Don't let the image fool you, we haven't been able to find an IR function for Google Glass yet. Sorry. But on the other hand, Google does have some wonderful products including Google+ and YouTube which you can definitely make use of! Today, we're going to take a look at a few of the best Google tools to incorporate into your IR program.
Google Analytics allows you to see a huge amount of data related to your corporate website. By employing it effectively, public companies are able to use this data to help establishing a baseline for social media ROI.
Your marketing department probably knows the number of website hits it required in order to get a new retail investor in your database. Combine that with the average equity investment for a new retail shareholder, and this figure should help you to discover the value of each lead from your corporate website.
Once you determine the value of a website lead based on the chances of converting them into a shareholder, you can now look at what it costs you to generate this lead. Note* this process will be most effective for Small Cap companies, if that's not you, feel free to skip ahead.
This is where Google Analytics is most effective. By determining how many people arrived at your website as the result of natural search traffic, press releases, email newsletters and Social Media activity, it's easy to see where marketing dollars are being spent, as well as the return on this investment in the form of leads and shareholder acquisition.
Some metrics to consider in addition to lead generation include:
- Traffic sources
- Natural search queries
- Social-to-web conversions
- Average time on site
Still want more? This article from Q4 Web Systems does an excellent job of explaining how IROs can make use of Google Analytics on a day to day basis.
Google Webmaster Tools
While Google Analytics is primarily dedicated to giving information about visitors to your corporate website, Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) focuses on how your website appears to search engines. GWT is typically used by your webmaster to measure the health of your website and assess how external factors like links, sitemaps and Social Media are affecting your company's search visibility.
One important area in which GWT can be employed by public companies is in the use of sitelinks. As most of your website's traffic is likely generated through Google searches for your company name, sitelinks can be a powerful branding tool. Take, for example, a Google search for BHP Billiton; you'll see below that the sitelinks present here provide additional information for the searcher based on the website's content.
As GWT allows you to remove certain pages from the sitelinks section, we suggest manipulating these so that the following appear:
Other uses for Google Webmaster Tools include the monitoring of:
- Site 404 Errors
- Search Queries
- Inbound Links
- Sitemaps, E.g. http://irsmartt.com/sitemap.xml
Google Blog Search
Google Blog Search is one of the most useful ways of tracking information about a given topic online and hence one of the most effective google tools for IR. The interface allows a user to monitor any set of keyword terms and be sent up-to-the-minute alerts when a blog anywhere on the web publishes content related to that keyword term.
How is this relevant for IR? Because there's a good chance that your stakeholders are using tools like this to source news and views about your company.
While Analytics and Webmaster Tools are products that your IR Department can employ to improve your own marketing efforts, Blog Search is one that you should be aware of as a tool for stakeholders to track public sentiment and analyst coverage of your organization. If bad press relating to your company appears anywhere on the web, a blog search will find this and send it automatically to anyone following you.
Search Engines and RSS Feeds changed the way people use the web. To find a website in the past, you needed to surf to it. Today, Search Engines give us the ability to search for new content. RSS takes this a step further by delivering new content to us based on keywords and sources that we determine; effectively allowing us to curate the web for our own interests.
RSS took the web from Push to Pull.
Monitoring Google Blog Search and Google Alerts is most effective using another Google product called Reader. Google Reader is an RSS Reader that pulls content for you from various feeds and displays it in a standardized format, within either a desktop or a web application.
Google Reader is an excellent business intelligence tool for your Investor Relations department. Monitoring RSS feeds from your competitors, partners and major news sources can help feed your Social Networks with new content. At the same time, monitoring searches for your company is the most efficient way to stay on top of public sentiment and respond to questions or concerns.
Please note: since this article was first published Google has closed Google Reader (I know, it sucks) but you can get a very similar (if not better) user experience from Feedly.com
Newswire services have a business that relies on subscribers to use their investor relations tools. They hope that you'll pay them to distribute your content to interested parties. In reality, this model is slowly becoming less relevant and effective as public companies employ social engagement strategies to communicate directly with their investors.
Where people once waited for news to come across the wire and into their inboxes, now they prefer to monitor Social Media profiles and Financial Networks for news about the markets and the stocks they follow.
Yahoo Finance is still the dominant financial Social Network, but in recent years Google, StockTwits, PR Newswire and Reuters have all followed with competitive products.
Such has been the success of Google's other products (E.g. Google Chrome, which is now the most used web browser) that we anticipate Google Finance will become the most used method for monitoring the markets.
Google Adwords is perhaps the least utilized google tool for IR programs. This is mostly because Adwords is a highly specialized tool. The major use for Adwords is in E-Commerce, where there is a definitive ROI from the ad budget.
PPC Advertising is not a widely used by IR firms. Though we submit that many investor relations firms will soon be taking up this mantle. One way to employ it is to create an ad campaign focused solely on your company name. By doing this, it's possible to capture almost all of the "screen real-estate" for a search based on your company name. In the coming weeks we're going to create a whitepaper on the use of advertising in investor relations and then a blog post about guerilla advertising in IR.
Here is an example of a Google Ad used by Nike:
Notice below the effect of using this advertising on the screen real estate for a search of "Nike":
This advertising, used in conjunction with sitelinks and a Google Places listing, means that almost everything you see when you Google the company relates back to their website and marketing materials. The branding implication is that nobody can get lost and wander onto something that you don't intend for them to see.
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