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May 11, 2020

How firms are using corporate websites to communicate about Covid-19

Companies tailoring website content to address concerns of investors and other stakeholders

As the world continues to experience a profound impact from the coronavirus pandemic, companies are stepping up to communicate the measures they are taking to support their employees and suppliers, and reassure investors.

Some have even gone the extra mile, changing their business operations to work with peers and support governments to help curb the spread of the virus. No matter what response strategies are implemented, it is clear companies are using their websites as a principal communications channel to engage with and inform their key stakeholders.

It is crucial for companies to make such time-sensitive information instantly recognizable and easily accessible, particularly on the home page, which is often the starting point of the user journey. We reviewed all FTSE 100 companies to establish best practice for signposting Covid-19 content on a website’s home page. From our review, companies are taking a more tailored and strategic approach, based on their target audience or content.

1. Proactive communications targeted at wider stakeholders

An increasing number of companies are developing a dedicated ‘hub’ that serves as a central repository for Covid-19 information aimed at wider stakeholders. This includes a CEO message to employees and suppliers, support updates for customers, philanthropic activities, and so on.

We have also seen at least 23 companies using home page banners or hero images, which are immediately visible to all types of users/stakeholders and efficiently guide them to a dedicated information hub or specific page where they can find the most relevant piece of information. 

For example, our client Sage uses a home page banner to succinctly communicate its commitment to supporting its customers, which is linked to a dedicated Covid-19 customer support page. The trend is likely to stay as the stakeholders will continue demanding transparency and authenticity, while businesses will continue announcing updates.

Key benefits of using hero images for Covid-19 communications:
– The fastest way to grab users’ attention
– An effective way to engage with wider stakeholders (hence likely to produce higher click-through rate)
– Good for linking to an important message that appeals to wider stakeholders.

2. Investor-focused information   

For the investor-focused Covid-19 message, companies tend to leverage trading updates, investor presentations and press releases (and possibly annual reports, depending on the financial year-end) to keep investors informed on the latest financial results and evidence of the company’s preparedness.

Some also make sure the most important updates for investors are easily accessible on the home page through teasers and links that sit ‘above the fold’ – that is, the area within the page where information can be viewed before scrolling. For example, Schroders has a dedicated ‘call to action’ to the important notice regarding AGM 2020 and Covid-19 for investors, which is positioned in an eye-catching area. 

Key benefits of above-the-fold links and teasers: 
– Takes less space than a banner/hero image
– Information is still visible without users having to scroll
– Suitable for information targeted at a specific stakeholder group.

3. Quick updates for time-compressed audiences

Alternatively, we have seen a handful of companies – such as easyJet – using the RNS/news feature on the home page to instantly guide investors, journalists and reporters to the latest Covid-19 information. This could also be a focal point for such stakeholder groups to quickly gather up-to-date information on the home page, whether it be a trading update or financial donations to public institutions, without having to visit a separate media section.

Key benefits of this feature:
– Easy to update
– Fixated on a specific area of the home page
– Directly speaks to those who are interested in RNS or press releases.

4. Where consumers are the most affected stakeholder group

For some companies that focus their Covid-19 communications on customers and consumers, opting for notification bars on the home page has proven to be an effective way to draw consumers’ attention and provide critical updates. This includes National Grid, whose home page displays a notification bar at the top to highlight what measures it is taking to ensure electricity supply throughout the outbreak. This is also a particularly popular approach on retail companies’ websites, such as that of our client Virgin Atlantic.

Key benefits of a notification bar:
– More flexible solution to display critical information
– Just as effective as a striking image to draw attention, but takes less space
– Can be displayed consistently across the site.

Waka Wang is a research consultant in the Insight Team at Black Sun. This article originally appeared on the Black Sun website here