How Blender Helped B2Gold Tell Their CSR Story Online

So, you’ve decided that telling your CSR story online is a must for your business. You’ve started to discuss next steps in recent leadership meetings, and you’re responding rapidly to questions posed from your Executive Team. Your budget is starting to come together to bring your story to your website, but you’re just not sure what the end result will look like.

It’s a question (and sometimes, a concern) that we hear often, so rest assured – you’re in good company. While you might have a great idea and vision of how you want to tell your story, what it will look and feel like is often a mystery.

That’s why we’re here. And that’s also why we’re sharing one of our favorite examples of a company that’s doing great things in telling their CSR story online: B2Gold.

About B2Gold

B2Gold is a Vancouver based gold producer with a strong portfolio of development and exploration assets. They are one of the fastest-growing intermediate gold producers in the world and, since its inception in 2007, have evolved into an international gold mining company.

The Challenge

When B2Gold came to Blender, their website wasn’t mobile or tablet friendly – and quite frankly, it was difficult to navigate. The breadth of information, including their CSR story, was deep within their website, and sometimes non-existent.

That’s why we’re here…

csr story online homepage

Knowing that B2Gold wanted to tell their story in such a way that displayed their global presence of their products in a highly visual, easy-to-consume way, we were ready to take on the challenge.

Working closely with the client, we collaborated to revise the sitemap and information architecture so we could, first and foremost, develop the framework. It was important to demonstrate B2Gold’s strengths of their assets, including their CSR work, and it was even more important to outline how the site would perform before determining what it would look like.

The Result – Their CSR Story Online

The result of this work was a truly interactive and detailed project map that rivaled the very best in the industry (spoiler bias: we think the map we created for B2Gold is the very best). This map accomplished their overall goal, which was to accurately display the global presence of their business and projects from Asia-Pacific to South America.

csr story online map

To experience the interactive map for yourself, click here.

The CSR portion of B2Gold’s website was also a priority; with active work in responsible mining, social responsibility, occupational health and safety, environment and biodiversity, it was important to tell the entire story in an easy-to-consume, responsive way.

B2Gold’s CSR site focused around image-based storytelling on mobile, desktop and tablet-responsive pages, making it easy for prospective investors to view and digest.

So, what should you look for when selecting your agency?

When you’ve decided that telling your CSR story online effectively is a must for your business, there are three things you need to look for when selecting your partner agency.

  1. Find an agency that works within Investor Relations

If you’re crossing your fingers and hoping that any agency will work, we hate to break the bad news to you – but they probably won’t. Working in IR is a whole new ball game, so you need to find an agency that has a positive track record within investor relations. Be sure to request case studies from clients who are in your industry.

  1. Ask the question: what happens when you’re finished my project?

One red flag of a potential agency partner is one that leaves when the project is complete.

What happens if you find bugs a few months later? What happens if a broken link is found just a few days after the contract is complete?

Look for an agency who will be with you every step of the way – not one that leaves you when your website has launched.

  1. Request to see examples of CSR sections they’ve developed and launched.

We’ve talked about the importance of CSR for your business, and while you might have a storytelling concept that you love, it’s important to receive feedback from the agency who will build your CSR online presence.

What works? What doesn’t? What will differentiate you from competition? What’s your favourite CSR section that your team has built?

Ask these questions from a potential agency so you can truly understand their grasp of the industry and the importance of telling your CSR story online.

Conclusion

We loved working with B2Gold here at Blender, and we couldn’t have been more proud of the final result. As you’re starting your CSR storytelling journey, and while you’re identifying potential agency partners, keep this blog bookmarked – we’re sure it will provide inspiration as you move forward.

CSR story online - ebook

Why It’s Important to Highlight CSR On Your Website

If a tree falls in a forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?

It’s an age-old question, with an answer that has long been unknown (kind of like the chicken and the egg – and really, what did come first?), but one thing we know for certain – differing opinions make for great conversation, and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to CSR.

At Blender, we’re believers that your website should act as your best employee; your spokesperson, your sales person, and above all, a reflection of who you are as a business. For businesses actively engaged in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) your website is the single best channel to extend the communication of your efforts.

So, if you’re actively engaged in CSR, but you’re not communicating your involvement, is it really happening?

It’s important to highlight CSR on your website. Here’s why.

It breaks you apart from your competition.

Every business should be performing some sort of regular competitor analysis, especially companies working in Investor Relations, and CSR is a great way to break apart from your competition.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are great examples of using CSR to differentiate themselves from competition. While both perform CSR in a similar way (these companies aim for sustainability in water usage), they’re taking hold of CSR communication on investor websites, knowing the impact it has on not only consumers, but investors alike.

CSR on your website 1

It increases sentiment of your business online.

Much like competitor reporting, most companies are also focused on sentiment about their business online. Positive sentiment can lead to an upward trend in revenue, while negative sentiment can lead to a downward trend in revenue (as these Korean tech firms experienced, for example).

Ask any Communications Manager and they’ll agree that positive brand stories should be in their arsenal to mitigate potential neutral or negative quarters. These positive stories are also excellent to release throughout the calendar year as your business goes through natural ebbs and flows.

