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The ROI of Life Science Portals and Directories

February 6, 2013

An SAMPS member recently asked my opinion about listing products and services in portals and directories designed specifically for scientists and others who purchase life science products and services. For the sake of this article, directories and portals are any online or print location where suppliers list their products and services.

I needed more context, so I asked a few more questions, including:

  • Do you have the resources to manage the process?
  • Is your company currently listed in some directories and portals?
  • Are you willing to pay for listings?
  • Is your objective to create awareness, generate contacts, generate leads, or generate measurable ROI?
  • Do you require print or online directories?

This led to a spirited discussion and the realization that there wasn’t a lot of information about this topic in the public domain, so I did some digging and came up with some points to consider before investing budget dollars on portals and directories.

Define your objectives
These sites provide a variety of information, such as lists of suppliers of products or services, application notes, general techniques and specific protocols. Some sites even provide pricing information. Your first task is to determine what you want the site to accomplish, that is, what key performance indicators will you measure 6 months from now when you discuss the site’s analytic performance data with your boss?

Focus on sites with offerings relevant to yours
No sense buying space on a site with unrelated traffic.

Some sites primarily list products, others list services, and some list both. And not all categories will get you likeminded purchasers. Will a population searching for antibodies care about the genomic or proteomic products that you want to advertise? Will a cell-culture audience pay attention to your filtration and chromatography banner ads?

The same issues hold for service providers. How many eyes will pay attention to a promotion for contract manufacturing on a site that focuses on clinical trial or discovery services, central laboratory services, bioanalytical services, clinical trial supplies, or formulation development.

There isn’t a yes or no answer, but these are the types of questions to consider when you’re evaluating portal and directory sites.

Some sites syndicate your content to provide leads
Some registration-based online directories like DrugDevCompare, Pharmaceutical Online, and FierceMarketplace Pharmatech will syndicate your content, and because these sites require their audiences to login (as well as utilize cookies) to see certain content, you can ultimately receive users’ contact information.

Once the lead has been generated, fire up your CRM program. Send the prospect an email, but remember to include opt-out information and other items required to avoid CAN-SPAM violations, or have your lead development or sales team contact them.

Friendly reminders: Content is king, so before committing to this kind of portal, make sure you have your content strategy andcontent marketing plan well in hand. Also, try to estimate the number of potential customers who would visit the site in order to negotiate some guarantees around lead generation.

Marketplaces or Exchanges
Remember the early dot-com days and companies like ChemDex and SciQuest? Both companies remain, albeit in different forms, and others have arrived to provide marketplaces, matchmaking services or exchanges. Or in other words, places to connect buyers and sellers. For instance AssayDepot helps researchers obtain development services, while Biocompare and 1DegreeBioenable researchers to share product reviews in addition to purchasing products. Biocompare also provides targeted editorial space to syndicate your content to generate leads and 1DegreeBio provides protocols for researchers.

Pros and cons.
Are these sites right for you? As usual, the answer is maybe. Smaller companies might benefit form the leads generated. If you’re a large player, perhaps focused on supply agreements, you might not find much value. Then again, if you’re a large organization that offers several categories of products and services, this portal type might make sense.

How much will this cost you?
Good news. Almost everything is negotiable.

Pricing Models. Pricing models vary from portal to portal, but most offer a free company listing and charge for you to list your products, services, or other content. One seemingly unique offer used to come from BioAssay Link, which had offered a 50% rebate if your company doesn’t win a contract within one year.  It's worth asking any of the portals for some assurances.

Take-away: Most of these companies want to find a way to work with you to meet your business needs. Go in with an open mind and see what you can work out.

Association Buyer’s Guides. Associations such as AAPS and ASM also have online buyers guides. Only a minority of associatin or other buyer's guides or directories remain available in print, but if print is part of your advertising strategy, this option is worth exploring.

Take-away: You might be able to wrap a buyer’s guide listing into your event sponsorship.

Evaluate a portal company’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) claims
Some of the online portals and directories offer SEO services and make claims about their ability to help you with your search results. From a general perspective, having more of your content out there, even in a syndicated manner, will  improve your chances of being found. Some portals also offer to manage search engine advertising, but generally drive traffic to your content on their web site, as opposed to your own web site. For most life science suppliers, the biggest SEO challenge is that the terms, for which they wish to optimize for, simply do exist on their web sites at all.

Take-away: Be sure to fully evaluate a portal company’s SEO claims.

Audit your portal collection lately?
Your company might already be listed in several directories and portals, but is your information current? The onus is on us to keep our information accurate, so keep a list of all the online properties that house your offerings and update them regularly. This post-launch governance is a critical but often-ignored element of content strategy. Some directory and portal companies, especially magazine publishers, will send you an annual request to update your listing.

So, worth it or not?
What’s been my experience? My employers, both large and small corporations, obtained positive ROI using portals and directories, but it’s crucial to keep product information current. Whether you use full-time staff or temporary help, assign someone the task of keeping your information accurate and up to date.

How should you spend your marketing budget?
In order to help you with your marketing strategy and tactics, I have included a list of 27 portals and directories below. It is by no means an exhaustive list. Many of the directories do not publish the number of companies and products listed, or they make it challenging to find. The data below is directional at best and I make no claim as to it's accuracy. It is based on either published data or a series of searches designed to establish the number of suppliers.

