German corporate websites suit the media but need a future focus
By Anna Dunder
This year’s Webranking by Comprend research evaluated the corporate websites of the 64 largest listed companies in Germany. The German results reveal that companies provide a good service to business journalists and jobseekers, but that the needs of investors and analysts are far from being met. Providing more future-looking content on German corporate websites would be a great starting point for improving their experience.
The average German score has decreased slightly from last year to 48.1 points (out of 100). This decrease follows the European trend: stakeholder needs have increased at a rate faster than the companies' corporate communications have been able to keep pace. Media sections are a strong suit of German websites as they present an average of 61% of the key information, whilst the career pages have improved from previous years to reach a 50% average for the first time. However, a challenge that many of the German companies face is communicating their thoughts about the future and what it may have in store.
Newsrooms are filled with good functionalities
When assessing the strengths of German websites, the service provided to the media is definitely this year's highlight; our research shows that German companies are cater well to the needs of business journalists. 70% of companies offer extensive newsrooms on their corporate websites, and more than half of them have also focused on improving the usability of their press archives. As the archives grow over time, the find-ability of information decreases. Good functionality options such as search bars and filters are just a couple of the ways that companies are improving the accessibility of their archives.
A great example from a German company that has succeeded in meeting the needs of the business journalist comes from global healthcare group Fresenius. Fresenius offer a good newsroom together with an extensive library for photos and videos, making the website a high quality resource for the media.
Geographical presence can bring clarity for jobseekers
In addition to business journalists, jobseekers are also well catered for by German corporate websites this year. Career pages have continually improved over the years to the point that German companies are finally meeting an average of 50% of the jobseekers' needs. German companies introduce themselves to jobseekers very well, and it is this element of their career content which sets them apart from many European peers. One of the most important facets of a company that jobseekers want to understand in these uncertain times - other than what vacancies are available - is the employee experience.
An impressive 75% of German companies present their corporate culture and values to jobseekers, whilst as many as half of them also introduce the company from a geographical perspective with information about their presence. A short description of the regions and/or countries in which a company operates is crucial for providing candidates with a better overview of both the organisation in general, as well as the locations where they might be able to work. German companies present these geographical locations on their career sites with greater frequency than the 20 largest companies in Europe, and as a result this is a key area in which they stand out.
K+S are high quality example of how a company's career site can include geographical locations. They provide career possibilities along with a comprehensive map, covering all of the continents in which the company operates.
Whilst career sites are doing a relatively good job of meeting the expectations of jobseekers, a group that needs more information on German corporate websites is analysts and investors.
Forward-looking statements are a challenge for German companies
This year, the biggest challenge for German companies is meeting the needs of the investors and analysts. Reporting is a strong area of German financial communication, but when the corporate websites were evaluated for future-looking statements - such as company outlooks - less than 40% were found to include this key information. Furthermore, even fewer German companies reference the megatrends affecting their industry.
For many companies the general strategy is often the only entry point for a discussion of the future, which overlooks the importance of a financial outlook. It is not an easy task to communicate to investors that the future is bright and that a company is prepared to face any challenges that may lie ahead; as a possible result many choose not to publish this information. Those that do will have an advantage in convincing potential investors, as more than 90% of them perceive this to be important information.
One company to keep an eye out for is Daimler, who discuss their market outlook from several perspectives.
BASF is the German Winner and the Climber of the Year is BB Biotech
BASF performed the best in Germany for the fourth year in row with an amazing score of 76.6 points (out of 100). BASF also secured their position as the best corporate website in the Chemicals supersector. Second place in Germany goes to Bayer with 73.2 points, climbing one place from last year. In third place is Continental with 64.9 points, ascending to the podium from last year's eighth-place finish. This year’s Climber of the Year award goes to the Swiss company BB Biotech, who are also listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. They improved their stakeholder communication by 7.7 points from last year, landing at 36.1 points (out of 100) this year.
Top ten in Germany
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See the full German results