Pharma’s horrible website metrics

SUMMARY: The number of visitors to your website doesn’t mean anything if you have high bounce rates and low page views/time on site. More than half of mobile users leave a website that takes more than three seconds to load, yet too many pharma sites are not optimized for mobile. Houston, we have a problem.

Attention spans online are declining rapidly. There is too much information online, and web surfers don’t have the time to read it all. Even on their favorite sites, people tend to scan rather than read unless they’re a story they are really interested in.

Agencies understand that attention spans online are declining. Hence, they recommend that pharma clients implement certain changes, but budget constraints force compromises that are not in the best interest of online health seekers.

The other problem is that too many DTC managers don’t understand the need to hire someone to write content that “speaks” to online health seekers. They also tend to skip essential website development steps like usability testing, which can affect website metrics.

Your branded website is perhaps the biggest piece of the puzzle to get patients to ask for your product. It represents your brand and your company, which is why you need to allow your agency to use its expertise to design an online solution that works.

The other issue that pharma tends to ignore is website optimization. Your metrics dashboard can tell you what pages your audience is viewing and which ones they are not. Simultaneously, some pages are needed for legal and compliance reasons; other content is put there on a hunch rather than usability studies and other research.

Your website should be optimized, at a minimum, every quarter. Pages that aren’t being viewed need to be dumped and replaced with content relevant to your audience. On the web, it’s about your audience, not you.

It would help if you also understood that online health-seekers tend to go to more than one website to make treatment decisions. Click-stream analytics consistently show that people will go to sites like WebMD in addition to pharma product sites. Yet, many DTC managers have no idea what they are reading and how it affects their treatment decisions.

Work with your digital agency. Treat them as brand team members rather than a vendor. You should be in contact with them almost every day via IM or email. Please give them a free hand to develop a digital solution, but in doing so, hold them accountable for overall metrics beyond raw traffic numbers.

The same is true of programmatic advertising. It would be best if you did not use the clicks as a key metric. It would be in your brand’s interest to use clicks in relation to bounce rate and time on site. At a minimum, you should be challenging your online media agency to provide data that indicates your online ad budget is not full of fraudulent data.

Your online agency should be your digital marketing expert. They should be pushing the envelope to change your thinking. If they are just task managers, you’re doing yourself and your audience a huge disservice.