When designing and maintaining an investor relations strategy, how important is your company website? Pretty important, it turns out. A Thomson Reuter’s 2012 survey showed that 84% of institutional investors use a company’s IR website as part of their research process. Importantly, 74% of respondents also indicated that the IR website has an impact on their perception of the company and its IR program.
First impressions are extremely important, and your website is often your company’s first chance to make an impression. Here are some key places investors go on your website, and some tips on how you can make their experience a valuable one (for them and for you):
- Make the site easy to navigate. If a website is not laid out logically and clearly, visitors will become frustrated and give up looking. Key information – such as presentations, press releases, SEC filings and other news – needs to be displayed prominently, allowing potential investors to get to it quickly. This doesn’t just apply to the investor relations section but the entire website. Don’t make it hard for investors to learn about your company and products.
- Make sure all info is up to date and accurate. Too many times, sites continue to display information that is wrong, or outdated. This can lead investors to assume that IR is not important to the company.
- Ensure contact information is easily accessible. All pages should have the name, phone number and email address of a real person to contact, instead of just a generic departmental name or number.
- Don’t try to be too creative with how you share investor information. I get involved with companies that want to “think outside the box,” but investors who look at hundreds of companies want to quickly find information. Wall Street is accustomed to finding that information in the same places each time, so don’t diverge from “the standard” too much.
- Include links to corporate governance pages, as well as to news. Multiple tabs connecting news, an “about us” section and corporate governance pages are a good idea, too.
- Make your website easy to use regardless of user preference. Although many people may not print web pages, make sure yours are easy to format for printing. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to take info with you and not being able to make the page print correctly. Also, many of today’s investors seek the ability to read your pages on a mobile device. Make sure you offer a mobile friendly version of your site.
While investors and analysts often differ in what they want from a company investor relations program, your website is one unusual case where they typically look for the same information: press releases, analyst coverage, news and SEC filings. This negates the need, then, for separate pages for analysts and investors.
As a company prepares to go through its IPO, the website should be created beforehand to prepare for the stock offering and be ready to go live as soon as the company is public. After that, companies should review their IR pages at least quarterly, and conduct a thorough review once a year.
Westwicke Partners has a long history of helping companies set up and maintain investor friendly websites. Contact us to talk through more web-based best practices and for more strategic information that can help with your IR decision making on topics such as Reg FD and perception audits. Also, sign up for our newsletter to learn more about this and other IR-related themes.