Why is the corporate digital landscape so complex?
Corporate digital communications teams must balance the needs of different audience groups, internal stakeholders and multiple channels
Diverse visitor groups
In Bowen Craggs digital communications benchmarking we identify six main audience groups – investors, media, ESG professionals, jobseekers, employees and customers. Each of these main groups expands into many more – investors that know your company, versus those that don’t for example; financial journalists, trade journalists and general media. Not only this, but these audiences do not ‘stay in their lane’. Investors go outside the investor section, and a small but significant portion of all audiences are interested in sustainability. How can you be sure you are serving all of these audiences well?
Your audiences use an increasing number of channels and technologies to interact with you. Where can you best reach your audience and where does your audience expect you to be? This mix will change over time, and differ according to industry. Not everyone is on all channels but consistency of messaging is vital. The complexity multiplies when you add country and market channels. This raises governance issues too. Can anyone in the company start an Instagram account and do you have the power to say no?
You have many stakeholders in corporate headquarters and more in the countries and markets. They have their own ideas, their own advisers and their own agendas. And they are generally only focused on their audience; for example, HR may want a completely separate website. Senior leaders want to see more sustainability content, but the content that comes out of most sustainability departments is too technical to appeal to general audiences.
How do you address these challenges?
First, develop a peer network. When looking for advice and guidance on how to tackle certain issues, the best sources are unlikely to be in your organization. After all, corporate communication is uniquely complex, for the reasons discussed above. The cautionary tales of failure and the success stories are inside peer organizations, and you should use them to your advantage.
Secondly, implement a system of continuous improvement: measure, interpret and act.
Survey your users. At a minimum ask your visitors: who they are, why they came and if they reached their goal. Remember, asking too many questions can be as bad as asking too few.
Benchmark against your peers. Do not try and reinvent the wheel when it comes to corporate digital communications. Look to your peers for inspiration, then build on a foundation of best practice. Decipher analytics. All organizations now have access to a plethora of usage analytics but be careful not to jump to the wrong conclusions. Does an increase in pages visited mean that your users are more interested in your content, or have they become hopelessly lost?
Build consensus with your internal stakeholders by having meaningful conversations based on the qualitative and quantitative data collected during the measurement phase. Use the data to make the right choices and prioritise actions.
Agree the plan, implement the plan and measure again. Executed well, you will improve reputation, better meet visitor needs and achieve your organization’s digital communication goals, or move closer towards doing so with each iteration.
How can Bowen Craggs help?
Corporate communication, and the impact it can have for organizations is changing fast. There are many factors driving this, such as the global pandemic, and investor and public pressure on climate change and other sustainability issues. What is clear is that organizations that do not continue to improve – by cycling through the stages of measure, interpret, act – will be left behind, face reputational risk and miss opportunities.
Bowen Craggs has both these steps covered and has been helping the digital corporate communications teams of large, often global organisations for nearly 20 years. It all starts with membership of the Bowen Craggs Club.