7 Life Science Growth Opportunities Hidden in Recession

Leigh Wasson
By Leigh Wasson
As Chief Marketing Officer at Supreme Optimization, Leigh helps life sciences companies transform their businesses to sell more, more often, to more people. Ask Leigh about E-Commerce UX, conversation-rate optimization, UX Auditing, user testing, customer-journey mapping, wireframing, Facebook Ads, and A/B Ad testing. You can find Leigh Wasson on LinkedIn.

While everyone else is standing still – take one step forward.

Supreme Optimization is the world’s first digital marketing agency exclusively for life science companies. We build industry leading websites (like DWK pictured above), drive an average organic traffic increase of 243% through SEO, and manage over $10M in ad spend for the world’s leading life science companies on Google Ads, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Bing.


According to Gartner, four out of five CEOs in 2019 have a management initiative to make the business more digital.

Yet, as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, life science executives face increasing pressure to cut costs. How life science companies manage their investment decisions now will determine how they sustain performance through this crisis and rebound. 

Here’s what you can do right now to reliably reduce risk, harness hidden growth opportunities, and get ready for the recession rebound: 

  1. Optimize your sales pages 
  2. Build audiences & email lists with cheaper paid advertising 
  3. Optimize your email sign up CTAs 
  4. Shift event budgets into content marketing 
  5. Double down on search to pass your competitors 
  6. Audit your UX and relaunch your website 
  7. How to invest in your business safely 

1. Optimize your sales pages

What: Identify & optimize your top sales pages

Why: Visitors who start on a sales page are 50x more likely to become a lead

Optimize your sales page content: 

These high value pages often get missed because marketers have campaign deadlines, even though visitors who start on a sales page are 50x more likely to become a lead.

Use this time to slow down and refocus attention on your core marketing assets. Optimize these assets now and you’ll be far ahead of your competitors as the economy resurges. 

“Review the brochure sections of your site. Prioritize them based on traffic according to your Analytics. Use this checklist to make sure they’re working as hard as possible when the qualified traffic comes back.

“10-point sales page checklist:

  • Descriptive H1 headers
  • Short paragraphs
  • In-depth content that answers top sales questions
  • Meaningful subheads (“Disaster Recovery Services” not “What We Do”)
  • Faces of your people (not stock photos)
  • Calls to action (better verbs than read, click, learn, contact)
  • Statistics and data that support your value proposition or build trust
  • Charts and graphs
  • Trust seals (awards, memberships, partners, certifications)
  • Testimonials”

Source: 26 Ways to Get Ready for the Rebound: A Playbook for What to Do Right Now

Collect & publish testimonials:

Your customers are already talking about you. They’re likely some of your best hidden sales people. However, most testimonials miss a number of key criteria. Follow this checklist to create high impact testimonials: 

Testimonial checklist: 

  • Company logo 
  • Short headline
  • Full quote 
  • Profile Photo 
  • Name
  • Title  
  • Company 
  • Backlink to website  

Example Supreme – BlueBee Case Study

Always make sure to confirm you’re able to share this information and consult your legal or regulatory team before posting. You can always scale back the level of information you share. For example, if you can’t include the specific company, replace it with something generic, like “Leading [Industry] Provider”.  

Update your publications: 

A big missed opportunity we often see on life science websites is listing outdated publications. Now is the perfect time to audit your scientific publications and make sure you’re following best practices. Follow these guidelines for reference: 

Publication checklist

  • Reference style should be consistent above all else 
  • Limit references to a single author 
  • Clear title and date 
  • Always include a link to the PubMed abstract or journal article
  • Order publications by recency 

Example Abcam:

2. Shift ad spend up funnel to build audiences & email lists with cheaper paid advertising

What: Build audiences and email lists using Pay Per Click (PPC) at lower costs

Why: Cost per impressions (CPM) are the lowest they’ve been in 5 years. Utilize this opportunity.
How: Read below:

There’s a narrow window of opportunity for paid advertising to be cheaper and more cost-effective than ever. As millions of people around the world shelter in place, networks like Facebook and Linkedin are reporting record-breaking use and engagement. 

“Cost per impressions (CPM) are the lowest they’ve been in 5 years.”

How Smart Marketers can Capitalize on Low Ad Costs 

We’re in a very unique situation right now: 

  1. Everyone is at home and internet usage is surging
  2. Your competitors are likely cutting ad spend.
  3. CPMs are the lowest they’ve been in 5 years.
  4. Bottom of funnel click through rates are down

What does this mean for you? The opportunity for life science businesses is to move ad spend up the funnel and collect leads at a reduced rate. Buyers may be purchasing less (depending on your market), but they are online more than ever. As a result, ad inventory is dramatically up across the board and CPMs are down. 

