Biggest misconception about pharma websites

perception misconceptionKEY TAKEAWAY: Pharma marketers should not be concerned about the number of visitors to their site.  The key metric is how long are visitors staying on your site, bounce rate and how many are converting to customers.  Very few people are going to ask their doctor for/about your product via your website alone. 

Last week in Cambridge a client was very happy that their TV ads seemed to be working.  Traffic to the website was up and the Director was sending out emails to everyone talking about the correlation between heavy up DTC TV and website visits.  However, after I analyzed the metrics the bounce rate was almost 84%, page views were less than two and time on site was under thirty seconds.  Houston, we have a problem.


First, let’s get this out of the way: [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Nobody is going to ask for an Rx as a result of coming to to your website alone. [/inlinetweet] If you believe they are, then you need to go back to the school of reality.

Today’s online health seekers, who are predominantly women going to a variety of sites  to get their questions answered and see what others have to say about your product’s side effects. It’s part of being a ‘consumer of healthcare” and it’s due to a number of factors, most notably is that pharma websites aren’t about patients they are about selling patients.

Now consider this as well; JAMA in 2013 said  “Medical communication companies receive substantial support from industry, and the majority are for profit, conduct [continuing medical education] programs [for doctors], track website behavior, and may share information with third parties.”

James Yeh, a physician-researcher based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital who has studied the influence of industry funding on medical information, said. “This puts [WebMD] in a conflict of interest,” he said. “Maybe they are trying to educate the clinician or the public, but at the same time there’s the marketing side: They are also trying to sell a drug.”

If you think online health seekers don’t notice you have your head in the sand.

website pharma trust

Digital marketing is NOT just about a website and search.  It has to be about patients and that means listening to their questions and giving them the information they need and want to make a decision. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]The more you try and sell the less likely people are to stay on your site.[/inlinetweet]

Now about that client in Cambridge….she has asked me for some recommendations on how to improve metrics “that matter”.  Here is my action list..

Human hand checking the checklist boxes

1ne: use Liquid Grids to listen to our audience via social media.

2wo: Get out, do some qual research and ask them how they are making decisions and what they want to make better informed decisions.

3hree: Hire a content producer/writer to write first person content in 10th grade reading level.

4our: Optimize site, eliminate pages that aren’t getting traffic.

5ive: No page, within the site, longer than two clicks of a mouse.

6ix: Work with M L R to speed content approval via a website CMS.

This is an ongoing process and requires someone to implement which is hard because they work through a global emarketing group and have to “get on their calendar” just to discuss ideas.  That alone puts them at a huge disadvantage.