Pharma still has a long way to go in digital marketing

MY THOUGHT: Digital pharma East is about to begin but has anything changed? If you look at new pharma websites, and metrics like bounce rates and tie on-site, over time, nothing has changed. We must acknowledge that healthcare digital marketing is unique not only because it’s healthcare but because each health issue has different metrics primarily driven by patients.

Healthcare digital marketing is like an encyclopedia. Online health seekers only use pharma websites when they need information. Today’s online health seekers can spend hours going from one website to another to get answers to their essential questions. Research and metrics clearly show that online health seekers aren’t getting the answers they want on pharma product websites.

When we develop a pharma website for a client, we use a tested and verified process that produces results. This includes research with our online audience as well as usability studies and using copywriters to write in the first person. Trying to get the budget to do that is excruciating.

There are lots of things pharma marketers want their websites to do but what they too often forget is that it’s not about them, it’s about website visitors. A good eMarketer tries to balance online health seeker needs with brand objectives but all to often brand objectives take the lead. This is a huge mistake.

Then there is the over-reliance on paid search. Studies from various online agencies continue to show that organic search draws in people not paid. How many people are viewing multiple pages from your paid search, and what is time-on-site via a keyword? These are questions that often are overlooked.

What about social media? The social media landscape is changing dramatically. Facebook is just an ad platform, Twitter os driven by the top 20% who post regularly and Instagram is taking off but how to get around fair balance is still scaring pharma away.

Digital marketing is not someone siting behind a desk coding a website. It’s executing based on the research we have about how people are using the Internet for health. I have had a lot more success with online media placed by aligning customer markets with ads than programmatic which is ripe with fraud. The metrics from campaigns can overwhelm marketers which usually don’t have the time to really dive into them.

Supposedly pharma is going to spend more on digital this year than TV. I find that hard to believe. There are huge sums of money that are being wasted on digital marketing by pharma and in this mess online health seekers still have to spend hours online trying to make sense of treatment options. Bottom Line? We still have a long way to go/