While ad costs are low, now is the time to shift ad spend into awareness and lead generation campaigns. Once purchasing demand resurges, move spend back down the funnel. This will give your business an enhanced opportunity to capture an outsized market share as the economy rebounds. 

Abcam Increases Spend & Gets Outsized Traffic Return 

Abcam is a great example. According to a SEMrush traffic cost estimation in early May, Abcam increased their ad spend by only 5.25% yet saw a massive 46.39% increase in traffic. This would make sense if their competitors were pulling their bids and traffic costs were down.

Abcam sees 46.39% monthly increase in traffic from Google Ads with only 5.25% increase in ad spend during Coronavirus. 

Monthly Increases – SEMrush Paid Traffic Report May 7th, 2020

While everyone else is cutting ad spend, Abcam is increasing spend and seeing outsized traffic return. 

Opportunities in LinkedIn Advertising 

LinkedIn is seeing tremendous article and engagement growth. Right now is an opportune moment to test LinkedIn ads to discover key learnings while engagement is up 2781%. 

A/B Test Questions Now on Cheaper Ads To Outperform Your Competitors 

Below is an ad we tested last year and a good example of a test question. 

Test Question: Would a “real” picture of Eric at dinner or a profile picture of Sheldon with large high contrast Call To Action (CTA) get a better click through rate? 

LinkedIn Ad Split Test

And the winner is…

Version 2 Winner CTR: 1.94% (397% above average LinkedIn average CTR: 0.39%) 

Version 2 Is The Winner: Use Bold High Contrast CTA

While both versions significantly outperformed the LinkedIn average CTR of 0.39%, the clear winner was version 2 using a bold high contrast CTA at a CTR of 1.94%. This ad outperformed the LinkedIn average by 397.4%.

We’ve taken this learning from our own A/B test and scaled it across our client’s ad creatives who are also outperforming the LinkedIn average CTR. 

Leverage This Narrow Opportunity

You can leverage this narrow opportunity to split test ads while ad inventory is up and costs are down. Then apply your learnings from winning split tests to future ads and outperform your competitors well into the economic rebound. Contact us today and learn why we manage $3.5M in ad spend for the top life science companies in the world.

3. Optimize your email sign up CTAs

What: Add visibility, credibility and a “reason why” to your email sign ups to boost Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) immediately.  

Why: Most email sign up forms are flat, impersonal, and see extremely low opt-in rates. Optimizing your forms today can create a reliable source of leads for years to come. 

How: Follow these tips from Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media:

“If you have content, you have an email signup box. But most email signup forms are terrible. They lack the 3 P’s of high converting signup forms:

Prominence

It should visually stand out. It doesn’t have to be a popup window, but it should, at least, use strong color contrast and be available very close to your content.

Promise

It should tell people what they’ll get and how often they’ll get it. You’re trying to make an appointment with your audience. Commit to a frequency and tell them what it is.

Proof

It should include a third-party endorsement. You have very few subscribers in the beginning, so you can’t brag about the size of your list. Instead, use a testimonial quote from someone who loves getting your advice.”

Andy Crestodina 26 Ways to Get Ready for the Rebound: A Playbook for What to Do Right Now

Supreme Optimization – Life Science Marketing Lab (Blog)

Supreme Optimization – Homepage

Here’s how we’ve implemented these principles on our website: 

Prominence 

This is an example of how we are positioning our email newsletter. The email sign up is the first thing you see on the blog landing page and the second thing you see directly under the hero section of our homepage.

Promise

What you “get” is very clear – “get free marketing tips”. Using the word “get” in your headlines is a great way to quickly communicate a promise. Apple even changed their app store download button copy to “Get”. Help visitors answer the question in their mind, “why should I give up my email address? Because I will get [XYZ benefit].” 

Proof 

Although we don’t have a massive 100k+ emailing list, we do have an extremely focused email list which helps us boost our newsletter’s street cred. This is why we mention both the size and audience of our list – “Join over 1,500 life science marketing directors”.

Optimized resource library we designed for Artel.

Here’s how we’ve implemented these principles for our client Artel. 

Prominence 

Artel has invested in building an incredibly strong resource library. It’s made up of many multimedia formats including webinars, how-to videos, checklists, application notes, presentations, publications, case studies, and posters. We made sure visitors had a clear opportunity to easily sign up with their email and one click at the top of the page.

Promise

The headline here is very specific to their scientific audience – “Knowledge and practical liquid handling tips that you can put into practice”. 

Proof 

Similar to our own newsletter, we wanted to highlight both the number of people on their list and the specific audience – “Join 20,000 leading lab professionals and scientists” to prove to the reader they’ll be in good company. 