Using CSR to increase the sentiment of your business online can not only impact the success of your business offline, but it can also impact the online sentiment of your brand with investors and consumers.

CSR On your website 2

It attracts talent (making your HR Department your BFF).

Picture this. You and your competitor have a job opening for the exact same position. You’ve posted within the same week, and you’re going after the same group of candidates. It’s down to a few potential candidates, and you have your eye on one target that you feel would fit so well within your company culture.

Now, picture yourself on the other end of the table. This candidate is deciding between yourself and your competitor, and they’re ranking the pros and cons of both companies – until they realize that you have a strong CSR program, and actively give back within the community. Your company encourages employees to volunteer, and has a number of partner non-profit organizations that you donate to each and every year.

Which company do you think this candidate would choose? The company that understands the importance of contributing to the community, or the company that doesn’t?

It’s a choose-your-own-adventure type of story, with your business coming out on top.

CSR On your website 3

It contributes to cost-savings (encouraging consumers to think the same) and acts as a natural PR story

One of the easiest places for a company to start engaging in CSR is to use it as a way to save on costs and overall expenditures. Whether it’s using less energy or using less packaging, these savings add up quickly.

A great example is General Mills. They’re on a path to reduce cost and energy savings, as they’ve installed energy monitoring meters on several pieces of equipment at its HQ. In doing so, the company saved $600,000.

General Mills went far and wide with PR for this strategy, focusing first on their website. It was included in all CSR material, and was quickly picked-up by publications around North America.

So, not only did this move increase sentiment of their business, it also contributed to cost-savings. It was a natural story for their PR team as well, circling back to an arsenal of content, if and when you need to mitigate neutral or negative sentiment online.

Conclusion

If you’re actively engaging in CSR and not highlighting your endeavours on your website, take note – the pros far outweigh the cons (really, are there cons?)

From differentiating your business from competition to engaging potential talent, the importance of highlighting CSR on your website is real. And, truly, it’s so easy.

To get started, just click here. We’d love to show you how we’ve helped businesses in your industry.

 

 

Questions to ask yourself when developing a brand story

Introduction: developing a brand story is crucial for website design

Where did you come from, what are you doing now, and where are you going? Developing a brand story that speaks to your vision and what sets you apart from your competition is an important factor of good website structure. You need to figure out how to best relay all the important information for an online audience that typically has a 15 second attention span per webpage. Yeah, tricky. The best way to ensure you have a solid brand identity is by narrowing your field and asking yourself the pointed questions below.

How does a great company story online help you become a major player in your industry? Here is How to establish yourself as an industry leader through your website. 

Question 1: What distinguishes my goals from my vision?

First, let’s understand the difference between a company ‘goal’ and company ‘vision’. Goals are most often concrete steps your company will take in the next few years to achieve attainable milestones. These goals should be aligned with the interests of your company, your investors, and all others involved. A vision, however, is usually more abstract. Visions are something you hope to achieve in the future, and can be a bit more far-reaching. A vision often includes the way you see your company impacting the future and what it’s place in the world will be. When developing a brand story, make sure to separate your concrete five year goals from your aspirations for the distant future.

Question 2: How would I explain my product/service in one sentence?

Every company needs to be able to explain their main service in an ‘elevator pitch’. If it takes more than a few sentences to explain your ‘About Us’, it’s going to be very difficult to have a clear and straightforward content strategy on your website. It can be difficult to be concise, so start by writing everything that’s important and then drastically cut back until you have two clear sentences.

Question 3: What is one thing I offer that none of my competitors do?

Nothing kills a company’s website more than getting lost in the crowd. When developing a brand story, you should first do research on all your competitors. What elements are they pitching heavily on their websites? How do they structure their most important information? Did you develop your company because you saw something was lacking in your industry? What was that one thing? Find what you do that’s unique, even if it’s something small like extending your hours of operation to accommodate both east and west coast markets. Highlight those unique aspects on your website. You can also learn from the masters and read 6 lessons from famous companies on creating a killer brand. 

Question 4: What are three highlights about my company that investors would be interested in?

If question 3 was about researching your competitors, this question is about getting into the mind of your potential investors. What elements are important to investors of your industry, and how many of those boxes do you tick? If you’re a mining company, how many in-production projects do you have vs. exploration? Are any of your sites 100% owned? No one understands the assets of your industry like you. If you are newer and have yet to make any major strides, what are some concrete ways you’ve been moving towards your goals? Sometimes even showing determination and highlighting a strong plan for the future is enough to hook an investor.

Question 5: How have I failed?

This is a big one in developing your brand story, even if it’s kept as an internal question (we don’t mean you should be plastering your failures all over your website). What were some of the major setbacks in developing your company? Are they issues that could arise again? And most importantly, if a bit cheesy, what have you learned from your failures and how will you grow? Often analyzing your past failures will help you build more targeted goals.

Question 6: Why am I here?

