The Corporate Website
When listed companies don’t have a significant online presence using their main brand name, they will often do a single corporate website that addresses the needs of all target audiences.
Typically the major target audience is investors. Target audiences that have similar needs to investors are partners or potential partners, major suppliers, regulators and advisers.
The home page of corporate websites needs to attract and inform the wide range of target audiences, and provide navigation to the most likely next piece of information for each.
Common Corporate Website Sections
Corporate websites need to give a full description of the company and its products and services, as well as the full set of investor features. Corporate sites will contain a complete About Us section, detailing the features of the company itself, its business model, the markets it operates in, its history, directors and management.
The full description of the products and services is also needed in the corporate website. An overall page, perhaps driven by an interesting infographic or map, will provide an overall context, and a number of subsidiary pages will provide all the details of products and services.
The corporate website will contain one or more sections for the full set of investor needs, including news and reports.
There may be other sections such as industry information to meet an education need, or perhaps careers, community etc to meet the needs of other target audiences.
The site should offer an email alerts facility to keep people informed of changes, contact information forms and social media links to encourage engagement.
Investors Know What They Want
When an investor arrives at a listed company website there is a set of basic expectations about what they will find there. If the basics are not available, the investor is left with some doubts – about the facts they were seeking, and perhaps about the credibility of the company.
But they only “know” those basics. A great investor website will provide features that appeal to the investor without them really expecting it. These websites will not only have provided the facts needed, but will have left a great impression.
Basic Investor Needs
IRM has been analysing statistics on web page visits for listed companies for over 10 years. These are the top most visited web pages for the basic investor needs that must be fulfilled:
- The home page – an impressive home page that encourages them to keep looking. Make it easy to invest the next click to pursue the thoughts that brought them to the site. Deliver the key information right there with one more click. Don’t leave them guessing, and don’t assume they will know to keep scrolling done to discover what might be next.
- Who’s running the company. A frequently visited page is the Directors and Management bios. The credibility of management is important for investors in listed companies.
- The Business Summary. A page that clearly states what business the company is in, the industry, its main brands, and why this is a good business to be in, with “more” buttons and links to encourage drilling down. Don’t assume that visitors know anything about the company. If they do, they will still want reminding and links to more explanation about the business on subsequent pages.
- The investor proposition. Why invest? Once they like the business and trust the management, the next decision is whether they should consider an investment now. A clear statement is often presented on the Investor Welcome page, with all the basic information and encouragement to look at the share price and chart, the latest news and reports, and an investor fact sheet which they can print and show to their friends.
- The share price and chart. A frequently visited page. Investors don’t come to the site to see the share price – it’s not the first page they look at. But while they are on the site, a view of the price will assist them to decide about a trade.
- Latest News and Reports. Investors want to know what the current action is, the latest annual report and key ASX Announcements, with them highlighted on the home page and investor welcome page, and always up to date to the minute.
Appealing to Investors
Having all the basics on an investor website is essential. Companies should consider from there, how they can stand out from the crowd – how their site can appeal to investors, give them some pleasant surprises, create an above average impression. Here are a few thoughts from IRM’s client activities over the years:
- Email Alerts. When an investor gets it, they will want to be kept informed about what changes. They won’t remember or know to come back to check again later. They are happy to register for email alerts and be told when the company has information for them. But – they won’t think of this themselves. The site needs to promote and remind investors about this option in many different places so they can take that impulse decision at any point.
- More investor facts. Here are a few to think about. Show the capital structure, the dividend history, the substantial shareholders, the share registry contact details, the corporate directory, and some FAQ’s in case these pages didn’t answer the questions. If there have been corporate transactions in the past, provide pages to summarise them for people who were affected. Investors will look for a corporate calendar to answer simple questions about when – results announcements, meetings, dividends etc. Highlight the upcoming AGM, show the documents relevant to it as they are revealed, encourage voting, and link to the matching pages for earlier meetings. Provide IR contact details for offline contact.
- Designed Investor Fact Sheet. This is about how to impress the very time poor investor or broker adviser. What is the one page that you would like an investor to have looked at before the meeting with you? Do a well set out single page summarising the business, the directors, and the investor proposition. It’s not a re-run of the corporate directory page, it’s a selling document. Make it print well on a single sheet of paper so you can carry copies with you on a roadshow and leave behind on a desk.
- Online Annual Reports. How boring is the 4+mb pdf download? The PDF format is basically for printing on paper, not for showing online. Think about an online version of the latest annual report, features on a separate web page to highlight it, with all previous annual report (pages) available from an archive lists.
- Interactive maps. Present the company’s business in a graphical form linked to a map. Great for some types of businesses – property trusts, diversified miners, service providers.
- Infographics. Show the investor proposition as an infographic or collage of images, which can be interactive and navigate to other places in the site. Or the main businesses if they are represented by well-known brands.
- Interactive History Timeline. Many listed companies have a really interesting history. Why represent a really interesting history with a long boring wordy description on a web page? An exciting history that the company is proud of implies more actions to be proud of in future.