We recently attended a NIRI webinar on The 2021 IRO ‘Digital Agenda’ where a panel looked at trends and gave some practical advice for IR and corporate websites. Over the past year, Investis Digital evaluated over 1,000 websites of leading publicly traded firms around the world to analyze the effectiveness of their digital presence, to produce the Global 100 Connect.IQ Special Report. Some of the most interesting points from the report include the following:
- 59% of IROs surveyed thought that their IR and corporate websites have a large or major impact on their IR efforts. However, only 18% thought that their websites reflect their IR efforts very well and 43% considered that their websites reflect their IR efforts “moderately well”.
- The top 3 items on the IRO digital agenda according to the survey were: (i) Strategy and Purpose, (ii) ESG and Sustainabilityand (iii) Investor Content. One new item on the list (in fourth place) was Virtual Events, Webinars and Webcasts, as a result of the pandemic.
- Strategy and Purpose– Blackrock says: “The more your company can show its purpose in delivering value to its customers, its employees, and its communities, the better able you will be to compete and deliver long-term, durable profits for shareholders.” The leaders were Vodafone (well redesigned website and measure performance using metrics – it is important to put metrics behind any of your initiatives); Rolls-Royce (multiple pages dedicated to innovation); Anglo American (innovation case studies); Lowe’s (simplified strategy to target retail investors).
- ESG and Sustainability– the report concluded that “87% of the Global 100 have a dedicated section for ESG/CSR and Sustainability, while 98% make Diversity and Inclusion reporting an important part of their sustainability story.” The leaders were Verizon (a large amount of ESG content broken down visually); Pepsico (quantify their metrics vs. the 17 UN SDGs showing their year-over-year improvement); Coca-Cola HBC (show full credentials); Unilever (have stories, show their position on Diversity and Inclusion as part of their sustainability story, take their D&I initiatives into their sourcing and their suppliers and show ways to take action).
- Investor Content– the investment thesis needs to be easy to understand for retail investors. The leaders were BASF (give detail and depth via an interactive format); BP (investor tools e.g. share price calculator); BAE Systems (eye-catching and informative, driving engagement); Nestle (breakdown their investment thesis, breakdown the tactical ways in which they are trying to meet key initiatives).
- Virtual Events – now that we have made the shift to virtual, this will be “one of the biggest areas of innovation and evolution in 2021”. The leaders were AXA (beautiful 3D investor day including a video tour through their head office); LeasePlan (video thought leadership); Pepsico (interactive year in statistics, the only company that uses motion graphics); Legal & General (all archive materials available on the website).
- Only 77% of the IROs surveyed review their IR and Corporate website performance at least quarterly.
- Whilst 82% thought that their website is not a good reflection of their efforts, only 47% seek help from experts.
Miranda IR’s core best practices for IR websites:
1) A website must be simple, direct, intuitive and easy to use.
2) It must be viewable from a mobile device.
3) Take care not to overload it with information.
4) Use visual examples of the company’s products/services.
5) Keep submenus to a minimum – the structure must be simple.
6) Ensure the IR website is consistent with the corporate website.
Additional advice from the panel and their plans for 2021:
- Start at the highest level – what are the company’s mission and key strategic initiatives? Is the IR strategy aligned with this?
- Analyze website traffic and how the site is being used. Leverage analytics – you can only manage what you can measure.
- Ensure that the website is easy to navigate as this is likely to result in fewer questions from investors and analysts as the answers can be found easily on the website.
- Have your investment proposition on the website as investors and analysts are leaning on the website as a form of communication as there are no opportunities to meet in-person.
- Increase automation and AI (offering a way to intercept passive money), develop your digital strategy and use natural language processing (NLP).
- Simplify your message and ensure it is reaching the right audience. Any investment in great investor content (presentations, reports, sustainability strategy etc.) needs to be equally matched with the investment in making sure it reaches the right audience through targeting, reach and promotion.
- Try to get more innovative with the retail investor base. Their access to information is very different to institutional investors. Work with paid research firms and make that research available to retail investors.
- Use social for ALL releases and distributions – it is very cost effective, and the investor audience is increasingly digital savvy.
- Give a consistent message across all platforms: press releases, earnings call, website, social, corporate presentation etc.
- Leverage digital conferences and roadshows. They have various benefits, as we have discussed in previous articles, including lowering your carbon footprint which is important for asset managers with a strong retail base, such as Vanguard and Blackrock, and with millennials and generation Z increasing their investments.
- Consider using a third party to focus your efforts on where and how to improve your website. (Miranda IR and Miranda Digital & Design collaborate to offer a comprehensive website review and redesign service).
- Improve the ESG and sustainability section of your website if it is not up to scratch. (Miranda ESG collaborates with Miranda Digital & Design to offer a comprehensive ESG content review and redesign service).
- Publish an ESG/sustainability report or an integrated report (click here to read Miranda ESG’s article on ESG reports vs. integrated reports). Miranda ESG can help with this.
- Assess what peers are doing and also look at what the best in class are doing (see the companies mentioned above as part of the Global 100).
- Breakdown silos – align with HR, ESG, the press team, management etc. Then do an audit so you know where you are starting from and what you want to achieve. Compare your website vs. our best practices and your peers and bring in a partner to help you. (Miranda IR can help with this analysis).
Miranda IR is here to partner with you to help you improve your digital communication, presence, content and strategy.
NIRI Webinar: https://www.niri.org/webinar032521
Contacts at Miranda Partners