Pharma websites need to evolve

SUMMARY: Pharma websites need to evolve from being a product-driven billboard to websites that foster wellness and answer online health seekers questions about what concerns THEM.

Online health seekers are often left to wander the jungle the health misinformation on their own. Click-stream analysis indicates that online health seekers go to to a variety of websites to learn all they can about their health problems and potential treatments. Pharma should look at this behavior as an opportunity to engage their target audience and improve their overall image.

Let’s take a step back. Pharma websites have been valued as another channel to drive brand objectives which are usually converting a prospect into a customer. DTC marketers, when evaluating online spending, too often look at the wrong metrics such as total visitors or clicks to the website. What they should be looking for, instead, is time on site and pages viewed. I would rather have 1000 people with higher time on site than 10,000 with a high bounce rate.

Too often outdated or unused content is not replaced with information people want to make a decision. The content, also, is too sales driven and turns online health seekers off.

(PRNewsfoto/Weber Shandwick)

What would happen if pharma websites became an online beacon for health conditions in which they are trying to market? What would happen, for example, if a website for a new diabetes drug featured robust content on how to live with diabetes written by thought leaders or licensed from credible health websites like Harvard Medical School?

When I launched Cialis online we bought content from the Harvard Medical School, John Hopkins health newsletter and the Mayo Clinic. That content, according to our metrics at the time, was the most read by our audience. In addition, we provided links to share the content with others. What really was surprising was that women were sharing content on “living with a partner who may have sexual dysfunction”. We became the “go-to” site for medical information on ED.

The opportunity to help online health seekers get the information they need on your website is enormous. Your KPI should be measuring time on site along with total pages viewed. If you understand what your audience is looking for and provide answers to those KPIs will increase over time.

Pharma websites also need to a better job updating content. If your product category is in the news you only have a short window to respond with credible medical information that helps them understand what the news reports really mean.

Astra Zeneca is trying to help lung cancer patients ask their doctor to do a biomarker test so they can get the right treatment but why haven’t other brands joined in this great educational effort?

We shouldn’t allow online health seekers to randomly seek health information that may worsen their overall health. Pharma needs to be part of the solution.