How Digital Marketing Can Help Clinical Trials Rescue Their Studies

rescue clinical studies

A comprehensive digital marketing plan can be a struggling clinical trial’s lifeline.

Recruiting patients for clinical trials can be a time-consuming and cost-intensive process. It’s estimated that the annual cost of clinical trials in the U.S. is $7 billion, and a full $2 billion of that money is spent on patient recruitment alone.

Much of that spending is due to delays in the recruitment process, which can be incredibly costly. By some estimates, trials lose as much as $8 million for each day a trial is delayed. Unfortunately, delays aren’t uncommon — in fact, only 15% of trials manage to end on time, and more than 50% of delays are due to recruitment problems.

Even trials that do manage to recruit a minimum number of patients on time may face issues due to patient dropout. Some studies suggest that patient dropout rate for clinical trials can be as high as 30%, which can stop the progress of a clinical trial in its tracks. Fortunately, even sponsors and CROs that don’t create digital marketing plans from the outset can use digital marketing tactics to save trials that are already in progress.

Digital Marketing as a Clinical Trial Lifeline

Clinical trials that are in progress but no longer have enough participants to continue are faced with two options: shutter the trial, or recruit more patients. Both options have expenses, but many sponsors and CROs assume that the best way to cut losses is by halting the trial. That’s not necessarily true — if they can recruit enough patients to continue in a quick and cost-effective manner, trials will save money and, potentially, lives.

Sponsors and CROs that didn’t create a digital marketing program before the trial begin aren’t completely out of luck. They can expect to get a simplistic strategy off the ground in two to three months, accounting for the time it takes for clinical trial marketing materials to get approved by regulatory. In the meantime, sponsors and CROs can pause or scale back the trial to stem spending.

However, it’s a far better option to have a digital marketing plan in place prior to the trial’s start date. Because any digital marketing campaign that’s already been set up and approved can be simply turned back on when needed, it can act as a safety net against potential patient recruitment problems in the future — and it can help speed along recruitment at the beginning of the trial, too.

Creating a Digital Patient Recruitment Plan

Digital recruitment plans are cost-efficient, effective, and nimble. As a trial’s needs change, it’s easy to alter its digital marketing plan to reflect those changes by turning it on or off or adjusting its parameters. Because studies show that 53% of patients find out about clinical trials online — and because having a digital marketing trial can save a struggling trial — there’s no reason not to create one before a trial begins.

An effective and comprehensive digital recruitment plan can be quite involved; it should include target audiences, ad copy and graphics, landing pages, social media ads, and pay-per-click search ads. Its analytics should also be carefully monitored to ensure that it’s still performing as intended. Fortunately, an experienced agency partner can help trials create a full digital marketing plan in time and under budget, preventing delays or cancellations down the road.

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