With social media and customer-oriented apps taking away significant mindshare, businesses often ignore the strategic importance of a corporate website. A corporate website can become the most powerful tool to not only build reputation and trust online but also deliver genuine customer experiences and engagement in social media.
Today, stakeholders are spending significant time online. Investors and analysts from the financial community too are using the internet for research 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 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).
Three important areas that make a corporate website effective are:
01. A truthful, conversational two-way communication approach
Gone are the days when corporates treated their websites like their corporate brochure — presenting all good things with a self-promotional approach. Today, online visitors are open to conversations with companies that are transparent, truthful and follow a two-way (communicating & 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.
Flowery and self-propagating statements are the biggest deterrents to building an online following, with 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 the key to building a differentiated online reputation asset.
02. Reason-to-believe — 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, a corporate website should move away from just writing content in words (page after page) and try to replace it with reason-to-believe elements:
- 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 of working with the company adds to genuine goodwill.
- 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 vis-à-vis competitors.
- 3rd party testimonials are one the biggest engagement building elements. 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.
03. 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 effectiveness.
Essentially, a corporate website should capture the ‘holistic’ view of the company and for areas which require more detailing, 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 stay connected with the organization.
The above three areas can help create a website that is impactful, addresses the needs of a diverse 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.