Should pharma continue to invest in disease state education websites?

Richard Meyer

World of DTC marketing

Richard Meyer explores some research he recently conducted, which suggests that we need to start looking at pharmaceutical marketing less like a marketer and more like a consumer.

One of the greatest strengths any marketer can demonstrate is the ability to look at their marketing as a consumer not a DTC marketer. Over the course of the last year, I have been leading some qualitative research to gain insights into how consumers use the Internet for healthcare and, more importantly, learn what they want and need. The reoccurring finding is that people are often confused by all the health information online and want credible health information that’s easy to understand.


“…people are often confused by all the health information online and want credible health information that’s easy to understand.”


If you go to Google and type in any health condition, you’re going to find a lot of websites with a ton of information. Now think of yourself as a patient who is having some health issues or has just been diagnosed with a health problem and you will see that in all likelihood they are going to have to spend a lot of time just trying to get the information they need.

When I developed the Cialis website, I went out and did research with my target audience to hear what they wanted to know and we learned that they wanted information from healthcare professionals, but they also wanted emotional support because ED, to them, is a devastating condition. We not only added content written by our thought leaders (non-promotional), but we also licensed some credible information from places like Harvard Medical School. Web analytics consistently showed that these pages were being read and used.

While we usually have great information on our target audience when developing a new website, DTC marketers should also spend the time to ask them “what information do you want or need to make a health treatment choice?”. By listening via qualitative research and social media, you can better provide the answers that people are looking for when it comes to health information.

You also need to think about the content quality and quantity. In research with physicians this year, they said that the reading level for patient materials should be on a 6th grade reading level, while we thought that 8th grade reading level was sufficient.


“…we learned that they wanted information from health care professionals but they also wanted emotional support…”


With tablets gaining use and market share, you also need to think about the quantity of your content. The longer the page, the higher the probability that it won’t be read. As a good rule of thumb, don’t use content that is longer than one finger swipe via a tablet in landscape mode.

While marketing is changing due to empowered patients, one thing remains true and that is you have to give customers what they want when they want it. This is especially true on your website, where they can turn off your message with the click of a mouse.


About the author:

Richard Meyer is a passionate DTC marketer who has worked within the industry for 10 years. He has an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology and has worked for Eli Lilly on the Cialis launch team as well as on Prozac, Prozac Weekly and Sarafem teams. During his career, he has worked with some very talented people and learned a great deal from them but has always believed that if you do what is best for the patient it will lead to good business. For enquiries he may be reached on

How can we encourage pharma marketers to think more like a consumer?