Bastion Brands


Back to NewsSimon Davies , 26/04/2016

The Curse of the Pharmaceutical Website

It is a conversation happening in the meeting rooms of Australia’s pharmaceutical companies on a regular basis – “we don’t have a website, it’s 2016, surely we need a website?”

You might be surprised to hear that some of Australia’s biggest pharmaceutical products are amongst those still resisting the digital space. The argument goes something like this; we know that healthcare professionals (HCPs) use the internet for all things healthcare, that makes it a really important space for us. But, it costs time and money, I am not convinced we will get the traffic, I am not clear how we will measure the return on investment and the MA Code is prohibitive.

These are all valid concerns, but perhaps not as significant as the industry currently perceives them. Let’s deal with them here and now, one at a time.

1. Money and resource

Web development is coming along at an amazing rate. You can design and develop a basic website in todays market for $AUD 20,000 – and maybe even have some change leftover. The major driver of cost is producing content, but don’t you have that already? Have a think, list out the assets you have. How can you bring them to life online? Think relatively – for example – what does a single sales representative cost per annum? How many customers can they access and how does this compare to your online ambitions.

2. Driving traffic

This is still the biggest challenge and should be the place where you start. Good ways to drive traffic include using sales teams to advertise the availability of new sites, integrating sites into symposia or launch meetings and ensuring you are visible on search engines – but remember to avoid the search engine optimisation (SEO) trap!

The SEO trap

Content that sits behind passwords, i.e. the content that is for HCPs only, cannot be crawled by Google bots! This means that it will not contribute to SEO. This makes it difficult to push HCP-only sites higher up search results. Think about this carefully; Can you add general public content that can undergo SEO? Can you utilise grassroots tactics that reduce your dependence on SEO? This is a common denominator with industry sites that languish, unnoticed and unloved.

3. Measuring ROI

This is surprisingly easy. Establish how big your audience is, for example if you are trying to engage rheumatologists, how many are there in Australia? This data is readily available online. What is success for you – for example, would you be happy with 20% of Australia’s rheumatologists? Once you are clear on what success looks like, tracking web traffic is simple.

4. The MA Code is prohibitive

There is a tendency to use the MA Code as a reason to avoid digital tactics. Do not fall into this trap. The Code is designed to ensure that we all present accurate and evidence-based information that best supports patients and public health – this applies equally to websites, apps, detail aids and mailers. If you want to communicate a message that is accurate and ‘approvable’ then a website is as valid a place to do that as any other. With regards to looking after the hygiene; the HCP confirmation, terms and conditions, privacy policies and so on, the trick is to work with people who know what they are doing and can minimise the burden that this places on you.


Bastion Brands

At Bastion Brands we offer our clients end-to-end digital services, from strategy to delivery. We are experts in delivering digital materials that are MA Code compliant but also meet your objectives. We believe that success starts with data and work with our clients to establish what we will measure and where our benchmarks are – before getting excited about the design!

Still not sure what to do in the digital space?

Bastion Brands offers a bespoke ‘Digital Landscaping’ service that provides our clients with an evidence-based insight into the online behaviour of their key customers, the activities of their competitors and opportunities in that context. This is a great way to get a detailed view of the space you are playing in and give you that head start that will underpin your long-term success.

If you want to dive into the digital space or need to understand more about your opportunities, Bastion Brands are just a call away.


Simon Davies

Managing Director, MBA

Uploaded By: Simon Davies, Managing Director, MBA

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *