Voltaren: How Voltaren Built Its First-Ever Arthritis-Friendly Website and Won the U.S. Market


Campaign Summary

Entering the U.S. market for the first time ever, Voltaren launched an innovative arthritis-friendly, mobile-first website experience, which was tested and validated by feedback from real arthritis patients. Moreover, it was built with unique arthritis-friendly features and offered holistic support. The effort allowed the brand to become No. 1 in the external analgesics category within three weeks of launch.



Living with arthritis can be a pain, literally. Of the 50 million adults in the U.S. managing this condition, many have spent considerable time searching for any and every kind of treatment out there. That's where Voltaren's Arthritis Pain Gel came in. This drug is the first ever full prescription strength, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory gel geared toward arthritis pain relief. Although the medicine is recognized as the No. 1 global topical pain reliever, Voltaren's Arthritis Pain Gel was only available in the U.S. by prescription. In May of 2020, that changed when the drug was approved for over-the-counter sale. This development provided greater access to a well-tolerated and alternative treatment for people to treat their arthritis pain.

The challenge? Voltaren had limited awareness in the U.S. and was entering into a highly-competitive category with established brands such as Tylenol, Aleve, Icy Hot, and BioFreeze owning the space. To reach a high household penetration goal, the brand needed a holistic and differentiated digital strategy that understood the needs of arthritis sufferers.

To overcome this challenge, Voltaren built its first U.S. website — VoltarenGel.com. The website aimed to be a total support system for arthritis patients, providing both emotional and functional support. This holistic approach was made possible through consumer-centric innovation and content, product education, and clear paths to purchase.

Target Audience:

The website aimed to reach osteoarthritis sufferers older than 35, who were 45 percent men and 55 percent women. Attitudinally, the target audience was positive and empowered — they were open to new solutions to incorporate into their daily regimen and aimed to be independent and in control. Their mantra was consistently "I have osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis doesn't have me."

Using insights and data from real people, Voltaren focused its content on the effects of arthritis during three key life moments — work, social, and family life — and how the brand could holistically support its audience through each of them.

Creative Strategy:

Voltaren set out to build a world-class website laddering up to a holistic, consumer-first strategy.

Consumer-centric innovation and content efforts included:

  • Accounting for the possibility that users might have arthritis in their hands, making it difficult to navigate a website. Voltaren implemented accessibility features such as voice search, voice-enabled chatbots, large tap targets, scalable font sizes, and the ability to view hands-free content via videos and head gesture scroll.
  • Developing a search-optimized educational content portal that promoted and supported overall health for arthritis patients, going beyond just product information. This content laddered up to consumer research and enabled users to manage arthritis during key life moments.
  • Through multiple touchpoints on the site, Voltaren captured first-party data from users that would ultimately help the brand understand and talk to consumers in a more personalized way.

Additionally, to propel product education and create clear paths to purchase, the brand:

  • Designed the site to offer comprehensive product education, including clear product benefits, testimonials, and reviews to prove efficacy and explain proper usage to ensure an optimal product experience.
  • Included samples and coupon offers on the website, as well as universal checkout capabilities via the third-party partner Shoppable, enabling a direct-to-consumer experience.


VoltarenGel.com was a revolutionary launch for the category. The arthritis-friendly website features were the first of their kind. Moreover, the volume of lifestyle content, ease of use, and thoughtful features and integrations to assist users in their arthritis pain relief journey set the site apart from the competition.


Overall Campaign Execution:

Before launch, Voltaren partnered with The Arthritis Foundation and real arthritis patients to do prototype testing to see if the site's design actually met arthritis sufferers' needs. As a result of testing, key elements of the website were altered.

Two phases of the website were developed, one for pre-launch and one for the full launch. Given this was a new brand launch, it was critical that awareness and anticipation were generated around product availability before Voltaren was available on shelves.

Across both phases, first-party data was collected in a controlled and secure environment and was leveraged to personalize, segment, and optimize content for users. This enabled the brand to drive a thoughtful e-CRM program that offered ongoing support and maintained consideration for Voltaren between purchase cycles. Moreover, these first-party data efforts provided the ability to funnel data to Amazon for look-alike retargeting efforts.

Mobile Execution:

Given 66 percent of Voltaren's global share of search was mobile prior to site design and launch, it was imperative that the website was designed as a mobile-first experience. All templates and pages were created mobile-first, only looking at desktop second. The brand integrated mobile-first capabilities, such as voice search and a voice-enabled chatbot, and ensured that the mobile page load, length, and design were optimized. Key pages of the site were also built as Accelerated Mobile Pages to ensure those pages of the site would show up in mobile-first search engines.

This proved to be the right choice, as 79 percent of the traffic to the website has been mobile as of June 30, 2021.

Additionally, for prototype testing, designs were created and tested on mobile devices. This approach ensured feedback on how well the site and its mobile-first features, design, and content met the needs of users on their mobile devices.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

In prototype testing with arthritis patients, 99 percent of users found the website easy to use. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, especially with regard to accessibility modifications. In practice, the arthritis-friendly features and content proved beneficial too. As of June 30, 2021, one-in-five users were leveraging voice capabilities when engaging with the chatbot.

Users also used the site to learn more about the product and condition. During the first six months of full-launch in 2020, Voltaren had more than 61,000 users opt-into its e-CRM program, which was five times better than the target goal. The conversion rate during that time was 15 percent, which exceeded the top end of the conversions goal (10.19 percent). The conversion rate has remained steady at 16 percent from full-launch 2020 through June 2021.

It's clear users are motivated to ultimately purchase Voltaren to help manage their arthritis pain. Pre-order week one was noted by Shoppable to have garnered the highest one-week total sales of any brand they had integrated with. Pre-order drove strong awareness and conversion into the brand with Voltaren achieving the No. 1 slot in the external analgesics category within three weeks of launch and the No. 4 slot in the total pain category within four weeks of launch. Voltaren also became the No. 1 doctor recommended topical pain relief brand.

Defying category norms, the site offered the market a whole new way to approach arthritis pain relief. The Arthritis Foundation even recognized VoltarenGel.com as the first arthritis-friendly website and provided accreditation on the site.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Innovation | Awards: NA Gold Winner