Success Factors for Online Investor Relations

Understanding the key success factors for online investor relations will assist companies to make sure their online IR strategy is best helping investors move through their investor journey.

In earlier posts in IRMatters, we discussed the Investor Journey, and the touchpoints investors use.

Here we present a high level discussion of the success factors. If you would like to take a little longer to examine our thoughts on it, feel free to download our fuller discussion in the white paper, here.

Understanding what works best online and why, leads to “best practice online investor communications”.

“Best” practice is budget – based. Every marketing campaign has a cost-benefit. Investors expect larger companies to be better, and smaller companies to be more circumspect. There’s no absolute measure of best practice, but the same principles apply to all.

 

Success Factors for Online Investor Relations

Here we discuss ten success factors for online investor relations – to be more successful in helping investors through their journey to becoming a committed recommending shareholder.  Progressing through the stages of their journey – a progression rate at each stage.

You can also think of them as best practice principles.

  1. Attract

Maximising progression at the early buying stages means drawing the right traffic to the website.

Many potential investors don’t even know our name. If they do, then make sure every variation of the name, ticker code, domain etc ranks at or enar the top of Google search. Also names of projects and senior executives.
Where to bury a dead body? Page 2 of Google search.

Much harder is attracting relevant investor traffic that don’t know us. What’s in their mind when searching? Measure search results, and improve. Every marketing campaign is about beating competitors. Where else can investors go? Look at how competitors rank on our keywords, and beat them.

  1. Appeal

Appeal to the emotional or irrational side with the impressions left by the messages. Design, imagery and style are key for about half of early phase visitors. Details, facts and numbers are for later.

Make the style confident, approachable, knowledgeable and up to date. We know the subject, say so. Make it better than they expect. Make it consistent across all touchpoints, all media, desktop or mobile.

Make sure the website home page says what we do, easily understood, within a few seconds. Remind visitors on subsequent pages.

Make your social media posts informative, easy to read, and interesting.

Use images, videos, infographics, maps and thumbnails throughout to reinforce messages. Include an image / video gallery on the website, link to it from other places.

Make messages great, deliver them well. Have a powerful investment proposition, clearly presented.

Avoid clichés, corporate speak, motherhood and meaningless trendy icons.

  1. Navigate

Investors arrive at the website knowing what they want. They have only two clicks for us. And we have to sell the second one, we’re not entitled to it. A “scroll down” is the same as a click. If the site doesn’t deliver here, it’s a bounce. They’re off, no progression.

Navigation is critical, particularly on the top part of the home page. Provide a link to every page right there. A “hover over” doesn’t count as a click. Don’t be cute about navigation. Investors have been to plenty of other sites, and “know” how to navigate. If it’s too different, they just won’t find it.

On internal pages, remind them where they are, provide full nav, a breadcrumb trail, accessibility and more.

Know which pages are most visited. Provide additional ways to get to what they want and what we want to promote. Use promo boxes or infographics as nav buttons. Everywhere, clear messages will sell the next click, and progression.

  1. Quality

Content needs to be great quality, complete, and up to date. Well written, well presented and easy to understand, regardless of touchpoint and media. Deliver value for that second click, try for another.

Ensure ASX Announcements are on the website and posted to social media immediately they are released. Ten minutes later worsens progression rates. Provide the share price and a chart. Show headline news on the home page.

Appeal strongly to the utilitarian, logical mind. Be the authority on all of the company information, good bad or indifferent. This invites respect. Provide all of the historical ASX announcements, easily found by type on multiple pages, nicely archived, and searchable. Also access them in sections. For analysts, have a download centre. Address specific needs of other target audiences.

Fully explain the business. Don’t expect searching the latest quarterly report to be how to really understand.

  1. Mobile

A website that is not responsive is putting off around half of its visitors. It says we don’t care. It’s just too hard to look at.

It must look great on every phone or tablet, landscape or portrait, and on any screen size. Don’t compromise. Mobile also means fast, without huge downloads.Provider all website information responsively and the need for an App becomes secondary.

  1. Educate

We are the expert in the industry and the company. Understand the educational needs of visitors and take them further. If they choose to learn more, that improves progression rates.

Make offline contact easy if they want it. Then be sure to respond.

  1. Relate

Blog, tweet, share, like, and post. Provide capabilities for visitors to do the same right there from our content. If they are inclined to share, help them. Show the twitter feed and blog posts right there on the website.

Other online touchpoints sooner or later come back to the website. Provide the content the social media relates to.

