DRAMATIC changes in technology are providing new ways for companies and investors to stay in touch — and the mobile Web should be right near the top of every IR and PR department’s web plans.
People around the world are increasingly accessing the Web on mobile devices — and investment information is a logical fit for mobile content. From cell phone browsing to smartphones to SMS, mobile is the next frontier for investor relations web content.
A few companies have had mobile versions of their investor relations websites for several years, but recently I’ve noticed growing activity and interest in mobile IR content among the companies we cover.
The new .com of the mobile Web
One of the most important tools as you consider developing content for small mobile screens is to get your company a new .mobi domain name. This is the new .com for mobile devices. Registrations will begin opening on a staggered basis over the next six months.
When users go to a .mobi page, they know it will work in their mobile browser. Right now, 99% of regular .com sites cannot be viewed properly on mobile devices, or if they can the usability is poor. You can expect in future that someone trying to find your company on the small-screen web will guess the url as your company name plus .mobi.
Small screens, big web management challenges
Designing sites for small devices requires new skills and expertise. The private company that issues .mobi domains has issued guidelines for designing sites to work in mobile browsers. These follow the mobile standards of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Mobile Web Initiative. The W3C is the official standards setting body for the Internet.
Web managers are going to have to get their heads around several challenges in implementing their mobile websites. As mobile communications pro and author Martin Sauter explains in a recent blog entry, having two webs — one for mobile and one for PCs — creates interoperability issues.
Another challenge is going to be deciding what content to provide on the mobile web. There are likely going to be tussles among departments wanting a piece of that very small mobile homepage. And designers are going to have to learn a new set of usability standards.
Vodafone’s .mobi Investor Relations website
One company that already has a .mobi domain for its IR site is Vodafone, the giant global wireless telecommunications company. To find their IR website on the “normal web” you type www.vodafone.com and then click on investor relations.
Now try Vodafone.mobi and what you’ll get is illustrated in the screenshot below:
Investors can access news releases, the company’s share prices on both the London Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, an investor calendar, contacts and a one-sentence description of the company.
Several other companies offer similar or better IR content for mobile access, but they don’t yet have a .mobi domain. When investors try to access these other mobile sites, they often go to the .com site before being automatically redirected to a mobile-ready page.
Some companies require investors to input their email address before they can access the url for the company’s mobile site. This is being done as a way to measure early interest in mobile IR sites.
However, it is not a good long-term tactic as registration discourages people from using a site and creates a barrier to people consuming your information. Lots to think about and do, so let’s end it there for now.