The importance of audience profiling when building a medical website

Audience profiling is one of the key aspects to consider before building a medical website, but it is a stage which is often neglected. If anything, audience profiling is even more important for medical and healthcare digital marketing projects than other business sectors, as it helps to determine the target market and what regulatory factors will need to be taken into consideration as part of the development approach. To illustrate this point, it is useful to compare two examples – one from outside the medical industry and one from within.

For our outside example, let’s imagine a manufacturer of high quality chef’s knives want to set up a website for its products. The company wants to target catering professionals, but given the popularity of cooking with the public in general, will also want to target home cooks who may enjoy using a superior standard of equipment. Although the slant on some of the website’s content may vary a little, in general most of the web pages would interest both groups.

Targeting patients vs healthcare professionals

Let’s now imagine a second example within the medical & pharmaceuticals industry – a manufacturer of a new drug for diabetics. The company wants to target drug buyers either within hospitals or individual GP practices, but it also wants to raise awareness of its product among those with diabetes. These markets require very different approaches. The doctors and pharmacists want technical information, supply details and prices. The patients want information on how the drug can help them, and a far more empathetic tone. In this case, it is highly unlikely that the requirement of the two target groups could be met on the same website and, in all likelihood, two very different websites would have to be established. Furthermore, if the drug is a prescription only medicine (POM) then the website will need to factor in ABPI compliance to ensure that the website conforms to the regulations that govern the marketing of POMs.

Audience profiling is vital at the very start of the process of developing a medical website, as it will affect almost all the subsequent decisions. Having a clear idea of the target audience helps significantly in identifying which keywords are likely to get the most relevant traffic. The site design itself will be heavily influenced by the intended audience, as will the majority of the content and the tone of voice in which it is written.

Access Pfizer for Professionals launches for UK pharmacies

Pfizer has launched a new website design aimed at increasing its direct reach and interaction with UK dispensing chemists. The site was developed following an in-depth survey of 200 pharmacists and will replace will the current as a one-stop-shop providing information on Pfizer products for pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.

The limited access site will provide detailed information on all of Pfizer’s products and services. The survey revealed that dispensing pharmacies wanted 24 hour access to stock and supply information, as well as enhanced access to commercial deals. According to the company, the new online portal will deliver all this information and Pfizer account holders will be able to view, in real time, full ordering histories and available discounts. Pfizer customers will be able to order products directly though the site which would provide significant improvements on the efficient management of their accounts.

One of the key findings of Pfizer’s survey was the desire for better access to training and support. As a result, the new portal incorporates a professional development section which will provide training materials and information on company workshops based around their products.

Another feature of the site provides materials enabling pharmacists to better serve and provide the public with information on treatments and therapies. This includes providing links to third party websites which will give pharmacies easy access to the most relevant health information on the web.

The new service marks a further development in the use of the internet by pharmaceutical companies to connect directly with their customers by providing more integrated and improved communications.

2011 Top 5 Web Design Mistakes

Designing and developing websites can seem easy but getting it right is not. Below are our top 5 mistakes that could be affecting your website right now.

1. Incorrectly Using Adobe Flash

This one’s been around for years but is still a major problem. Adobe Flash allows the use of animation on the web. It can be used for something as simple as a blinking button to something as complex as an entire website. Flash is rarely needed in 2011 with new technologies capable of reproducing its functionality across more platforms than Flash supports.

  • Search Engines try to understand Flash but it will never be as readily indexed as standard text. That means your audience will be visiting your competitors site because they simply won’t know yours exists.
  • Flash doesn’t work on the iPhone or iPad, both of which are increasingly used in the Medical, Pharma and Healthcare industries.

Why it’s important: Mobile web browsing is increasing exponentially. If your site can’t be seen it’s not worth having.

2. Ignoring Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) should be considered for every site but is hugely important when patients and medical professionals are involved.