  1. Engage

Progression to the final phases means being kept informed, right when we have something to say. That’s immediately an announcement is released. Invite “registration” through whatever touchpoint they choose, provide immediate updates and invite feedback. Email alerts are essential, and social media is becoming as important. Make sure email alert messages are responsive.

  1. Measure

Not measured is not managed. Examine analytics and SEO results. Wonder why, and respond to trends. Refine messaging, navigation, images, and style. Then measure again.Compare the website with peers by these measures.

  1. Maintain

Make it easy to update and maintain and move to new technology. Update content navigation and messages using admin people. Remember the typing pool? Now everyone does their own. Get rid of the website typing pool, update it just like a document.

A website which is hard to maintain will fall behind, and progression rates worsen.

IRM and the Success Factors for Online Investor Relations

At IRM, we are online investor communications specialists. We understand the investor journey and touchpoints, and the success factors for online investor relations to pull it all together.

We know how to help listed companies with the touchpoints and message distribution.

Each company has its story and its messages. Understanding the success factors reduces the cost and improves the efficiency of the IR communications strategy.

IRM has prepared a white paper on Success Factors. Read more about success factors on our website, here, or for a full discussion download the white paper, here.

If you would like to chat about this with our CEO, Martin Spry, be cautious – it’s his favourite subject, and the conversation might not be short! He does coffee on the subject, and can be reached by email on martin.spry@irmau.com, or by phone on +61 2 8233 6168.

Online Touchpoints in the Investor Journey

Information and impressions gained at various online touchpoints is used by investors as they progress on their journey from identifying needs to becoming a shareholder that will recommend the stock to others.

In an earlier post in IRMatters, we discussed the Investor Journey and how it is important for the IR communication strategy to understand the journey the investor takes, and the touchpoints investors use.

All touchpoints (such as the company website) will deliver a variety of messages that will communicate both facts and impressions about the company.

An effective online IR strategy delivers the messages in the medium investors want, using the touchpoints they choose.

In today’s post, we present a high level discussion of the touchpoints. If you would like to take a little longer to examine our thoughts on it, feel free to visit our website to download our Touchpoints White Paper, here.

Online Touchpoints in the Investor Journey


Different Messages

Messages are usually a mixture of facts and impressions. Sometimes a great fact, delivered poorly, can be less effective than an ordinary fact delivered well.

This is because investors don’t always make entirely rational decisions – particularly when they are in the early stages of their journey and know that they haven’t yet attempted to consider all the facts.

Those facts and impressions will be interpreted differently, by different investors, different types of investors, and investors at different stages of the journey. This detail will help investors make decisions, both rational and emotional, about whether or not they will move to the next stage of their journey on the buying process.


Different touchpoints at different stages

Some touchpoints will tend to be used earlier in the investor journey, others later. Some touchpoints are suited to some types of media, others best suited to different types.

At any stage of the investor journey the investor can choose which touchpoint they want to use. They will base their decision to progress to the next stage based on what they find at that time at that touchpoint.

Investor Journey Timeliness and Consistency
Consistency and timeliness of messages and impressions given is therefore very important.

We don’t know what stage an investor is at when a message is delivered to a Touchpoint. So impressions matter at every Touchpoint, and quick navigation to successively more detailed facts is needed for later stage investors.


Early Stage Touchpoints

At the early stages of the investor journey, the potential investor may not even know our company name or ticker code.

The touchpoints they will use are places where there is general information about the industry or the opportunity. They may look at a list of recommendations from a broker or adviser, an article in an online newspaper, membership of an online forum or industry website, a tweet on a related subject, or a post in an online forum.

The big one is Google search.

Once they know our company name or ticker code, they should be easily able to find us on page 1 of Google search – preferably sitting at the top of the page. If achievable, other search terms relating to our industry, the executives’ names, the names or geographical regions of projects or services, should all rank highly.

Online Touchpoints in the Investor Journey

The investor website

The investor home page should create a great impression (for first time visitors) and provide simple and effective navigation to what investors want (for returning visitors).

The investor website should be the authority on everything relating to the company. Easily and readily searchable.

It should be up to date to the minute.


Mobile and responsive

Investors are participating in this trend as much as others.

The entire investor website should respond well to all different form factors. It’s called Responsive Design.

Having said that, the desktop version is far from dead. Around 70% of investor website visits are still from desktops. Investors might have a glance on their phone, but they will do their deeper thinking at a desktop or laptop.


Notifications and Alerts

Investors will not wake up in the morning and rush to your website to see if you have some news.

Investors need to be alerted to your news. Many third parties have notification services, that suit their objectives not yours. Most investor websites offer the ability to subscribe for an email notification service.

