• Dr. Christine Senn, PhD

Keeping Your Site in Sight: Website Best Practices

Keeping Your Site in Sight: Website Best Practices

Today we continue our marketing series by talking about websites. This will actually be one of two videos on websites because the next one is an interview with an SEO specialist. SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is more of the technical side of marketing, and it is very important for someone to help that technological person know which keywords to put into the backend of the website so that your website is found when people do specific searches in a search engine online. That’s your search engine optimization.


But today, we're going to talk about the website in general. What kind of information does your website need? Now at first, I wasn't going to do a video about this at all until I realized that some sites don't even have a website, which I think is a mistake. Having only a Facebook page, which is one of the more typical things, might reach patients – which is good. That is definitely good! But what it doesn't do is help you attract clients such as CROs and sponsors. An actual website is going to have some additional information that gives you a presence.


I was interviewing a former colleague of mine who now works at a huge pharmaceutical company. She works in contract and budget. One of the things she told me is that when they're looking to work with a new site, she looks up their website. Of course, she's not going to go to Facebook, right? She's not going to go anyplace else. She's going to go to the website and there are a couple of things she wants to see.


The first was the PI's relationship to the site. Now I won't go into all the details about why she looks for that, but when you think about it, that's an important thing. Is the PI just some absent person or are they really embedded into the site? That makes a big difference. The other part was the locations. She wanted to know how many locations they have – where were they? – to get a sense of their size, their capabilities, etc. She then acknowledged that the people on the feasibility side who actually choose the sites very much want to see what the site's capabilities are.


So, what do we have so far? Describe any PIs; list PIs associated with your site. If you're part of a site network that could be a little harder, but there could be a different page for each site and at least one PI associated with each of the sites within your network. If it's smaller, you could have your PIs, your Sub-Is, whomever. You're also, remember, listing the locations. You want to make sure they're on there. Sometimes a map can help as well, but I will tell you on the marketing side that that's going to cost you more to make. So if you're looking not to spend too much money, you don't need to do a map, you can just list them.


Next, it’s very important to include the site’s capabilities. Do you have a -70 freezer? -20? Refrigerated centrifuge? Phase 1 capabilities? My goodness, of course you should talk about those! You don't need to list things like “blood pressure machine” or anything simple, but some of the bigger things should be listed, like maybe how many beds are in the hospital if you're affiliated with a hospital or do inpatient trials. Things like that.


Now let's focus on the homepage. This may be even more important than all the others. The homepage needs to be your elevator pitch. I'm sure many of you have done MBAs and have learned what an elevator pitch is, but for everyone else, the idea is this: if you were a salesperson and had to sell something in the length of time it took to take an elevator ride, what would you say? They always teach people in business development and sales to practice their elevator pitch.


Your homepage is your elevator pitch. It needs to engage someone to believe in you and want to keep looking at you or trust you, whatever it is you want the outcome to be. So, think about it. It’s “What do we do? How many trials have we done?” Basically, expertise is what you're showing. What kind of indications do you cover? Therapeutic areas? Some summary needs to be on your homepage. Please take that to heart. If you only have a one-page website, I want it to be a summary of your expertise, with your locations at the bottom. And some capabilities. Okay, I want a few things from you, so let's make it a three-page website at a minimum. The other information needed is something about the leadership team, especially as a site gets bigger. People will want to know, especially sponsors and CROs, “What is the leadership of this company?” That is not necessarily important at every size, though.


Those are the main items that should appear on your webpage. So what's your #1 priority? It seems I went out of order, so I’ll relist them here. #1: The homepage is your elevator pitch. #2: Locations and Capabilities (I had those as a tie. I can't help it. That's how it happened). #3: I want you to have something about your Leadership team. #4: I would like you to have something about how the PI is related if at all possible (it kind of depends on the site).


I'll see you next week for part two of our website portion of the series where we’ll cover SEO. See you then!


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