Pharma web projects – lessons from mainstream acquisition marketing

In the first of a series of three articles on harnessing a data-driven digital strategy, Nick Woolnough looks at the solid foundations on which websites should be built in order to attract and convert visitors in the short, medium and long term.

Based on a talk that Nick – Head of Marketing Operations at StrategiQ – recently delivered at the Pharma Multichannel Marketing Meetup, this series isolates the challenges that may be faced by pharma companies when attempting to adapt their development and marketing methodologies to match their fast-moving, iterative surroundings.

“If you build it they will come”

It might have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams but this quote is far less relatable in the field of website, app and software development. Brands can fail to recognise that simply being a major player in your space isn’t a guarantee that your website will perform and acquire new visitors.

At times a victim of its regulatory sign-off process, the pharmaceutical industry can be somewhat held back when it comes to creativity, with web development being a prime example of how the end result can suffer as a consequence. However – as contrary as it may sound – the primary factor behind a failed web project is very rarely down to the level of creative input. It comes down to how that creative input is channeled.

Solid foundations – giving consideration to the basics

Common user experience principles and Google’s web development fundamentals exist for a reason. They are not there to stifle creativity, but to provide a framework for success.

“Attempting to produce something truly groundbreaking, innovative or astonishing cannot be a benchmark for project success as it isn’t really measurable and even if it was, what difference does that make to the bottom line of the business?”

First and foremost, any web project needs to harmoniously address both the needs of the end user and the company themselves. If this balance is weighted too far in either direction the site won’t perform against its overall objectives. Create a visually stunning, resource-rich website that provides great value to the user but leaves them confused as to how to get in touch or buy, then the project has failed. Conversely, if you focus too heavily on your own conversion metrics and jam call to action buttons and pop-up contact forms all over every page, regardless of where that page sits in a user journey, the site will fail to perform.

This is where the marriage of creativity and data can be so impactful. Start with a sitemap that is signed off by all stakeholders and reviewed against real examples of how people are using your current site through Google Analytics and UX analysis tools such as Hotjar and ensure this has been used to influence planning your new site. This then provides the framework from which creativity can blossom (within the remit of compliance, anyway!).

Over simplify or over complicate?

A loaded question as clearly, you’d do well to steer clear of both. A stripped back brochure site may simplify the user journey and allow the aesthetic qualities to shine through, however if not carefully targeted, will lack the keyword focus and depth of content to generate organic traffic from search engines. The impact of a large, unwieldy site can be even more difficult to manage, with the prospect of pages within your website competing with one another in the search engines or Google’s crawl bots (their technology for discovering and indexing your pages) getting completely lost within your navigation and overlooking key pages. There’s a middle ground to be found, which again comes back to ensuring the sitemap is signed off by all stakeholders ahead of design and development.

The bad news – your website is never finished

You may have been unfortunate enough to have been part of one of those ‘never-ending’ web projects where milestones shift, deadlines drift and before you know it the website feels outdated before it has even launched. The pursuit of perfection and the ‘cold feet’ that can cause decision paralysis in the final stages of a project have many knock-on effects. One very much stands out though.

“If you never launch the site, how can you measure whether it is working? If you’re not gathering data then you have no basis from which to improve and iterate the website.”

Launching with a minimum viable product and seeing the website as an on-going, iterative process is the best approach and can prolong the shelf life of any platform. The temptation to down tools and claim that the site is ‘done’ when it eventually launches can be overwhelming, but without responding proactively to the way in which actual users are interacting with the site, the platform has a genuinely low chance of success.

Up next

The next article in this three-part series will look at the role of content in acquisition marketing, followed by practical tips on how to listen to the ‘silent majority’ that browse your website in order to noticeably improve your websites user experience. Sign up for the twentyeightb newsletter to stay up to date with these upcoming articles and the other useful resources coming up in 2019.

