What Makes Potential Patients Click on Clinical Trial Search Ads?

clinical trial search ads

Learn what makes some clinical trial search ads a flop and others a success.

Because 73% of consumers use search engines to research medical conditions and treatments, pay-per-click ads (or PPC ads) are one of the most effective marketing tools at a clinical trial’s disposal. Search advertising allows CROs and sponsors to reach patients right in the moment when they’re most likely to be ready and willing to participate in a clinical trial.

However, not all search ads are made equal. While consumers report that they feel comfortable clicking search ads, some are far more likely to attract patients’ attention than others — but what differentiates search ads that fall flat from those that garner clicks? That’s what a recent survey from agency research firm Clutch set to find out.

The firm surveyed 506 people who have clicked on search ads in the past month, whether on Google, Bing, YouTube, or Amazon. The results point to some key best practices that all medical marketers should keep in mind when creating search ads, especially in the clinical trial setting, where every click can be the difference between a trial getting off the ground or staying stalled.

1. Keep your ad copy relevant.

Three-fourths of survey respondents said that they click on paid search ads when they make it easier to find the information that they’re searching for. That means that if you’re targeting specific keywords, your ad copy must match that keyword in order to attract patients’ clicks.

This means you should keep your search ads specific and descriptive; generic references to a condition won’t do you much good. Do your keyword research ahead of time to ensure that your ads are reaching the right patients, at the right time, with the right wording. Google’s Keyword Planner is a powerful tool for searching relevant terms, their estimated cost-per-click, and how much competition exists for each.

2. Weigh your search engine options.

While it usually can’t hurt to expand your clinical trial’s advertising efforts to new mediums, when you’re working on a short timeline and with a limited budget, some search engines are likely to be more effective than others. Platforms like Bing and YouTube shouldn’t be forgotten, but the Clutch survey showed that about four times as many people are likely to click on a Google ad (63%) versus a Bing (6%), YouTube (9%), or Amazon ad (15%).

Even within Google’s advertising options, there’s a hierarchy. Consumers are more likely to click on text paid search ads than on product listing ads or video ads. Medical marketers should keep these user preferences in mind when creating their clinical trial’s digital marketing strategy.

3. Don’t try to disguise your ad.

According to the survey, more than three-fourths of people are confident that they can recognize when a search result is a paid advertisement versus an organic search result. However, that will not discourage them from clicking, provided that the ad answers their search query effectively.

Marketers sometimes make the mistake of trying to disguise their ads as a native or organic search result. This survey reveals that those efforts are misguided. Instead, medical marketers should focus on delivering their message as effectively and efficiently as possible in the space provided to them, as patients are most attracted to search ads that answer their queries.

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