December 10, 2021 Making your corporate digital communications more persuasive and compelling: Learning from the leaders in the Bowen Craggs Index (Special Contribution)

Jason Sumner
Senior consultant and director of editorial, Bowen Craggs & Co

In November Bowen Craggs published its annual ranking of the 30 best companies in the world at corporate digital communications. What came through clearly this year is that the companies at the top of the Index are getting bolder and sharper with their communications. By bolder, we mean that companies are speaking out about controversial issues such as climate change as never before. They are also sharper in the way they communicate – more precise, persuasive, and compelling.

This is certainly true of BP and Nestlé, which tied for first place, receiving 226 points in the Index, out of a maximum of 280 points. BP is innovative in the way it shares internal communications from the CEO with the outside world in order to be more transparent and build its reputation. Nestlé’s corporate website and social media communications around the company’s ‘net zero’ plan stood out for being specific, transparent and evidence based.

Nestlé and BP have very different websites, but they share several success factors. One of these is a dedication to continuous improvement. Many companies consider their websites as a one-time project with little ongoing investment required. This never works, because content quickly goes out of date and best practice moves on.

Nestlé and BP are always polishing and always improving. For example, Nestlé made small but important improvement to its press release service for journalists, which pushed up its score in the ‘Serving journalists’ metric. BP improved the range of materials it provides to financial analysts. These companies have established a clear gap with the rest of the Index. GSK, the third-place company in the Index, is 12 points behind the joint leaders.

The Bowen Craggs Index evaluates the corporate digital communications of the top 200 companies in the world by market capitalization. Each year we take a snapshot of this real-time ranking and publish the top 30 list. Our methodology measures usability and editorial material across eight main metrics and 26 sub-metrics. The methodology is based on our own expert analysis and decade’s worth of visitor survey and analytics data.

Across the rest of the companies in the top 30 we noted other common success factors. Many companies took a more sophisticated approach to environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting. Three companies in the top 10, HSBC, Verizon, and ING, all improved their ESG reporting in 2021 and rose higher in the ranking as a result.

‘The best get better’ was a key trend in our report last year, and this upward trend in performance continued in 2021. Not only did the overall top score increase by two points, from 224 to 226, the threshold score to be included in the top 30 rose by three points. In 2020 you could be in the top 30 if you scored 191 points. This year the threshold was 194 points.

Three ‘rising stars’ in this year’s Index report were new to the top 30. Norsk Hydro is notable for its impressive thought leadership material for customers. Aramco has an excellent company history, strong company information and good use of social media to raise the visibility of the corporate website. Aviva made significant advances in usability and messaging.

Finally, the Bowen Craggs Index top performers are using corporate digital channels to speak directly to audiences on their sites, such as jobseekers, about the issues that they care about. We see from our own corporate website visitor research that most people who visit corporate websites start with a favourable opinion of the company. You can build on this foundation of trust to improve perceptions even more, by providing relevant information and engaging content, and a seamless user experience, just like the leaders in the Bowen Craggs Index.