RM Online, or Whose Site Is Stickier?

By October 11, 2008Uncategorized

An interesting piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal Health Blog analyzed the online traffic data for the ten most heavily trafficked pharma websites. According to digital measurement company Comscore, AstraZeneca's site for Nexium, purplepill.com, won the race, with over a million unique visitors a day in the second quarter of 2008. Lined up behind it were sites for other drugs, such as Ambien, Actos, Gardasil, Lexapro and so on.

There is a LOT more to data than this than meets the eye, and much of it speaks directly to RM. One of the key principles  of RM is engagement with the patient. The pharma company needs to position itself, and its product, as a long-term partner with the patient in managing a chronic condition. There are many different touchpoints at which this happens, but one of the big ones, obviously, is the Web. Whether you're using online communities, social media, wikis, blogs or whatever, a product which successfully builds long-term relatinships with patients will generate return traffic on its web site.

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In addition, the site will be "stickier." Visitors will stay longer, view more content, and view more pages when they do. The Comscore data doesn't address any of this. As reported, it simply consists of the number of unique visitors per month. In other words, in a given month, this is how many different people actually visited a particular website. While this data may be broadly directional, for the purposes of evaluating an RM program, it's almost useless.

As consumer-centric marketers, what we really want to know is what visitors are doing once they hit the site. It's great that they're visiting (although a million unique visitors a month, to put that number in perspective, is only about 1% of what google.com does) the site, but what really matters is how engaged they become with it.

This requires different data. However, there is a very rough way to estimate this, using another online tool. Alexa.com is a free Internet trafic measurement service. You can go to the site, and type in the URL of any website (or several, if you want to compare them) and Alexa will give you baseline traffic data. One of the metrics it provides is "page views per user." In other words, how many pages, on average, does each user look at then they visit the site?

This data is interesting. Over the last three months, Nexium got 1.94 average page views per user. In other words, the average visitor looked at just slightly under two pages on the site. Actos got even fewer, at 1.75 pages per viewer. Januvia got 2.3. You would need a lot more detailed data to draw any final conclusions from this information, but one definite possibility is that Januia patients, for example, are more engaged with the site than Actos patients.

Januvia and Actos are both therapies for Type 2 diabetes. They are competitors. Presumably their pateitns have similar demographics, and are similarly tech-savvy. However, Januvia's site, on average, generates about 30% more page views per visitor, on average. There are, again, a lot of possible explanations for this, such as site design and layout, amount and type of advertising each drug is going, and so on. But the bottom line is that visitors to Januvia's site absorb more content, and that if they are active patients, they have a stronger relationship with the brand.