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Jun 15, 2018

Eight tips from the world’s best IR websites

Lessons the world’s best online corporate communications teams can teach about effective use of digital channels

1. Ensure your results archive is quick and easy to find

Analysts and investors often want fast access to results information most of all from the IR section of a website. Swiss insurance group Zurich shows how it’s done – the IR landing page has a prominent signpost: Financial results and reports 2004-2017. It sounds simple but it’s surprising how many companies fail to provide such clear navigation.

2. Include transcripts and Excel financials in your results section

AXA offers a highly polished financial results index, stocked with a wide range of resources. Our research shows that analysts greatly appreciate the inclusion of results call transcripts in a results archive – because they can use them to quickly find specific information without listening to an entire webcast.

3. Add short video commentaries to quarterly results

Shell provides a short embedded video on each of its quarterly results pages in which the CEO or CFO gives an overview of performance in the quarter. In addition to providing useful introductions to the deeper results materials offered online, such videos send a positive message of openness and transparency – and demonstrate senior executives’ willingness to take time to serve investors. 

4. Make the most of the web’s interactive potential

BP’s long-established ‘financial and operating data analyst’ feature has a mass of data that can be manipulated, compared, displayed in various ways and downloaded in different forms. Although the underlying technology is found on many sites, BP’s is the most sophisticated implementation, particularly given the inclusion of operating data.

5. Give plenty of details about your IR team

Shell sets the standard for providing information about individual IR officers. Visitors can find photos, biographies and details of languages spoken for each of Shell’s IROs in Europe and North America.

6. Provide an overview of the company

BASF is one of the globe’s top companies for serving researching analysts online. The ‘BASF at a glance’ sub-section of the IR area provides a useful primer for analysts researching the company for the first time, including sections on company strategy, sales and earnings forecasts, and key financial data.

7. Give individual shareholders a warm welcome

Providing useful self-service material to private investors online can dramatically reduce the overhead of answering their queries offline. French firms tend to lead the world in this area: Total’s investors’ section houses an impressively rich range of information for individual shareholders.

8. Pack your PDF reports with hyperlinks

Many investors and analysts still favor reports in PDF format, and they prefer to read them on a screen rather than print them out, so putting plenty of hyperlinks in long PDF reports is a good idea. The hyperlinks in German vehicle maker Daimler’s 2016 sustainability report PDF are exceptionally effective for two reasons: the links are comprehensive, signposting a wide range of related material elsewhere in the report and on the company’s website; and users can jump straight to the start of any chapter, or to the contents page, from almost any page in the report.

Scott Payton is managing partner at Bowen Cragg

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of IR Magazine.