Practical magic: Google counsels pharma to create 'seamless' digital experiences

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Digital pharma marketing experiences can be "magical" Google says when companies quickly address patient's curiosity with relevant solutions. (Pixabay)

Do you believe in magic? Google does—at least when it comes to creating digital experiences in healthcare and pharma.

Cozi Namer, healthcare industry lead for Google, told FiercePharmaMarketing Forum attendees that the magic is sparked by frictionless interactions. That’s when patients or healthcare professionals have a simple and seamless experience.

Which of course doesn't happen when you say "abracadabra." It requires work behind the curtain.

“Magic should not happen by chance, it should be a function of engineering. The No. 1 rule is you have to identify the friction,” he said.

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Creating the magic—removing friction—requires marketers to do three things: satisfy curiosity, deliver assistance and make the experience happen quickly.

Start by defining patient curiosity, he said. Although that may be different for each target audience, patients in general are curious—and even more curious online than in person with doctors. Namer estimated that, on average, patients ask about 15 questions per year to their doctors. On Google, the average number of health questions per person is more than 10 times that, at 165.

When that curiosity kicks in, can they find you offering assistance? he asked.

Take Johnson & Johnson’s Zyrtec AllergyCast digital app, he said, which automatically figures out the pollen count for patients based on their locations and advises them how that count may make them feel. J&J "never push[es] the product because they’re offering assistance,” Namer said.

But, going even further, he offered another example: Reckitt Benckiser's Mucinex brand and its Find My Mucinex. That tool not only assists patients by translating their symptoms into the appropriate Mucinex product, but finds that very med on the shelves of the closest retailers so patients can immediately act.

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And then there's speed. With the average human attention span today at eight seconds, people expect things to happen instantly. Impatient people won’t wait 10 seconds for a website to load. The demands are even worse on mobile, where people are willing to wait less than three seconds.

The bounce rate—that is, the average number of people who leave before a website loads—is 52% in healthcare. But as seconds tick away, the rate increases exponentially—it goes up by 25 percentage points at five seconds, then doubles at just six seconds.

And here's where simplest is best for speed. “All that beautiful curiosity you tapped into and provided assistance that led them there, but your website takes seven seconds to load because someone wanted to put up a big picture, and all that is poof! Done,” he said.