28 Jan 2009

Investis IQ Corporate Website Ranking - consumer-facing businesses lead the way in Q4 2008

Big businesses are using their experience and understanding of consumers to improve their corporate communications, research by Investis has revealed today. The FTSE 100’s most authoritative corporate website ranking has revealed a list dominated by companies whose corporate websites continue to improve as they emerge from the shadows of their consumer-facing sister sites.

Commenting on the latest IQ Web Ranking, Investis Director Al Loehnis says: "These results show that businesses that spend much of their time dealing with consumers tend to have a better grasp of communications, providing an important edge during difficult times.

"While an excellent corporate website doesn’t guarantee success, it demonstrates a commitment to an open and honest dialogue with both customers and investors, which can obviously have an effect on the bottom line. In fact, eight out of the top ten businesses in our ranking have bucked the economic trend to produce robust financial results in the last six months."

Life insurance was the best performing sector in the January edition of the quarterly report, with Aviva (1st) and Prudential (12th) setting the benchmark for clear and open communications about strategy, performance and risk. Conversely, banking websites have done little to inform, guide or reassure customers and shareholders during a period of unprecedented fear and uncertainty. Loehnis comments "Visitors to most bank websites in the last few months will have been left with a sense of business as usual, when it’s clear that their very existence has been at stake. A possible explanation for the more open communications in the Life insurance sector is that the industry suffered its own crisis of stakeholder trust in the pensions miss-selling debacle and has worked hard to regain that trust in the last few years, notably through their excellent websites."

Sainsbury (2nd) and Tesco (7th) highlight the excellent ongoing performance of the food retail sector. For many years corporate sites in the retail sector played second fiddle to the consumer sites. They were hard to find and under-invested. However outstanding corporate sites from the market leaders have changed that.

Both supermarkets scored well in both the level of content as well as the interactivity of their corporate sites, demonstrating a commitment to providing as much information as possible in an innovative and interesting way, something that consumer websites have been doing for years.

The latest web ranking also highlights a marked reduction in the quality of the careers section of corporate websites across many companies. A number of companies have removed their online application facilities and, in some cases, withdrawn their graduate recruitment information.

Detailed analysis of their IQ website scores and those of their peers are provided on a regular basis to Investis clients as part of our ongoing service.

View further details of the FTSE100 IQ Ranking or the IQ benchmarking service.

@Investis