By Kate Rumore
While all companies are different, their online investor needs are often similar. Investor relations websites share many fundamental features regardless of the type of companies behind them. They also tend to make the same mistakes. Here’s some tips to avoid the most common challenges financial professionals find on investor relations sites.
Know your place.
Most of your users prefer the aggregator sites/tools like Yahoo Finance, Morningstar or Edgars. In their perfect world, they could get everything they need from these sites. Each company’s information is presented consistently making it easy to compare information. However, they know the company site is the place to go to get insight behind the numbers. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide stock quotes or other essentials. It does mean that you should pay special attention to answering the following question: What message can you deliver that these tools cannot?
Avoid the spin.
It’s likely that a good portion of the company website presents fluffy marketing-speak. Few things irritate the impatient financial professional more than having to dig for facts. Keep it simple and straightforward and avoid the temptation to put too much spin on the copy. Consider that your users are likely going to several different sources to find information. Don’t sabotage your communications opportunities by creating unnecessary obstacles that might send them elsewhere.
Don’t punt to About Us.
Press releases and company information are among the most desirable content for the investor relations user. However, this is where we most often find the jarring experience of clicking a link (such as “company information”) in the investor relations section only to land unexpectedly in a generic About Us section of the site. While this disruption in the user path causes hesitation, there is usually another fault in this experience. Content in these areas is usually targeted toward a more general audience and doesn’t have the financial perspective that the IR user is hoping for.
Make downloads an option, not a requirement.
It’s likely that the IR user is looking to do more with your content beyond the website. While providing a PDF download option for financial tables is helpful, it may be more helpful to users to provide that same financial table in a spreadsheet format or XBRL. This kind of approach enables users to easily plug figures into their own formulas and models. The more formats you provide, the more potential value it has to the end user. On the flip side, downloads aren’t always a good thing. Many websites both in and out of the investor relations space make the mistake of hiding content in a download. This is often the case with annual reports, though an increasing number of companies are recognizing the benefits of optimizing this type of content for interactive use versus print.
Share the love.
While primary users of your investor relations site are the financial professionals and analysts, there are other important user groups to consider. The financial journalist is looking to scan press releases for interesting tidbits and pick up the phone to speak to someone in your media team or to your analysts. The small investors are often low on the priority list for many companies. While their financial impact may be small, many overlook the need to provide these users with the basics such as how and when to contact the transfer agent, cost basis guidance and fundamental FAQs.
The good news is that most of these mistakes can be easily avoided and without a significant strain on your content or development resources.