How to stand out from the crowd in digital investor engagement?

In the summer edition of the Investor Relations Society's Informed magazine, Stephen Butler shares the highlights from our recent Digital Matters research.

Corporate websites provide a window into the inner workings of an organisation, but our research suggests that many could be doing more.

The investment community today looks beyond financials to understand a company’s value creation story across the short, medium and long term.

Post MiFID II, investor relations officers must work harder than ever to communicate with the buy side. This year, Luminous researched the corporate/IR websites of the largest 40 companies by market capitalisation in the FTSE 250.

The findings help to capture the current state of digital IR, highlighting what best-in-class looks like and where improvements can be made. In addition, we reflect on what is next for IR professionals to factor into their digital thinking.

What did we learn from the research?

Identity and design

Brand identity is an essential component of every corporate/IR website. Unique, consistent brand identity and design raise visibility and add to the overall equity story.

  • Half of all the websites reflected an instantly recognisable brand.
  • 83% of the websites consistently applied this brand identity when communicating.
  • 65% of the websites created a connection with the user through the brand experience.

Brand messaging

A company’s website is one of the most important tools for IR teams to communicate with existing and potential investors. A website, and by extension a company, that fails to communicate consistently will leave investors confused and looking elsewhere.

  • Only 13% of websites incorporated news-focused videos, while 23% contained aspirational videos
  • The majority (70%) of websites were inclusive and represented a diverse range of stakeholders, not just investors.
  • 80% of websites wove key messaging themes into content and applied their brand personality throughout the website.

Strategic content

The content of the corporate website provides investors with general information on the company to help them understand the overall business, whereas IR websites are specifically designed to include investor-useful information such as financials, investor presentations or details on the company’s governance practices.

  • Despite the growing prevalence of ESG content on websites, 55% were considered ‘poor’ at identifying key material ESG issues, while 25% were considered ‘good’.
  • 90% of companies included a purpose or explained the ‘why’ of their business. Fewer (68%) presented a clear linkage between purpose and strategy.
  • 55% of websites included an ESG strategy, but of the 50% that portrayed a business model only 23% integrated their ESG strategy into it.
  • Just 10% of websites disclosed a double materiality assessment (These assessments add the risks a company’s activities pose to the environment and society to those that it faces internally).
  • Outside of the annual report, there is a growing trend for companies producing standalone sustainability reports to deep dive into sustainability issues. We found 43% of websites included a standalone sustainability report.
  • 63% of websites included disclosure of net-zero plans and alignment to science-based targets.
  • 53% of websites included an investment case, but only 38% effectively presented the company’s strengths/differentiators or linked the investment case to KPIs.

User experience

Successful user experience is a key component and it can be the deciding factor in how long users spend on the website but also what information they are able to access in the limited time they spend on the website.

  • 43% of websites were ‘good’ at making pertinent information easy to find and navigate. Similarly, 40% were ‘good’ at encouraging users to explore the website with an easy user experience.
  • While 48% of websites included an interactive summary of the annual report, only 38% incorporated interactive functions within the full annual report.
  • Despite the transition to virtual or hybrid AGMs, only 20% of websites included a video or audio recording of the most recent AGM. Instead, transcripts were more common.
  • 75% of websites had focused landing pages for sub-sections such as IR or sustainability.
  • Only 20% of websites provided one click access from the landing page to the financial results section.
  • 38% of websites included an investor factsheet to present a summary of the company in a quick and digestible document.
  • 30% included a YouTube channel link and fewer (18%) linked to podcasts on the website.

Check out the full research microsite here:

Check out the summer edition of Informed here:

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