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Posted by Heather Cumens on January 10, 2024
patient and doctor discussing clinical trial recruitment ads

Clinical trial recruitment and marketing is an important part of the overall marketing plan for many of our pharmaceutical and biotech partners here at emagine.  Clinical trial recruitment ads can focus on one of two main areas: healthcare providers or patients.  While marketing to healthcare providers, who then help sign up patients, is an important element of these advertising campaigns, we are going to focus on how to effectively recruit patients through the use of paid media ads and some of the key elements of successful clinical trial ads.

One of the main benefits of this methodology is that companies can cut out some of the false leads that are often a by-product of recruitment through HCPs.  Websites can convey relevant criteria for participation in the clinical trial, use questionnaires to screen patients (no patient data can be collected though), and then route patients who potentially qualify directly to the third party sign up for the clinical trial.  Depending on the complexity of the therapeutic area, this may result in faster recruitment periods. 

Test out different ad formats for Clinical Trial Advertising

Testing different ad formats is crucial in optimizing clinical trial advertising strategies and maximizing study participation. Here are effective ways to experiment with various formats, ensuring successful recruitment of patients through clinical trial marketing and advertising efforts.

A/B Testing

A/B testing involves creating two or more versions of an ad, each with a slight variation, such as different images, ad copy, or call-to-action buttons. By running these variations simultaneously and analyzing their performance metrics, researchers can identify which format resonates best with the target audience. This method is essential for refining advertising content and increasing clinical trial recruitment efficiency.

Visual Content Testing

Visual content plays a significant role in advertising effectiveness. Researchers can test different types of visual elements, such as images, videos, infographics, and animations. Visual content that humanizes the research process, showing real patients and medical professionals, often resonates well with the audience. By analyzing engagement metrics like click-through rates and conversion rates, researchers can determine the impact of different visual formats on recruitment efforts.

Interactive Ad Formats

Interactive ad formats, such as quizzes, surveys, and interactive videos, provide an engaging way for potential participants to learn about the study. These formats encourage active participation and can capture valuable data about user preferences and interests. By integrating interactive elements into ads, researchers can enhance user engagement, leading to more informed and willing study participation.

Social Media Ad Campaigns

Social media platforms offer diverse ad formats, including image and video ads, carousels, and interactive polls. Researchers can run targeted ad campaigns on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, experimenting with different formats to gauge audience response. Social media analytics provide insights into engagement levels, allowing researchers to adjust their strategies based on user interactions.

Key Elements of Successful Clinical Trial Advertisements

Crafting Attention-Grabbing Headlines and Ad Copy for Recruitment to Clinical Trials

Crafting attention-grabbing headlines and ad copy for clinical trial recruitment is crucial to capturing the interest of potential participants. Start by understanding the unique selling points of the clinical trial, such as innovative treatments, potential benefits, or contributions to scientific advancements. Incorporate these points into concise, compelling headlines that evoke curiosity and urgency. Digital marketing campaigns should use clear language that communicates the trial’s purpose and its potential impact on participants’ lives.

When it comes to ad copy, focus on empathy and relatability. Address the target audience’s concerns, emphasizing the opportunity to make a difference and receive cutting-edge treatments. Highlight any unique aspects of the trial, such as minimal side effects or personalized care. Incorporate keywords related to the specific clinical trial, ensuring the language is accessible and avoids jargon. Use testimonials or success stories if available, as they add authenticity and build trust.

Additionally, create a sense of urgency by emphasizing limited slots or application deadlines. Employ persuasive language that encourages immediate action, such as “Don’t miss this opportunity to change lives” or “Join now for a chance at a healthier tomorrow.” A/B testing different headlines and ad copies can help identify the most effective messaging. Ultimately, attention-grabbing headlines and ad copy should resonate emotionally, provide clear information, and inspire trust, encouraging potential participants to take the next step in their healthcare journey.

Keywords Specific for Clinical Trials and Studies

In clinical trial PPC campaigns, strategic use of keywords is paramount. Begin by conducting thorough research to identify highly specific terms related to the clinical trial, such as the drug name, condition, trial phase, and unique treatment methods. Emphasize long-tail keywords and precise medical terminology specific to the trial to target an audience genuinely interested in participating, while filtering out general information seekers about the therapeutic area.

