When viewing the websites of companies selling life science tools or services, I frequently notice that many companies have problems with online content. Whether it is a general lack of content, quality of the content, or presentation of the content, one or more of these things is often a problem area for many life science tools companies, and chances are that these easily avoidable problems are costing you valuable sales and / or leads.
Quantity of Content
There’s a balance that needs to be struck with the amount of content that you create for your products. From a search engine optimization standpoint, more information is better, period, but SEO is generally not the most important thing to consider. From a user experience standpoint, which is generally more important, you want all the information that a prospective customer would want to be able to find, however not so much that any given piece of information becomes lost in a sea of content and is difficult to locate.
Generally, you should have enough content to do these things fairly thoroughly:
1) Identify the problem that your life science product or service is solving
2) Describe your product / service and how it solves the problem
3) Illustrate the comparative advantages to other solutions (value proposition)
4) Urge the prospective customer to the next step with a call to action
At worst, I’ve seen products described with two-paragraphs or a list of features and no accompanying documents. This is obviously not sufficient for ANY product. Even many products that have multiple pages of content, however, do not have all the content they need because they do not do those four things I listed above. It does not matter if you’ve talked about every bell and whistle that your product has if you don’t take any time to tell a prospective customer why they need it. Likewise, it doesn’t matter if you’ve masterfully illustrated a problem and convinced the researchers that they need a solution but have not communicated how your problem solves it. Every piece of the puzzle needs to be in place.
Quality of Content
If you have done those four things identified above then you should have plenty of high-quality content, right? No, it’s not quite that simple, and there is plenty more that you can do to communicate value. Do you have results showing how your product can improve a particular experiment or process? Show them. Do you have a relevant, attractive marketing video that you can add to the site? Do so. Do you have a list of protocols that are already developed for your product? References from published literature? Testimonials from customers? All of these things add to the quality of your content and, in turn, the perceived value of your product. Just make sure that this auxiliary content improves the case that you’re making when talking about those four key things (problem identification, product description, comparative advantages, call to action).
Also, when analyzing the quality of your online content, don’t forget to think of SEO. For example, google and other search engines like text and content that is directly on your website rather than hidden in a pdf or other document. As another good practice, don’t forget to include appropriate keywords that you’d like you site to come up in searches for. (Generally, any time you’re doing any sort of web design, whether a complete site build or a simple content change on a single page – always think of SEO. It never hurts, and always helps.)
Presentation of Content
This is the hardest part of content design, but also the part that will allow you to differentiate yourself the most from your competition, as you can absolutely make your product shine if you do it well. Presentation has to allow users to easily navigate your site and find the information that they want while accommodating all the information that you need to include. You should think about the user experience from the standpoint of prospective customers. Who will they be, why are they on your site, and what will they be looking for? Design your content to be presented in a way that takes them from the entry points, guides them through the information that they want to find (and the information you want to present) and funnels them into the beginning of the sales process.
If you’re not already, use Google Analytics. It’s free, and it’ll help you analyze the traffic on your website so you can help optimize the layout of your content. By knowing the traffic patterns on your site, you can improve your site and make adjustments to help drive researchers and purchasers to your most valuable content and into the sales process.
Remember that online, your website is who you are. The same can be said for your products and services. Content that is compelling, attractive, professional, well organized, well written and well designed will reflect well on your company and your product. Knowing what you need to say, how you need to say it, and how you need to present it will attract a larger and more relevant audience and improve your conversion of visitors into leads and sales.
A challenge for any company is properly managing customer interactions. Sometimes overlooked in a small-company environment, customer relationship management should be an important process within any company in the life science research industry, even those who do not sell directly to end-users. A lack of proper customer relationship management can lead to poor understanding of marketing effectiveness, a lack of valuable customer feedback, a lack of understanding about the customer base, loss of potential sales, etc. Despite the great potential benefits, however, CRM implementation should not be taken lightly.
Reports from Gartner Group and Meta Group had three very striking findings: 1) Over 50% of CRM implementations are viewed as failures by the customer, 2) 55-75% of CRM implementations fail to meet their objectives, and 3) customers usually underestimate the costs of CRM implementations by 40-75%. Forrester Research, in an article published in CRM Magazine, elaborated on some of the problems experienced during CRM implementation. The problems most commonly cited by executives were:
|Defining New Processes||16.2%|
These numbers indicate that while customer relationship management is a very important process, it is not one to be taken lightly.
How can your company successfully integrate a CRM platform and avoid being one of the 50%+ who have a “failed” implementation? Being aware of the common problems is one key step, but it is not enough to simply know the problems – you need to be able to create solutions. One of the most common inhibitors to the creation of such solutions is that companies do not fully understand the problems that a CRM platform is trying to solve. Ask yourself: What are the issues that I am trying to address by implementing a CRM platform? How do you hope to improve marketing? How do you hope to improve sales? How about customer support? Do not simply assume that implementing a CRM platform will be a silver bullet to a myriad of problems. You need to define and design it to do so.
If you already integrated a customer relationship management system and you are not happy with the implementation, there is still good news. Chances are that your CRM system is built with enough flexibility to not require starting from scratch. CRM systems are generally very flexible and customizable and often they will have features or capabilities that will be able to solve the problems that you may be experiencing.
Customer relationship management can a very powerful tool across multiple functions of your business. Successful implementation, however, requires a good understanding of both your business, its needs, and CRM systems. Having all of this knowledge before delving into a CRM implementation project can help ensure the effectiveness of the system as well as constrain the costs of the project.
November is already underway and if your company sells products or services to academic researchers then you should already be preparing to double down on your marketing efforts and start reaching out to potential new customers now. Many professors and graduate students will be extremely busy in early and mid December with their class responsibilities and will not want to pay attention to anything extraneous (including marketing materials), however important purchasing decisions, particularly larger purchasing decisions, for many university labs are made in early January – after the bustle of finals and the holidays but before classes start up again. Use this to your advantage.
If there is a target market that you want to enter, be sure to start marketing to them ASAP. Again, you do not want to wait until December to reach new customers. They will need to see your marketing message a few times (preferably via different avenues) before you will have enough brand or product recognition for most prospective customers to trust you and your product. You will probably want to have multiple “touches” between now and January to both establish yourself in their minds, get across your full marketing message, and present a compelling call-to-action. There is still enough time to touch
a new prospect four times without being overbearing, but you’ll need to start now.
Also, don’t forget that the holidays are a great excuse to have a special, a sale, or some other call-to-action. While these specials are rarely enough to drive a buy decision on their own (since scientists are very analytical and generally weigh need vs. cost and make a fairly objective decision on those metrics), they can still be attention grabbing and push people into making purchasing decisions now – and those purchasing decisions will be made with your product in mind.
Your small company should be formulating a short-term marketing plan on how to approach academics and increase sales from universities between the semesters. If you sell to universities and you do not have a marketing plan for the next two months, you will likely miss out on a key opportunity to take advantage of purchasing habits and fail to realize a lot of potential sales.