lenses of corporate narrative, investor engagement, sustainability, employees and careers, and media. In this time we have seen websites transformed from static repositories of information to become dynamic, interactive and engaging destinations for all stakeholder groups. What’s clear is that companies have recognised the power of digital and have invested in their corporate sites to get them fit for tomorrow’s digital world.
There are a number of foundations or ‘building blocks’ that come together to form your corporate story. Your purpose, business strategy and business model, your performance, leadership and governance structures can all be linked together to communicate who you are, why you are in business and what you do.
In addition to providing ‘basic’ investor information; such as share price calculator, financial calendar, an RNS feed and contact details; a truly engaging investor section includes a strong investment proposition, detailed financial summaries and materials from investor events. Limited access to such content could be taken as lack of transparency, and could therefore damage your relationships with investors in the long run.
One key development revealed this year is the continued increase in corporate websites clearly providing archives of webcasts, investor presentations and greater transparency to investors through new technologies, allowing them to ‘amplify’ the company’s activities and corporate story, including:
- 98% of the FTSE 100 and 96% of the FTSE 250 provide access to investor presentation materials
- 84% of the FTSE 100 include an archive of webcasts
- 89% of FTSE 100 companies regularly update their website with recent news stories or press releases
While different stakeholder communities have different needs and concerns, the media section of a corporate website serves as one of the easiest and quickest ways to gauge companies’ transparency for all viewers. Companies are expected to communicate a variety of content – from sustainability, employee stories to industry-specific news and updates – to address stakeholders’ diverse interests – from investors, journalists to employees. For those time-compressed audiences, news articles and images should be easy to find, share and utilise.
While there have been strong future developments, there are still missed opportunities for FTSE corporate website owners. Our research shows that while more content is being socialised, there is a slight decrease in the frequency of video and image libraries on corporate websites, with the FTSE 100 now scoring 52% (down 9% from last year) and 36% (down 5% from last year) respectively. In addition to a more robust transparency to shareholders on the corporate website, trends on the rise from last year’s results indicate an increase in both news-oriented information and sustainability focused content, both of which are increasingly important to the millennial generation and a wider variety of stakeholders:
- 79% of the FTSE 100 now provide their specific sustainability commitments– this is up a dramatic 20% from 2017
- A robust 69% of the FTSE 100 now include news, think-pieces and blogs to evidence their market leadership. This has increased by 14% from 2017
- 74% of the FTSE 100 publish information relating to stakeholder engagement– up 10% from 2017
In short, a great website requires the perfect blend of two vital ingredients: compelling content and exceptional experience. As people are always on the move, your audiences expect the same digital experience across all devices and browsers. An effortless user experience requires a consistent look and feel, concise and focused copy and easy-to-use navigation, as well as interactive features and elements that make the content engaging and easy to access. Whether it is your prospective investors or your employees, stakeholders tend to decide if they can ‘trust’ you based on their first impressions and overall experience of your website.
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