The last question is the one abstract one of the bunch and might even include a bit of soul searching. But really, ask yourself: why are you here? What makes you work towards your company goals and vision every day? What is it about your company that you believe in? Get personal in thinking, because it’s most likely the reasons you love your company that will resonate the most with your audience. Web audiences are smart, and can tell when a company’s vision is ghostwritten or crafted from a template. Allow your audience to see the human side of your company and why you’re more than just a bunch of people in a building.

 

Conclusion: now get everyone on board

Developing a brand story means nothing if only a few people in your company understand what you’re all doing there. Every single person who works for you should understand as well. If you’re developing a brand story, make sure everyone else also knows the company’s goals and why they give up their time each day to be working with you. A common goal makes for a hard working and well-oiled machine. Happy researching and happy brand developing!

campaign4_button

Must-have elements of an investor website

Introduction: what’s the most important content for investors to see?

A good investor relations website or investor section relies on good content strategy. As public companies, you want to think like your investors and figure out what content is important to showcase first, as well as pay attention to what investors want to see during different times of the year. In this blog post we’re focusing on some must-have elements of an investor website. You may already know that contact information should be on a website, but at what point and which information? How important, really, is a media section, or news? We break it all down for you below.

Thinking it’s time for a website refresh, but not sure where to start? Check out The Complete Checklist for Hiring a Website Agency. 

 

Here are 8 must-have elements of an investor website

1. Multiple touchpoints asking for signups

As investors are browsing through your IR section, they should be subtly pushed to areas to sign up in order to receive the latest news and updates from your public company. And we don’t mean long forms in which you attempt to collect everything from their name to place of business to what they ate for breakfast that morning. A simple slide out prompting them to add their email address to your mailing list to ‘never miss out on updates’ will do just fine.

 

must-have elements of an investor website

 

2. Focus on the latest publication

The biggest draw on the front of your IR website should be the latest quarterly results, a recently released annual report, or a blurb about a hot-off-the-press release which links to a more detailed news section. Think of the space at the forefront of your IR section like your shop window: what is the biggest seller that people walk into your store to look at? Most investors will look to your website for up-to-date documents. Don’t make them search for them.

 

3. Upcoming events calendar

Don’t expect investors to know when your next shareholder meeting is happening: post about it on your investor website! Better yet, allow them to sign up for calendar notifications or send them an email reminder. And don’t forget to pay attention to the calendar yourselves. Is your company going through a big transition such as a merger or leadership change? Once the press release is done and dusted, highlight the change on your calendar so investors can understand the scope of what’s happening.

 

must-have elements of an investor website

 

4. ‘At a Glance’ or ‘Why Invest’ area

Potential investors most likely aren’t going to read paragraphs of content when they’re first browsing your website. We’ve come to the age where consumers like their information in bite-sized, often video produced, pieces and everyone is skimming.  (If you’ve read this far into the blog post, we’d like to give you a high five). Break down the most ‘bragworthy’ information of your company into a bullet pointed list of why you’re worth the investment. If you’re feeling extra creative, create small data visualizations so investors can see your progress as a company. These little touches are some must-have elements of an investor website that make the difference to your audience.

 

5. Keep your stock symbol at the top of every page

Many companies only provide their stock symbol within the ‘stock information’ section of their IR site. We’d argue, especially for our friends in the natural resources industry, that keeping your stock symbol at the top of each page is one of the must-have elements of an investor website. A fixed stock symbol ensures that investors never need to search through your investor website to find it. Or, take it one step further, as we did for our friends over at B2 Gold in the example below. A fixed stock information area at the top of each page shows the current price of gold, as well as the company’s current share price. Clicking on the fixed navigation at the top brings a user to a more detailed stock information page.

 

must-have elements of an investor website

 

6. Think mobile

More and more investors are viewing IR related content on their phones throughout the workday. What does your public company’s mobile presence look like? A current digital trend sees companies designing ‘mobile-first’, or putting a pristine mobile experience as a top priority. If investors can’t download your investor presentation or view it properly on their mobile devices, you could be in trouble.

Have you taken our Ultimate Mobile Optimization Test? See if your IR website makes the cut, or else it may not show up in Google search results!

 

must-have elements of an investor website

 

7. Investor FAQ

This is a simple add-on that not a lot of public companies think about. Most companies offer FAQ sections on other areas of their website, but not usually as part of their investor website. Apple’s investor website includes a thorough FAQ area addressing questions like, “What exchange does Apple trade on?” and “When was Apple’s initial public offering?”

 

must-have elements of an investor website

 

8. Offer specific IR contact info (if available)

If you have a specific investor relations email address or point of contact, offer opportunities for general inquiries as well as investor specific questions on your IR section. This not only gives potential shareholders more choice, but shows that there is a direct line of contact for them.

 

Conclusion: Now go above and beyond

These must-have elements of an investor website are great starting off points to ensure that your shareholders are happy and receiving all the information they need. What’s next, you ask? Start thinking of some ways you can improve the investor experience. Whether it’s adding a CEO video addressing your shareholders, an animated data visualization to showcase your company’s growth in the past five years, or a mobile-first way of thinking.





The




5 examples of the best public company About Us pages

Introduction: what are the keys to an ‘About Us’ page that converts investors?