It’s up to the company to embrace investors wanting a notification to provide it as soon as the announcement is released.


Social Media

Investors are increasingly turning to social media. Twitter seems to be the main one, probably driven by the trend in the US for companies to make their earnings calls on twitter.

Online Touchpoints in the Investor Journey

Other social media channels to consider are LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Slideshare, Flickr, Wikipedia and others.

Social media strategies range from “hide” to “fully embrace”. Few companies can afford to hide, particularly with Twitter which, with the advent of $Cashtags, provides nowhere to hide.


Budget impact

Different media types, delivered through more touchpoints, come with increased effort and resulting cost.  Automation of processes can help, and can also help improved timeliness.


Summary

Many online touchpoints, and third party touchpoints, are transitory. News comes and goes, sometimes before it’s noticed.

So we relate the content back to the investor website. The investor website is the baseline. The rock. The source of truth. The pervasive, responsive, complete, and up to date repository for all information about the company.

Where we are in complete control of the messages, if not the audience.


Success Factors

What does all this mean for an online IR strategy?

Success is when the IR communications strategy delivers the appropriate messages through the right touchpoints to suit the investors’ needs for their current stage of the investor journey.

On our website, and in more detail in a separate IRMatters post we present IRM’s views on the ten best practice principles.

Online Touchpoints in the Investor Journey


IRM and the Touchpoints on the Investor Journey

At IRM, we are online investor communications specialists. We understand the investor journey and how the online touchpoints work, particularly the online touchpoints that are available to listed companies.

We help listed companies with the online touchpoints and message distribution.

Of course the company needs a good story and good messages. IRM helps deliver them to the touchpoints that investors are using at the time that they need to see them.

IRM has prepared a white paper on Touchpoints. Read more about touchpoints on our website, here, or for a full discussion download the white paper, here.

If you would like to chat about this with our CEO, Martin Spry, be cautious – it’s his favourite subject, and the conversation might not be short! He does coffee on the subject, and can be reached by email on martin.spry@irmau.com, or by phone on +61 2 8233 6168.

The Investor Journey – explored and explained

Investors go through a buying process as they decide whether or not to invest in a particular company. This article explores the similarities between the investor journey and the consumer buying process and outlines our thinking on how to engage for better success.

Consumers who are buying a product go through stages of engagement before their buy decision. Similarly, when making an investment decision, investors take a journey.

Listed companies should assume this applies to the buying process for investors.

Investors move through a number of stages as they change from not knowing the company at all to becoming a committed long term shareholder.

Their journey is personal and each is different. Some investors make progress quickly through the stages; some dawdle, while others never make it.

In today’s blog, we present a high level discussion of the Investor journey. We’ve expanded on today’s thoughts in a downloadable white paper, accessible from our website here.

Investor and Consumer journeys

Why is an investor journey similar to a regular consumer buying process?

As listed companies, we’re continually marketing a product – our shares – to a largely unknown audience of potential investors through a largely online process, worldwide.

Share trades are the immediate and direct daily results of ongoing investor marketing efforts. The marginal trades are the ones that set the price.

derivatives-of-forex-currency-trading_1
It’s a daily competition, it’s a worldwide online competition, and there are plenty of other choices for investors.
Those that do this job better and more consistently will likely achieve more interest in their stock, more competition for it, and a better share price.

Relating the Investor Journey to the online IR strategy

There’s plenty of research about the propensity of investors to access company data online before looking to offline means. If we include newspapers, for example, as a predominately online medium these days, there’s little dispute.

While offline methods – calls, meetings etc – are extremely valuable at different times of the journey, when they happen we generally know who they are and where the target investor are and will often have some insight into where they sit in the buying process. So almost the entire focus should be on how the online IR strategy fits with the investor journey.

Key to success with online IR is understanding the components of the investor journey – the stages investors go through as they learn about, engage with, become and remain shareholders in a listed company. The online communication strategy needs to relate to them at each stage of their journey, using messages, providing data, and being available at the touchpoints they choose.

In the 2015 summer edition of Listed@ASX magazine, IRM CEO Martin Spry discussed the investor journey and the resulting ten principles for online communication. Read more about the Listed@ASX article in this IRMatters blog post.

Stages of the Investor Journey

Because no two investors will take exactly the same journey, and we can’t explain exactly what the journey might be, we are left to address the generic concept as a basis for the online IR strategy.

To examine the starting point for a journey, we need to define a potential investor as someone who has funds to invest and a mandate (or potential mandate or preference) that could include our particular stock. We don’t know who these people are, and they might not know who we are. We just know that there are people out there with a potential need to invest in our stock.

