With more than 1.2 million visitors every year, SABMiller’s corporate website is a key communications channel for managing the reputation of the global brewer. But since the site was last revamped in 2008, the world of online communications has evolved significantly. It did not reflect the growing trend for mobile usage or search and social media, and, while it served the informational needs of a corporate audience, it had little on the site for consumers or to promote non-financial or brand-related stories.
When SABMiller started to draw up plans for a new site, it was clear that it had to provide a platform to tell the stories of the business in a language that would connect with consumers, generating engagement and interaction.
The strategy centred on using the homepage for a steady stream of high quality, authentic and emotional stories that would bring the world of beer to life. SABMiller was keen to explore its heritage, demonstrate the breadth and quality of its brands and brewing skills and also to show ways in which its work improves livelihoods around the world.
The company is moving from a brand to a publisher, and is using the site as a springboard for more ‘liquid and linked’ content that generate conversations on social media. For example, an article on ‘beer and chocolate: perfect partners’, sparked by the launch of a limited edition chocolate-infused milk stout in South Africa, highlights the similarities between cocoa and malt, explaining how they work well together. It has proved a popular read, along with the accompanying infographic-style recipes, but would have had no place on the old website. The approach has since been replicated with ‘beer and cheese: perfect culinary companions’.
Within weeks of the new site going live, it achieved tenth position in the influential Financial Times-Bowen Craggs global survey of corporate website effectiveness. It has since experienced a 290 per cent increase in views of all story articles and more than 10,000 shares of content on social media. There has also been a 123 per cent increase in referrals to content from LinkedIn.
‘SABMiller was clear at the outset about what they wanted from a website,’ said the judges. ‘This is an easy-to-understand website, with an excellent layout of content that reflects really well on mobile devices.’