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3 easy ways to improve investor engagement on your IR website

It seems safe to say any investor relations professional would agree that the purpose of the investor relations website is to tell the company story and provide user-friendly, one-stop access to essential investor information.

You want your IR website to be the first place where a prospective investor goes to better understand the company and its value proposition.

In reality, however, many IR departments fall short of these aspirations due to a risk-avoidance mindset and miss opportunities to provide important content in more useful and compelling formats.

As corporate video producer Vern Oakley of New Jersey-based Tribe Pictures told IR Magazine, “In a regulated field like IR, people are waiting for someone to lead, to test what can or can’t be done. It’s a conservative atmosphere.”

Here are three low-risk/no-risk improvements designed to increase investor engagement on your website:

1.Make it easy for investors: post transcripts

Earnings news releases and quarterly conference calls are the No. 1 reason why investors visit an IR website.

Almost every company offers an audio replay and a PDF of the slide deck used on the earnings call. But only a small percentage post transcripts of the calls and even fewer offer transcripts from broker conferences.

That’s not very user-friendly. Yes, investors can probably find an earnings call transcript someplace else, but unofficial versions are often garbled. Besides, you agreed your site should be a one-stop source of information, remember?

According to Seeking Alpha, which covers 4,500 companies’ calls every quarter, “Transcripts have become the preferred choice for most investors because they provide clear benefits over audio: they’re faster to consume, can be read at any time, and can be searched.”

You won’t be a pioneer. A short list of companies posting transcripts includes Alcoa, Dell Technologies, FedEx, Ford, GE, HP, Johnson Matthey, Kimco Realty, Mattel, Nike, Rolls-Royce, Sprint, Stanley Black & Decker and TimkenSteel.

2.Break the annual report out of its PDF box

CEOs and IR teams spend hours crafting the annual report letter to shareholders, then it gets buried two or three clicks away in a not-so-user-friendly PDF.

Follow the lead of companies like GE, Eaton, Charles Schwab and FedEx: Give the annual report letter a place of prominence on the IR landing page.

As the above examples show, an HTML format is preferable, but this also works if you are just linking to a PDF of the letter, as JPMorgan Chase does.

Analysts and investors are visiting your site already for news, earnings calls, or to view the 10-K. If the IR landing page points visitors directly to the CEO’s letter, they are more likely to read it as well.

3.Put your CEO front and center

Why do investors place so much value on corporate access? They want to meet CEOs face-to-face and size them up.

IR websites should be more responsive to this desire. Your CEO needs to be on video. Videos communicate with emotion and credibility that text and audio alone cannot. They can show the story, not just tell it.

CEO videos can take a variety of forms: a quarterly update, an annual update, an interview, a segment from CNBC or Bloomberg TV, a clip from an investor presentation, or an evergreen overview.

Video is slowly becoming more popular in investor relations. But the IR function, particularly in the United States, is definitely behind the curve compared with its corporate counterparts in marketing and HR and with the broader world.

Video can be expensive—and the expense may be worth it—but it doesn’t have to be, as many of the above examples show.

Vow to move your IR website up the video curve. Aspire to build up to a video gallery like the one that Finnish process automation company Valmont launched in 2015. The payback in terms of investor engagement could be significant.

If you’d like to talk about these ideas and other ways to improve investor engagement and your IR website, drop me an email or tweet me at @PatrickPfxg99.

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