November 21st, 2018

Struggling to Convert New Patients? 5 Steps to Facebook Ad Success for Clinical Trials

facebook ad guide

Many clinical trials fail to convert patients using Facebook Ads. From ad design to audience targeting, here’s how to drive higher patient recruitment rates in five simple steps.

Facebook advertising can be a powerful patient recruitment tool for clinical trials. However, many CROs and sponsors struggle with the platform, getting stuck on common – yet fixable – roadblocks.

Even if your ads are generating the desired number of clicks and shares, you may still have difficulty getting patients in the door. I’ve put together five simple tips to help pinpoint your missteps and take a more effective approach. By following these guidelines, you can optimize your Facebook strategy and enhance patient recruitment.

1. Check that your objective matches your goal.

The first step is simple, but it still trips up many people. In Facebook Ads Manager, you can choose from several options for your campaign goal, which plays a significant role in determining the audience for your ads. The choice you select here matters because Facebook will target users who are most likely to take the action you pick.

This means that if you chose “Video Views” as the objective for your ad, it will be shown to users who are likely to watch a video in their news feed, instead of people who are likely to click a website link. By not choosing “Traffic” as an objective, you may be inadvertently sabotaging your ad’s performance, especially when the objective is to get potential patients to fill out a form. Instead, confirm that the conversion you’re hoping to achieve directly matches with the campaign goal you select.

2. Make sure your landing page aligns with your ad.

In many cases, the role of a Facebook Ad is to direct users to a landing page. This landing page is then faced with the task of converting patients. Whether the call-to-action (CTA) is to capture user information or encourage patients to directly contact researchers, the landing page must be engaging enough to keep site visitors moving through the funnel.

If you use software like Leadpages to create your landing pages, you can easily check your conversion rate. If it’s low (especially if your ad engagement is high), you may need to revamp your copy and design. Be sure to include high-resolution images or videos, along with interactive content that encourages patients to engage. It’s also important to have a clear and visible CTA so that patients are prompted to take the next step. Finally, the landing page should match the tone and message of its corresponding ad campaign in order to maintain consistency for patients.

3. Fine-tune audience targeting.

Facebook Ads allow you to create custom audiences (if you already have the contact information for them) or target broader audiences using specific parameters. When it comes to targeting, clinical trials can use basic filters like location, age, and gender, as well as user behavior. To hone in on the right audience, it’s important to target people who are interested in relevant topics or who belong to support groups for specific medical conditions.

CROs and sponsors can take targeting a step further by using granular targeting options like interest intersections. For example, you could target patients who are interested in both Alzheimer’s support and science news, as they might be more likely to click on your ads. You can also optimize your ad performance by testing campaigns on different audiences, and then running the ad long-term on the audience that is most receptive.

4. Pay attention to your relevance score.

Facebook’s Relevance Score can be compared to Google Ads’ Quality Score, but instead of “grading” your ad, it determines how relevant it is to its target audience. This matters because ads with higher Relevance Scores net an average of four times more clicks than those with low scores. To find your Relevance Score, navigate to your ad campaign, then select a particular Ad Set. A score of 1 to 10 should be in the lower right hand corner of the screen, with 10 being the best possible score.   

To improve your Relevance Score, it’s important to design ads with your patients’ interests and pain points in mind. You should also make sure to optimize message match, which means using the same keywords in your ads and on your landing page. Being mindful of this strategy is one simple way to improve your score and ultimately lower your ad’s cost-per-click.

5. Personalize your copy and design

It goes without saying that ad copy and design are an essential part of driving patient conversions. One way to build more effective ads is to focus on your headlines, which should convey your message in as few words as possible. In other words, headlines should be short, with one study reporting the average length of Facebook headlines at just five words.

In addition to a great headline, a compelling image also serves to draw in potential patients. In fact, Facebook prefers content that is visual, and images can help increase user engagement by 94%. The images and videos you choose should also have a particular relevance to your target audience. For example, a chronic back pain study might show someone applying an ice pack to their lower back, or depict an active and healthy person free of aches and pains. Either strategy is a way to draw in viewers using their pain points or aspirations.

If you haven’t found success with Facebook Ads, don’t give up just yet. By following these five simple tips, clinical trials can reach the audiences most likely to respond to their content, increase ad conversions, and bring more patients directly to their door.