Although peering into the future can often be an imprecise art, it is helpful to sometimes look down the road at potential strategies that might be able to improve the effectiveness of clinical trial recruitment. Many of these newer approaches will involve online marketing strategies that are beginning to post impressive results in other industries. Here are some online marketing applications which have strong potential to bump up recruitment results:
- Enhanced Geo-Targeting: A great deal of effort is being poured into the ability to target the geographic location of an online user. Whether surfing the web from a stationery environment, or looking for a restaurant from a mobile phone, marketers are using telltale markers to target messages at precisely the right moment and location. The American Marketing Association says that geo-targeting can be used to enable more localized and personalized results. Applications this could have in clinical trial recruiting include the ability to recognize potential participants in geographic areas surrounding a trial site and target them directly with information about the trial.
- Increased Automation: As with any “sales” event, it often takes more than one communication or “touch” to motivate a potential participant to join a clinical trial. Unfortunately, those conducting the trial often don’t have the time or the resources to continually send information or motivational messages to potential participants. This is where online marketing automation can be used effectively. A series of emails or social marketing messages are created during the planning stages of a trial. Their release can then be automated so that pertinent news is received on a consistent basis.
- Identification and Consistent Contact With Site Visitors: Sometimes people are searching online for information about a specific drug or medical issue when they come upon the website for a clinical trial. They visit the site and are interested in the trial, but are not motivated to enroll at that moment. Online marketing techniques that are now available offer the opportunity to identify these self-qualified searchers and target them with specific messages designed for the purpose of establishing a connection and motivating another visit to the site that might result in enrollment.
- Improved Screening and Enrollment: Another factor decreasing motivation has been the perceived difficulty in trial screening and enrollment. Prospective participants want to know quickly whether they will be eligible for a particular study, and are not interested in spending additional time on the screening process. Fortunately much of this can now be done online. A conversion-optimized website with an on-line qualification survey tailored to the trial’s specific inclusion and exclusion criteria increases the likelihood of qualification.
Clinical trials are often defined as the leading edge in bringing new pharmaceuticals, products, and technique to market, so it is surprising to see so many administrators using outdated techniques in recruitment. Perhaps a session with a crystal ball will offer greater insights into more effective ways to incorporate online techniques into clinical trial recruitment.