Annual Reports Reimagined for a Digital Audience
By Andrew Davies
Moving from print to digital
There has been a shift, moving annual reports off the printed page and into the digital realm. Why? Simply – a greater return on investment. Communication that is scalable, targeted, purposeful, engaging and measurable. And it’s more than just powerful content marketing, it also juices up your SEO tremendously. Working double duty for you.
Having a long tradition of creating printed reports, The Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) made the decision to transition to a solely online report, but this was not made lightly. SEDA’s Marketing Director, Angela Hendrix told us,
“In the economic development world, SEDA has always been known as a leader and innovator in our marketing and sales efforts. We haven’t been afraid to do something different. Through various reasons,… we had not completed an annual report in several years. To start getting us back into the game… we knew we wanted to do something different than the traditional printed annual report. Plus, the fact that it was more cost effective was appealing.”
But why not just output a pdf version of your print report? again, Angela said, “Plain and simple, that’s pretty boring. We didn’t want something that people just glanced at and thought ok, that’s it. We wanted people to engage with the report.”
Online reports offer a range of advantages
Printing costs impact your mailing list depth. With an online report, expanding your reach is as easy as sending a link. Share your report with 1,000 people or 1million. Your cost to distribute does not increase.
They require less effort
Consider the sheer volume of content you gather for an annual report. You know ommissions can happen, or headshots need to be retaken, or the data is just not yet complete. But you still need to hit your deadline. With digital you can make edits right up until the moment of distribution. And even beyond. No permanent errors. No costly reprints.
Their impact can be measured
Zero measurement communications have no place in your media plan. With analytics attached you can extract meaningful metrics about your audience and what matters to them. Track how much time they spend reviewing your report. In an online environment where the average time spent on a single page is 10 to 20 seconds, SEDA’s audience is spending close to a minute per page.
Users are consuming information online at greater rates with each passing year. And it’s so easy to throw away a print report. …this is something people can go back to time and time again, it will always be accessible to them.
They’re more engaging
Video has inherent power to hold attention, and web audiences are willing to watch them 60% of the time they are found. One minute of video has the same value 1.8 million words. Use them, along with and other web-enabled functionality to tell a clearer story through interactivity. Eight of the top ten most effective marketing channels are digital, leverage that.
Connecting by phone or email takes just one click or tap. No more hunting for contact details – that’s if your audience can even remember where they put your annual report in the first place. Turn your annual report into a call for action.
Packed with Features
Looks fantastic and works seamlessly on any device. Avoid user frustration and report abandonment. With projections showing more users will access the internet via a mobile device than desktop by 2015, your annual report needs to hold up despite this sea change.
Beyond just charts and graphs, infographics help tell a richer, clearer story. See your data visualized, your ideas made into art in a way a block of text can never deliver. Infographics can increase the traffic to your website by 25% — turn your annual report into a serious online marketing tool.
To really understand what matters to your audience you’ve got to know what content they’re actually reading. Analytics will tell you exactly what areas you might want to put more emphasis on in future years. Even beyond this, analytics can also reveal surprising insight on where you may have a growing audience.
So what kind of reaction did SEDA’s new online report receive? Again, SEDA’s Angela Hendrix reports that,“The reaction has been great and all positive so far! I was concerned that people wouldn’t look at the annual report but based on responses we have gotten from people, they have. They like that its something different, that it feels “cutting edge.” It makes our stakeholders feel like they were are back in the game.”
Check out a few of the other digital annual reports we’ve done below.