  • 75% of consumers use the Internet to search for advice about health, medicines or medical conditions
  • 81% of physicians use search engines like Google to research medical related info

Basic SEO can be achieved using a few simple techniques that can make the difference between you or your competitor being found by a potential or existing customer. For starters:

  • Always use a page title that accurately describes the purpose of the page. This is what will show up in Google so keep it short (max 70 characters) and appealing (to encourage people to click it!)
  • Always include accurate, concise headings. Headings not only help the search engines understand the nature of the page they also help users find the information they need quickly.
  • Always use plain text. Plain text is what the search engines understand so don’t be tempted to use images, PDF files or anything else instead.

Why it’s important: Your competitors are in Google. If you’re not, you’re losing business.

3. If It’s Broke, Fix It!

This really covers a multitude of sins but essentially boils down to sites not being maintained properly and becoming out dated.

The 404 error (techno speak for a missing page) can be a major irritant for site visitors who expect to find what they’re looking for without having to jump through hoops. Most often, 404 errors occur because a site has been redesigned or restructured and the content has moved. By using ‘redirects’ a 404 can be avoided. A redirect is a hidden instruction that automatically routes a user to the correct location when they try to visit an outdated page. Redirects should be implemented every time a site is restructured or a page is moved. And just to cover all eventualities, use a ‘friendly’ 404 page that recognises the error and advises on what to try next.

Out of date information can be equally damaging, particularly if it’s medical related. Ensuring a site can be readily maintained by using a powerful yet simple Content Management System can help avoid this.

Missing pictures, broken downloads, slow loading pages, duplicate pages, contradictory information, doesn’t work in an old web browser, doesn’t work in a new web browser, doesn’t work full stop! There are plenty of things that can go wrong with a website so good reporting and a comprehensive maintenance routine are essential.

Why it’s important: You have seconds to engage a visitor. A badly maintained site = a lost visitor.

4. No Call To Action

So you’ve ditched the Flash, optimised the site, got bang up-to-date information and the visitors are coming. Now what? One hot topic in web design right now is Conversion Optimisation which is the technique of encouraging visitors to perform goal oriented tasks. The task could be downloading a brochure, placing an order or completing a contact form for example.

Without setting specific goals and having calls-to-action that channel users toward those goals you risk wasting a visitor. If someone comes to your site, finds the information they’re after and then immediately leaves they’re far less valuable than if they go on to volunteer their contact information.

Having a call to action and making sure it’s optimised is key to a successful modern website.

Why it’s important: You’re wasting budget if you’re not getting the most from every visitor to your site.

5. No Tracking

You ditched Flash, optimised, informed and converted. Or did you? Tracking, reporting and analysis is hugely important in understanding not only how your site is currently performing but how it can be adjusted for improved performance.

There are many reporting options available but the one which has quickly become the standard is provided free by Google. Google Analytics is a web based service which requires a small amount of code to be added to every page on your site. At it’s most basic it can tell you how visitors arrived at your site, the search terms they might have used, which pages they viewed, where they exited, how long they stayed, the most popular pages and much more.

By monitoring site analytics, and making use of the more advanced options to track online marketing campaigns, you can identify patterns in visitor behaviour that allow you to introduce changes to help increase your chances of converting visitors into customers. Furthermore, you can more easily identify which areas of your online marketing activity are delivering the highest quality of visitors and focus more budget on those activities thus reducing budget waste.

Why it’s important: To improve your site you have to know how it’s performing.

Bonus item: Ignoring Mobile

According to research, half a billion people accessed the internet using a mobile device worldwide in 2009. Usage is expected to double within five years as mobile overtakes the PC as the most popular way to get on the web. If your website doesn’t accommodate mobile users you could well be cutting off a significant proportion of your audience.


There are lots of mistakes that can be made when developing websites, the list above is just a few that we think are paramount right now. It would have been easy to write a top 10 but we’ll save the rest for when we talk to you!