GPs often employ a disastrous strategy when it comes to planning a new website: first, they visit other private equity fund manager websites, for “inspiration” (to copy them); and, secondly, they proceed to gather all the content that feels approximately relevant and dump it on a few pages (and particularly on the homepage).
The result? Websites that are horrifyingly generic and troublingly verbose. This is not a theory: in a recent study, we analysed more than 350 fund manager websites, identifying the information presented across each and assessing its quality. Most of the websites we visited would be indistinguishable from each other but for the firm’s logo, and almost all had way too much content on each page (a quarter included more than 500 words on the homepage, alone).
In this short article, we’ll provide a little commentary on some of the top-line findings around the kind of information investors need and how easy it tends to be to find (spoiler: not very). We’ll talk more about the generic content, itself, another time.
When planning a new website, there are three key questions that every GP needs to consider:
1. What are LPs actually looking for when they go to a GP’s website?
This is the most crucial question. Having looked over the marketing materials of thousands of fund managers, one of our quickest conclusions is typically: “you wrote too much”. Many GPs get into the habit of including everything they think an investor could possibly need to know. Where completeness and detail certainly are important for due diligence materials, such as PPMs and DDQs, explaining everything about your firm is not the right approach for pitchbooks and other marketing documents.
Nor is it for your website.
In most cases, the website is the first place an investor goes to learn about your firm. Its primary goal should be to convince an investor to get in contact with you.
And how do you do that? You need to show that your investment strategy aligns with their requirements. Then you need to show that there is a capable team to fulfil that strategy. And then show evidence that your team has experience in executing these types of deals.
So, the key areas to include are usually; your investment strategy, team, and portfolio.
The next question to consider is:
2. How easy is it for LPs to find this information?
When thinking about how to structure your website, you need to consider your audience. Once you identify the information they are looking for, think about how many steps it takes for them to reach it. To avoid user frustration, your website needs to be easy to navigate.
The first place a user will look to find something is the main menu.
As part of our desk research, we reviewed each GP website’s menu structure. The team and portfolio are priority information for an investor, yet almost one third of websites do not include a ‘Team’ page in the top-level navigation. And over a quarter do not include a ‘Portfolio’ page, here.
Our research also showed us that only just over half of private equity fund manager websites include an ‘Investment Strategy’ page, at all. In many cases, the information was hidden elsewhere, in a sub-section of another page. In websites where the investment strategy does not command its own page, fewer than 1 in 10 include more than three links from other pages to the section where it can be found.
A website’s main menu does not need to include every page. But the website should give a clear and easy path to get a visitor to the most important information.
And once they have found what they were looking for, there’s one final question:
3. How easy is the information to understand?
Filling an ‘Investment Strategy’ page with jargon is not the best way to prove that you know your stuff. An investor needs to be able to understand it in a glance.
Having reviewed the readability of the investment strategy on these 350+ GP websites, we found over a third too complex.
And many were too detailed. Over half of GP websites include more than 250 words on their investment strategy. That’s getting close to the level of detail you would expect to see in a PPM or DDQ.
Remember, your website does not need to say everything (and certainly not everywhere, all at once). Your website is a hook. It only needs to show that you are relevant to an investor and then excite them enough to get in touch.
If you would like to know more, please reach out to our IR & marketing solutions team. As well as writing and building websites, we run user journey workshops that can support the development of a website that is easy to navigate, helping your investors quickly find and understand the information they need.