This comes as good news to pharmaceutical companies. The bad news, however, is that the company websites lose out to the likes of DrKoop and WebMD, even though they offer similar information. To better market to consumers on the web, pharmaceutical companies should increase their presence on a more popular site, perhaps by offering information emails about products or diseases.
Americans are well tuned in to getting self-diagnostic, wellness and prescription drug information online. According to the PC Data Online survey, WebMD, DrKoop, DiscoveryHealth and OnHealth were among the most preferred sites, rather than pharmaceutical company sites.
Pharmaceutical companies should take heed as the results of this study have several implications for their online marketing strategies. Many of the popular features and information services on consumer health sites are also available on the companies' websites. For example, many sites for prescription products have quizzes and symptom lists to aid consumers in their "amateur diagnoses". Additionally, most product sites for chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease provide advice on wellness and fitness. Yet these were still not listed as a popular source for finding this type of information.
Pharmaceutical companies must begin to use the sites that consumers prefer. To some degree, this has been done with banner advertisements. However, ads to not generate a high level of click through. A wiser strategy might be for pharmaceutical companies to provide an option for consumers to sign up on popular content sites to receive marketing materials. If a consumer is looking at information on diabetes, they may be more inclined to opt-in to receive emails about related products for the management of diabetes.