4. Shift event budgets into content marketing

What: With conferences and events canceled, shift budgets into content marketing assets. 

Why: Trade show marketing is critical for most life science companies. Some life science companies rely on a handful of annual conferences to fill their sales pipeline.

How: Follow these tips:

For B2B companies, event marketing makes up a significant amount of the marketing budget, at least 21% according to a 2018 study from Bizaboo. Investments in digital assets now, like webinars, will create a backlog of “on demand” material that will provide value to your audience for years to come.  

  • Invest in webinars & interviews for detailed product offerings and applications. 

With Trade Shows Shut Down, Advanced Instruments launches new Digital Webinars


“When we learned trade shows were getting cancelled, we proactively looked for virtual opportunities to showcase the great content and product innovations Advanced Instruments had already developed. To that end, webinars have made a lot of sense…we are producing some cheaply and efficiently in-house, and we are also working with life science publishers in order to tap into the benefit of their large scale audience reach.  

I can’t think of a better way right now to easily commandeer 45 minutes of someone’s attention if we have a product solution that can solve their problem. My advice to someone who wants to produce a webinar is to think like a consumer…and if you can speak to a problem AND offer them clear ways on how your company can solve it, you are more than halfway there. 

What’s more, I am a fervent believer in making sure content works as efficiently as possible…it cannot be a singular event. After a webinar livestream, the content will be made available on-demand on our website and incorporated into content nurture campaigns for new contacts and leads.”

Cara Alderucci, Sr. Manager, Marketing & Digital Strategy at Advanced Instruments


  • Supplement your scientific material with animated 3D graphics to drive engagement and increase awareness. Scientific accuracy and integrity are essential to animated scientific graphics, this is why we trust Alpha Tauri 3D as our animation partner. 

Celularity is a recent project Supreme completed in collaboration with Alpha Tauri 3D

“Trust is the foundation for every successful business relationship. Technical expertise plays a significant part in credibility; however, trust is built in a different way. Trust is earned by adhering to the highest moral standards and displaying integrity, sincerity, and kindness in your everyday business activities.”

Marcin Klapczynski
Founder & Scientific Creative Director at Alpha Tauri 3D Graphics, LLC

  • Find content creation joint partnerships to expand your reach and reduce your customer acquisition cost. 

Labiotech & Merck Form Content Creation Joint Partnership 

Labiotech just launched an ebook in partnership with Merck: Guidelines For Early-stage Biotechs Managing Risks During Biological Drug Development. 

It offers an interesting guide for biotechs that outlines the biologics development process of:

  • Strategy
  • Upstream Process Development
  • Manufacturing
  • IND Filing & Regulatory Compliance

The ebook campaign led with a short and well-written email that highlighted the benefits and partnership (they get bonus points for using a first person CTA “I want the ebook!” First person CTAs can increase CTR up to 90%).

Content Joint Partnership Example Between Labiotech & Merck

Get creative and consider what non-competitive, but complementary companies you could partner with to create joint partnership content. Get welcomed in through the side door while your competitors are locked out, banging on the front door.  

5. Double down on search while your competitors are standing still

What: Double down on search and gain a competitive advantage now while competitors are scrabbling to regain traffic in 6-12 months. 

Why: According to a Cloudflare report, there are more people online right now. Many countries are seeing a 30-50% surge in total monthly internet usage.

How: Focus on building quality content. Read more below:

Focusing on quality content optimized for search will reap rewards for years to come. 

Any budget invested now, during recession, will result in a much larger return on investment in the months and years following the recession. 

This is particularly true when your competitors have stalled on search content and put their own marketing efforts on pause. Even a slight head start now can lead to an impenetrable moat of industry specific keywords and backlinks.

“Even a handful of evergreen posts can deliver consistent traffic for several years. A site with 20, 30 or 50 evergreen resources will outpace a site with thousands of non-evergreen articles.”

Jimmy Daly – 5 Content Marketing Power Laws

Examples of high ranking life science content: 

This article ranks well for a number of high value keywords: 

  • 1,823 words, 232 keywords, 1,600 monthly organic visitors. 
  • One article produces $6k+ of free non-branded traffic month after month (Approx $80k/yr of value). 
  • You could write 232 articles or write one anchor piece that targets 200+ keywords and the anchor piece will win every time.  

The resource ranks for 419 keywords and drives 2,300 visitors a month, traffic that would cost $3,100 every month if it were bought with ads. This resource features a number of UX, CRO, and SEO best practices: 

If you’re interested in discovering your competitive keyword opportunities contact us to learn about how our SEO service scales organic traffic for the top life science leaders.

