January 3rd, 2018

New Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment Best Practices for 2018


Struggling with patient recruitment and retention? Ring in the new year with these best practices for clinical trial marketing.

As we ring in the new year, it’s time for clinical trials to reassess their recruitment practices. Given that 75% of trials fail to meet their recruitment targets, it’s clear that the process needs an overhaul.

Though the ways in which patients research health conditions and interact with providers have become increasingly digital, clinical trials remain overly focused on traditional recruitment channels – and the diminishing returns largely speak for themselves. When it comes to digital ads and mobile marketing, sponsors and CROs must follow these best practices in order to reduce costs and meet deadlines in 2018.

Search Advertising

In the coming year, Google will remain patients go-to resource for gathering medical information online. Empowered patients are taking their health into their own hands, researching their symptoms, treatment options, and providers on their own. In short, the prospective trial participants are making their own decisions – clinical trials simply need to provide them with the information they need at the moment they need it. That’s where search engine advertising comes in.

By utilizing Google AdWords to craft keyword-driven campaigns, sponsors, CROs, and investigator sites can reach a more targeted audience in a more cost effective manner than traditional recruitment channels like TV, radio, and print media allow for. Keep in mind that most patients today remain unaware that clinical trials are a viable treatment option, so keywords should relate to the specific condition and treatment, rather than clinical trials themselves.

Mobile Optimization

Successful recruitment in 2018 will largely hinge on effective mobile optimization. The average American spends five hours per day consuming content on mobile devices, and 62% of users report searching for medical information on smartphones or tablets. As healthcare becomes increasingly mobile, sponsors and CROs will need to adopt new tactics to stay ahead of the curve.

There are several prongs to mobile optimization. Click-to-call (CTC) advertising connects would-be patients directly with sponsors or CROs, removing logistical barriers to enrollment. Pay-per-click (PPC) mobile ads on social platforms can help trials reach an increasingly specific set of users through geolocation and other impactful features. Meanwhile, building Accelerated Mobile Pages (or AMPs) for the most important pages of your site can get patients where they need to go, faster.

Social Media Advertising

When it comes to reaching potential patients, there’s no better channel than social media. Facebook’s user base has reached more than two billion users, in some cases representing 100% of a given population for certain chronic or rare conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, patients are becoming increasingly comfortable using Facebook to talk about their health conditions or meet people in similar circumstances.

Clinical trials can use Facebook’s unprecedented targeting capabilities to place ads in front of niche audiences. Whether they want to target based on age, race, gender, location, or even likes and dislikes, trials can ensure that their ads are only being shown to the right audiences at the right time. These ads are remarkably effective, too; Facebook’s ad response rate for clinical trials can be four to five times higher than banner ads on other platforms.

The right digital marketing strategy can greatly improve trial recruitment and retention in 2018. By following these guidelines, sponsors and CROs can ensure that they’re making their marketing spend as effective as possible.