The state of European corporate websites
By Chris Henson & Timmy Fredriksson
The 500 largest companies in Europe have just been ranked on the extent to which their corporate websites deliver the content that capital markets and jobseekers require. The results in Webranking by Comprend 2019-2020 reveal that companies have a general lack of depth in their investor and governance sections, with greater transparency needed to adequately satisfy a capital market audience. Companies are however putting on their attractive employer hats, as there is a richer abundance of content targeted towards jobseekers than ever before.
The importance of the corporate website
The credibility of information is of the utmost importance and the need to communicate to reach the right audience is becoming an increasingly difficult task. The good thing for listed companies today is that they are obliged to operate a platform that their stakeholders use: the corporate website. It is the most-used source by both the capital market audience and by jobseekers, as both target groups place a great deal of trust in the website - a trust which is only surpassed by the annual report. Indeed, 98% of these stakeholders use the corporate website when seeking all types of information on the company.
When providing the key components of a corporate website, legal requirements often dictate where large listed companies start: providing everything required by law and indices. Branding this content is often another focus, as companies make decisions in terms of: design, UX, imagery and tone-of-voice. A step that is often missed - and therefore becomes a big challenge - is the inclusion of all the information stakeholders want. With this common shortcoming in mind, it's important to consider to what extent Europe's 500 largest companies are delivering the most-sought content for stakeholders and where they might be falling short. This is where the Webranking 2019-2020 results come in.
Debt and governance information on a steady rise
In our Capital Market Report 2019, we unpacked what stakeholders - including analysts, investors, and fund managers - want to see from a corporate website, based on the results of our latest survey. The demand for debt, shareholder, and governance information was at an all-time high, with the following topics of particular importance (on a 1-5 scale, where 5=very important):
- Dividend policies (4.3)
- Key debt ratios (4.2)
- Major shareholders (4.1)
- Corporate bonds (4.0)
- Board members' skills and independence (4.0)
With the 2019-2020 ranking now complete, we can see that whilst Europe's 500 largest companies are moving in the right direction when it comes to tackling these key topics, the improvements made over the last year are a little underwhelming.
Dividends a relative strong point but progress remains limited