Part 2: The Most Relevant Content
Investor relations websites are a regulatory necessity, but a properly designed and maintained IR site can do much more than simply check a box for you and your legal teams. Beyond the requirements, there’s so much content and functionality that can be included to engage your investors that choosing what to incorporate can be a dizzying proposition. So, how does a busy IR team build a web presence that meets the needs of their investment community without monopolizing time and resources?
Each year, we poll a wide variety of industry professionals to find out how analysts and investors are interacting with IR websites in the real world. The results of our annual Investor Survey provide actionable insights that can inform design, compatibility, and content decisions when developing and maintaining an IR website and related technologies.
Perhaps the most important question to answer in the design and management of your IR website is: What content is best to include? Given that investor relations lives at the crossroads of finance, public relations and marketing, IR professionals often find themselves reconciling the needs and requests of a variety of different departments, each with their own ideas about what should and should not be included on your IR site.
Despite these competing priorities, a well-built and proactively-maintained investor relations website should first meet the needs of the investment community. In other words, to answer your first question about content, you must ask yourself another question: What's most relevant to and useful for the Street? Our survey respondents let us know in a few different ways.
First, we asked respondents to rate the importance of various content sets on a scale of 1-5. As you can see in the charts above, the most relevant content generally focuses on anything that can help tell the company's unique story: press releases, financials, company overview and industry-specific metrics. On the flip side, the least relevant data consists mainly of information that can be accessed, in many cases more effectively, via third-party tools.
For example, an analyst who is tasked with keeping tabs on the performance of two dozen different companies isn’t likely to spend their day monitoring individual IR websites to gather information. Rather, they’re going to utilize a third-party resource that allows aggregate tracking of all of this information in one place.
On the other hand, it can be more difficult to effectively evaluate financial information without the context that is often added by the high-priority content listed above. Rather than rely solely on third-party tools, which may be inconsistent in providing the supporting documents a company might post to best tell the story around quarterly earnings, investors and analysts are better to rely on IR sites for the context needed to fully understand financial performance as it relates to strategy.
Next, we offered a free response section where respondents were asked to name the top three things that a company could add or include on its IR website to make it more valuable. The six most-frequently used words are shown here:
The results are largely consistent with those from the content ranking discussed earlier. The most important content to the investment community tends to be anything that is not easily aggregated in some sort of value-added way. In particular, a close review of the free response section reveals a number of responses focused on the ability to export financial information to Excel, and for that information to easily accessed along with other important earnings information, including the earnings press release, 10-K or 10-Q, management commentary, earnings call information and the transcript once the call has ended.
With actionable intelligence from the investment community, IR teams have answers to the difficult questions surrounding IR website content. Our survey tells us that the investment community, in large part, uses IR websites to give color and context to the sometimes limited analysis they can do with standardized financials, and that the most important content to showcase is that which highlights your strategy and tells your unique financial story.
Check back soon for a discussion of the place of social media in IR, also taken from intelligence provided by our 2016 Investor Survey. View the full report to learn more.