Investors go through a buying process as they decide whether or not to invest in a particular company. This article explores the similarities between the investor journey and the consumer buying process and outlines our thinking on how to engage for better success.
Consumers who are buying a product go through stages of engagement before their buy decision. Similarly, when making an investment decision, investors take a journey.
Listed companies should assume this applies to the buying process for investors.
Investors move through a number of stages as they change from not knowing the company at all to becoming a committed long term shareholder.
Their journey is personal and each is different. Some investors make progress quickly through the stages; some dawdle, while others never make it.
In today’s blog, we present a high level discussion of the Investor journey. We’ve expanded on today’s thoughts in a downloadable white paper, accessible from our website here.
Investor and Consumer journeys
Why is an investor journey similar to a regular consumer buying process?
As listed companies, we’re continually marketing a product – our shares – to a largely unknown audience of potential investors through a largely online process, worldwide.
Share trades are the immediate and direct daily results of ongoing investor marketing efforts. The marginal trades are the ones that set the price.
It’s a daily competition, it’s a worldwide online competition, and there are plenty of other choices for investors.
Those that do this job better and more consistently will likely achieve more interest in their stock, more competition for it, and a better share price.
Relating the Investor Journey to the online IR strategy
There’s plenty of research about the propensity of investors to access company data online before looking to offline means. If we include newspapers, for example, as a predominately online medium these days, there’s little dispute.
While offline methods – calls, meetings etc – are extremely valuable at different times of the journey, when they happen we generally know who they are and where the target investor are and will often have some insight into where they sit in the buying process. So almost the entire focus should be on how the online IR strategy fits with the investor journey.
Key to success with online IR is understanding the components of the investor journey – the stages investors go through as they learn about, engage with, become and remain shareholders in a listed company. The online communication strategy needs to relate to them at each stage of their journey, using messages, providing data, and being available at the touchpoints they choose.
In the 2015 summer edition of Listed@ASX magazine, IRM CEO Martin Spry discussed the investor journey and the resulting ten principles for online communication. Read more about the Listed@ASX article in this IRMatters blog post.
Stages of the Investor Journey
Because no two investors will take exactly the same journey, and we can’t explain exactly what the journey might be, we are left to address the generic concept as a basis for the online IR strategy.
To examine the starting point for a journey, we need to define a potential investor as someone who has funds to invest and a mandate (or potential mandate or preference) that could include our particular stock. We don’t know who these people are, and they might not know who we are. We just know that there are people out there with a potential need to invest in our stock.
So the investor journey starts with Needs.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have a subset of our existing shareholders who are committed long term investors and will happily recommend the stock to others. So the final stage of the investor journey is Recommend.
The stages in between are similar to a normal consumer buying cycle, and might be something like this:
The Investor Journey
Making the Investor Journey
In practice, the world is never so simple or regimented.
Investors will wander back and forth through the journey, and will find side tracks to take, some of which are dead ends, or they get lost.
Investors make decisions to progress to the next buying stage
At each stage of the investor journey, some will decide not to continue with the journey for us. These are lost sales, lost investors. The remainder progress to the next stage.
Clearly, the more investors we can find in the Needs stage, and the better the progression rates between stages, the more will eventually find their way to the final Recommend stage.
It’s a numbers game.
Messages and Touchpoints
Each decision to progress or not is made based on some information given in messages, which is collected somehow through what we refer to as a “Touchpoint”.
Online touchpoints include the company’s investor web site and third party online sources (e.g. the ASX web site, broker web sites, online media and many more). Social media is becoming more widely used for investor purposes. Email alerts sent by the company are a useful Touchpoint for the middle stages of the investor journey.
Online touchpoints are desktop and mobile, phone or tablet, at the investors’ choice. We need to be effective at all of them to improve progression rates.
The messages delivered at each Touchpoint can be text, images, voice, video, ASX Announcements, tables, reports and many more. Short tweets or long detailed explanation and analysis. Investors at different stages at different touchpoints will expect – or simply prefer – different delivery mechanisms for the messages. The wrong format of message for that particular stage might lose an investor.
An effective online IR strategy delivers the messages in the medium investors want using the touchpoints they choose.
A fuller discussion of touchpoints is presented on the IRM website here, and in another IRMatters post here.
What does all this mean for an online IR strategy?
Success is when the IR communications strategy delivers the appropriate messages through the right touchpoints to suit the investors’ needs for their current stage of the investor journey.
In this page on our website, and in more detail in a separate IRMatters post we present IRM’s views on the ten best practice principles.
IRM and the Investor Journey
At IRM, we are online investor communications specialists. We understand the investor journey and how the touchpoints work, particularly the online touchpoints.
We help listed companies with the touchpoints and message distribution.
Of course the company needs a good story and good messages. IRM helps deliver them to the touchpoints that investors are using at the time that they need to see them.
IRM has prepared a white paper on the Investor Journey. Read more about the investor journey and download the white paper our website, here.
If you would like to chat about this with our CEO, Martin Spry, be cautious – it’s his favourite subject, and the conversation might not be short! He does coffee on the subject, and can be reached by email on firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone on +61 2 8705 5444.