What’s the call to action on DTC?

TEASER: What DTC marketers and consumers do as the result of seeing a relevant DTC ad differs by a wide margin. DTC marketers would like to think that patients ask for the advertised drug when visiting their doctor, but that’s largely untrue.

Online searches for health information remain brisk, according to Google. Many people are going online for health information as the Internet has become cluttered with misinformation. While it’s true that traffic on pharma websites is good, how these websites affect behavior has changed.

Call’s to action, such as coupons, are believed to a great tactic to generate new Rx’s but in my analysis less than 10% of coupons, for new drugs, have been used. So where is the disconnect?

1ne: Pharma websites need to focus more on key benefits as perceived by patients beyond medical terms. Sure your drug may lower symptoms of depression but what does that mean?

2wo: Social media, especially Twitter, has become a great source for patients researching prescription drugs. Even though most of the posts are personal and a lot are potentially bogus, what is the effect of someone saying, “the drug made me sick to my stomach”?

3hree: Multiple calls to action need to be tested as they relate to actually driving brand objectives. Awareness doesn’t mean a damn thing.

Last week a DTC Director said to me, “the traffic on our website has been increasing, but new Rx’s are decreasing.” My analysis showed that even considering a four-week week delay to fill an Rx, their product was being discussed on social media by patients and what they had to say wasn’t good. First, some complained about the side effects of being tired all the time, and others said it made them feel “weird.” Where was the brand’s response? Nowhere to be found.

I’m not saying that pharma should go on social media to answer all questions and claims, but ignoring these questions/comments is hiding under the table. Social media provides a great tool for listening. Brands need to quantify the comments and decide which trends are worth addressing in the website’s content. Yes, there is that pesky content word again.

Your digital strategy is alive, and it must be fed new insights to drive brand objectives. Don’t believe for a second that someone will see your DTC ad and rush to ask their doctor about it. Your website is part of the journey, and it should welcome online health seekers and answer all their questions so that they see your branded website as a valuable resource that cuts through the misinformation.

Don’t let the path to “becoming digital” alienate your chance to influence online health seekers.