When developing your investor relations website, you want to be sure that you’re following all the best practices for investor marketing. A good website will function with no issues and host your investor information, but an excellent website will also incorporate marketing best practices that can help you attract new investors and elevate your brand. Most IROs don’t have the time to develop a website and choose a service provider to host and design their IR website, so selecting the right provider is crucial. This article will explore the basic requirements of any IR website, some best practices, and how to choose the best investor relations website service partner.
The following items are absolute must-haves for any IR website. To ignore these would not only put your website at a competitive disadvantage, but they could also negatively affect your relationship with investors or regulatory bodies. Learn more about:
Content Management Systems
Page Speed Optimization
Data Security and Privacy
Accessibility and WCAG Compliance
IR Intelligence and Insights
A Content Management System, or CMS, allows you to easily update your IR website without having to code or learn web design. When selecting an IR web design partner, you will want to discuss what kind of content you can edit yourself in a CMS and what you will need to send to the designer. Even if you want your web partner to manage all your web content for you, you still want to ensure that you can navigate your CMS by yourself if you need to make changes on the fly.
However, there are many different systems available for investor relations websites. You will most likely want a highly secure CMS explicitly designed for investor relations. Standard DIY style CMS such as Wordpress, Wix and Squarespace may lack the security and professionalism needed to represent your brand in highly regulated capital markets. An IR website partner can create a scalable and user-friendly CMS that allows you to add and update content as you wish while maintaining complex design and security requirements on your behalf.
One of the most essential necessities of modern web design is a fast page loading speed. When visitors land on your website, you want to ensure an optimal experience, and that means loading quickly on mobile and desktop browsers alike. Not only does this impact a visitor’s experience on your website, but a poor page loading speed can negatively impact your ability to show up in search engines.
You should vet your prospective designer’s portfolio to examine how fast their websites typically load. Use a page speed measurement tool such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights to evaluate how fast your website will be for visitors. While a loading time of 2 seconds is considered a passable minimum, the webmasters at Google recommend aiming for closer to 0.5 seconds. Especially with the growing segment of retail investors, you must ensure your website is up to the standards of technologically sophisticated investors.
Cybersecurity is a non-negotiable element of any website. An IR website that captures Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as names or email addresses for newsletters must have a comprehensive data security infrastructure. Especially with the high stakes of capital markets, it’s critical to ensure your content is not vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks. Not only does encryption help secure your website, security indicators such as SSL certificates and HTTPS addresses can reassure visitors that your website is official and safe to browse without the risk of malware.
Additionally, you will want to ensure that your website is compliant with all relevant privacy regulations. The most well known privacy guidelines, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the EU/UK and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are a good place to start to protect your website from liability. Even if your business is based outside these jurisdictions, you will need to comply with the local regulations of your investors. GDPR and CCPA regulations may include but are not limited to:
Your website should disclose all these privacy rights to visitors in simple language. Additionally, you should include the company’s contact information and its representatives so visitors may inquire about their data privacy.
Remember, even if your business is not based in California or the EU you should still adhere to CCPA and GDPR to accommodate investors from those regions. It’s important to work with a web design partner who can help you navigate complex privacy and financial regulations.
An oft-overlooked element of web design is accessibility for people with audio or visual impairment. With large cohorts of investors entering advanced age, there’s more demand than ever for accessible content. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG, are global standards for making your site accessible to blind and visually impaired persons. Typically, this means making your web content accessible to screen readers and ensuring that adjacent colours have sufficient legibility and contrast. We recommend treating WCAG guidelines as a bare minimum requirement, and striving to make your IR website content accessible to people with audio or visual impairments. Additionally, if your content contains auditory components, such as webcasts or earnings call recordings, you should ensure closed captioning or transcription is available.
Digital requirements and user expectations are constantly increasing. If you do not build your IR website on a scalable platform that can evolve and accommodate new needs, you’ll end up completely rebuilding it as soon as you need something new. Creating a new website every 4-5 years is a poor use of time and resources, especially if you have to vet new web designers each time.