As a public company, your About Us page is where you showcase your story and opportunity to both your clients and investors. Just as we discussed with homepage designs last week, the most important part of your public company About Us page is to provide easy access to all information. Think about your company goals, your values, and your vision for the future. Will investors be able to tell right away your plans? Have you considered adding a message from the CEO? Below are some great examples we’ve found from all industries to get you inspired.

Download the 10-point checklist to convert investors on your About Us page  to get specific reccomendations on how to make your company stand out to investors.

best public company About Us pages

The best public company About Us pages

Here are some stellar examples we’ve found around the internet of the best public company About Us pages.

1. Nike

Nike’s About Us page shows us a perfect blend of eye-catching designs and information accessibility. The main tagline articulates their mission clearly, and follow up boxes below break out the four pillars of their company with opportunities to learn more.

 

Nike About Us page

2. Keurig Green Mountain

As Keurig’s website is a giant point of sale for them, their About Us page is an entirely separate website. Their main banner showcases a featured story and letter from our CEO (which is always a good idea). Similarly to Nike, beneath the main banner are nicely laid out portals to access more information about sustainability, careers, and most recent press releases.

Keurig About Us page

3. Anglo Gold Anglo Gold Ashanti

As a global gold producer, Anglo Gold Ashanti’s main objective for their About Us page was to showcase their global presence. Beneath their five key business objectives, they’ve included a visual representation of their company’s growth with the informative tagline ‘four regions, 9 countries, 19 operations’.

Anglo Gold Ashanti About Us Page

4. Salesforce

Salesforce’s About Us page really steps up its design game with looping background video, bold colours, and full screen imagery. It’s still very easy, however, for a user to find all the necessary information. Salesforce also included a space on their About Us page for testimonials and awards, which boosts their credibility with consumers and investors.

Salesforce About Us page

5. Teck Resources

We have a bit of a crush on Teck Resources’ website lately and we’re not ashamed of it. With their About Us section, Teck places attention on their company history. To showcase their proud history, they’ve created an interactive timeline. Users can easily jump to a decade and explore the over 100 years of growth in a highly visual way.

Teck Resources About Us page

Conclusion:

There should be an even spread between great design and easy access to information on your about page, just like we talked about last week with the best homepage designs. Want some concrete tips about what to include on your company’s About page? Take a look at our 10-point checklist for the best corporate About Us page. Download it below!



The 10 point checklist for a great corporate About Us page




5 reasons for a website redesign during a slow economy

Introduction: A slow economy shouldn’t slow you down

The bleak resource sector provides the perfect opportunity to take stock of your current website and any other ways you’re attracting investors digitally. What areas can you improve? How can you stand out from the crowd? During a slow economy, website redesigns are one of the best ways to attract those who are still looking to invest. Here are five reasons why a slow economy is the perfect time to refresh your website.

 

Redesign in a slow economy: Less attention calls for more strategy

A slump in your industry is also the most crucial time to streamline all the information on your website. Those in the IR profession who are still visiting your site need to be able to find what they want right away. If you don’t have a good content strategy, you’ll lose the audience that you do have. During the slow economy, take the time to assess every pathway on your website in terms of your company’s main goals. For example, is it more important for your website to feature a new mining project or get people downloading your latest quarterly report? When there’s less noise in the markets, it’s time to refine your message and get it cutting through.

 

 

Redesign in an slow economy: Position yourself as an industry leader

A slow economy means bad times for everyone, your competitors included. Be that phoenix from the ashes. Take this time to review your competitor’s websites and take stock of what you can do to perfect your own strategies. While your peers will reduce their marketing efforts and abandon any attempts for some digital upkeep, you’ll have the stage all to yourself. With a website redesign and refreshed brand in a slow economy, you’ll be able to transform your brand into one of the industry’s leaders: one that is strong enough to endure and evolve in tough times.

 

 

Redesign in a slow economy: Creating a great investor space now means better gain later

Your website’s main goal is to generate interest and investment, just like any other marketing material. And, just like any other marketing material, the greatest gains will be seen over time. A website redesign now will mean better investor strategy later. (Think easily downloadable presentations, IR materials, and a streamlined navigation). Once your website redesign is complete, you will begin to see your digital marketing efforts pay off. You want the momentum to build over time, so your redesigned website is generating the most interest RIGHT when things get hot again. 

 

 

Redesign in a slow economy: Fewer companies are looking to be innovative

As we said above: a slow economy is the perfect time to show everyone that your public company is strong enough to endure the tough times, and also evolve during them. The strategy for many companies will be to wait it out, and postpone all digital initiatives until things start picking back up. This is a golden opportunity for you. While your competitors are choosing to be silent, your efforts will be amplified. See what’s being done in terms of website design, and see what makes sense for your company. Is there a new way to feature your annual reports on your website? A more eye-catching way to display project maps, or feature the most recent news release? Figure that out now and have everything implemented by the time the markets pick back up. And side note: is your site still not a responsive one, meaning people can’t read it properly from their mobile phones or tablets? Time to get on that.

