Is your Corporate Website the Key Digital Asset for your business?

21/12/2015

With social media and customer-oriented apps taking away significant mindshare, most businesses ignore the strategic importance of corporate websites. A corporate website, if used properly, can become the most powerful tool to not only build reputation and trust online but also meaningfully extend to deliver genuine customer experiences and engagement in social media.

Today, stakeholders are spending maximum time online. Investors and analysts from the financial community too are using the online medium for (re)search purposes. Thus, the importance of a good corporate website cannot be overemphasized. A corporate website can become the key content aggregation platform from where various other online and social media assets are fed with content. For example, a blog can also be published on the company’s or individual leader’s LinkedIn page while a press release link can be tweeted with key performance highlights and a career opening can be shared through the Facebook page.

A corporate website needs three key elements to be effective. Original content captured with a powerful storytelling style; a simple, minimalistic design with a strong focus on User Interface Experience and an intelligent backend that captures visitor behavior and predicts usage patterns through analytics in a responsive website (that is desktop, tablet and mobile ready).

The three important areas that make a corporate website effective are:

1. A website that is truthful, conversational & follows a two- way communication approach

Gone are the days when when corporates treated their websites like their corporate brochure – presenting all good things with a ‘you better listen’ approach. Today, online visitors are open to conversations with companies that are transparent, truthful and follow a two-way (listening) approach. The first thing in building a corporate website is ensuring that the messaging, content and communication is genuine, verifiable and meets the ‘on ground’ actions of the company.

Showering flowery and self-propagating statements through the website is the biggest deterrent to building an online following, trust and respect. For today’s corporations, a website that helps the reader genuinely answer and understand his/her questions in a simple and straightforward manner is key to building a differentiated online reputation asset.

2. The proof is in the viewing – Interviews, Videos, Case Studies, 3rd Party Testimonials, Performance Reports rather than good words

Today, most online visitors are short of time, lack patience and take quick decisions based on first impressions. Thus, corporate websites should move away from just writing content in words (page after page) and try to replace it with “proof of the content”.

  • Content published in the form of short Q&As with the senior leadership team that answers critical questions on strategy, growth and performance
  • Short videos of employees, vendors, partners about their experience in working with the company adds to genuine goodwill
  • Actual case studies with data and figures where the company’s services have helped improve or solve a customer problem. This helps reinforce the company’s offerings competitors.
  • 3rd party testimonials are one the biggest engagement building mechanism; thus, a farmer or villager validating that the water table in his area has gone up significantly after the company’s efforts to conserve water is much more effective than the company narrating the same in its website.

3.Consider creating microsites for key sections like careers, corporate social responsibility, investor relations, ideas & innovations, etc.

Today companies need to cater to various stakeholders and each one of them tries to understand their areas of interest in a focused manner. With activism on the rise, be it by shareholders, NGOs, past & present employees or consumers, class action suits, etc. putting all information in a single place may not be possible (making it too bulky for neutral readers) or may take away its effectiveness.

Thus, companies should try to create a corporate website that captures the ‘holistic’ view of the company in one place; at the same time, for people who want to understand the ‘parts’ in a more detailed / finer manner, microsites should be created that can be accessed either directly or through the corporate website. For example, careers as a microsite is most visited by students or prospective employees who want to join the company not to mention individuals from the alumni network who wish to join back.

The above three criteria when taken care of, will deliver a website that is impactful to its target audience and is well received in the online space. While the top 100 companies in FTSE Index are mostly following the above, it is time for every corporate who aspires to enter the revered league to implement the above online corporate reputation best practices.