Many life science companies have problems converting website traffic to qualified leads. There are two common causes for this; either the quality of your traffic is poor (in other words, you’re attracting an audience that is either irrelevant or has no need and no intent to make a purchase) or your marketing is poor. With regards to the issue of poor website-based marketing, an extremely common cause is that the life science company’s website is company-centric or product/service-centric. The overall gist of the message on these website is: “This is who we are,” or “This is what we sell.” Unless a customer is ready to make a purchasing decision then and there (few are, in general) then these styles of messages will most often fail to resonate with the potential customer and simply fall short, failing to get the customer to engage further with your company and marketing as they progress through their buying journey.
To illustrate my point, let’s look at a generic website design. Most website designs are something like this:
The logo is on the upper left and the nav bar consists of an “about” selection, “products” and / or “services”, perhaps something akin to “industries”, and “contact”. The homepage content consists of an overview of the company and / or its major products and services.
Before we get into what should be on your website, it is worth explaining why your website content doesn’t need to simply be a summary of what you do. Your website is not a brochure or flier that you may distribute to people who have no prior knowledge of your company and lack sufficient context to figure it out what it does. In order for someone to get to your website they must do one of a handful of things, and in all situations you can assume that they either have an idea of what you do or have sufficient context that you don’t need to introduce yourself as you would to a stranger. They either 1) heard about it somewhere and went to it directly, 2) searched for a term in a search engine and clicked it, 3) clicked on an ad, or 4) clicked on a link on another website. All of these things either provide context or require that the person has a degree of knowledge beforehand. Therefore, the “brochure” style homepage isn’t necessary.
Instead, life science websites should be designed to be customer-centric. Instead of putting the company and the products first, you should adopt the customer’s perspective and show them that you understand their problems and needs. By focusing on the product or service, you’re effectively beginning the engagement with what the product is before they have a reason to care. By focusing on their needs you’re relating with them and getting their attention, setting yourself up to show how your products fulfill those needs.
But how can marketers create life science websites that are more customer-centric? A good place to start is with user stories. User stories help you escape the mind-frame of thinking about the customer and begin to think like the customer. In user stories, the marketer attempts to understand the motivations behind the customers actions and desires in order to fill the gap between the need and the solution. A typical user story is structured like this:
User Story FormatAs a [role] who is [situation], I want [need / desire] such that [benefit].
The use of user stories certainly do not guarantee that marketers adopt the customer’s perspective, so care should be taken to ensure that the situation is not defined simply to provide the intended benefit of the product. The situation should, however, be defined to create the need that your product is looking to solve. Starting with your target markets, consider all of the situations that could arise which would create the need that you are looking to solve. Then try to view the problem through the customer’s eyes and see what their desires are. If you find that your are simply defining the desire as your product or service, then you are not adopting the customers viewpoint.
Let’s illustrate this with some examples. The following would be a good user story:
User Story Good ExampleAs a biologist who is working with small model systems and imaging many 3-dimensional, fluorescently labelled samples, I want a faster, hands-off method of imaging my slides such that I can image more slides in less time and with less effort.
The next user story tells the same story, but is poor because it fails to elaborate the customer motivation and ends up framing the need in a product-centric manner:
User Story Bad ExampleAs a microscopist who has too many samples to image, I want an automated system for slide handling and imaging such that I can process slides more quickly.
User stories can be created for a number of situations and customer types. Once the user stories are written and compiled, you will have a much better understanding of what the customer is looking for from their own vantage point. You can then use this information to target content to groups of similar customers, create or optimize your website’s user flow and navigation, and improve the value propositions you present to the prospects.