As people progress through stages of not knowing about you, knowing about you, deciding to buy, buying shares and then selling their shares... that's what is called a journey - the Investor Journey.
People take this journey through the process of finding you, liking you, buying, and selling your shares. Current, potential and past investors are simply people at different stages of their investor journey. Each person's journey is different and personal.
Triggering progress on the Journey
For investors to decide to move from one stage to the next, they need a trigger of some kind. Maybe it's an internal trigger, such as funds become available, or maybe it's an external trigger, such as a piece of news that you publish. To get the best results from the external triggers, you need to do your best to make sure the news effectively reaches all types of investors, regardless of the current stage of their journey. This increases the chance of more of them going to the next stage of their Investor Journey.
Investors are online. These days, more than ever. But where and when are they online? At any one of many different places - or online touchpoints - that they choose from time to time. And whenever they choose. So the investor communication task is to reach the investors, wherever they are, whenever they are there.
Sound like a marketing/sales job? It is. This is a direct parallel of the "customer journey", a concept that marketers generally are using to understand a sales and marketing approach.
The sales and marketing department
Let's be crass about it, the IR department's job in a listed company is to be the share "sales and marketing" department. The product is the company's shares, the customer is the investor regardless of where they are on their journey. Sure, there are all sorts of constraints on this sales process - compliance rules and disclosures you need to work with, but no one else will do it for you.
So - selling shares is like selling shoes. Investors and customers go through similar journeys.
You can use an agent to help - a stockbroker, for example. But they have their own objectives and motivations, rules and many other companies' shares to consider. They will still need the news as the trigger. So at best they are just one of the "distribution channels" for your news. You need to take control of the process - and just get on with it!
IR departments need to help investors move to the next stage of their journey.
Given that you now understand the Investor Journey and that you have to make the sale, here are some things you can do to improve the chances of providing triggers that move investors along their journey. This time we offer six things to think about:
1. Amplify your news.
Investors are looking/waiting online for your news at a touchpoint of their choosing, at a time of their choosing.
Not all investors will be looking at the ASX website at the moment that your Board decides to make an announcement. After the initial announcement, which is at a time that suited you, publish your news again, at different times, to try to catch more investors at times that suit them.
News can be amplified with the same piece of news in a different media (e.g., an audio or video of the news item), a comment or elaboration, or simply a re-tweet of the same item. Amplifying your news will find more people at more touchpoints at different times.
2. Use many online touchpoints.
Many will be looking at their email inbox, some are on social media, on their broker websites or watch list, or on the ASX website. They might be reading their newspaper online, or their adviser's newsletter or blog post. Reach as many online touchpoints as you can, particularly with the first distribution of a news piece.
Make sure to deliver the news through multiple touchpoints investors use.
Some touchpoints you have direct control over, others you can only influence. Structure your news item to appear effective on as many touchpoints as possible.
3. Be an effective distraction.
Whatever the format or touchpoint for your news, when you publish it investors are doing something else at that online touchpoint. You need to distract them from whatever they were doing and get them to look at your news.
The success of your distraction will depend on the strength of the title of the news item, the images and the way it carries your brand, the lack of clutter and whether they like what they see. They will then decide whether to accept the distraction and engage with it.
Only an effective engagement has a chance of triggering progression on the investor journey. Others are either not noticed, or ignored.
4. Draw them to your website.
Investors don't wake up in the morning and rush to your investor website to see if you have news for them. They are somewhere else online.
For touchpoints you don't control, the best outcome is if you can "sell" a click to the news on your investor website. That's where you have a better chance of enhancing your communication. So make sure all online triggers have proper links selling a click to the news on your website.
5. Be fast.
News travels at the speed of light. Get your news to each touchpoint before anyone else does. Start each conversation with the facts, don't sit back and let someone else's opinion set the scene for your news.
The share price starts to respond as quickly as buyers and sellers can get to their computer or phone. It might be seconds, it's certainly only a small number of minutes.
What's the half-life of an ASX Announcement? (The time it takes for half of the effect to be reflected in the share price). We can't actually say, but it's short - maybe 10 minutes or half an hour. Certainly not a day or more. If you can, get your news to as many online touchpoints as you can within, say, 30 seconds.
Yesterday's news is today's fish and chips wrapper. Analysing your email statistics helps understand the life cycle of news.
6. Use multimedia.
In Australia, the news is an ASX Announcement, a PDF document. Yet research shows about 60% of people prefer pictures or voice to words.
Does your PDF provide the best communication? At least make sure it contains attractive images, diagrams or infographics. For the big piece of news, it's best to also have a video or audio version of it.
It's okay if multimedia comes a bit later, so distribute that as well as the PDF. Two pieces of news to amplify it. The ASX is also getting better at helping companies distribute multimedia news over their platform.
Be quick in sending announcements and use multimedia for big news items.
For a successful investor journey, investors need to progress from one stage to the next. As an IR person, remember to distribute the news they need to many online touchpoints to reach them wherever they are at the time, and try to draw them to your website. Be fast in sending your announcements and consider using multimedia, especially for big news items.
Watch out for this series' next discussion on Online Touchpoints.
Need more help?
As online investor communications specialists, IRM understands how you can best support investors in their journey. We help around 170 clients with their online investor presence – websites, news, social media, reports and online tools.
Call us today on +61 2 8705 5444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for your queries. You can also download our white paper on the Investor Journey here.
Btw, this blog post is part of the "5 New Ideas for Better Online Engagement with Investors" series. Catch up on the previous related blog posts below:
Reading the minds of Investors - and so what?
Who are these people we call investors - and so what?