Many corporate websites in Hong Kong are failing to deliver the kind of modern digital experience that users have come to expect – experiences that are now commonplace in the consumer world.
How important are corporate websites?
Corporate websites are a critical source of information for consumers, jobseekers and investors. Of the institutional investors surveyed by the Brunswick Digital Investor Survey 2018, 98% reported that they used digital sources to conduct investment research, and 88% made investment decisions based on those digital sources.
The number one tool used for research was search engines. Corporate websites are generally the top-ranked search result when searching for a company name, making them a vitally important and trusted destination that should be highly valued among a company’s digital assets.
The survey also indicated that an outdated, badly designed or poorly functioning website reflects negatively on how companies are perceived. At a minimum, websites must be mobile responsive, visually impactful and audience focused.
There is a tendency currently for corporations to speak at the user, without trying to understand what they might be looking for.
There should also be connectivity between the content published across different digital channels using different levels of complexity. For example, a thought leadership article published on a company website can be summarised and posted on LinkedIn, or an interview with company executives could be split into several smaller segments for distribution on Facebook.
Compare and contrast
The survey looked at the websites of the top 50 companies (by market cap) in the Hang Seng Index (HSI) and compared them to the FTSE 50 in the United Kingdom to identify trends and differences across these two markets. Some of the key observations are:
!= Mobile users in Hong Kong are hugely underserved with 54% of the HSI 50 company sites not mobile responsive. Mobile users account for at least half of all web traffic globally – and in Asia it is closer to 60% – meaning some companies are ignoring a large percentage of their audience. In the U.K., only 8% of the FTSE50 companies failed to provide mobile friendly experiences.
!= Video content was absent in half of all HSI50 websites. Around 60% of site visitors prefer to watch a video before reading any text, so this important medium is being too often ignored.
!= Only 18% of HSI50 sites had a modern and impactful online identity. In the U.K. this number was 62%. A well-designed website should bring a brand to life, and it remains one of the most impactful and cost-effective ways to deliver a holistic branding experience.
!= Regarding content of interest to investors, 96% of the Hong Kong-listed companies are failing to provide certain pieces of important investor relations content. Official documents like annual reports are still predominantly in PDF format only. This is a problem because PDFs are not search-engine friendly and are not easy to read on mobile devices
!= Although sustainability is an increasingly important issue for consumers, jobseekers and investors, 48% of the Hong Kong companies surveyed provided insufficient or no ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) information on their websites. In the U.K. only 8% of companies failed to do so.
!= Of the Hong Kong companies surveyed, 32% had no dedicated careers section at all while only 8% of U.K. companies were making the same mistake. Corporate websites should sit at the heart of your recruitment strategy. A younger demographic will almost certainly look at your website for information on why you are an employer of choice when they are job hunting.
If companies want to fully leverage the power of their most important digital platform, they should be:
1. Audience focused. This means you need to “think mobile,” ensure the right content for your audience is present and searchable, and also use your website as a brand platform as an employer.
2. Visual. Our brains crave simple, visual information. Humans process images 60,000 times faster than text, so it is vital that your website is visual and easy to navigate. This will keep users engaged for longer and leave a stronger impression. Key information can be presented in various visual formats, from infographics to film. According to Forbes Insights, 75% of executives watch work-related videos on business-related websites, so having a corporate film strategy is essential to ensure you are communicating effectively with today’s online audiences.
3. Connected. Once you have created content, you can use and repurpose it many times. For example, treat your annual and ESG reports as regular opportunities to engage with your audience. An annual report can be used to generate data sheets, infographics, social cards and film content, or even an online experience, which allows your audience to connect and reconnect at different levels of complexity.
4. Amplified. Paid distribution of content is the new reality. Content that has not been paid for – for example news coverage of a new business initiative or solid financial results – is welcome, but will come and go. Paid media through online advertising channels enables highly targeted content and accumulated visibility over time. It also allows you to take your message to the audience instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Digital is the new default when it comes to corporate communications. Paying attention to the above observations will allow companies in Hong Kong the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
By Wendy Choy, Director (Client Services) and Nick Read, Technical Project Manager, MerchantCantos