Top 20 most effective corporate digital estates
Every working day at global corporations, digital professionals work to tell compelling stories, market brands, run campaigns, help audiences access relevant content and build sites to support suppliers, customers and other business relationships.
And, in embracing digital content global corporations have built complex digital estates comprising thousands of interconnected social media accounts, websites, subsites and microsites for different audiences.
But, in the midst of complexity and constant content updates it is tough to know if digital estates and their websites are actually effective. Do they meet audience needs? Do they communicate an organisation’s key messages? Do they use leading design and development practices?
To answer those questions (and more), we’ve developed an assessment methodology to measure digital estate effectiveness. We call it, eQ (effectiveness Quotient).
To see how it works we’re reporting on an eQ assessment exercise we ran across 200 global corporations with complex, multi-country, multi-brand operations. To really test our approach, we ranked the 200 corporations by digital estate complexity, using our software to map and tally the digital estates.
We then turned our attention to the twenty corporations with the biggest, most complex digital estates, concentrating on their group/corporate websites for detailed assessment and ranking.
Each group/corporate website was assessed on how well it communicates, for a communication score (out of 600), how well it addresses its audiences, for an audience score (out of 600) and the strength of its implementation for a platform score (out of 400). A website can have a maximum eQ of 1,600.
Here’s what we found.
Results | top 20 most effective corporate digital estates
Each scorecard shows a website’s overall eQ as well as the split of the platform, communication and audience scores. Hover over a relevant doughnut chart to reveal the composition of the total score. Select a tab to sort the scores by platform, communication or audience.
The platform, communication and audience scores each comprise five further sub-elements. We discuss these below. Overall, we assess over 100 distinct factors in evaluating a website’s eQ.
About twenty percent of the assessment factors are measured directly from data our software gathers from websites. The balance of the assessment requires a mix of experience, expertise and judgement. And, we use a carefully calibrated scoring framework to provide assessment reliability and consistency.
How we measure a website's or digital estate's eQ
Our eQ score measures how well websites and digital estates work for their audiences and how well they tell corporate stories.
A website's eQ measures 125 different website facets grouped into three components: platform, communication and audience.
The platform evaluation assesses a site’s:
- user experience
- content accessibility
- governance of collected data
- technical practices
Measuring these website elements helps diagnose user experience concerns and identifies potential barriers impeding effectiveness or the ability to tell corporate stories.
The communication review examines messaging effectiveness, engagement with a corporation's wider stakeholder community and whether a site is measuring visitor activity and feedback about corporate messaging. Specifically, we examine:
- social media use
- community engagement
- how corporate governance issues are addressed and communicated
- how websites measure visitor activity and how they gather feedback
The audience evaluation examines which audiences a corporation had chosen to address and, for this exercise, how well a corporate/group website addresses its five primary audiences:
- career seekers
In our overall eQ assessment framework we have assigned the platform component a 25% weighting, while the communication and audience components each receive a 37.5% weighting. As the purpose of eQ is to measure how well websites and digital estates work for their audiences and how well they tell corporate stories, these components receive the highest weighting.
The following six elements have the largest individual impact on a website's eQ:
- user experience
- community engagement
- career seekers
5 recommendations for more effective corporate digital estates
Make it simple for investors, analysts and journalists to reach you. The investor and media sections of corporate and group websites should provide named contacts. News and financial releases include these details, so excluding them from the relevant webpages just makes more work for prospective investors, journalists and analysts.
Help your customers, partners and suppliers get in touch. A group or corporate website is a logical place for potential customers, partners and suppliers to find information or track down products and services. Help these audiences find the information they seek by adding prominent directions, menu options or better navigation.
Gather high quality feedback so you can understand visitor intent. Every site we assessed used web analytics to record visitor behaviour and activity. Few had implemented user surveys, so these sites can't understand why visitors came and what they wanted to do. Gather visitor feedback to improve effectiveness.
Make governance, ethics and business conduct information easier to find. Investors, the media, researchers, NGOs, government officials and others want to understand how corporations do business, how they respond to issues and their processes for whistleblowing and reporting ethical violations. Clear navigation to these website sections affirms seriousness and transparency. Make that navigation clearer.
Implement cookie controls that actually work for end users. We size up a lot of websites and most of the cookie management tools we see neither manage nor control. The information provided is too technical for visitors to understand what they are assenting to. There are good tools available for this task: help your visitors by implementing one of them.
6 website changes to improve effectiveness
To remain effective websites need constant attention. They are a process rather than a project. And, they get better by making many incremental, data-informed improvements. Here are six items for follow up, from our assessment notes and observations for the twenty sites with highest eQ.
English can be tricky. We assessed the English language version of each group/corporate website. Some of these site's content editors have English as their primary language, many don't. The on-page differences are noticeable, with the more effective sites having fewer typographical errors and employing more idiomatic English. Periodic reviews by individuals with English as their primary language would quickly close the gap and boost the end user experience.
Make content easy to read. Organisations from national governments to specialist user experience consultancies have researched leading practices for user experience design. One of these practices covers minimum font sizes. On a desktop screen don’t make the main text smaller than 19px. On a mobile no smaller than 16px. Your site visitors will thank you.
No advertising. No tracking. Group and corporate websites do not exist to directly sell products or services. Brand, campaign, contest websites, sites with content designed for specific markets have those roles. Packed them with beacons, re-marketing and advertising tags, but take them off group websites. When prospective investors or journalists land on a site, there is no need to tell Facebook or DoubleClick.
Talk to your audiences. At the same time as cutting down on the third-party advertising add-ins step up the third-party survey tools. Website content, navigation and effectiveness benefit from user-centred design. You can’t know what audiences want or need to do if you don’t ask them. Start asking them.
Mobile content should work properly. Web analytics show that most corporate website visits come from desktop users. But, social media users tend to view site content on mobile devices. Spending time to ensure mobile pages work well for end users is a small, but worthwhile investment. We can assure you that in assessing site's eQ we found many examples of site content that did not display correctly on on a mobile of tablet device.
It's a big world after all. A number of our top 20 corporations are US-based and this is reflected in their websites. For these corporations, the ‘rest of the world’ appears as a bolt-on rather than a natural extension of the main corporate site. Their web teams would benefit from studying the top-rated European corporate sites to learn about alternative approaches to better serving global audiences.
Next scheduled eQ update | January 2021
In the meantime, we'll be publishing our research recommendations about the issues we uncovered researching and assessing sites for the current top 20 list.