BC Tip: Unilever – Helping customers get in touch, worldwide

Unilever makes it easy for customers on its global site to find local brand contact details

The Domestos brand page on the global Unilever site - with UK contact details displayed

The Domestos brand page on the global Unilever site - with UK contact details displayed

The Feature

Users who visit the ‘Our brands’ section of Unilever’s global website can use a brand selector to find the one they are interested in, for example Domestos.

Clicking on the brand tile brings up a dropdown menu listing all countries where the brand is available. At this stage users can select ‘Global brands’, which takes them to the Unilever.com global brand page, such as the one for Domestos.

These pages contain a prominent field where users can type in the name of their country. Predictive results are offered, and selecting a country brings up local contact details, and a link to the brand page on the relevant Unilever country site.

The Takeaway

The fact that users can find local brand contact details without having to leave the global site will be helpful for many customers. They are likely to be on corporate sites in large numbers – often as the second largest audience behind jobseekers – and almost half of them will have come for customer service or to find out about a specific product.*

Too often corporate sites do not help customers achieve their goals, so providing tools, like Unilever’s, which allow them to quickly find local contact details is advisable.

*Data from Bowen Craggs survey data, which indicates that 48% of customer respondents come to corporate websites for customer service or to find out about a specific product.; and that only 42% achieve their goal.

For more commentaries, tips and downloads for online corporate communications professionals, visit our website.

If you have a query or for more information about Bowen Craggs, please contact Dan Drury: ddrury@bowencraggs.com.

Facebook beyond the feed

The social media giant’s web estate is fragmented and often frustrating to navigate. However, there are pockets of brilliance and originality; and signs that the company’s approach to online corporate communications is maturing, Jason Sumner says.
 

In the last few days, we’ve been doing our annual check of Facebook’s web estate to help keep our Index of Online Excellence up to date. Since we last looked in detail at the firm’s online presence in 2015, the all-conquering social media platform has become one of the world’s 10 biggest companies by market capitalisation and now has 1.8bn monthly users. 

We think it’s unlikely that Facebook will break into our top 30 ranking though. It has too many weaknesses, the most obvious of which is fragmentation, something that it has in common with a lot of US technology firms’ online estates. Journeys to information for anyone who is not a signed-in ‘user’ are often difficult, with an array of dedicated Facebook pages and microsites that have different navigation systems and do not always link up neatly.

But Facebook has online communications strengths in a few important areas that make it worth watching: 
•    It is highly effective at providing online information for its customers (advertisers and potential advertisers), an issue that is front of mind for digital managers we speak to. 
•    Careers pages are at global best practice standards.
•    Visually speaking, much of the estate looks elegant and parts are outstanding. 

We also saw signs that the company thinks ‘corporate’ online audiences such as investors and CSR professionals are worth trying to serve better too. 

Facebook.com/business is the gateway page to resources for advertisers. The material here is clear, straightforward and well-targeted to the audience. The calls to action anticipate some ignorance about the basics of Facebook’s business model and address it – ‘How Facebook adverts work’ – or, for those already in the know, ‘Create Advert’, which leads to a step-by-step process to set up an online campaign. There is abundant and useful supporting content, including clear, succinct video tutorials, FAQs, case studies, pricing information, metrics, etc.

How-to video in the business section

How-to video in the business section

Careers information on Facebook.com was strong when we looked in 2015 and it is strong now. On digital careers metrics alone, we rate Facebook among the best online estates in the world, and well worth emulating. Jobseekers receive a top service, with the global vacancy mechanism and careers information provision at global best practice levels. The online application form is excellent - elegant, streamlined and appropriately targeted at digital natives. The ‘Careers hub’ provides a very effective pitch to prospective jobseekers, positioning the workplace as a lively environment in which staff are encouraged to pursue their ideas and make a real difference.

Careers landing page

Careers landing page

Facebook has made some improvements in the way it communicates with traditional corporate stakeholders such as investors and CSR professionals. In 2015, we noted that their investor landing page stood out for its boring conventionality (even if their recent quarterly information was very well organized). Since then they have launched a modern-looking microsite for investors that is much more in tune with the company’s visual style. Although it falls short of best practice (we could not find a quarterly results archive, for example), the microsite is a step forward.

Investors landing page

Investors landing page

In 2015, we could not find any CSR data. In our most recent visits, the Sustainability microsite had a long scrolling page of creative data visualisations, housed under ‘Our Footprint’, covering carbon emissions at data centres, the energy mix between renewables and fossil fuels (including its goal to be using 50 per cent renewables by 2018), and water usage. The site provides a PDF download of all the data and a useful list of links to external resources about Facebook’s environmental performance. The page has links to interesting real-time dashboards tracking ‘power usage effectiveness’ and ‘water usage effectiveness’ at Facebook’s four data centres.

Sustainability landing page

Sustainability landing page

Real-time energy and water usage dashboard

Real-time energy and water usage dashboard

The Sustainability microsite is a good example of the site’s often striking visuals. It uses (currently-trendy) looping video on the landing page, original photography, clean fonts and colours to tell make the company’s case that it is a force for good in the world. 

‘Facebook Stories’ are another example of professional visuals combined with high-quality editorial. Housed on a microsite, they are a set of well-produced videos that cover what ordinary people have accomplished by setting up Facebook groups. Many of the videos have CSR and community-based themes, including 'Homeless in Seattle' about an architect who has a page 'Facing Homelessness' and 'Save the Monarchs', a group in Iowa dedicated to butterfly conservation. The production values are high, and may well be outside many firms’ digital corporate communications budgets, but the way the videos are summarised on the page, and the way the videos are subtle about connecting Facebook to the groups doing the work, could be a model for other corporate 'story' videos.

Facebook Stories microsite

Facebook Stories microsite

Overall, we were struck by the imbalance between how frustrating it can be to find specific information on the estate, and then being impressed by the abundance and detail when we got to the right places. It is a good thing for Facebook, given how frustrating our journeys were, that the estate tested very well for visibility on search engines. Users starting from the home page could struggle, for example, to find the links for journalists, investors or sustainability, but putting these terms into Google returned the exact destination at the top of the results every time. 

- Jason Sumner

The joys of Apple's crunchy prose

Not going to dive into the rights or wrongs of the Apple versus Government argument about encryption, but the company has done two things that are undoubtedly right.

First, Tim Cook (or someone on his behalf) has written a 'message to our customers' in crisp, unambiguous English. In a world where most bosses flee clarity as vampires flee garlic, his sharp arguments and short sentences are mercifully easy to absorb. Apple may be all modern, but it understands the importance of that old-fashioned skill, literacy.

Second, the company's home page is promoting the message as one of its main panels - in view without scrolling on most screens. Apple may be rubbish at communicating with non-customers (like journalists), but it knows how to get to customers and Apple.com is one of its big channels. So putting a signpost here makes perfect sense.

 

There's something else here for other companies (and indeed for Apple at other times). This message has obvious relevance to customers, but so do lots of others things on a corporate site that do not get the same high profile treatment. That the company keep a close eye on its suppliers' labour conditions, that it is amazingly inventive, that its products are made in ways that destroy only a few of the earth's resources, that it is really quite nice to its employees; and so on.

We know that 'serving customers' is at the front of many web people's minds at the moment. It's important to remember that this does not just mean selling them stuff. It means anything, anything, that might make them think more favourably about a company. A lot of that is already on corporate websites. It just needs to be blasted more clearly across home pages.   

David Bowen