So the investor journey starts with Needs.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have a subset of our existing shareholders who are committed long term investors and will happily recommend the stock to others. So the final stage of the investor journey is Recommend.

The stages in between are similar to a normal consumer buying cycle, and might be something like this:

The Investor Journey

graphic2

Making the Investor Journey

In practice, the world is never so simple or regimented.

Investors will wander back and forth through the journey, and will find side tracks to take, some of which are dead ends, or they get lost.

Investors make decisions to progress to the next buying stage

crossroad
At each stage of the investor journey, some will decide not to continue with the journey for us. These are lost sales, lost investors. The remainder progress to the next stage.

Clearly, the more investors we can find in the Needs stage, and the better the progression rates between stages, the more will eventually find their way to the final Recommend stage.

It’s a numbers game.

Messages and Touchpoints

Each decision to progress or not is made based on some information given in messages, which is collected somehow through what we refer to as a “Touchpoint”.

Online touchpoints include the company’s investor web site and third party online sources (e.g. the ASX web site, broker web sites, online media and many more). Social media is becoming more widely used for investor purposes. Email alerts sent by the company are a useful Touchpoint for the middle stages of the investor journey.

Online touchpoints are desktop and mobile, phone or tablet, at the investors’ choice. We need to be effective at all of them to improve progression rates.

reagroup

The messages delivered at each Touchpoint can be text, images, voice, video, ASX Announcements, tables, reports and many more. Short tweets or long detailed explanation and analysis. Investors at different stages at different touchpoints will expect – or simply prefer – different delivery mechanisms for the messages. The wrong format of message for that particular stage might lose an investor.

An effective online IR strategy delivers the messages in the medium investors want using the touchpoints they choose.

A fuller discussion of touchpoints is presented on the IRM website here, and in another IRMatters post here.

Success Factors

What does all this mean for an online IR strategy?

Success is when the IR communications strategy delivers the appropriate messages through the right touchpoints to suit the investors’ needs for their current stage of the investor journey.

In this page on our website, and in more detail in a separate IRMatters post we present IRM’s views on the ten best practice principles.

IRM and the Investor Journey

At IRM, we are online investor communications specialists. We understand the investor journey and how the touchpoints work, particularly the online touchpoints.

We help listed companies with the touchpoints and message distribution.

Of course the company needs a good story and good messages. IRM helps deliver them to the touchpoints that investors are using at the time that they need to see them.

IRM has prepared a white paper on the Investor Journey. Read more about the investor journey and download the white paper our website, here.

If you would like to chat about this with our CEO, Martin Spry, be cautious – it’s his favourite subject, and the conversation might not be short! He does coffee on the subject, and can be reached by email on martin.spry@irmau.com, or by phone on +61 2 8233 6168.

Online Reports – upgraded and restyled

Online reports are popular with IRM clients for showcasing important documents – such as annual reports and quarterly activities statements. In today’s IRMatters post, we highlight the upgrades we’ve made to our Silver Online Reports.

Last August we wrote about the value of online reporting and the variety of online annual reports that IRM provides for clients. Today, Matt White and the IRM graphics team are proud to announce an upgrade to the Silver online reports product.

While we all know the annual report is a compliance document, it can also be a critical marketing tool for a company. When properly structured, written and designed, an annual report can work as a resource that informs/reassures existing investors and as one of the tools in your kit to attract new investors.

The new silver report format has been launched in response to demand from our clients.  It now displays reports in an electronic book-reading format.  A table of contents provides navigation and a number of other usability features. When launched, a silver report opens up like a book on the coffee table:

Growthpoint 2015 Interactive Annual Report

The new format of report is fully responsive, and therefore will work on all mobile and tablet devices as well as desktop machines.  It is fast to load and provides an excellent user experience with a high quality page flip animation.

Growthpoint 2015 Interactive Annual Report2

Growthpoint 2015 Interactive Annual Report3

Other new features include:

  • The capability to navigate to a specific section, or page,
  • The ability to turn pages using the corners, or click of left and right arrows.
  • Advanced document searching for particular words or search terms.

features

An example of a recently released Silver Online Report is available here – with Growthpoint Properties‘ Annual Report for the year ended June 2015.

For more detail on IRM’s online reports, please click here.

Looking for an online reporting solution?

In case you’d like to discuss your reporting requirements, IRM’s Art Director, Matt White can be contacted via: email – matthew.white@irmau.com or phone: +61 2 8233 6168.