Despite the growing numbers, many pharma companies have not yet made contact with this new audience of tech-savvy seniors. Some have even failed to establish—let alone maintain—relationships with seniors who currently use their brands. Through online marketing and establishing a senior-friendly presence on the Web, however, marketers can create a dialogue with this population. And seniors have proven that they are eager to communicate. Ninety-four percent of wired seniors have sent or received e-mail, compared with 91 percent of all Internet users, according to Pew Internet Project's 2004 findings.Tread cautiously Pharma marketers should remember that, despite their enthusiasm, seniors use the Internet cautiously. Many tend to be very distrustful and suspicious about information on the Web. Marketers can counteract this skepticism by first providing educational information—treatment options, tips for condition management, online support groups, and drug discounts—to help gain seniors' trust. As the dialogue continues, marketers can then shift the focus to a discussion about a particular therapeutic brand.
Guide Brand Decisions
For many seniors, the Web "bookends" a physician visit. Visiting a health-related Web site, and viewing general disease information, may spark consumers to speak with their physicians about a particular brand. With prescriptions in hand, they may then go back to the Web, and visit the branded Web site to get information on dosage and side effects. This series of events presents an opportunity for the pharma company to sign up the prospect-turned-patient for an online adherence program, which increases persistency and compliance.
Sweet rewards Creating incentives will also encourage seniors to visit a particular site. Promotions, such as online sweepstakes and couponing, can help marketers build a robust database and drive additional online traffic. With seniors, it's less important to offer one big prize than to offer many smaller prizes, as smaller prizes tend to increase participation. The best programs enable seniors to customize content and frequency of communication. Everything must be opted in—and a double opt-in (where an opt-in choice is confirmed) works even better.
Senior-Friendly Web Strategy