 

 

Redesign in a slow economy: Wait, and it's too late

We all know where the ‘I’ll take of it later’ mentality gets you. Not very far. If you’re thinking of waiting until the slow economy is a thing of the past before redesigning your website, you’ll be left behind. You’ll be the one attempting to send potential investors a Powerpoint presentation as an attachment in an email, while your competitor’s redesigned website allows investors to access any presentation easily right on their smartphone. Be that public company that gives investors new, user-friendly ways to access information on your website, and, better yet, be the first to do it.

 

 

 

8 steps to take before choosing a web design agency

Introduction: it’s all about the portfolio

There are hundreds of web design agencies out there, and each should have a portfolio of work for your perusal. Last month, we introduced you to 11 key questions to ask a web agency before hiring them. Now we’re digging deeper and giving you 8 steps to investigate on your own before choosing a web design agency. The most important aspect of any digital agency is their portfolio. Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio. Before making any decisions, take the time to really look at the work of the agency, or agencies, you’re considering.

 

 

8 steps to take before choosing a website agency: step 1

Test drive client websites

Most often, a web agency’s portfolio will include images and screenshots of the work they’ve produced for their clients. Visuals on portfolio pages are great, but don’t just rely on them. Go to each project’s individual website and take a look around. If the agency’s portfolio speaks about creating an interactive projects map for a mining client, don’t just take their word for it. Go to the URL for that mining company and test the map yourself. Clicking around websites will give you a good sense of the agency’s capabilities, from how they chose to lay out information to how pathways through the site work.

 

 

8 steps to take before choosing a website agency: step 2

Know which parts of a project the agency worked on

The best web design agency portfolio pages have a sorting function where users can see their levels of experience and participation in different projects. Knowing how much an agency contributed is important, as many digital agencies specialize in particular areas. If you are a smaller public company in need of branding materials, make sure the agency you’re looking at offers branding as a service.

 

 

8 steps to take before hiring a website agency

Make sure their portfolio includes experience in your industry

The way websites are laid out best varies exponentially depending on the industry. If you’re a mining company and looking at a portfolio full of tech companies and retail outlets, that agency may not be the best fit. Why? Well, staying with the mining company example, a mining website may need an easy to navigate projects section identifying the different exploration, development, and producing locations. Similarly, if you’re a public company, look at web design agencies that specialize in public company websites and know all the regulations.

 

 

8 steps to take before choosing a website agency: step 4

How do their projects treat the most important sections for your company?

What is the most important aspect for users to see when landing on your website? For most public companies, it’s usually the investors section. When investigating different web design agency portfolios, have an idea of the most important section of your future website, whether it’s the mission and vision statement section, the investor highlights page, or the email signup space. See how the agency lays out these areas. Are you satisfied them? If you’re really excited about creating an investor highlights page, but every project you look through doesn’t have that feature, that agency might not be the one for you.

 

 

8 steps to take before choosing a website agency: step 5

All their websites should have a favicon

Wondering what that word means? (Side note: it’s a great one to know for pub trivia). A favicon, or ‘shortcut icon’ is a file containing the small icons you see on the top left corner on a website tab, in your bookmarks, as your URL icon, etc. A web designer will create and upload a site’s favicon, and web browsers will then use the file. Does the website agency you’re considering make use of favicons in their client websites? It’s a small element, sure, but highlights professionalism and website smarts.

 

 

8 steps to take before choosing a website agency: step 6

Check to see how the agency’s projects handle email signups

If you’re a public company, this one is especially crucial. Most companies want an option somewhere on their website for users to input their email, name, etc. and receive items such as a weekly newsletter, latest company updates, or news releases. When looking at a web agency’s portfolio, see how they handle email signups. Go to one of the agency’s client sites and sign up. How did the process go? Did you receive an email right away? What did that email look like? How does the unsubscribe function work? Every public company knows that emailing investors and interested parties are both crucial and regulated. Make sure you’re choosing a web design agency who can keep up with your company’s email demands.

 

 

8 steps to take when choosing a website agency: step 7

Test all their websites on mobile and tablet

We can’t say it enough: responsive, responsive, responsive design! At this point, if your new website won’t have mobile and tablet capabilities, you’re not choosing the right agency. As you look through the agency’s portfolio, take out your phone and test each website they’ve created on mobile. How does the site function? Can you read everything clearly, and navigate to where you need to go?

 

 

Feb16_InnerImages_Red_8

Study the content strategy of previous projects

Often, one of the most important and time consuming aspects for a web design agency is deciding how information will be presented in an easy to navigate way. Even if you already have a website, a good website design agency will take a look at the flow of information and how content is presented and make suggestions for improvements. Click through the websites of previous projects and take note at how easy or hard it is to get around. Does it make sense where the website places the team bios, mission statement, projects, etc? Are drop-downs confusing, or do you understand exactly where you’re headed when you click a button?

 

Conclusion: take time to research and test drive

Choosing a website design agency shouldn’t only about which sites are prettiest. Once you’ve decided that your company needs a website redesign, do your homework and research what type of design company is the best for you. If you’re a mining or metals company, check out how the agency lays out their client projects pages. If you love your vision and mission statement, see how different agencies display them on their sites. The finished product will be worth the work, we promise!