The benefit of choosing an IR-oriented web services partner is that they will host your website on a scalable tech stack that is constantly evolving, and automatically keeping you up to date with new requirements. It allows you to be more flexible, giving you the ability to add pages, content, sections, and features easily. Rather than scrapping or redesigning your IR website every few years, you’ll be able to maintain continuity with a website that evolves and adapts to your needs.
In addition to basic features such as the ability to post quarterly reports and manage copy, your IR website needs to host data and filings following regulatory compliance requirements. For example, you may wish to use share price tools to display interactive historical records of share price and trade tracking across multiple exchanges. Additionally, you may also want to maintain a historical database of various filings for regulatory compliance. You can accomplish this by integrating IR tools and feeds into your website.
It’s beneficial to work with an IR partner when building your website because they will construct a website that maximizes visibility into your key metrics. Additionally, an IR partner is well suited to advise on what is appropriate for your IR website and how to avoid entanglement issues.
If your IR website attracts high-value investors, you’ll want to ensure you have access to robust intelligence and insights so opportunities don’t pass you. In addition to the analytics tools you would expect of a standard website, you should choose a web design partner that can provide in-depth insights into how your IR website impacts investor relationships.
While not strict requirements, the following best practices can elevate your investor relations website and strengthen your corporate brand. When choosing a web design partner, you look for providers who can help you with:
- Copywriting and Brand Narrative
- Digital Marketing Strategies
- User Experience (UX)
- Virtual Event Integrations
Your IR website is a prime opportunity to establish your brand narrative and communicate your company's value proposition. Your website should showcase what your company stands for and what differentiates you from your peers. Professional copywriting can be time-consuming, so it’s beneficial when you can lean on your web design partner to help you elevate your brand. A web design partner with extensive experience designing IR websites can also help you with IR-specific best practices and analyze trends across industries, which is an advantage that run-of-the-mill copywriters lack. As with other facets of marketing and web design, it’s helpful to have an all-inclusive partner that can offer services such as copywriting and branding.
Additionally, a partner with experience in investor relations can also help you diversify the content on your website outside of standard reports and text. Infographics, case studies, videos, and other multimedia experiences can enhance the effectiveness of your IR website. Skillfully presenting a mix of content can help you amplify your core investment thesis.
To amplify your website content, you’ll typically rely on digital marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), paid search, and other digital marketing strategies. However, these digital strategies often require forethought into the development of your website.
For example, SEO helps people find your IR website through search engines like Google. The technical requirements for SEO require you to design your website with strategic forethought. Some of the technical requirements for SEO include site architecture, metadata, and internal link building.
Other digital strategies, such as paid traffic acquisition, will also require you to optimize your website with the appropriate analytics and landing pages to support ads hosted on search engines and social media. When designing your website, it is important to get these elements right the first time so they don’t impede your growth efforts.
A web design partner experienced with performance marketing can help you integrate a growth mindset into your investor relations website. Additionally, the ongoing partnership with an IR-focused web and digital services provider will save you time and effort on your digital amplification strategies with advanced analytics and reporting tools. The main benefit of working with a performance marketing partner experienced with IR is that they already know how to market to investors to help you craft strategies according to regulatory guidelines and help you benchmark your digital performance with your peers.
When visitors see your website, they should intuitively find the information they are looking for. A web design partner who understands investor relations will create a web experience that is easy for shareholders to navigate. While some providers will use a tried and true investor relations website template, you may require a custom website. Both templated and bespoke websites should be simple to browse and easy to predict.
A web design partner experienced in investor relations will leverage learnings from their other clients to make the best possible design decisions. Ideally, your website will be updated and adapted over time to optimize user experience aligned with consumers’ evolving expectations.
With the advent of remote working and virtual events, you should consider IR website providers with integrated webcasting solutions. This can help you create a seamless experience for visitors to learn about your brand, but the benefits don’t stop there. By integrating your virtual IR events with your web partner, you benefit by having all your tools in a single interface. This saves you time by making it easier to manage your workflow.
Irwin is proud to partner with Investis Digital, which offers investor relations website hosting, design, performance marketing services, and more. Their IR website and digital presence audits analyze over 100 aspects of your website and benchmark your performance against peers, helping you to improve performance with a robust data-driven approach. With a wealth of experience in digital design and a portfolio of leading global brands, you can rest assured that your IR website is in good hands.