Make your website worth having – effective website ROI
So many pharma websites don’t serve a purpose, therefore don’t get used. Matt Hutchinson explains how to make sure yours doesn’t fall into the same traps.
Digital pharma likes to channel a huge amount of money and effort into shiny new technology – trying to invent the new flagship masterpiece – the thing that will change the face of pharma marketing forever.
And yet so many companies are still getting the basics of digital marketing wrong.
Brand Site. Corporate Site. Disease Awareness. Investor Relations. Every pharma company has a plethora of websites, each with its own purpose, each shouting its individual message in isolation. Each one fighting against the millions of other websites for a small share of attention.
And each one is probably failing. At least to a certain extent.
So how do you ensure that the websites that you spend thousands of pounds on actually do what they are meant to do?
1. Define the purpose
First of all you need to know why your site exists. A website needs an identity. It needs a purpose. A raison d’etre.
This should be succinct; a sentence or two at the most. Tell X about Y. Provide information on Z. Increase sales of A. Encourage people to engage with this brand. Highlight the prevalence and characteristics of this condition.
Simple. Precise. Accurate.
2. Define your audience
You need to establish who it is your site is aimed at. This may be one distinct group of people who you can talk to in the same way (consultants and specialist HCPs, for example) or it may be more diverse. A corporate site for example, will be targeting a wide range of people – investors, payers, partners, patients (happy and unhappy ones), competitors and more.
Either way, your site has a target audience. Your site has a typical user. You need to clarify and define exactly who this is and spend a bit of time profiling them. Think about what they like, where they go (in real life and virtually). Consider whether they are digitally savvy or IT illiterate. Are they young or old?
“Every pharma company has a plethora of websites, each with its own purpose, each shouting its individual message in isolation.”
Think about this and remember it – you’ll need it later.
3. Define & refine the message
Content is King. It’s an old cliché, but it’s still very, very true.
If your content is poor, people won’t use your site. You’ve Googled things – how long do you spend on a site that doesn’t give you the right answers straight away?
You need to channel time and money into your content to make sure it works.
You need to refine your message to suit your audience. Question whether they are interested in what you are telling them. Question whether a website is the right place to give them that message. Think about industry regulations, corporate guidelines and any other restrictions you might have.
4. Information architecture
When you know what your content is and you know who your user is, you can plan how to structure your content. You need to make sure you think about this from the user’s point of view.
Try asking some target users what their thoughts are on your plans. Get some feedback and make sure you take it on board. Maybe even conduct focus groups or surveys to ensure you are getting qualitative and quantitative feedback.
“Question whether a website is the right place to give them that message.”
You need to make sure your site is structured in a simple, methodical way. Group similar topics together, make sure calls to action are clear and easy to find and user journeys are smooth and logical.
5. Site design
Website design isn’t just about putting your brand on a webpage. It’s about page layouts, calls to action, user interfaces and user experience.
You need to make sure this is spot on to make it as easy as possible for your users to do what you want them to do.
To do this well you need to work with someone who knows the web, knows user habits and knows what different types of people like and want to see and experience.
An expert will take your user profile (from above) delve into it, assess their likes and dislikes, they should research your competitors and come up with something so brain-bashingly awesome you can’t help but be amazed.
If content is King, site design is Queen! It really can’t be underestimated.
“If content is King, site design is Queen! It really can’t be underestimated.”
Don’t believe me? Spend 10 minutes looking at 5 different websites (2 minutes each). List 3 things you like and 3 things you dislike about each. I bet 90% of them relate to the design, layout or structure of the site.
6. Monitor & learn
Once you’ve designed and launched your site, it’s vital that you monitor the activity on it and pay attention to how it’s being used.
You can do this with a variety of tools, ranging from the free Google Analytics (perfectly adequate for most) up to Adobe Omniture.
Analytics tracking can tell you a whole host of things about your site – where your visitors come from, how long they spend on each page, which route they take to navigate your site, which page they leave your site from, where they get bored and much, much more.
This might not seem that interesting, but if you want to make your site work, it’s absolutely vital!
You can use your analytics reports to tell you how to make your site better. If 50% of your visitors leave your site on a certain page, there’s something wrong with that page. If people are only spending 15 seconds on a page with 600 words on, your content isn’t engaging them.
“Once you’ve designed and launched your site, it’s vital that you monitor the activity on it and pay attention to how it’s being used.”
If no-one is visiting your “Work with us” page, there’s probably a reason why.
7. Make changes
These lessons need to form a large part of your ongoing strategic plan for your site. It tells you how to make it better without you even having to think about it.
A website should live and grow, it should develop, it should always be up to date. Yes, this means more regulatory reviews, more approvals to seek, but it really will make the difference.
If you only take one thing from this article, learn the importance of reading, understanding and acting on your analytics. It’s the way to make sure your site performs.
About the author:
Matt Hutchinson is the Agency Manager & Head of Pharma at award-winning pharmaceutical Web Agency NuBlue. NuBlue provide web design, development and strategic consultancy to an extensive client list which includes the NHS, Teva, AbbVie, Norbrook and Danone.
Do you understand the importance of reading, understanding and acting on your analytics?