Online IR: How to build investor confidence through effective online communications?

by Catherine Crofton
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This presentation was a follow-up to a webinar Catherine conducted on this topic in April of last year in which she discussed five common barriers that block potential investors from understanding a company's investment story. Go to to view April's presentation.

This time, her presentation focused on how to build investor confidence through effective online communications. In particular she outlined some critical improvements to consider making to the IR website in 2010 including:

  1. Providing immediate entry points to all users
  2. Providing a company snapshot (industry)
  3. Detailing the market opportunity
  4. Communicating a clear strategy
  5. Emphasizing why leadership is suited to execute strategy
  6. Summarizing ‘Why Invest?' proposition
  7. Using technology to engage & increase accessibility
  8. Broadening reach, increasing accessibility & engagement. Protecting shareholder value via social media

The presentation included a lot of great case stories and examples of companies using best practices with practical advice on applying them to your own IR website.

Here are some of the highlights:

    • Information on your IR website should be geared to current, potential and long-term investors. All of these audiences has a different reason for visiting your website. A good site needs to show users where they are, where they want to go and how to make their way back. It should also bring key content forward so users are presented with the next logical step in their navigation of your site. One place this can be addressed is the Index page.
    • Danske Bank has a good investor index page where they present the most frequently sought information, lots of quick links and even asks the question, "Are you a new investor?".
    • Including a top level view of your company will help provide context for your company's investment proposition. At the very least, the investor section should have a company page or section that begins with At-A-Glance information. The type of information offered in At-A-Glance varies by company.
    • For example, Bell provides an overview of the company, business units and customer breakdown. They also breakout their revenue by segment and product and link to additional information in their company section.
    • The At-A-Glance section should also be supported by a downloadable fact sheet. BASF has a great fact sheet that is updated on a quarterly basis.
    • Companies should put a lot of time and effort in presenting the case for market demand of their product or service and why they are uniquely positioned to capitalize on the opportunity.
    • Potash does a great job of providing in-depth information on all aspects of their business including global trends and statistics so an investor can piece this information together to make an informed investment decision.
    • The economic meltdown has made communicating a clear strategy that supports corporate objectives more important now than ever. Investors need to know that your company is moving into a purposeful direction to increase growth and profitability.
    • There are several good examples of companies who clearly outline their strategy like Credit Suisse who discusses their strategy for moving forward and gives investors an understanding of how this same strategy helped to lessen their exposure in the recent financial crisis.
    • Shell is another good example. They provide updates on their strategy, which indicates that they are continuously monitoring and evaluating their approach within the context of market conditions and adjusting or fine-tuning as required.
    • A lot of issuers miss the opportunity to communicate why a person should invest in their company. There are several ways this can be resolved....through a robust homepage that integrates investor content such as providing pull downs to provide immediate access to key content; "What's New" – which features anything recently added to the site such as quarterly earnings results and conference call archive and upcoming events such as annual meeting; and an IR index page that has a section entitled "Why Invest".
    • We have found several companies who have a "Why Invest" page or section on their site including Agnico-Eagle which includes a video; Aura Minerals; and Aviva.

Today's challenging economic environment has made building investor confidence a top priority for companies. The IR website still remains a leading source for the investment community to verify and gather company information. There are several things to consider for your IR website.

  • First, it is essential that you consider your key audiences and provide entry points for potential, current and long-term investors.
  • Second, if you want me to have confidence in your company as an investor, I need a company snapshot in order to understand your industry and your position within that industry.
  • Third, the market opportunity (supported by reliable statistical information), must also be conveyed.
  • Fourth, I need to know that your company has defined its objectives for growth and that you have a clear strategy to execute on these objectives. I need to know that you evaluate this strategy on an ongoing basis to keep pace with market conditions.
  • Fifth, I need to know that your people are connected to your strategy and that they were chosen for specific knowledge and skills that make them ideally suited to execute the corporate strategy.
  • Sixth, add to this a robust "Why Invest" section that shows stable growth as indicated in your financials and when results are lower than expected, I need a sound explanation and to see that there's a clear strategy to address this moving forward.
  • Finally, using technology that is suited to your business needs as well as integrating additional tools such as social networks will increase your audience reach, empower people to engage with your company and give them a better understanding of your investment proposition.

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