Norwegian corporate websites have a lack of general company information
By Anna Dunder
This year’s Norwegian Webranking results showed a slight score increase when the 20 largest companies’ corporate websites were ranked against stakeholders needs, with an average score of 42.7 (out of 100 points). Norwegian companies lack some transparency in both their funding and 'About us' information, but outperform other European companies for the depth of their shareholder information.
Our findings show that shareholder information is exceptional on Norwegian corporate websites, but that companies are struggling to present general company information. This year's Webranking results reveal that an average of just 40% of stakeholder needs in the 'About us' section are currently being met. One interesting finding is that companies’ social media channels sometimes offer more detailed information than the corporate websites do, particularly when it comes to competitors and markets. In addition, Norwegian companies have increased their funding information, but are still far from the average of the largest companies elsewhere across Europe. Let’s explore where the best Norwegian practices can be found and which company’s efforts in digital communication have changed the scoreboard this year.
Corporate websites emphasise the overviews
For the past five years, Norwegian companies have kept the focus of 'About us' information restricted mainly to their business areas. Business areas are often well-described on a general level, but not many Norwegian companies take the opportunity to unpack these in further detail with financial figures. This year only 20% of the companies did so, thereby leaving some information lacking.
Across Europe’s 20 largest companies, 60% of the key 'About us' information is presented on average; by contrast, Norwegian companies may be stuck in their comfort zone. Aside from the business areas, highlights of the previous financial year or the option to read more on the annual report are aspects rarely offered. As general company information is often a website's guiding light, providing relevant insight to everyone from investors to journalists and jobseekers, it is crucial to ensure that any visitor can find it in abundance. If the corporate website doesn’t direct a visitor to the right information, they might turn to other channels - such as Wikipedia.
Our research indicates that Norwegian companies are good at offering business overviews and geographical descriptions, but that this information is not commonly displayed on their social media channels. However, sometimes a company's Wikipedia page might hold more information than the website. As this could have been put there by anyone, the reader cannot verify the information if it isn't also available on the corporate website. Even though use of Wikipedia has increased, the main source for company information used by a capital markets audience remains the corporate website.
Having an up-to-date corporate website is therefore essential.
Market shares are not often communicated
Another strand of information more commonly seen on Wikipedia than on a Norwegian corporate website is a company's market share. 25% of Norwegian companies and 23% of other European companies had their market share mentioned on their Wikipedia pages. On the website, only 20% of Norwegian companies and 10% of their European counterparts communicated their market share with numbers. Therefore, even though market share information can help stakeholders to get a better understanding of a company's positioning, it is not often communicated on corporate websites. Out of all the ranked Norwegian companies, only four mentioned their market share on the website, whilst only two made reference to their competitors. This highlights that one of the common challenges throughout Europe is the imbalance between different channels.
Despite this, one of the best practice examples this year in Norway is Gjensidige. The insurance company lists their competitors by name which offers visitors a good overview of the company's market.
The Shareholder content is the shining star
Shareholder information is an asset for Norwegian websites. The corporate websites of the 20 largest companies have stayed on the same level over the past five years, with a range of information consistently well presented, from major shareholders to dividends. One Norwegian company that has covered the most important shareholder information in exceptional detail is Orkla. They even move beyond the traditional use of a table for share capital history to visualise the changes through a timeline. Even though the share capital total is not mentioned per transaction, the shareholder information is still very good.
Funding information is below the Nordic average
Norwegian corporate bonds increased in 2018, according to the Nordic Trustee’s Bond Market Report, but this has yet to dramatically impact upon corporate communication. Currently 45% of the largest companies mention their funding outside of the annual reports, with the transparency of this information improving slightly in Norway over the last three years from 40% to 45%. Even with this increase, Norwegian companies are still far behind when compared to the 20 largest Nordic companies, more than 70% of whom discuss funding on their corporate websites. Therefore although Norwegian companies are making progress with their funding communication, much more could be done to cater for the 97% of capital market professionals who find key debt information important.
Equinor is the Winner & the Climber of the Year
This year’s Norwegian Webranking has a new winner as Equinor (previously Statoil) takes the highest podium. Orkla - winner for the previous five editions - takes second place, whilst third goes to Telenor. Looking back, the podium has had the same names engraved on it for the last five years, with only the order of second and third changing. This year, Equinor’s work with their digital communication has paid off as their score improved more than 7 points from last year. This increase sees them ascend back to the number one spot after six years away, as well as giving them the Climber of the year award.
Equinor’s remarkable score increase shows how continuous work with digital communications while listening to your stakeholders is vital. In 2019, the 20 ranked Norwegian websites represented 10 sectors, where the majority of companies were from the Oil & Gas and Food & Beverage sectors. Telenor’s performance is notable in their supersector of Telecommunications as they have obtained third place out of the applicable 900 ranked companies. Orkla and Equinor made it into the top five of their sectors in Europe.
Top ten in Norway
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See the full Norwegian results