Institutional investors and analysts, that buy-side crowd who follows your company's and industry's performance, are a predictable bunch.
They’re not interested in content overkill. They want you to get to the point. They want your company to tell its quantitative and qualitative story concisely and quickly.
They want to find what they’re researching immediately. And they hate inconsistency in your branding and messaging. A hard act to follow? Not really.
The buy side are essentially designers themselves – they’re minimalists who appreciate clean design, smart navigation and just the facts. These are very influential people who can make or break your company’s reputation to the financial community – you have to take them seriously. Having this in mind will help you "colour" within the lines as you design (or redesign) your IR site.
Here are six ideas I’ve consistently heard time and time again from customers about what the buy side needs from investor relations officers, CFOs and web designers at companies that range from small start-ups to multi-national corporations.
Your IR site should have a consistent look with the rest of the company’s website and feel so the investor relations portion is in synch with the rest of the look and feel. This should be a no-brainer, but often IR websites get designed almost as a standalone. This can leave the impression to investors that the company isn’t thinking as a unified whole with one vision. Target has done this remarkably well.
Keep content up to date and relevant
The IR website is often the first port of call when a new investor is evaluating your company. A prominent buy-side investor recently told me that "missing or outdated information is unacceptable." Investors often take the approach that if a company can’t keep its website up to date, what does that say about the company and its priorities? Or, worse, what is it trying to hide by not including this information?
Investors are evaluating tons of companies daily. They need to quickly find content. Therefore you must be specific and group information together in logical ways. This is not the area to try to be creative.
Include a concise intro to your company on your IR home page
This should draw investors in and compel them to want to take the next step and learn more about why they should consider investing in you. FedEx does this remarkably well.
Highlight key company statistics, presentations and content.
Finding company specific information, including investor presentations, is a main reason why investors choose to go to your IR website. Make these prominent on your home page and in your navigation tool bar. Harley-Davidson is a great example of this.
Be smart on how you showcase your events
Make it easy for investors to find information on your next investor event, and group all relevant information from past events together. Many companies erroneously store this information in multiple places on the site – investors want one page where they can find the latest webcasts, presentations, press releases, SEC filings and any other supporting materials.
And here are a few new ideas that you should be seriously considering in 2014.
Ensure you have a mobile strategy.
This can be either a mobile version of your IR website. Our research shows a 44 percent increase in traffic from mobile devices over the past year alone. We expect this number to continue to grow. You want to make sure that investors visiting your website from a mobile device can quickly and easily access key content sets.
Embrace video to bring your investment story to life.
When told succinctly, video can helps visualize the big picture of your company’s thrust. If there are video speeches or broadcast media segments of your C-suite, it’s important to promote these to reinforce your company message and show good thought leadership live and direct. Check out AutoNation and Cisco for examples on how to incorporate video into your IR site.
Consider social media as another distribution channel for key IR information.
The growth of social media in the business world has been unprecedented. But all too often IROs are still unsure how to figure out leverage it with their audience, and incorporate it in their IR program. A great place to start is promoting key video channels or pages on your IR website and distributing critical Reg-FD compliant investor news and events via these channels. Zillow is a leader in this area, leveraging Facebook, Twitter and its blog as additional distribution channels.
Kristine Eissing is the vice-president of corporate solutions for Nasdaq OMX