 

Using testimonials in website design

Good words go a long way

Testimonials on websites aren’t only for the newest restaurant in your town or your AppleWatch. When used effectively in website design, they work well for every company. You want people to know about your happy clients, especially those willing to go the extra mile and recommend you.  Here are some companies who found unique ways to incorporate testimonials on their websites to market their product or service and enhance their company’s offering. Let them inspire you in your own website redesign!

 

 

1. Back up your numbers

Public company: Shopify

In big, bold type on Shopify’s online store page it says ‘Shopify powers over 200,00 businesses’. The numbers are impressive, and will probably make most investors look twice. But what really hits home are the distinct and carefully chosen customer testimonials underneath the big number. Short snippets of praise from the founder of Tattly, the owner of Packer Shoes, and a star on the ABC show Shark Tank offer three real world business examples from the 200,000. In one swoop Shopify succeeds in sounding grand and successful with their big number as well as intimate and personal with three real life stories. The reviews are short, but still make an impact.

 

 

Shopify customer testimonials

 

 

2. Enhance your Corporate Social Responsibility section 

Public company: TD Bank

Testimonials from real people and real communities are a great addition to a public company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) section. Why? Including first hand experiences of how your company has helped the community and environment is just good sense. In their CSR video gallery, TD Bank includes interviews and personal stories about how the bank’s social teams changed lives. The ‘After the Storm’ video features members of a community in Massachusetts after a fierce tornado. They speak about the volunteer experience and how thankful they were for TD Bank’s contributions.

 

 

TD Bank After the Storm

 

 

3. Show your product in action

Public company: Tesla

Tesla Motors has an entire video section on their website that brilliantly blends customer experiences with their own product demonstration videos. Our favourite example of this hybrid product demonstration/customer review is their ‘Ready for Take-Off’ teaser video, in which Paul Thomas, a Tesla Vehicle Engineering Manager, takes customers on a drive in order to showcase the new Model S takeoff speed. In the video, Thomas says “there’s two reactions you get from the customer, it’s either a scream, or a grunt, but it’s the moment of silence after they’ve realized just how quickly they’re going”. More true to testimonial form, the customer stories section just next to their product videos provide quotations from happy Tesla customers. But we’re really into this video hybrid method. Here’s another good customer video  from the  Google Self-Driving Car Project that shows all different people from small kids to senior citizens trying out the product.

 

 

Tesla customer video stories

 

 

4. Display your wide range of industry experience

Public company: Salesforce

Testimonial categorizing and sorting is a pretty ingenious way to #humblebrag about how many different companies you’ve worked with from different industries. Salesforce does a great job of this in their Customer Stories section. A website user can choose to look at testimonials from a wide range of industries, products, and company sizes. Below the sorting function are featured companies from retail, banking, healthcare, and education. This level of sorting won’t work for every public company, as many are much smaller and more industry specific. But testimonial categorizing is still a great technique to think about including. If your company focuses on 2-3 main industries, think of a successful story in each industry and separate each testimonial with phrases like ‘Success in mining’ ‘Success in biotech’, etc.

 

 

Salesforce category sorting

 

 

5. Show how ANYONE can benefit

Company: Codecademy

Okay, so these guys aren’t public, but we loved the layout of their ‘Customer Stories’ section so much that we’re including them anyway. Codecademy, an online interactive coding course, features over 20 different people from around the world as ‘learner stories’. Each story has their own service label that showcases the plethora of needs Codecademy covers. The testimonial page underlines how Codecademy isn’t only supposed to be for people who want a coding career. Stories range from a woman who wanted to study the human mind, to a man who wanted to exercise better, to a teen duo who coded their own calculator for fun. It doesn’t matter the age, dream, or experience level to begin Codecademy, and the testimonials are an easy-to-understand and fun way to display this message. 

 

 

Codecademy learners from around the world

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 public companies with fantastic digital annual reports

Introduction:

PDF and Powerpoint annual reports are becoming a relic of the past. In the new digital age, more and more public companies are transforming their annual reports into digital moments and, in doing so, capturing investors’ attention with interactivity, animation, and new social sharing functionalities.

Although fullscreen visuals and interactive elements are important pieces of digital annual reports (and prominent in our top 5 choices), that’s not all we’re focusing on. It is possible to be wayyyyy too visual in an annual report to the point of distraction. Sorry Dominos. You want to keep investors engaged with graphics and multimedia, but also don’t want to overwhelm them into thinking they’re watching the trailer for the next Avengers movie.

Here are examples of some companies doing it the right way.

 

1. BT Group

Why it’s great: you get a choice

BT group, a holding company owning British Telecommunications, is probably our favourite example of the lot. Why is it our number 1? Their 2015 annual report understands that while it’s important to be innovative and explore new digital territories, it’s also important to keep what’s familiar for that audience that’s just not there yet. That’s why BT Group’s 2015 annual report page offers users a choice: you can easily download the full report in the most recognized PDF format, or you can ‘view annual report online summary’ for a fully visual and interactive report.

