Want pharma website success? Make it about your audience

Just follow three simple rules to avoid the common mistake of building a ‘product website’ for US patients, says Richard Meyer.

Whatever you might think, patients do want support from pharma brands. According to the Decision Resources Group three-in-five US online consumers expect pharma companies to help them with more than just providing a medication. Their recommendation is to make your website about patients rather than your brand. But what exactly does that mean?

In all my research – and I’ve done a lot – one top finding has been that, when using the internet for health information, patients and caregivers use several websites to get the information they need to decide on a healthcare treatment. There are several reasons for this, but usually it comes down to the fact that pharma product websites don’t offer enough patient-centric information and aren’t updated enough to include current trends and questions. US direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketers will spend endless amounts of money testing TV adverts, but when it comes to the web agencies, they are usually given a budget and told, ‘build us a product website’.

The websites that I have led with clients have been successful because I strongly believe in three basic processes. First, I budget money to do some research with my audience on what they need and want to help them choose my brand/product. Second, I test concepts and do useability studies with our target audience. Finally, I use copywriters who can write in the first person and a ‘human tone’, rather than complicated label language. To have a successful product website these elements are a priority.

Once a website is live, DTC marketers also need to monitor social media and listen to questions/concerns from their audience. They then need to draft content to address these patient questions or issues and it has to be done in internet time, not four or five weeks later. Your processes should focus around your audience, not your organisation.

To make your website about patients, you need images and content that help them live with their condition, or choose healthcare treatments on the basis of criteria they find important. For example, a new product may have better efficacy than a competitor, but if it has more serious side effects, there is a good chance patients will stick with their current treatment. More and more cancer patients are choosing to forgo treatments if they know the side effects are going to seriously detract from the quality of life they want and need.

Creating a pharma product website is not just an agency bucket item. It requires as much thinking and strategy as anything DTC marketers do, perhaps even more. It’s a key touch point that can turn a prospect into a customer.

About the author:

Richard Meyer has over 20 years of marketing experience in consumer packaged goods and healthcare. He has worked for companies like Eli Lilly and Medtronic, and recently sold his digital healthcare consulting business to take a position as chief strategy officer.

Rich currently works with healthcare clients to develop DTC and HCP marketing initiatives. He leads research for clients and identifies actionable strategies to improve marketing. He has an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology and lives with his wife in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Visit Richard’s blog here.

Read more from Richard Meyer on pharmaphorum

The ‘Wild West’ of health apps