FTSE 100 corporate brands are ‘digitally immature’

The UK’s 100 biggest companies are failing to engage audiences with their corporate brands through social media, struggle to manage content effectively and are not mobile-ready – leading to an unsatisfactory digital experience.

SABMiller Romania 2013Credit: Tom Parker/OneRedEyeImage is copyrighted
SAB Miller ranks first for ‘digital maturity’ out of the companies in the FTSE 100

FTSE 100 companies are not getting to grips with digital channels in their corporate communications, particularly in mobile, according to a digital maturity survey by creative agency Radley Yeldar unveiled at a launch event in London today (21 April).

According to the study the average ‘experience’ score given across the FTSE 100 group of the UK’s biggest companies remains unsatisfactory at 44%, with Prudential, ITV, Burberry and Diageo featured as the least digitally mature corporate brands.

The report analyses over 3,750 data points, benchmarking each company’s overall performance across the entire digital spectrum, including websites, social media, mobile apps and intranets.

The highest overall performer in the research is SAB Miller, closely followed by pharmaceutical giant GSK. Royal Dutch Shell, Rolls-Royce and BG Group make up the rest of the top five ‘digitally mature’ businesses.

The report says that SABMiller’s mobile experience gives it an edge because of its “considered use of responsive design that [goes] beyond a simple application of the now vital technology”.

GSK scores highly thanks to its “brilliant website and great social presence, populated with a top quality stream of content that tackles key topics in a timely and relevant way’. Royal Dutch Shell, Rolls-Royce and BG Group make up the top five.

Richard Coope, digital director at Radley Yeldar, says: “If you can get to grips with the rapid change in digital, if you can communicate your brand in a clear and coherent way across your digital channels it indicates you have governance, a digital strategy and you are actually trying to attempt business transformation through digital.”

The research also shows that over 50% of the FTSE 100’s corporate platforms are not mobile-ready and don’t have responsive websites that can be rendered to fit any screen size. Less than a third are doing a good job of creating, managing and publishing timely content, with just 31 consistently managing content well.

Less than 15% of the FTSE 100 engage audiences meaningfully through social media, less than a third of companies are embedding social content as part of their corporate website and seven companies do not have a corporate social media account.

The study recommends that businesses do simple things right rather than chase the latest gimmick, including improving the search function on websites, adopting a ‘user-first’ approach, embedding preferred technology from specialists, humanising social media communications and thinking mobile in terms of website experience.

Coope’s advice to brands is: “Digital is disrupting business and while it is creating uncertainty you do have a choice. You can choose to become more digitally mature if you focus hard on digital excellence, doing the basics right, getting your channel execution right, the content as good as it could be and your social and mobile curated and managed.”

The study shows that the top three highest performers in corporate digital communications by sector are oil and gas, banking and healthcare.

“The regulated industries seem to be ones that are ahead, which you might find unusual because risk averseness often means there is a good excuse not to do things on social media,” says Simon Quayle, digital consultant and former digital director at GSK.

He adds: “[These companies] have a great opportunity to deal with some of the reputational hits they have had over the years and use digital experiences to build trust.”

The insight for consumer-facing sectors is that there is a disconnect between consumer demands and the needs of the investor, which the study sees as a results of the lack of digital strategy to join up communications across the business. Brands can take note from SAB Miller, which balances consumer and corporate communication.

Nick Tipping, digital marketing manager at construction company Mace believes that technology and culture are two barriers that need to be overcome in order to get to grips with the opportunity.

Tipping says: “Technology is about understanding the ecosystem, what is working or not and what value it adds. Culture is being more proactive but being reactive too, as well as working in collaboration across departments, leading from a marketing point of view and creating a digital hub of excellence.”

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Comments
  • RR 21 Apr 2015 at 9:20 am

    It would be interesting to understand further how the scores were attributed. Both Diageo and Burberry are strong brands in the digital space.

  • DissidentBiz 21 Apr 2015 at 10:27 am

    The danger with this type of research is that it presupposes that the people running the corporate communications functions for the FTSE 100 are stupid or at least inadequate. In reality they will have decided (after much thought) that the cost of investing in additional digital activities does not justify the return. I suspect that if you analysed their brand activities (rather than corporate) you would see a very different picture.

    • Mike Essex 21 Apr 2015 at 11:14 am

      You’ve hit the nail on the head. A lot of the FTSE 100 is comprised of B2B clients who don’t shop digitally. Clients are won on face to face meetings and well thought out pitches. Leads are generated through past performance and local presence. Sales are closed through effective pricing and a strong technical track record.

      Digital serves as a nice tick in the box but it won’t generate leads or close sales in a lot of these cases (and I say that as someone who worked in a digital agency for five years and who loves digital marketing).

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