What Shareholders Want from Your Annual Report
One of the key functions of investor relations is understanding what shareholders want from your company, and delivering it for them.
Developing the Annual Report is always a momentous IR task, and one that is guaranteed to come around each and every year.
Most companies invest weeks if not months, and thousands of dollars, producing their Annual Report, and the production process can involve multiple departments, as well as external contractors and consultants.
Whether it’s an interactive digital report, in a traditional printed format or both, an Annual Report can contain hundreds of pages of performance metrics, forecasts and financial data.
So it might come as a crushing blow to know investors spend less than five minutes reading Annual Reports.
Which is why it’s so important to deliver the information they want.
Shareholders and other stakeholders want information quickly, and creating an interactive Annual Report can give your company a competitive edge by increasing reach and readership.
Companies that still print Annual Reports might boast that they’ve published and distributed 5000 copies, but there’s no way of knowing how many people actually read them.
An interactive Annual Report offers companies more benefits including greater accessibility, sustainability, shareability and user metrics, but it’s still vital to ensure the report contains the information shareholders and potential investors are looking for.
What the data tells us
Digital reporting allows companies to measure valuable metrics like traffic and user behaviour.
It’s important for companies and investor relations teams to understand what shareholders want from your Annual Report, so we’ve crunched the numbers for you.
Analysing the seven most recent interactive Annual Reports produced by Interactive Investor, we were able to uncover some interesting insights about the information users are looking for.
Most Popular Content viewed on Interactive Annual Reports
Landing Page or Home Page
Most users will first arrive at a website’s landing page or home page, so it is not surprising it was the most viewed content. It does however reflect the importance of ensuring the landing or home page of an interactive Annual Report is user-friendly, and tabs and links are easy to access so the user can quickly move to the sections most relevant to them. It also pays to include key messages on the home page to ensure the majority of visitors are exposed to them.
Not all of the reports had a dedicated section for the Director’s Report, but it ranked highly for traffic among those that did, coming in as the second most viewed content. This is a good indication that Annual Report readers are looking for insights from company leaders. By using an interactive Annual Report format, companies can take advantage of presenting the Director’s Report as a video or audio file.
PDF / Download
Only one of the seven Annual Reports had a PDF or downloads page, but it attracted 13.55% of all views for that report. Australian public companies are still required to produce a hard copy of their Annual Report, and the traditional format can be easily integrated into an interactive Annual Report as a PDF or download, available to those who wish to save or print a hard copy.
The next most popular content type was material related to strategic direction and business development. This indicates stakeholders are looking to Annual Reports not only to understand the recent past performance of a company, but also to gain insight into where the company is headed.
The style of operations content varied in each report, but any material related to operational performance and business achievements was categorised under this title. Operations was the most highly viewed content type in one of the seven Annual Reports, and this was the only case where a page other than the home page ranked highest. This demonstrates that for some companies, clear and accessible information about past performance is still the most sought-after content in an Annual Report.
When you think about Annual Reports you probably think about numbers – tables and graphs filled with profits, losses, expenses and forecasts. Financial reports accounted for 10% or less of all views on each of the analysed Annual Reports. This shows that numbers are not necessarily what your readers are looking for. While financial reports are a legislative requirement, they don’t tell the full story, and well written content is essential for an Annual Report that communicates clearly.
About / Team
Three of the reports offered an About or Team page, and each was viewed by about 5% of page traffic. While it can still be important to offer insights into the faces behind the company, getting to know the team is not the priority of most stakeholders. Using an interactive Annual Report format gives the user the opportunity to select the content that most interests them, so it’s still a good idea to provide a wide range of information, and leave it up to the reader to choose their own adventure.
Average Time on Site: 1 minute 52 seconds
We’re all busy, and these figures prove it. Most users are spending less time looking at Annual Reports than they do waiting for their morning coffee. That’s why it’s so important to capture their attention with a functional, interactive site and make the information they want easy to find. Of the seven reports analysed by Interactive Investor, the longest session was 3 minutes, 16 seconds; and the shortest was just 47 seconds.
Average Pages Viewed per Session: 1.94 pages
Although these interactive reporting microsites contained five or more pages, most users were only visiting about two pages. This is a reflection of the targeted nature of information your shareholders are looking for, they’re not interested in reading hundreds of pages of a printed document – just the information that matters most to them.
Average Desktop Views: 83.17%
All seven of the interactive Annual Reports were mostly accessed on a desktop computer. This is reflective of when and where people access these reports, which appears to be mostly from work or a home office when they’re focused on a particular task. But, mobile views are increasing.
Average Mobile Views: 16.87%
Most investors keep a smartphone or mobile device at close reach at all times, so it’s no surprise to see mobile views of online Annual Reports are increasing. Mobile device readership ranged between 11.51% and 38.09% among the seven Annual Reports analysed by Interactive Investor.