As a full-service marketing and communications agency, SCORR works with health science companies to strategize, plan, design and create engaging, inviting and impactful websites to drive growth and generate qualified leads. It’s a complex process mixing strategic thinking with creative design to develop what is, in essence, your first line of sales.
In the first of a two-part series, we’ll look at how marketing strategy is integrated with graphic and web design to express your company’s brand and messaging. In Part 2, we’ll focus on strategic website management, including tips on search engine optimization, website analytics and using your website to maximize leads and drive sales.
Top tips for building a better website
- Start with the user in mind
- Support corporate marketing strategies
- Optimize messaging and content for search engines
- Use a consistent design theme internally and across all marketing tactics
- Build in interactivity
The web design industry is growing significantly with an annualized growth for the last five years at 2.7% per year, culminating in a total global impact of $20 billion. With an estimated 200 million active websites and over 600 million host names in use, the world is more interconnected than ever before.1
As smartphones and other mobile devices have become more widespread, 26 percent of American adults report they go online “almost constantly,” up from 21 percent in 2015, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January 2018.
Overall, 77 percent of Americans go online on a daily basis. That figure includes the 26 percent who go online almost constantly, as well as 43 percent who say they are active online several times a day and 8 percent who go online about once a day. Some 11 percent go online several times a week or less often, while 11 percent of adults say they do not use the internet at all.2
Creating a legitimate web presence for health science companies
Todays’ marketing strategies are known as inbound, pull or content-based, but they all rely on using your website as a hub for your marketing activities. Each marketing tactic, such as a webinar, press release or trade show, represents an opportunity to drive traffic to a specific place on your website, such as a landing page for a product, an event or a white paper. Manage that interaction well and your visitors will go on to other pages on the site and, if you do it right, into a deeper relationship with you.
Websites can be the first meaningful interaction a prospect has with your company, said Drake Sauer, SCORR art director. For that reason alone, it’s important that the site differentiate you from your competitors and be engaging, informational, up to date and credible. Your website’s first impression should convey your company’s knowledge and expertise and launch visitors on a journey of discovery of your capabilities and benefits. A professional website is vital even for small or startup biotech companies or for health science companies who serve a niche audience.
Establishing goals and objectives
Having a clear understanding of the role the website should play in your company’s overall marketing program is a key aspect of effective website design. SCORR often designs websites as one element of an overall marketing strategy all bound together by a creative platform we refer to as the Big Idea. This, in turn, is founded on a strategic marketing plan we develop that identifies the client’s goals and defines specific strategies and tactics based on the needs of their audience. (See how it’s applied.)
“You don’t start with the website, you start with the users”
“You will want to answer the question or solve the problem a visitor is coming to your website for,” said Marc Bacon, SCORR’s lead web developer. “Are they just seeking information or trying to find a specific resource?” If visitors have come to your website looking for a job, for example, you will want to put extra effort in a good Careers page and a good About description to give applicants a reason to apply, Bacon said.
“You don’t start with the website, you start with the users,” added Patrick Stevens, web developer. “The website goals are always dependent on the marketing goals.”
Aligning design and strategy
SCORR develops Big Ideas that incorporate an overarching creative concept that includes a specific graphic approach, color scheme, font selection, messaging and a look and feel that we apply consistently across all elements. This includes the website.
For health science clients, SCORR uses a highly customized approach that translates the Big Idea into a website that is unique but within design conventions that people are familiar with. The result is a user experience online that is enjoyable, informative and easy to navigate regardless of the platform, and one that is expressive of the brand.
“Create an experience online that is enjoyable, informative and easy to navigate”
SCORR also ensures that the website lines up strategically with the client’s specific marketing goals. For example, if a client needs to raise its profile as a thought leader in pharmaceutical development or in a particular therapeutic area such as renal research, the website design may highlight company presentations at industry events, feature a leadership page with bios of the top executives, and offer a resources library with company-produced articles and white papers.
Reasons why a website is important:
- Customer experience: Presents your brand expression and product or service offering in an environment that lets you focus on the buyer’s journey.
- Cost-effective and flexible: Information is broadly accessible and can be easily updated.
- Market growth: Websites make businesses visible and available to prospects anywhere in the world.
- Timeless and convenient: Websites are accessible 24/7 and offer searchable information to meet your audiences’ needs.
- Valuable and credible content: With informative content presented well, websites ensure a positive experience of your company’s services and product offerings while enabling you to exhibit your expertise and generate trust.
Drawing people in
A well-crafted inbound marketing strategy uses many forms of pull marketing to attract visitors. The list of possibilities is long: content marketing; blogs; events; search engine optimization; questionnaires; forms to download resources, to request a demo or to access a video or a webinar; opportunities to schedule a meeting; catalogs; articles; e-books and more.
Regardless of what you use, you must engage your audience once they arrive at your site.
Although messaging underlies all the structural elements, techniques such as micro animations, interactive graphics, custom photography and liberal use of videos support the messaging by making it more memorable. Another important technique is to use calls-to-action such as “find out more” to link to other resources on the site. Some companies are even using gamification techniques — creating game-like elements — to engage visitors and keep them on the site.
Making websites work
If a website defines your business, acts as a marketing strategy hub and provides invaluable data about customer attitudes and opinions, it’s working well within your marketing program. However, you must always keep user perceptions in mind as a key measure of success.
“I like a website that is intuitive, with a user experience that feels natural and makes it easy for me to do what I need to do,” Stevens said. “If it makes me think about where the information I want is going to be or if it’s hard to navigate and feels out of date, it’s a negative experience.”
Because there is often a long buying cycle in the health science industry, your website must be more than just a way for your customers to access your services. You need to establish credibility and speak to your audiences’ concerns and core needs while nurturing them along the buyer’s journey.
Inbound marketing comes down to a mix of different marketing methodologies, but at the center of everything is the website. Email marketing, digital advertising, print advertising, blogs, social media — all point back to the website.
To be effective, the website must be a hub that facilitates interaction and moves the sales process forward. Your website should be at the center of everything.