The Five "I"s
Online strategies aren't monolithic; each must meet the particular goals of the brand in question, and serve the knowledge needs of a specific disease state. That said, experts agree on many of the fundamentals—the 5 "I"s of Internet marketing:
But all the talk begs one question: What actually works online? It's not enough to say, "Pfizer, Unilever, and Ford are investing major dollars online, so we'd better move more of our budget into this channel." Because if pharma marketers and their agencies shift their weight online with the same dexterity they displayed with TV ads, they may well fall flat on their faces. (Making that bumblebee sneeze in Flash isn't going to do much to improve the image of drugmakers.)
So what really will help marketers reach the right people through the online channel—effectively and appropriately?
1. IMMEDIATE SEGMENTATION
"PEOPLE VISIT PHARMA product Web sites for many different reasons," says Jeremy Schneider, senior manager of e-marketing at Forest Labs, who oversaw the design and construction of http://Lexapro.com/, http://Namenda.com/, and other major sites for the company. "So it's important to organize the information on the site so it speaks to the specific educational needs of each audience.
"People who are taking your medication are looking for information that will help them get the best results," says Schneider. "Other people are looking to become better educated about the disease. And still others are considering treatment and need specific product information. You don't have a lot of time to connect with each of these audiences. That's why you need to immediately make that connection on the home page, and take each audience down the path that's right for them."
Perhaps the most dramatic differences between the Internet and other media involve user choice and flexibility: On the Web, you don't have to force a visitor down a path that's not specifically of interest to him. In that sense, the Web is a medium of mass personalization.
"For me, the most important thing is dropping people into some sort of action relatively quickly," says Bob Harrell, Shire's director of e-marketing, whose team manages the US e-marketing activities for such brands as Adderall XR and Fosrenol. "Some pharma sites are very informational, but they fail to drive the user to any specific action. They're often big jellyfishes of content. Establishing clear, directed, and segmented 'action pathways' on the site is critical. We're in the middle of this process for Adderall XR, redesigning the branded site to make it more directive and relevant for visitors."