Unlocking the potential of CRM/CLM – MCM Meetup [Video]

Did you miss ‘Effective storytelling across the pharma multichannel mix’? The first in a series of meetups organised by our Director James Harper and three other prominent voices in pharma marketing – Rich Brassett, Nick Saalfeld and Christine Mackay – the inaugural meeting held on 3rd October explored four key facets of the multichannel mix.

Within his talk, James explored the latent potential that exists within pharma CRM and CLM. Have a watch below or take a read of the key takeaways.

Functional content to unlock potential

Functional content engages reps

Flat, PDF-style edetailing fails to engage the field team in the same way that navigable content design can. If the rep isn’t engaged with what they’re presenting, how can we expect the customer to be?

Functional content gets used more

While the ability to measure interactions lessens with simple content design, interactive capability simply creates more. When you look beyond static design, both the rep and customer will actively seek to use the engaging elements within the presentation.

Functional content increases sales effectiveness

The ratio of desirable sales outcomes increases with interactive content, yet too many companies continue to supply their field teams with e-details made up of flat un-engaging, powerpoint like content. The pharma industry now has access to some incredible sales effectiveness and customer engagement tools and it is our job to help them unlock the potential of these platforms.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Pharma Multichannel Marketing group and future meetups, you can read more here. Got a quick question for James on functional content? Get in touch using our quick question form.

Top 10 tips for brand teams working in Veeva

So you’ve decided on Veeva for your pharma CLM or digital sales aid solution, but where to begin?

Our digital development consultants have put together 10 quick tips to help you get started and on the path to achieving maximum digital impact!

  1. Don’t go it alone: Find and engage a Veeva approved digital specialist to help you maximise the potential of Veeva for your brand. They can advise you on the best route to launching your digital sales aid, even if the starting point is existing materials. If you already have a great creative agency on board, but they don’t do development or don’t have enough Veeva experience, consider bringing in a specialist Veeva developer, like 28b. Consider the potential risks if the developer you select also creates content and competes with your creative agency – this can lead to conflict and delays.
  2. Put business objectives first: Work with your Veeva experts to evaluate the solution that is right for you and your brand. Whilst natively designed DSAs provide a fully immersive experience, the most engaging content, shortest download times, most detailed analytics and integration into Veeva Vault; Powerpoint conversions, linked PDFs or flat image based detail aids can also be appropriate solutions in certain circumstances.
  3. Get content approved early: Late changes can be accommodated, but will almost certainly disrupt the development flow, which carries the risk of the delivery becoming out of sync with project requirements.
  4. Get your KPIs upfront: Design to the output rather than designing the DSA then trying to analyse the results later.
  5. Involve your field team: There can be resistance from pharma reps, sales managers and HCPs to a new eDetailing solution. Fears can include monitoring, information leakage and friction to the presentation process. Reduce potential friction by engaging rep champions who input into the process and feedback on designs and structure.
  6. Start small and iterate: Build the first DSA with a minimal set of content, roll it out then gather feedback from the reps.
  7. Leverage expertise: Get your brand team together with your creative agency, Veeva approved developers and, if you can, your compliance team, to agree a working framework.
  8. Work the deadline backwards: Start from the fixed immovable deadlines (conferences, update cycles, approval dates, launches) and move back to the current date to ensure everyone has adequate time to deliver. Be prepared to reduce features, content or functionality to hit the deadline. A small, well-crafted DSA will be better than a large one which doesn’t work or gets rejected by your regulatory team.
  9. Smooth the publishing path: Veeva is a corporate tool involving corporate IT, so be prepared for delays in getting the final product moved from your Veeva approved developers‘ test environment onto the corporate production server and available for the field force to use. Find out early what they need and how long it will take, and build this into your project plan.
  10. Make sure your experts collaborate effectively: Make sure your creative agency is happy working closely with your Veeva approved developers. You and your brand will be best served by expert teams who are happy to collaborate rather than teams that are in competition for your attention and budget.

We hope you find our top tips useful and would love to hear from you if you have any further questions or require any assistance with your Veeva CLM project. You can reach us on +44 (0) 1480 877 321 or drop us a line via our contact form.