Should pharma de-emphasize product websites?

imgresKEY TAKEAWAY:  The patient journey towards choosing a treatment option does not involve just one website.  It involves, depending on the health condition, a lot of research, primarily online, and talking with inner circle influencers.  Does this mean that pharma companies should devote less time and money on their product websites?

Just how influential are pharma product websites in helping patients sort through treatment options?  There is no benchmark here because each health condition is in effect a different market.  You could certainly make the argument that more expensive websites will essentially do the job as a basic product website but that’s missing the point.  Pharma should not think of product websites as a “selling tool” but rather an engagement program designed to aid patients navigate the complicated world of online health.

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Not too long ago I decided to bow out of a project with a potential client who wanted to build a website for their new drug.  The problem was that the budget was dictating what they could do even though research clearly showed that there were numerous opportunities to engage their audience.  Six months later one of their IT people contacted me to help them determine why their metrics were in the toilet.  That, is called karma.

A pharma website is not just DTC marketing, it’s a reflection of your brand to patients.  Taking a short cut to “just develop a product website” is the same as saying “we don’t care what patients need”.

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Developing a pharma website is best done following a process that ensures your website meets patient and brand needs.  Skipping things, like doing research with your audience and usability testing, are sure ways to develop a bad online brand experience.  When allocating money for digital marketing the website should be the center of everything you do and should not be dictated by constrained budgets.  That’s a waste of money.

There are some companies that are doing a good job.  GSK’s Breo website, for example, is a great example of a patient focused website.  There are, however, too many companies that are thinking about digital last and that is a huge mistake.

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