The interactive annual report offers year financial highlights, company milestones, as well as a full timeline. For those viewing the visual highlights report who wish to get more into the details, a navigation bar at the top offers an easy download to the strategic and full report. The top navigation also features a prominent social media sharing space to encourage viewers to circulate the report on their social networks.

2. Home Depot

Why it’s great: super visual, super easy-to-use

The Home Depot 2014 annual report functions on its own separate website, homedepotar.com, so navigating through it is already intuitive for the user. Each piece of the report, from the letter to shareholders, to financial highlights, to board of directors, each gets its own design feel. The Associates section features an embedded ‘Road trip with the CEO’ video, as well as individual stories and pictures of store employees who make all the difference. Although Home Depot is big on personal stories, they also understand the main reason for this report: the numbers. As a user goes through each page of the site, bold orange statistics and numbers stay true to the annual report style.

6

3. L’Oreal

Why it’s great: it’s so ‘on brand’

Not many digital annual reports begin with a giant photo of actress Lupita Nyong’o, but L’Oreal is all about sticking to their brand and brand advocates. Although all the important performance statistics and financials are there, L’Oreal’s 2014 annual report stuns with bold colours and giant fullscreen images, and almost reads more like an online fashion magazine. While in some cases brand dumping everywhere can be overwhelming, L’Oreal does it with just the right amount of taste. Instead of the typical ‘Letter from the CEO’, L’Oreal’s digital annual report features an ‘Interview with Jean-Paul Agon’. Their worldwide performance map and key 2014 figures are featured in different shades of pink, purple, and brown (the same as their signature lip colours). Even when investors are studying L’Oreal’s net profit increase in a line graph, they’re doing so on one that’s pink.

8

4

4. Walmart

Why it’s great: you hear from everyone

Even though Walmart is a giant company, their 2014 digital annual report makes them feel small (in all the right ways). Three embedded videos within their Walmart U.S. section feature words from the CEO, words from everyday customers, and words from Walmart employees. With these videos, Walmart shows their shareholders that the company has a good handle on the three main pillars of what makes them function so well. Similar to the BT Group above, Walmart also offers this ‘2014 Enhanced Digital Annual Report’ as an option for their investors, along with the normal downloads.

3

5. General Electric

Why it’s great: interactivity in all the right places

General Electric is used to leading the pack when it comes to digital innovation, and their 2014 annual report is no exception. Seriously, it just about blew us out of the water. Fullscreen background video gives shareholders a visual taste of what the company does, and an intuitive side navigation bar allows users to easily see what point they’re on while reading. Our favourite part, however, is the subtle interactivity that adds so much to an annual report that you just don’t get with those static PDFs. For example, GE announces their 2014 executive team with a static picture of the whole group. However, hovering over each member offers up the name and bio of the individual. An interactive table allows the user to easily flip back and forth between the ‘Major Product Launches in 2014’. GE’s report showcases how the digital space creates so many new opportunities when it comes to mandated financial reporting. 

9

 

BONUS: Baby steps 

We get it. Some of these reports are maybe too big and too beautiful for your company to enact right now. We think it’s important to show you the best of the best so you can see what’s being done already (and not get left behind in 2016!). During our research, however, we found an example of a big, innovative company who might not be at the full digital experience yet when it comes to their annual reports, but are still changing the way these reports are presented all the same. NIKE’s 2015 annual report can still only be downloaded in PDF format, but the landing page to navigate through these reports is still striking and visual.

The 2015 financials are featured above a prominent slideshow of NIKE athletes from all over the world with the tagline, ‘NIKE is a growth company’. They might not be at the background video animation level, but they’ve still found a way to move past the black and white IR section with ‘Download PDF Here’ hyperlink.

 

7

 

 

8 Digital Marketing Predictions for 2016

Introduction:

Happy 2016! We’re fresh and ready and excited to be back. We’re kicking off a year of great content with some digital marketing predictions for the next 12 months and letting you know what those will mean for your company’s own 2016 strategy and planning. We wrote a similar post at the beginning of 2015, where we talked about mobile, social media, and content marketing. A year later it seems many businesses have adopted many of these strategies and platforms, but how will 2016 tweak and transform them?

 

1. A mobile-driven world

As we’re sure you know by now from our Mobilegeddon campaign mid-2015, Google released a mobile-friendly update that boosted the search rankings of mobile-friendly sites. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s hard to find on Google. The Google developer blog also released a statistic reporting that 94% of people in the US with smartphones search for local information on their phones.

2016 will see an even bigger reliance on mobile, and arguably will complete our transformation to a mobile-first world. Newer developments and trends such as app indexing, where your app information shows up in search results, and social media and video advertising taking over the mobile space will push our smartphones further into our hands and into the forefront of marketers’ minds.

 

2. Focus on personalization

Relevance is the word of the hour (or should we say the year?). With website users seeing thousands of pieces of content daily, it’s not just about thinking what they’ll relate to, but what they’ll IMMEDIATELY relate to and want to click. Some of the digital tools out there nowadays take out all the guesswork and easily allow companies and marketers to create in-depth audience insights by and tagging specific interests. The importance of personalization online will also lead to the rise of personalized marketing (also referred to as targeted marketing and one-on-one marketing). This form of marketing usually done through automation, makes a unique product offering to each customer.

