The pharmaceutical industry, a typically late adopter of new technologies, has been making significant investments to position their brands, educate physicians about their products, and interact with patient groups to understand treatment experience for product improvements.
The push towards on-demand, high-quality content, which may require personalization, has necessitated the expeditious activity to develop and maintain information channels. Integration, a critical focus area for pharma marketers in the last decade, has thrown up the challenge of creating an unforgettable experience for visitors across all channels.
A company’s product website is a critical piece in the multi-channel marketing landscape. With the singular focus on engaging and influencing visitors, the design and development of websites and mobile apps have come a long way. A website in many cases may perhaps be the first point of contact between a potential customer and a pharmaceutical brand.
Unfortunately, in today’s tech-driven world, defining and creating an unforgettable interactive experience is easier said than done. A superlative web experience is a blend of strong creative elements and technical ingenuity.
While some companies excel in design and others are better in analytics and technology, very few companies are able to seamlessly combine technology, design, and analytics to offer their customers a great experience.
A website in many cases may perhaps be the first point of contact between a potential customer and a pharmaceutical brand. Unfortunately, in today’s tech-driven world, defining and creating an experience is easier said than done.
To understand the pharma web maturity landscape, we scrutinized the top 30 pharma brand websites in 3 therapeutic areas using our iDiscover methodology. The relevance of a website (desktop- or mobile-based) in the multichannel landscape cannot be understated. The adoption of dedicated apps in the pharmaceutical space is not as widespread as in the other sectors such as e-commerce or banking. Pharmaceutical companies have to factor in the continuing role of their product websites to help physicians, patients, and patient groups.
The decision to focus on endocrinology, neurology, and oncology therapeutic areas was due to the scale of investments made by pharmaceutical companies in those 3 therapeutic areas. We evaluated the leading brands of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Novartis, Bristol Myers-Squibb, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and Arbor in the respective therapeutic areas to ascertain the value that the websites give to their respective audience. Our objective was to assess the websites from a technological and from domain perspective based on our expertise in setting up a multichannel infrastructure, which incorporates a quality content, analytics, and a highly aesthetic design philosophy.
Using our experience in supporting pharmaceutical companies reach out to their key demographics, we developed a framework that allowed us to benchmark a brand website with competitors within the same therapeutic area.
WEB DIGITAL MATURITY
A great website is not just a pretty looking one, it must also be one that offers great content, is readable, renders well on all platforms such as desktops, tablets, and mobiles, is analytics-enabled and built on cutting-edge technology. A total of 68 different parameters were considered to arrive at the final recommendations. To structure the study, we divided the 68 parameters into 4 broad dimensions such as experience, technology, search engine optimization (SEO), and analytics.
OVERALL WEBSITE DIGITAL MATURITY
This table shows the overall score that the website has received. The brand Rydapt leads the pack with a total rating of 0.72 (out of a maximum of 1) while the brand Extavia scored the least with a score of 0.52. Interestingly, both the best performing and the worst performing brand websites belong to Novartis. While the Extavia website lagged behind the leaders in almost all aspects, the performance and data stewardship of the website, in particular, impacted their ratings drastically.
A website loaded with all the latest technological innovations is meaningless if it does not offer its visitors a great experience. A great experience is a function of Accessibility, Performance, Content and Presentation.
In today’s multiscreen world, a website must render just as well on a tablet and mobile as it does on a desktop; it should also be design-friendly to consider differently abled visitors.
With the ever-increasing mobile broadband usage, a website’s loading speed on mobile data networks such as 3G and 4G is crucial to gauge its performance.
Furthermore, the interactivity of the website after loading is critical in a time of short attention spans and the eagerness to quickly access content.
CONTENT & PRESENTATION
A website’s content and its presentation are perhaps the most important criteria among all the factors. A website that doesn’t offer the right content to its target audience has failed in its primary objective, which in the pharmaceutical industry means that it failed to inform and educate its visitors.
However, good content alone doesn’t make it a great website. The material must be structured and presented well. The choice of images, font, font weights, colors, and even the amount of white space on a website are areas that must be considered.
Most of the websites coming within the top 5 and bottom 5 in the list scored high on the accessibility parameters. All the websites ensured that elements were well structured, have discernable names, and used attributes correctly. Furthermore, the meta tags were used well throughout the websites to aid search engine crawling and indexing.
Except for the websites of Extavia, Tagrisso, and Levitra, the content and presentation in the remaining websites attained scores in the range of 0.65 to 0.75 (out of a maximum score of 1). One aspect of the presentation of content that requires a remark was the short names of the apps. In all cases, the number of characters in the name exceeded 12 characters which truncated the name of the app on the home screen of a mobile phone. Another parameter that many in the top 5 and bottom 5 websites have not factored in is the use of passive event listeners to improve scroll performance. The scroll performance of the website was more pronounced when it was browsed on a mobile phone.
Top 5 and Bottom 5
The other parameter that many in the top 5 and bottom 5 websites have not factored in is the use of passive event listeners to improve scroll performance.
A leading area where the websites failed to rack up their scores was performance. The websites in the lower end of the spectrum failed in the key parameters that are considered as fundamental in this day and age. Poor page-loading speeds on 3G networks, high scores in the Perceptual Speed Index, high network payload size, and poor optimization of images contributed to a browsing experience that left a lot to be desired. The correlation between optimized (progressive) rendering and reduced bounce rates was not fully factored during the design and development as shown by the website’s poor performance. The “First Meaningful Paint” time, one of the parameters to measure the user-perceived loading experience on most websites, was very high, and this further reduced the interest of the visitor to remain on a page since the time taken to load meaningful content was long.
The fast pace of technological development necessitates a website to refresh every couple of years. A website that is compliant to the latest technological standards is likely to be faster, responsive, and render well in the newest of browsers. Tests in this section included checks to determine whether the website uses semantic HTML and whether or not it is W3C-compliant. Other checks include the implementation of https and registration as a service broker. Https prevents intruders from tampering or passively listening to the communications.
Top 5 and Bottom 5
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