What do we know about the best digital annual reports? The most successful yearly wrap-ups go beyond just sharing essential info about financial standings. They also feature dynamic designs, strong imagery, and moving storytelling to showcase accomplishments from the past year.

Though the preferred way to share annual report findings varies from company to company, every year more companies are embracing digital annual reports. Some of the reasons for this format’s popularity is its greater potential reach, more flexible formatting, and added opportunities for interactivity.

Plus, in some cases, strategically designed digital annual reports can also be more affordable in the long-run (especially if you reuse CMS layouts and other creative assets to support other marketing and communication initiatives).

Keep reading to see examples of the best digital annual reports published in 2021.

What do the best digital annual reports have in common?

1. Intriguing infographics

An annual report is ultimately a report, after all. Paint a picture for your shareholders by creatively displaying pertinent statistics about how you are achieving your goals.

digital annual report example from Basser Center for BRCA
Basser Center for BRCA includes compelling data presentations to illustrate why their work is vital.
digital annual report example from the Best Friends Animal Society
In the annual report prepared by the Best Friends Animal Society, key stats about the organization’s accomplishments are paired with simple yet eye-catching icons.

2. Telling real stories, in their own words

The best digital annual reports will incorporate real people who have been impacted by your work. Use any combination of testimonials, case studies and client stories, and even video interviews to tell their stories.

digital annual report example from Farm Aid
A picture tells a thousand words, but a picture with a caption says even more. Farm Aid used this effective combination in its 2020 annual report as a way to highlight how farmers helped others during the pandemic.
digital annual report example from TPCC
Traders Point Christian Church uses a combination of custom photography and authentic storytelling to convey the impact of their work and services.

3. Spotlighting the mission and goals

Make the connection for your audience by weaving your mission and goals throughout the report. Since a user controls how they navigate your digital annual report, you’ll want to incorporate the mission in different ways to tie them back to overall goals for the year.

digital annual report example from IBRI
The Indiana Biosciences Research Institute reiterates its goals on multiple pages of its digital annual report, presenting them in various ways on the homage page, the Community impact overview page, and the CEO’s letter.

4. Use of professional, custom photography and videography

Having custom, professional, high-resolution photography or videography is the gold standard when it comes to online imagery. While stock photography has its merits, custom imagery paints a more compelling and engaging story for your brand. This is true in print marketing, but with so many images on the web, custom art can be a way to make your digital annual report stand out.

digital annual report example from L’Oreal
L’Oréal’s annual report highlights the power of custom photography to tell a story.
digital annual report example from Teach for America
Teach for America’s annual report uses professional videos to talk about the impact of their outreach.

5. Utilizing enhanced analytics tracking

Unlike a printed report, you can gain real-time information about your audience and users in a digital annual report. You can use passive data to better understand what appeals to your users, such as a time on page, bounce rate, and click tracking.

For some organizations, it makes sense to offer a gated copy of the report to collect contact information about their shareholders and potential investors.

digital annual report example from Artsy Gallery
The Artsy Gallery uses a simple, conversions-focused landing page to collect audience data in exchange for a digital copy of their report.

6. Customizing the user experience

While a printed report is a similar experience for all shareholders, from the cover to the imagery to the order of the information, the best digital annual reports give users more control over the information that matters to them. Use navigation and design elements to help your users “choose their own adventure” to provide them with the best experience with your annual report.

digital annual report example from Migros
In this example, the Swiss bank, Migros, gives users multiple gateways to interact with their report based on the user’s role—Mirgros Fan, Financial Analyst, or NGO representative.
digital annual report example from WCLP
Not ready to make a full-blown website for your annual report? No problem. Follow the lead of the Western Center on Law & Poverty. They created an enhanced pdf version of their printed annual report to give users a way to interactively browse their immersive 2020 recap.

7. Staying on brand

The best digital annual reports are like virtual brand ambassadors. When your annual report is interesting, tells your story, and is user-friendly, it has the added benefit of adding validity to your overall brand credibility on the web. The annual report can be a way to show a new expression of your brand while still being recognizable and adding your digital tool belt.

digital annual report example from MailChimp
MailChimp’s email marketing service uses custom illustrations, subtle movement, and a left-to-right scrolling experience to set their annual report apart while staying true to their overall brand.

Consider the improved user experience, the ability to tell stories with images and videos, and the ability to track user engagement to determine how to best build your digital annual report.