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Understanding audiences through analytics and insights

21 Aug 2019

Our market-data driven tools are embedded into hundreds of PLC websites and we also host and manage a large number of those sites ourselves, so we’re sharing some of the audience insights we’ve gained through analysing our web traffic over the last year.

We’ve been helping our clients communicate with investor audiences for many years and we like to think we understand the mindset of various stakeholder groups, and their expectations when visiting corporate websites. It’s knowledge that constantly feeds into the design, structure and delivery of the websites and ‘IR tools’ we provide.

So it’s no surprise that analytics drives a lot of our thinking. But before we begin, there’s been a lot of talk about privacy recently, with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) making headlines since they came into effect on 25th May 2018, and more recently, the latest Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) which came into force on 9th January 2019.

PECR covers the use of cookies, including those set for the purposes of analytics and visitor tracking. This probably warrants a follow up blog post of its own, but in order to set analytics tracking the basic rule is that you must:

  • tell people the cookies are there;
  • explain what the cookies are doing and why; and
  • get the person’s consent to store a cookie on their device.

Our websites (and IR tools) link to the respective policies, and our client websites include a ‘cookie banner’ to inform users of our use of analytics tracking cookies, and ensure consent. And it’s these analytics we’re going to take a closer look at now.

Headline numbers from our IR tools platform, Polaris

We’ve developed our own proprietary Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform to create and serve a range of market-data driven tools to public companies across multiple markets. We call this platform Polaris. We also embed a tracking code in each of our tools so we can monitor usage, and better understand the environments in which they’re used.

And it’s these environments which get tracked when our tools are embedded into client websites. Although, as with any sort of statistical review, we have to be measured in our approach, and take some of the numbers with a pinch of salt!

One of the main things to consider is the difference between a share price widget embedded into the home page of a client site, when compared to a share price graph embedded into a page within the investor section. The former will capture all visits to the site, the latter is more likely to be someone with a clear interest in share price performance. Even so, here are the headline numbers from the previous 12 months:

Polaris Aug 18 - Aug 19 Overview

Here we can see 2.5m unique users and 13m page views over the last 12 months from our IR tools platform. The chart shows these page views on a daily basis, and you can easily discern Monday to Friday compared to the weekends – with Christmas and New Year being our quietest time.

If we drill down into this data, we can see Chrome has an overwhelming majority when it comes to the most popular browser, commanding 57.62% of all user visits in that year. Internet Explorer (and its various versions) comes in 2nd place with 11.48% of users.

Looking specifically at the stats for Internet Explorer, the browser web agencies love to hate, we can see 71% of users are on IE 11, the latest version of the browser.

Unfortunately this means the other 29% aren’t! Staggeringly, we can see 17.46% of visitors using IE 8.0 (released 2009), 10.57% using IE 7.0 (released 2006), 0.32% on IE 6.0 (released 2001) and even five users still clinging on to IE 5.0 (originally released in 1999!). Update your Operating Systems and browsers people, please.

Polaris Aug 18 - Aug 19 browsers

Perhaps more surprising, is the largest single majority (by a whisker!) have a screen resolution of just 1024×768. Thankfully, a closer look at browser resolutions tells us the vast majority of users overall have a screen resolution greater than 1200px wide – an encouraging trend.

However, the greatest insight here is the HUGE number of individual resolutions out there – over 7,500 of them in total.

The plethora of devices across desktop, mobile and tablet is bigger than we thought possible, and there are literally thousands of weird and wonderful screen resolutions viewing our content. This alone reinforces the need to ensure our tools are fully responsive to work equally across user devices.

Polaris Aug 18 - Aug 19 Screen resolutin

Speaking of, we also took a look at visits from the three main categories – Desktop, Mobile and Tablet.

We’ve added a second dimension to the device category to uncover the most widely used device and operating system combinations, and it comes as no surprise to see Desktop Windows users accounting for 72.50% of visits. The biggest single mobile operating system appears to be Android with 10.17% (iOS counts for just 2.69%).

Polaris Aug 18 - Aug 19 Device and OS

The tools we deliver through Polaris are embedded into a fantastic range of client sites globally. As a consequence we can take a broad view of location-based data to see which countries are most actively consuming our client’s web pages.

As a business founded in the UK with a large number of London Stock Exchange listed clients, it comes as no surprise to see the UK at the top of the charts with 31.25% of all visits.