Life Science Portals and Directories

Name Year Founded Category # of suppliers* Free Listing Paid Listing / year Other
1DegreeBio ? Products and services -  Research 400 Yes $480 - $1,200 800,000 products listed. Includes reviews
AAPS Buyer’s Guide N/A Products and Services - Nonclinical and Manufacturing 3,800 X $500 to $5,000 Associated with AAPS.org and powered by Multiview
AssayDepot.com 2008 Services - Nonclinical 8,000 X $720 - $5,760 Service locator service. Private and public exchanges.
BioAssay Link 2006 Services - Nonclinical 2,000 X $500 - $1,000 Used to offer a rebate if you do not receive a contract in one year.
Biocompare N/A Products - Research 4,840 ? Contact for pricing Targeted editorial with lead generation, Side by side comparisons. Sister companies include DrugDevCompare, American Laboratory, etc.
Biohoo 2005 Products and Services 10,000 X Up to $1,300 Includes many Pharma, Biotech, and MD&D companies
BioPharma Market 2009 Services – Nonclinical & Clinical 332 X Contact for pricing UK focus
BioResearchOnline N/A Products and Services – Research 3,550 X Contact for pricing Targeted editorial with lead generation. Sister companies include PharmaceuticalOnline, ClinicalLeaderLine, DrugDiscoveryOnline and Life Science Leader Magazine
BioSciRegister 1998 Products and Services - Non clinical 3,750 X Contact Includes 27,500 products.  Claims strong search prominence
ClinicalLeaderOnline 2011 Products and Services -  Clinical Development N/A X Contact for pricing Targeted editorial with lead generation. Sister companies include BioResarchOnline, PharmacueticalOnline, DrugDiscoveryOnline and Life Science Leader Magazine
CMOCRO.com /Pharmaloco.com N/A Services– Nonclinical, Clinical, & manufacturing 5,000 X Contact for pricing 16 categories of services, w/ many subcategories
ContractLaboratory.com 2004 Services - Nonclinical 20,000 X $2,950 Goes beyond drug development
ContractPharma N/A Services - Nonclinical 968 X Contact Online and Print
DrugDevCompare N/A Products and Services – Nonclinical, Clinical, & manufacturing N/A ? Contact for pricing Targeted editorial with lead generation, Side by side comparisons Sister companies include Biocompare, American Pharmaceutical Review, Pharmaceutical Outsourcing, etc.
DrugDiscoveryOnline N/A Products and Services -  Discovery 2,340 ? Targeted editorial with lead generation. Sister companies include BioResarchOnline, PharmacueticalOnline, ClinicalLeaderOnline, and Life Science Leader Magazine
FindPharma N/A Products and Services – Discovery thru Manufacturing 5,185 X Contact Associated with BioPharm, Pharmaceutical Tehnology, and Applied Clinical Trials. Hundreds of categories.
goBalto – Clinical Research Organizations 2009 Services – Clinical 1,135 ? Contact for pricing
goBalto – Clinical Sites 2009 Services - Sites 16,000 X Contact for pricing Huge list of investigative sites
goBalto – Manufacturing 2009 Services  - Manufacturing 1,449 X Contact for pricing
goBalto – Preclinical 2009 Services – Nonclincial 1,172 X Contact for pricing
Lab Animals Buyer’s Guide N/A Products - Lab Animals 500 ? Contact for pricing Associated with Lab Animal Magazine
LabCompare N/A Products - Lab Equipment N/A ? Contact for pricing Targeted editorial with lead generation, Side by side comparisons. Sister companies include Biocompare, American Laboratory, etc.
Lab Connexion  2013 Services - Research - Manufacturing 730 X Contact forPricing
LifeSciSoft N/A Products – Software N/A X Free
Linscott's Directory of Biological and Immunological Reagents 1980 Products – Research N/A ? Contact for pricing Use our search engine to find antibody suppliers for thousands of specific antibodies. Plus locate sources for ELISA assay kits, cytokines, enzymes, recombinant proteins, siRNAs, tissues, organs, custom antibody services and more
Microbiology Buyer’s guide N/A Products and Services - Microbiology 3,600 x $500 - $5,000 Associated with ASM.org and powered by multiview
PharmaceuticalOnline N/A Products and Services -  Manufacturing 4,600 X Contact for pricing Targeted editorial with lead generation. Sister companies include BioResarchOnline, ClinicalLeaderLine, DrugDiscoveryOnline and Life Science Leader Magazine
FierceMarketplace N/A Products and Services – Discovery thru Manufacturing 8,224 x Contact for pricing Claims to have 1,000,000+ products
Select Science 1998 Products – Research 941 X Contact for pricing Product info, reviews, application notes, etc.

*# of suppliers as of October 25, 2012

**Last supplier added on June 1, 2014

SAMPS, Sales And Marketing Professionals in Scientific research, is the first and only organization dedicated to sales and marketing professionals within the life sciences.

The association’s goal is to serve its members who work in commercial roles for life science products and services companies and associated businesses, globally.
 
SAMPS was previously named ACP-LS. We feel that SAMPS more clearly describes the membership, and will form a better foundation from which to expand this membership globally. 
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