 

Video marketing: sticking around and expanding

80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019. (Source). I feel like we can just drop that statistic and end there. But I won’t.

This year, it’s not enough to create and promote a video ad on social media. Brands have gotten the hang of that already. (Seriously, have you taken a look at your Facebook feed lately? I’m looking at mine on my phone right now, and see a video ad for Wendy’s Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger, a Marvel sponsored ad about Netflix’s Jessica Jones, and a Universal Pictures trailer for the newest Tina Fey movie. All within a single swipe).

Video isn’t going away, and it will just get bigger. The ads will be even more prevalent than they are now, especially the ones “under-the-15-second sweet spot, long enough to convey a message but short enough to hold a user’s attention”(business2community). Just like app indexing, video ads are going to start showing up in Google search results more frequently in 2016. Seeing a trend?

 

Marketing automation

Staying ahead of the digital marketing game in 2016 means understanding marketing automation and experimenting with it. As social media expert Jeff Bullas writes, “human intuition and creativity is being enhanced by data”. Instead of randomly firing off a few marketing campaigns on social media and otherwise throughout the year, companies and marketers are now getting more strategic and more targeted with their messages. With billions of mobile moments happening each day, 2016 looks like the time to allow marketing robots to take over and expertly rapid fire your message out to the right people. You just won’t have the bandwidth to keep up with those companies going full robot.

Digital tools out there such as Hubspot, Marketo, and SimplyCast use their own algorithms to deliver email and social media campaigns, decide the best time to interact with users, and maximize the effectiveness of any other paid digital advertising campaigns. Looking into marketing automation is especially useful if you’re a smaller company trying to expand your reach and maximize your dollars.

 

5. Content Collaboration

User-generated content (or crowd-funded content) is on the up-and-up. We went to a great social media event at the end of last year with a panel of Vancouver experts in marketing and social media. The Global Marketing Director at Herschel Supply Co. Mikey Scott had a lot to say about how user-generated content promotes the Herschel brand. “The dream situation is when we can get users to create content for us…if we have product photos on Instagram, they’re from real users sending the photos to us. None of our #welltravelled photos to date are paid”. In speaking of the ‘well travelled campaign’, Scott refers to the company’s well-populated Instagram account that is “65-70% user generated”. “That’s how people get involved”, he said. “They didn’t even know they were marketing. There is a little thing about recognition that makes people want to help and do things for you”. 

As a company, think of ways to expand your content reach beyond just the daily blog post or company newsletter. Speak to your readers about generating content, look into relationship and influencer marketing (another big 2016 trend), and really reach people in the places they visit and read every day. Then offer to have them write about it!

 

Trusting data, not your gut

This goes hand in hand with marketing automation and how digital tools are now able to tell you everything from who’s looking at your site, to where they’re coming from, to what they’re into, to the next time they decide to come back. Phew. The sheer volume of data about your marketing campaigns, your customers, and your target audience is so great that most companies turn to other agencies who are experts at sifting through the info and figuring out what’s working best. One of the beautiful things about all the metrics being made available to us in 2016 is that companies no longer have to guess at what’s working with their digital marketing strategy and what’s falling short.

Getting all this big data is useless, however, if companies aren’t using what they know to make better decisions. The real prediction for this point should be: 2016, the year of the constant tweaking. Online metrics should be checked weekly, if not daily, and companies need to be making changes based on what converts better.

 

Finding your social network niche

When customers are spreading their time evenly amongst Facebook, Twitter, email, LinkedIn, Instagram, text message, Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat (you get what we mean), it’s more important than ever this coming year to be able to talk to them on the channel of their choosing. Instead of spreading yourselves thin and posting everywhere, conserving resources and focusing in on where your target audience hangs out will be crucial in the New Year. Although social media automation like Hootsuite helps with this, what’s the use of maintaining a dedicated Pinterest account when you’re looking to target 50+ year old investors?

On the other side of that, however, are companies that are focusing their marketing efforts on newer, less saturated social networks such as Snapchat and Periscope when old faithfuls like Facebook and Twitter are getting too crowded for comfort. Understanding where your company operates best, whether it’s ‘in with the new’ or the tried and true, will be beneficial for you moving forward.

 

Moving beyond the listicle

Ironic, we know, as you’re reading this in a listicle post. (Hey, we’re only five days into 2016, these predictions stretch out the full year). While the 15 Ways to Bake Incredible Things with Cheese posts are still top performing internet content (thanks, Buzzfeed), we predict the rise and popularity of more long-form content websites such as Medium. Inc, and Mic.com. We’re still firm believers that quality work over quantity will succeed at the end of the day. Although our attention spans are shrinking, people are still willing to read quality pieces, as evidenced by the wild popularity and viral attention of many longer articles on Medium. Plus, we think it’s time people need to start sucking it up and read paragraphs again.

 

 

What did you think about our list? Agree? Disagree? We’d love to know either way. Shoot us an email at info@blendermedia.com or talk directly to us on Twitter @BlenderMedia.