10 Truths about prescription drug websites

UnknownManhattan Research and Comscore will both tell you that there is a lift in conversion for people who visit a prescription drug website.  However what research also communicates is that consumers will go us a number of online health websites to gather all the information they need to either make healthcare treatment decisions or help them as caregivers to better understand chronic health conditions.  If you look at the evolution of most drug.com websites however you’re more than likely to see that these sites have changed little over the last decade.  Here are 10 “truths” around prescription drug websites…

(1) People are coming to your website but they are going to other sites to both “verify” your claims and get missing information.  I’m not sure if pharma really understands the concept of transparency.  Rx websites tend to be the hard sell and usually do not provide a lot of information that users want and need.  Today on the Internet it’s read but verify.

(2) The language on Rx drug websites is often sterile.  Content marketing is a hot buzzword right now but what is often missing is that content not only has to be relevant to users needs it also has to “talk” to them as people.  Language on drug websites is often difficult to understand and not at a 6th grade reading level.

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(3) Drug websites are not updated enough.  If Brian Williams tells America about new research around the health conditions you’re marketing to you should be a top resource to help patients sort out “what is real” from “more research is needed”.  If a pharma company is developing a new MS treatment and you’re currently marketing an MS treatment you need to inform and educate your audience the what, where, how even if it means sending them to a competitors website. (They’re going to go there anyway).

(4) Use images of real patients on your website and don’t make pages more than one click too long.   How do you think users feel when they see a picture of a doctor on your website with a disclaimer that in fact it’s an actor portrayal ?   In addition there is a direct correlation between content length and what gets read.  The longer the content the higher the drop off rate.  Rule of thumb content should not longer than one click.

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(5) Use intuitive navigation.  Think like a patient and lay out the navigation based on the way they think about the process of deciding if your product is right for them.

(6) Time on site is very important so look at ways to make your site “sticky”.  Often people come to a drug.com website go to the side effects or safety page and leave.  You need to conduct research to find out what information they want and need to keep them engaged with your website for a longer period of time.

(7) Use different “home pages” with different keywords.  People who are caregivers are coming to your site to get different information than patients.  You should not be driving everyone to same website via keywords.

(8) Use your thought leaders to develop content.  People want to hear from health care professionals so why not leverage your thought leaders to write insightful content.  However, ensure that you inform your audience that your thought leader is working with your company on this product. Transparency rules.

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(9) Online Health Communities can a valuable tool to engage your audience.  I am just amazed that pharma continues to find ways not to use OHC’s as opposed to leveraging the power of the Internet to connect people.

(10) Use analytics to improve the brand experience online.  Optimize and keep improving your online site. You’re going to have to fight for budget dollars but if your audience is using your site isn’t it worth it?