Armed with the right people, strategy, process, and technology, life sciences organizations can reap the rewards of successful global expansion.
Compared with many industries, the life sciences sector historically has been slow moving, restricted by tight and complex regulations—both at home and abroad. But now the industry is facing a time of rapid change, and companies are learning quickly that in order to be agile and expand globally, they must transform their approach to digital experiences.
Emerging markets present the greatest growth opportunities over the next decade. The desire to move into new markets highlights the fact that companies are responding to the challenges and opportunities in the industry worldwide. It’s anticipated that life sciences firms will continue to look to emerging market regions for new sources of revenue. In fact, these markets currently outpace developed markets in growth opportunities. But localizing content for these new, lucrative markets demands rigor and consistency, and brings added risks of legal and regulatory penalties if executed poorly.
Local Engagement, Global Reach
Today, website localization, mobile localization and the ability to support local-language social networks has become a necessity. Health professionals and consumers alike now expect life sciences organizations to support and engage with them in their native languages. This leads to similar challenges for brands taking their content to a global audience:
- Varying regulatory guidelines: As legal requirements vary by country and region, quality is paramount when engaging with consumers in their own native language.
- Communicating with multiple audiences: Websites must speak their audiences’ language, catering to specific personas, such as physicians, patients, and healthcare providers.
- Decentralized management structures: Independent country offices often resist global standards and platforms.
- Constant stream of new acquisitions: The process of onboarding new brands, websites and content must be done efficiently to navigate the complexity.
Going global, when done successfully, is not only about replicating processes from one country to another. Rather, it’s about localizing products, services, and messages—adapting them to meet each market’s unique needs. There are several best practices for achieving this level of success across languages, locations, and cultures.
Extend Existing Investments
First, it’s important to note that many organizations have already taken some initial steps in their global strategies, often investing in the translation of product labeling and documentation into numerous languages. However, they have largely failed to extend this investment across to their websites. Now is the time to capitalize on this opportunity and increase web globalization investment and put in place the strategy, technology solutions and services needed to deploy multi-brand, multi-lingual sites to better serve current and future customers.
Unravel the Content Complexity
Life sciences firms are often highly decentralized, with regional and country offices developing and maintaining their own websites. But decentralized management structures can still support consistent design templates and translation workflows—ensuring consistency across all regions.
When building a global online presence, businesses should take into account the following considerations:
- Global Reach: How many languages does the website support? How many locales?
- Global Navigation/Gateway: How easily can visitors, regardless of their location or language, find content relevant to them?
- Global/Mobile Architecture: Does the website maintain a consistent look and feel across all languages? Is it locally flexible? How well does the website support mobile users?
- Localization & Social: How relevant is the website to the user’s country, culture, and community? Are local-language social networks supported and promoted?
Additionally, life sciences companies face the significant challenge of managing multiple brands across multiple geographies. When each brand creates its own global design and global navigation scheme and hires its own translation agency, wasted time and resources are inevitable. One of the proven web globalization best practices has been the use of shared design templates, across not only country and region websites, but also across brand websites.
BluePrinting is a technology capability that speeds up website creation, localization, and rebranding. It streamlines content translation, multichannel content delivery, campaign sites creation, and website white labeling. Embracing this type of technology can help to ensure consistent communications across channels, languages, brands, and devices. Armed with the right tools, all content can be centrally managed consistently and over the long term—even with a decentralized management structure.
Speak Your Audience’s Language; Account for Local Nuances
Website visitors are conditioned to expect increased support for their languages. Global consistency provides users with a credible brand experience as they navigate between sites. That said, global web designs that share a core template, but allow for slightly different approaches based on the regional market, increase the user experience and improve efficiencies. This requires an infrastructure that supports global architecture with an eye on content reuse, modularization, and integration with translation technologies.
Companies that translate a page or two of content for the home page and little else risk doing more harm than good with website visitors. This “local façade” gives users a negative first impression and will make it much more difficult to entice visitors back to the site at a later point in time. A smarter approach to web localization is to focus on specific usage scenarios and then localize accordingly. If visitors find that some usage scenarios are supported—like finding local physician and learning more about medical therapies or a clinical trial—then the visitor can still have a positive experience.
Don’t Forget the Mobile Audience
Given the rise of smartphones around the world, it is essential to support websites that adapt well to a variety of screen sizes. Adaptive web designs are those that modify layouts based on the screen size, adapting visuals, text and other elements as required. Companies that don’t have a mobile-friendly website, should make it a top priority. And to properly serve mobile websites to mobile devices, the more advanced web experience management platforms provide server-side functionality that goes beyond responsive web design to provide things like contextual image delivery, video transcoding, and content relevance.
Adapting to the mobile device is just the first step; adapting to the user is the ultimate challenge. What are the major usage scenarios that you need your localized site to support? For example, do you want users to be able to quickly find product drug information or be able to find a local healthcare professional? Each scenario requires understanding of the journey the user takes from the home page to the destination.
Remove Barriers, But Stay Secure
While legal requirements are a fact of life for many companies, that doesn’t mean the implementation of alerts and notices cannot be user friendly. Notifications should be in the visitor’s local language and they should be promoted in a way that avoids being mistaken for browser error messages or virus alerts. Usability testing should also be conducted for scenarios where visitors navigate from the global .com websites to their local websites.
Finally, always keep in mind that customer expectations are constantly being set by fast-loading, multilingual websites. Do not assume that they will expect less of life sciences websites. All of this may sound complex—but it needn’t be when you look at where you want to be, and put in place the right language and content processes to support the business as it scales. Select a web experience management technology platform that supports web content management, digital media management, experience optimization, and localization. Armed with the right people, strategy, process, and technology, life sciences organizations can not only meet their audience’s local needs, but can reap the rewards of successful global expansion.
SDL is the global provider of language translation technology, services, and content management. With more than 25 years of experience, SDL creates transformative business results through nuanced digital experiences.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery