The Index of Online Excellence: Who serves which audiences the best online?

Jason Sumner looks beyond the overall top-scorers in our annual ranking to see which companies are best at serving individual audience groups with their digital communications.

Last month we published the 2019 Index of Online Excellence, a ranking of the world’s 30 best companies at digital corporate communications. (See also a Forbes magazine article on the Index results).

Making it into the Index is an achievement in itself, because we take the 30 best from a pool of the largest 200 companies in the world by market capitalization. We spend thousands of hours analysing the effectiveness of their online communications in eight broad categories (and a total of 26 metrics in total).

Corporate digital communication is complex because companies have to satisfy audiences that have varying goals and information needs. The Index measures how well companies are managing this complexity through our five so-called ‘serving’ metrics, in which we take a granular look at how well specific audiences are being catered for – jobseekers, investors, media, customers and ‘society’ (including corporate social responsibility professionals and general audiences who are interested in a company’s record on ethics and sustainability).

Here are the companies that came top in each of these five metrics. (We will look at the best in the other three categories – construction, message and contact information – in a future column.)

Best for ‘serving jobseekers’

Top-scoring company: Verizon (29 points out of a maximum of 32)


Verizon does an excellent job of ‘selling’ the company as an employer. The excellent new podcast for employees, ‘Up to Speed’ is available to anyone on the website.

Runners up: BNP Paribas (28/32) and GSK (26/32)

Note: BNP Paribas (and some companies below) do not appear in the overall top 30 list, but were identified as category leaders when we evaluated the largest 200 companies in the world by market capitalization.

Best for ‘serving investors’

Top-scoring company: Shell (29 points out of a maximum of 32)


Shell is a long-time high-performer in this category. Information in the global site’s Investors section remains as rich as ever. The ‘Shell and our strategy’ sub-section is complemented by the impressive Investors Handbook and Annual report, both available online and in PDF

Runners up: BP (27/32) and Zurich (27/32)

Best for ‘serving the media’

Top-scoring companies: Nestlé and Bayer (both scored 26 points out of a maximum of 32)


Nestlé’s press release archive is easily found, neatly presented and displays well on a mobile

Index-dBayer.png is a rich resource for journalists seeking background material.

Runners up: BASF, Daimler, Vinci, all on 24/32

Best for ‘serving customers’

Top-scoring company: Microsoft (28 points out of a maximum of 32)


The strength of Microsoft’s provision for customers through its online channels lies in doing a lot of things very well. Customer journeys are smooth and integrated, while good information is provided throughout to help customers make decisions.

Runners up: Texas Instruments/Maersk 27/32

Best for ‘serving society’

Top-scoring company: Nestle 29/32


Nestlé’s relaunched CSR section, ‘Our Impact’, does an exceptionally good job of presenting progress against a large number of goals that is both accessible and detailed. Corporate governance information is well-written, neatly presented and highly transparent. Its Creating Shared Value reporting also serves CSR professional audiences well.

Runners up: Eni 28/32 and BP, Bayer, BAT 27/32

- Jason Sumner

Visit the Global Index 2019 page to see the full results, and download free Index publication.

The Bowen Craggs Database is the engine that drives the Index of Online Excellence, with detailed scoring and analysis for more than 100 global companies and best practice from the top performers.

First published 18 July, 2019
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