Tech talk: Back to basics with the IR website

Nov 14, 2019
Many IR websites still leave plenty of room for improvement

It might not be the most cutting-edge technology but the IR website is arguably the most important tool in any IRO’s box. Not only is it the first port of call for analysts and investors – and potential analysts and investors – but it is also where IROs allocate most of their tech spend.

Despite this, IR Magazine research shows that fewer than three quarters of all US companies (74 percent) offer a named IR contact, and even fewer mega-cap companies do so (59 percent). Yet this simple, easy-to-offer information appears among the top three things the investment community wants from an IR website, alongside corporate and regulatory press releases and a schedule of upcoming events and reports.‘

IR contact details should be clearly signposted and comprehensive,’ says Scott Payton, managing partner at Bowen Craggs & Co. ‘Analysts dislike having to hunt around a site to find the IRO’s email address and phone number.’ He cites French firm Vinci as a good example: ‘It even includes links to each IRO’s LinkedIn profile. This is a thoughtful touch that costs nothing.’

When it comes to the IR website, what it should all be about, says Payton, is making life easier for analysts and investors, and transcripts of earnings calls and webcasts are another relatively cheap and easy option. ‘Bowen Craggs’ research shows that analysts appreciate transcripts, because they can quickly scan through them to find specific information, without having to listen to or watch an entire earnings call or webcast recording,’ he explains.

Other tips include grouping all materials from the quarterly or interim results in one place rather than separating them by format and ‘forcing analysts and investors to trawl around multiple sections of your site to gather all the related materials.’ You should also offer an ‘at a glance’ section that provides ‘an overview of the business model, strategy and business activities,’ says Payton, citing BASF as a good example.

But what about going beyond the basics? Or assessing how effective your new and improved IR website is? Sergio Gámez, global head of shareholders and IR at Banco Santander, says that at his firm ‘the shareholders and investors section currently accounts for 51 percent of the total traffic of Banco Santander’s corporate website’. So how did he and his team make this part of the site such a success?

Firstly, Gámez says the team knows its target audience well and takes steps to continually ensure the site offers what Santander’s stakeholders want. ‘We constantly monitor the website, analyze the results, perform best practice benchmarking and run surveys to assess the opinion of our investors,’ he adds.

When it comes to monitoring site traffic, Gámez says Google Analytics currently works best for the team. ‘Right now it is the most effective tool to analyze the website, given the quality of the data it provides, the analysis it offers and how it helps us to achieve our KPIs and improve our site,’ he explains. But the team also works to maintain the bank’s SEO positioning for organic visibility, while Gámez adds that user surveys and social media can also be used to measure effectiveness.

For Santander, ‘the website is a tool that in addition to being part of the brand, strengthens the relationship with our investors and their loyalty to our company,’ Gámez says. And for him, three basic elements are required for any successful IR website: quality and relevance of information, ease of access and constant updating of information.

This article was published in the winter 2019 issue of IR Magazine

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