A recent LinkedIn post discussed how there seems to be significant differences between what the biggest companies say on their websites and what they put out on the annual report. Naturally, the annual report is the more recent management thinking on all matters of the organization.
In the pre-Google world one could argue that the audiences for the Annual Report and Website are different. The Annual report is for primarily investors while the (old) website was a company brochure for prospective customers.
Today, things have changed and the website is for all folks who might simple Google the company and these could include employees, job applicants, prospective and current: customers,suppliers,alliance partners,investors,students etc.
Given the importance and the position of the company website when it is searched online, here are five tips to better align your website content to your annual report:
- Understand your Annual Report process: In most organizations, the CEO would ask the different CxO's (Chief functional Officers like Marketing,Supply Chain, HR,Operations etc.) coordinated by the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) to come up with (a) what was achieved last year (b) what is planned-budgeted next year and in the next few years. In other words, the annual report is a true picture of what top management is trying to do in both a strategic and operational sense. It is thus a simple place to start looking at the website content.
- Your Annual Report drives website content: Your annual report should be driving the website content and website content should reflect what you are actually trying to do that you have already articulated in the annual report. We exclude any customer, supplier or employee portals that you might have that have many associated back end processes.
- However, do not delete web content: No one is ever happy with their website content, but resist the urge to delete stuff unless things have completely changed. It's far better to give some context to things that are no longer relevant. For e.g. you might have a product line that is discontinued and replaced with new product lines. However, you have some arrangement for spares and services in place for customers involved with the old product line. This page can be deep inside your website but is very valuable to customers who have the earlier versions of your product. Besides, the content helps your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for the product category.
- Think transparency and big goals : A key to aligning annual reports to websites is to "think transparency" in the information age. Once decisions are taken, implementation is far easier if all the stuff is on the website. Exclusions are (a) competitive matters that you don't want to share like your trade secrets (b) privacy related matters that are possibly harmful to stakeholders like employee or customer details.
- Think Execution- even employees search the website first: The best reason for keeping annual report themes and website content aligned well is to help execute the Board and CEO vision. Just look at the Google Analytics data for how many times employees search for stuff on the corporate website. Merely spelling out the operational stuff clearly (for example a downloadable form for purchase requests) can vastly improve execution of strategy visualized in the Annual Report. About StratoServe Digital Marketing Services.