Where do buy-side analysts most want to hear management speak? Earnings Calls.  And in particular, the Q&A section of your company’s quarterly earnings call. That means you only have four opportunities every year to reach buy-side analysts when they’re listening most actively. Below, you’ll find the top 6 ways analysts listen to earnings calls. We’re yet to see anyone listening by a conference room door, but I suppose its possible.
Live on the phone
Though we’ve listed it first here, the old call-in isn’t as popular these days. The buy-side analyst who uses a landline to call your conference number is a dying breed in 2014. Almost every company who does an earnings call will keep the live phone call as an option but we find that this is more the domain of older-demographic retail investors than professional buy-side analysts. That’s not to say the phone is going away any time soon, but this channel isn’t likely to grow.
This is the real bread and butter for your earnings call audience. Live streaming and website replays together make up more than 55% of the total listeners for our clients on call day.
Most investor relations website providers will offer call replays as part of their base product. We’ve seen or worked with all the major providers and earnings call replays are a pretty standard feature. Be careful though: when selecting an earnings call provider, make sure that you can quickly export data on those users who have listened. And finally, check your contract to make sure there isn’t a maximum number of replays offered. Topping out on a replay quota and receiving angry emails about the replay not working is a frustrating regression, and a waste of time. It’s best to confirm that you’ve got plenty of bandwidth in case you draw a larger post-call audience than you expected.
Becoming more popular recently as a method for listening to earnings calls are company podcasts. There’s a great piece by IR magazine in which they explain that you don’t have to go far to find buy-side analysts who use podcasts to listen to earnings calls on-the-go. James Wicklund from Credit Suisse explains in the article that podcasts are his go-to option. Earnings call podcasts rank #3 on our list as they provide the most accessible way for analysts to listen to your call after the event. Website replays are great, but podcasts are just that much easier for an analyst to get their hands on. Importantly, they add mobility. It’s a busy world, and some analysts appreciate being able to get through a call on their commute or at the gym.
With Twitter’s announcement last week that they’ll be introducing audio cards, Audio FAQs are set to become a much more popular post-call distribution channel. Imagine the Q&A section of your call replay, broken up into individual questions. This is a highly digestable version of the call that investors tend to appreciate. Listeners can navigate beyond questions that don’t interest them, or go back and review others. We’ve found that both buy-side and sell-side analysts appreciate this functionality as it gives them a much simpler way to cross reference particular sections of the call audio with parts of the transcript when they’re looking to gain context from speaker inflection. Expect this to become a common investor relations content strategy in 2015.
When doing analytics, we recommend measuring Audio FAQ plays slightly differently than full replays. If you’re looking to get an idea of the impact of an Audio FAQ, the best way to do this is to add the total plays time of all your clips together and then add them to the total playback time of the call replays. Its not perfect, but it gives a good comparison. Remember though, you’re not trying to compete with the earnings call for length of audio, you’re trying to provide enhanced functionality first.
Again, not yet a standard method but a growing trend in investor relations. If you don’t have an investor relations app for your company, this likely won’t affect you – but even though you don’t have one, other people do and you should be mindful of this. Mobile apps offer an excellent function that you probably haven’t even thought about but is an excellent way to remind analysts of your call: mobile notifications.
Mobile notifications are the one really big difference between a responsive website and a mobile app. This is all you really need to know. Apps let you send notifications to your analysts and retail investor leads with an alert that your earnings call audio is ready, then push it directly through the phone. They provide the same real-time replay functions as podcasts but allows an IR department to collect more data about the user.
We mentioned above that investor relations podcasts were becoming more popular. In fact, they’re becoming popular enough that EarningsCast.com has built a business around aggregating earnings calls and providing them for playback. We mentioned this to several financial analysts at the 2013 NIRI Southwest conference and the same James Wicklund was very keen on it.
Unfortunately, the EarningsCast database can sometimes be slow to pick calls up. We’re sure the people over there do their best, but some companies wait days or weeks before the calls appear. We highly recommend taking the time to reach out to EarningsCast to ensure your company’s call is available to EarningsCast users as soon as your editing team are finished with the audio file.
A company only has 4 sure opportunities per year to connect with analysts, so it’s critical that you find ways to maximize the visibility of your earnings. Giving analysts multiple ways to listen to your earnings call can’t be a bad thing. After all, what’s the #1 thing analysts want more of? Information. And earnings calls are by nature the most current investor relations information you have.