June 27th, 2018

Digital Advertising Generates High-Quality Patient Leads for Clinical Trial Recruitment


Patients are going online to search for treatment options – here’s how clinical trials can use digital marketing to reach them.

Many investigator sites are hesitant to use digital recruitment methods because they aren’t sure if the patients they bring in will meet clinical trial criteria. While the large volume of leads generated through online marketing may include some unqualified prospects, the right strategy can make digital advertising a valuable resource for patient recruitment.

Through tools like Facebook advertising and Google AdWords, clinical trials can bypass irrelevant audiences to reach patients who are actively looking for treatment. Here’s how sponsors and CROs can take advantage of digital marketing opportunities to connect with a diverse group of potential patients and boost trial enrollment.

Opportunities in Digital Marketing

Digital marketing helps clinical trials efficiently reach patients who can benefit most from treatment. It also encourages the recruitment of a diverse group of participants who are more likely to form a representative research sample.

Advertising on social media platforms like Facebook allows studies to target users based on demographics, such as location and age. As of March 2018, Facebook’s audience is made up of 1.45 billion daily active users and 2.20 billion monthly active users. It also has a dynamic community of people who discuss their medical conditions and belong to online support groups. Sponsors and CROs can identify these users through their Facebook activity and target them for appropriate clinical trials.

Recruiters can also use paid search tools like Google AdWords to target potential patients who are actively seeking treatment. Their online searches indicate that they are already at the bottom of the funnel, and thus more likely to enroll in a trial. Studies show that 73% of consumers use search engines to narrow down their treatment options, and clinical trials have the opportunity to connect with these users by leveraging the right keywords.

To further narrow down a pool of potential patients, trials may want to localize their advertising. Trials can specify that an ad campaign show only in a particular geographic area where there is a nearby investigator site. Since 75% of people who find local information in search results are more likely to visit the physical business, highlighting a particular trial site is one of the most effective ways to attract eligible patients.

Boosting Patient Enrollment

Once a user clicks on a relevant ad, their subsequent experience will likely determine whether or not they enroll in a study. An important aspect of this experience is the landing page, which should align with the content that originally captured the visitor’s interest. An effective landing page for a clinical trial contains a user-friendly and mobile-optimized rundown of a particular condition or treatment plan. This individualized content speaks to patients’ concerns and encourages them to continue with the enrollment process.

To help ensure that patients who clicked on the ad are eligible for a particular study, visitors may be prompted to complete an online questionnaire. This will help screen interested users for important inclusion and exclusion criteria and save trials the time and expense of weeding through a poll of unqualified candidates.

Through careful and strategic digital marketing, clinical trials can recruit a diverse group of qualified patients. MD Connect has the resources to meet the unique needs of local sites, CROs, and sponsors, through social media, paid search, and region-specific advertising. By leveraging our broad range of digital tools, trials can reach wider audiences and increase patient enrollment without breaking the bank.