Avoid broad terms like “cancer treatment” or “heart disease,” which can attract irrelevant traffic. Instead, digital marketing for clinical trials should focus on detailed terms like “phase 3 melanoma clinical trial with targeted therapy” or “pediatric leukemia immunotherapy study.” Incorporate location-specific keywords if the trial is conducted in specific regions or cities, and use geo-targeting within Google Ads to only show ads within geographic areas that are accessible to the clinical trial site. 

Negative keywords also play a crucial role. These are terms for which you don’t want your ad to appear. For instance, if the clinical trial focuses on a particular drug, use negative keywords like “buy,” “price,” or “online,” to prevent clicks from individuals seeking to purchase the drug rather than participate in the trial.

Additionally, regularly analyze the performance of keywords using tools like Google Ads. Monitor click-through rates, conversion rates, and user engagement. Adjust the keyword strategy based on this data, focusing on the terms that generate the most relevant traffic and conversions. By emphasizing specific clinical trial terminology and diligently managing negative keywords, you can optimize your PPC campaigns to attract genuinely interested participants and enhance the overall efficiency of your clinical trial recruitment efforts.

Factoring for Age and Disease Type in Ads for Clinical Trial Recruitment

When creating clinical trial recruitment ads, tailoring your approach to specific age groups and disease types is crucial for attracting the right participants. Utilize photos of individuals who represent the typical demographic and risk factors for the therapeutic area. For instance, if the trial targets older adults, include images of relatable seniors, showcasing diversity and inclusivity. If a disease tends to target one ethnic group over others, consider using more photos of patients from that ethnicity.  Visual representation enhances relatability, making potential participants feel understood and encouraged to engage with the ad.

Additionally, consider the social platforms commonly used by your target demographic. Older adults might be more active on Facebook and LinkedIn, while younger individuals might prefer Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Are there any social media platforms that are particularly relevant to your demographic?  Time spent researching where your potential patients may hang out in their free time can pay dividends in targeted advertising.  Invest in platform-specific ad campaigns, tailoring your content and visuals to align with the preferences of the specific audience you are trying to reach.

When crafting clinical trial marketing and advertising copy, emphasize the importance of contributing to medical research and highlight the potential benefits of participating, such as access to cutting-edge treatments or personalized care plans. Use language that resonates with the emotions and concerns of the target demographic, addressing factors like quality of life, family, and overall well-being, in addition, to any unique selling points the treatment itself might offer.

Furthermore, focus on the disease type in your messaging. If the trial is related to cancer, emphasize hope, courage, and the opportunity to fight back. For chronic conditions, stress the importance of managing symptoms and improving daily life. Tailoring your message based on disease type showcases empathy and understanding, making the ad more compelling and relevant to potential participants. By combining relatable visuals, platform-specific targeting, and emotionally resonant messaging, you can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your clinical trial recruitment ads.

Leveraging Ad Platforms and Campaign Management to Recruit Patients

Several platforms are instrumental in clinical trial recruitment. Google Ads, due to its vast reach, is a primary choice. With Google Ads, companies can create text, display, and video ads, ensuring visibility across search results and partner websites. Facebook and Instagram Ads cater to a wide demographic, allowing visually engaging campaigns. LinkedIn Ads target professionals, making them suitable for trials involving specific industries or job-related health concerns.

Keep in mind for pharmaceutical clients the FDA doesn’t always allow a product name to be paired with a condition in the same ad copy.  This not only makes advertising difficult but also tends to lower both quality scores and ad ranking.  In general ad copy should match the keywords you are targeting and the content on the landing page that ads are directed to.  Landing page experience can also affect the quality score of ads, so optimizing your site for site speed, ease of navigation, etc. is important when you are running ads. 

Google Ads

Google Ads offers extensive reach, targeting options, and various ad formats, including text, display, and video ads. It leverages Google’s massive search network, ensuring visibility to a broad audience. Its detailed analytics provide insights for effective campaign optimization.  Marketers can not make claims about their product curing health problems, but must use verbiage that is softer in nature and utilizes verbs like “may help”.  To garner potential trial participants, marketers can use keywords that are more generally known, and to target HCPs marketing campaign managers may wish to use more technical terminology.

