Make your corporate report work harder
By Matt Hare
The days of the printed report have been numbered for some time as user behaviour and regulations have shifted. For us, digital reports serve audiences better by creating a more impactful and enjoyable experience. They are also more efficient to produce and give you the means to track performance and keep improving.
It's time for change
Covid-19 has accelerated many aspects of digital transformation and presented companies with the perfect opportunity to engage with wider audiences. Additionally, as technology and design trends develop, the way people consume Annual Reports is also evolving.
The corporate report has always been one of the most trusted forms of communication: a single source of truth for your stakeholders, signed off by the board, and a consistent point of reference. However, a print-first mindset inevitably means that the digital experience suffers, as long-form content is retrofitted into pre-existing site templates or just presented as an A4 print format PDF.
It doesn’t have to be that way. For us, reports are one of the biggest opportunities companies have to grab attention, set out their story and blow people’s minds.
Here’s what we recommend.
Ask the audience
A deeper understanding of corporate audiences leads to the best possible outcome.
We know corporate audiences are more diverse than ever. As the world becomes more volatile, their perspectives are evolving, so it’s important to know as much as possible and think beyond traditional audiences. On top of that, it’s also vital to keep up with them by regularly asking them what they think.
With any digital product, the user is central to the development process. However, reporting is often an internal exercise where companies put their best foot forward but will rarely find out if what they are saying makes sense or has had an impact on the people that matter. As we would with any product, we constantly test the intent of messaging and the presentation of content with real audiences.
Let them explore
Very few people read a report cover-to-cover but will instead dip into specific sections as required, so Annual Reports don’t have to be linear. A successful digital report will help your users find exactly what they need or enable them to explore content that interests them and create their own narrative and experience.
For example, Migros is Switzerland’s largest retail company, its largest supermarket chain, and largest employer. With so many user needs to fulfil, they directly deal with different audiences by allowing the user to navigate the report through specific paths. Visit the Migros Annual Report 2018.
Measure to improve
It’s impossible to really measure the success of print or PDF reports, as there simply is no data we can use to help us understand what is being read and how users are engaging with the document. Analytics allow us to asses the performance of digital reports – every metric can be scrutinised and most importantly, be acted upon.
For example, Hoist Finance operate as ‘digital by default’ and this enables them to truly understand their customers. By harnessing data, digital solutions are personalised for each customer, which in turn drives engagement. Earlier this year, Comprend worked closely with Hoist Finance to launch their latest Annual Report in keeping with their digital-first manifesto. Interactive charts and dynamic data are just some of the key ways in which they engage key stakeholders and create value. Analytics can be then captured and success metrics scrutinised as part of their ‘continuous improvement’ philosophy.
Blow their minds
A digital format opens up endless possibilities for companies to tell more compelling stories and directly address objectives. With 74% of corporate audiences reading reports on screen, a digital report will be much easier to consume and much more engaging, helping you get the best from your content.
Compelling, creative content increases engagement, inspires audiences, and builds trust. Animated infographics, videos, interactive content, and dynamic financials are just some of the ways you can bring your narratives to life and add more depth to plain old data. A digital Annual Report should be watchable, listenable, and glanceable - not just readable. There are no limits.
Another example is Roche, a multinational healthcare company specialising in healthcare and diagnostics. The Roche Annual Report 2019 is both interactive and engaging. Through the excellent use of video and rich media, the report illustrates how medicine is making an impact on the lives of their patients. Visit the Roche Annual Report.
The latest Annual Report from Adidas is both highly engaging and easy to navigate. The scrolling interface really comes to life and engages with bold imagery, cleverly combined with overlapping typography and infographics that help genuinely engage the end user and keeps them scrolling. The global nav bar includes a language selection option, as well as links to previous reports, helping the user locate content and dig deeper. Visit the Adidas Annual Report 2019.
The user experience should be seamless across all devices. On average, around 38% of investor traffic is on mobile and we’ve seen this figure consistently increase for all stakeholders. A digital report makes content easier to find and also means it’s accessible for users with disabilities. Language versions can be easily created and managed through a digital process, opening up your report to more readers. Everyone should get the same enhanced experience.
Back in February, Comprend worked closely with Electrolux to produce a digital-first Annual Report. Together, we were able to bring storytelling to life with engaging videos and case studies based around the key narrative of ‘creating value’. The content has been deliberately designed to be used on tablet devices during investor meetings, replacing linear presentations. Visit the Electrolux Annual Report 2019.
Do more with less
A digital reporting processes is a subject in itself, but an overall digital mindset will maximise efficiency and enable everyone involved in a project to do more with their time, putting as much energy as possible into the final product and beyond.
Choose the focus
Thinking about the final output and where to best focus our energy from the very beginning of a project means we can achieve a lot more. It means we’re thinking about engaging experiences first, not trying to make static the work fit the screen afterwards. This directs the content generation process and keeps us thinking about how we can give audiences what they need in the most compelling way possible.
Keep the energy up
When content is presented in a digital format, it becomes easier to adapt and is always ready to go in a variety of ways, meaning there is much greater value created from the initial time investment. We encourage our clients to firstly think of their reporting cycle as constant and to publish updates as they happen. If companies publish their content online, the process of creating a digital report becomes much easier - one system, no effort wasted, and endless ways to re-purpose. This includes making a PDF from your digital content.
How can we help?
Let’s make digital work to your advantage. There are lots of ways to improve your reporting and just as many ways to bring your company together through the power of digital processes.
At Comprend, we have over 20 years of corporate reporting experience. Together with our clients, we constantly push to create more engaging and efficient solutions each year. We'd love to talk to you about making better reports.