6. Audit your UX and relaunch your website

What: Use a UX checklist to audit your website. Based on your findings, determine if you need to make some quick adjustments or relaunch your website. 

Why: On average, every dollar invested in UX brings $100 in return according to Forrester’s research. 

How: Use a UX Audit Heuristic

Heuristic is a fancy word for a simple process: go through a checklist and determine whether your website meets the requirements. If it does, excellent. If not, you have an action plan for issues to fix. 

Heuristic evaluations are amazing tools for getting your store to baseline levels in the areas of usability, familiarity, and functionality rather than for thinking through your branding and positioning.

Below is our UX Audit heuristic checklist for life science lead generation and eCommerce.

Start with a UX checklist. Our Website UX Audit service uses one of two baseline checklists depending on the type of website. 

From Baymard Institutes UX guidelines for B2B companies. 

It’s also common for companies to have a hybrid site that sells directly through eCommerce and  services. If the goal of your website is to make direct sales and generate leads, then look at both UX audit checklists.  

After you’ve completed the audit, either implement the fixes on your existing site or use the list to build an action plan into an RFP. However, before seeking a web development partner, read #7 – How to invest in your business safely.

Covaris to launch new UX Optimized Website by Supreme Optimization

7. How to invest in your business safely

What: Invest in your business growth safely through a recession

Why: Standing still is not an option. Invest in your business and de-risk your decision making.

How: Follow these tips:

Ask colleagues 

Remember, when it comes to finding design and marketing talent, you’re not alone. Others have been in your shoes. Reach out to colleagues and ask for recommendations if you’re nervous about making a new expense.   

Find case studies and testimonials

The reality of the digital marketing space is that there are no official credentials needed to work on a website or produce a marketing campaign. This has serious benefits and risks that need to be thoroughly vetted. When looking for a digital marketing partner, always seek case studies and testimonials of work and results. Don’t hesitate to ask for references you can speak to directly. Here are some examples of Supreme’s Life Science Portfolio. 

Talk to the agency   

Make sure you have a natural rapport with the team you’ll be working with. Poor communication is the #1 risk when working with any agency or vendor. Make sure you keep an open line of communication with the seller throughout the buying process. Clarify your concerns. See how they address them. You may find that some worries are magnified or common. 

Seek leaner options with partial or full remote teams

Supreme has been remote since our first day of business. We all work online and thrive in a digital environment so our workflow has been relatively uninterrupted. Instead of large operations with high overhead tied to physical workspace, consider leaner operations that specialize in your industry. 

Seek industry experience – Lower-priced options may be higher risk 

Risk is the most important factor you need to assess, not price. If someone is less likely to recoup your investment or cause costly re-work, lower priced options may be significantly more expensive. Seek options with experience related to your specific industry. 

Supreme is the first digital marketing agency exclusively for life science companies. Specifically, our clients specialize in the following areas: 

Basic Science

  • Molecular biology
  • In vivo & preclinical research 
  • Sequencing 
  • Bioinformatics 
  • Human cells & biospecimens
  • Genome editing 
  • Lab equipment

Translational Science

  • Biotech development
  • Clinical research organizations
  • CDMO & CMO
  • Bioprocessing equipment

Clinical

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Clinical-stage therapeutics
  • Diagnostics & medical devices

What business activities reduce risk?

  • Search Engine Optimization reduces risk by increasing your search engine visibility for qualified buyers who are already looking for products and services – without increasing acquisition costs.   
  • Development reduces risk by creating unique functionality that can differentiate your brand from competitors.
  • Conversion rate optimization reduces risk by lowering customer acquisition costs and increasing total revenue at the same time. The average return on investment (ROI) from CRO tools is 223%.
  • Email marketing consulting reduces risk by bypassing acquisition costs entirely and extending the lifetime value of people who already have bought from you or are leaning towards your offer.  

These are just some options that reliably reduce risk when investing in your business. Now is the time to audit your marketing channels and explore options that will move the needle for your business. 

How Supreme Can Help

The bottom line is that investment decisions made today on optimizing digital performance will have a lasting impact on your organization’s performance for years to come. 

If you’re interested in reducing risk in your business and finding growth opportunities to increase revenue while decreasing acquisition cost, contact us today for a free consultation. We’re here to support you! 

Leigh Wasson

Leigh Wasson

As Chief Marketing Officer at Supreme Optimization, Leigh helps life sciences companies transform their businesses to sell more, more often, to more people. Ask Leigh about E-Commerce UX, conversation-rate optimization, UX Auditing, user testing, customer-journey mapping, wireframing, Facebook Ads, and A/B Ad testing. You can find Leigh Wasson on LinkedIn.

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