Competition can drive up costs, and clicks don’t guarantee conversions. Ensuring the right keywords and budget management is vital for success.  Historical click-through rates can affect ads being shown.  

Facebook and Instagram Ads

Facebook and Instagram allow precise demographic targeting, making them effective for reaching specific patient groups. Visual content engages users, and ad formats like carousels and video ads enable creative storytelling. Facebook’s vast user base is advantageous for broad clinical trial recruitment.  In addition, Facebook offers look-alike audiences, so there is the potential to set up criteria including the fact the potential customer has interacted with a clinical trial ad previously or has interacted with societies or organizations associated with the clinical trial’s therapeutic area.

Ad fatigue can be an issue, especially with repetitive content. Maintaining engagement over time requires fresh and compelling creatives.

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn Ads target professionals based on job titles, industries, and skills, making it suitable for trials involving specific job-related health concerns (or for targeting HCPs). It offers a professional environment, ensuring credibility and trust. 

LinkedIn Ads tend to have higher CPCs due to the professional audience. Creatives need to be tailored for a business-oriented context.

Twitter Ads

Twitter Ads can be effective for raising awareness about clinical trials due to their real-time nature. Hashtag targeting allows reaching users interested in specific topics, making it useful for disease-specific trials.

Limited character count can be a challenge for conveying detailed trial information. The platform’s fast-paced nature may require frequent and strategic posting to maintain visibility.

Setting Up Targeted Campaigns for Clinical Research Studies

When setting up targeted campaigns for clinical research studies, thorough preparation is vital. Keyword Research forms the foundation; it involves in-depth analysis to discover relevant keywords associated with the clinical trial. Utilize tools like Google Keyword Planner to unearth high-impact keywords that resonate with potential participants.

Audience Targeting is equally crucial; defining the target demographic based on factors like age, gender, medical history, and geographic location ensures that the campaign reaches the right audience. Considering these variables aligns the trial with individuals who are more likely to participate.

In terms of Ad Formats, a strategic choice based on the platform and audience preferences is essential. Opt for formats like text, images, or videos that convey the trial’s human side. Visual content, especially patient testimonials and research progress updates, can evoke emotional connections, making the audience more inclined to engage. By integrating comprehensive keyword research, precise audience targeting, and impactful ad formats, clinical research studies can create highly effective and engaging campaigns, increasing the chances of attracting the most suitable participants.

Managing Ad Spend and Bidding Strategies

  • Budget Allocation: Set a daily or monthly budget, ensuring it aligns with the trial’s duration and financial resources. Allocate more budget to high-performing campaigns and keywords.
  • Bidding Strategies: Opt for bidding strategies like Manual CPC (Cost-Per-Click) or automated strategies like Target CPA (Cost-Per-Acquisition) based on your campaign goals. Experiment with bidding to find the sweet spot between ad position and cost.
  • Ad Scheduling: Schedule ads to appear during specific days and hours when your target audience is most active online. Adjust bids for peak times to maximize visibility.
  • Monitoring and Optimization: Regularly monitor campaign performance metrics like CTR (Click-Through Rate), conversion rates, and ROI. Analyze which keywords and ads are driving the most conversions and adjust bids accordingly. A/B test different ad variations to refine messaging and visuals for optimal results.
  • Quality Score: Focus on improving Quality Score by creating relevant ad copy and landing pages. Higher Quality Scores lead to better ad placements and lower CPC.

Keep in mind that tracking conversions can be made more difficult by regulations for clinical studies that do not currently allow the tracking of patient data.  So conversions do not typically include Contact Us forms or any other forms that gather patient data.  

By implementing these strategies, companies can effectively utilize PPC platforms to reach potential participants, ensuring their clinical trials have a diverse and engaged pool of candidates. Continuous monitoring and strategic adjustments are key to maximizing the impact of clinical trial recruitment campaigns.

emagineHealth is the digital-first, AI-powered agency for healthcare and life sciences. Let’s work together to maximize the results of your digital marketing initiatives for clinical trials.

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Paid Digital Media for Healthcare & Biopharma

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