Polaris Aug 18 - Aug 19 Geography

The United States comes a close second with 23.56% of visits, and a large margin over other countries, with India coming third at 6.75%. In total, we see 235 countries represented in the complete list, which in itself is pretty interesting when you consider there are meant to be 195 – 197 countries, depending on how you count them! We imagine this list includes some regional variations and classifications.

Understanding web traffic for our corporate websites

Looking at the analytics for Polaris only tells us half of the story. Polaris tools are often embedded into headers and home pages of our client’s websites, meaning we’ll capture data on all website visitors. Some of these websites might have a dual purpose – consumer and corporate – and this could potentially skew the results by introducing audiences who aren’t “typical investors”.

We also use Google Analytics on the websites we build, host and maintain for our clients, so let’s also take a look at how they compare to the stats we’ve seen for Polaris. We’ve highlighted a couple of examples below, but the same trends can be seen on all of our client sites within fairly close margins.

AIM100 Plc (Mining)

We’ve been working with one particular AIM100 mining business to support and manage their website for a number of years. As a metals producer, they don’t have a consumer side to their business as such, and it can be seen as a ‘corporate’ website primarily designed around the needs of investors, employees and local communities.

Looking at their Google Analytics, specifically their top 10 pages over the same time period, we can see the Home page occupying the top spot (as you would expect), but we also see their Reports and Presentations page as the second most visited page of the site.

We’re naturally pleased to see our Share Price and Regulatory News tools in 5th and 6th place respectively, confirming their website visitors value the IR tools and market data we provide.

Central Asia Metals popular pages Aug 18 - Aug 19

So far, so ordinary? The following stat surprised even us! One of the features of Google Analytics is the ability to view user demographics.

I, like many others, log into Chrome to manage my bookmarks, history and passwords, and I also use Google Search, Gmail and many other Google powered products. As a consequence, Google knows exactly “who” I am, the sites I like to visit and what my interests are.

If we look at the identifiable demographics, we can see that just over 2/3 of visitors are male, 1/3 female, and nearly 40% of identified visitors are aged 25 – 34. Which is more than the next two age groups combined; 35-44 = 22% and 45-54 = 16%.

Central Asia Metals website visitor demographics

We found this especially interesting as it contradicts the traditional stereotype of those viewing corporate websites and investor-focused content as belonging to the older generation. Instead, it appears to be a notably younger audience consuming the content.

It’s worth highlighting that we use the term ‘identifiable audiences’ because Google only has demographic data on a subset of the overall visits (in this case, around a 1/3 of total visitors), and it could be argued that younger generations are more comfortable logging into Chrome and having their habits tracked.

FTSE250 Plc (Chemicals)

We delivered the corporate website for a FTSE250 Plc in November 2018. This particular client has another customer-orientated website so it’d be easy to see the site we built as focusing solely on investors, but as we come to learn, they have another important audience to consider.

Aside from investor-focused content, our site also includes a dedicated Careers section detailing employment opportunities within the Group, inclusive of a bespoke application process for interested candidates.

As you can see from the screenshot, their Careers landing page has received more visitors (23.88%) than the Home page (13.87%)! When we drill down into the stats for the careers landing page, we can see that the majority of referrals are coming from social channels, including Facebook and LinkedIn, where we imagine open vacancies are being posted.

Website journeys are rarely linear, and this highlights the need to communicate clearly on every potential entry point and key landing page.

Victrex Plc Aug 18 - Aug 19 Site Content

If we take a look at a mix of technology and demographics, we can gain some insight into the types of devices used by each age group.

While this client has similar overall identifiable user demographics (25-34 year olds make up 37% of identifiable visits), it’s interesting to see the majority of this group are viewing the website using a desktop machine.

Victrex Plc Aug 18 - Aug 19 OS and Age

That’s not to detract from the importance of having a responsive and mobile friendly website. Looking at the overall user demographics, and rounding the numbers slightly, we can see 70% view the site using a Desktop or Laptop, while visitors from Mobile devices make up 25%, and Tablets the remaining 5%. Meaning just under a third of all visits are coming from hand-held devices.

So what have we learned?

Anonymised stats alone only tell us half of the story and it’s hard to make any fast and hard conclusions from them as a consequence.

What we can say for sure, is that our IR tools and corporate websites are viewed by an incredibly diverse range of audiences. We see a trend that leans toward a younger age bracket, and mobile usage remains fairly constant at around 30% of overall visits.

There’s also no end to the weird and wonderful device and browser combinations visiting our URLs, and the need to deliver services which have been extensively cross-browser and cross-device tested is more important than ever.

Got a project you’d like to discuss? Get in touch!