The old saying that “hindsight is better than foresight” may not be the best strategy to follow when it comes to clinical trials. While learning from past mistakes can be helpful, in this case it is far better to look ahead and try to minimize the amount of problems that may occur. Far too much is riding on the outcome to go into it without a good deal of foresight and planning. Some steps which can be taken to increase the recruitment and retention of clinical trial participants include:
- Create a Trial Specific Micro Website: Don’t bury trial information on a regular website to save a few marketing dollars. Set up a separate micro website specifically for this trial. Create a landing page that will address the benefits of the study, explain what will be required of participants, and proactively answer potential questions. Make it easy to contact someone for additional information, and to sign up for the study. Create it with search engine optimization (SEO) strategies in mind to increase the study’s likelihood of organically showing up in search results.
- Conduct a Pre-Trial Survey to Identify Keywords: Paid search marketing (PPC) can be an integral part of clinical trial recruitment when strong keywords are used in the search process. It can be worthwhile to gather some clinicians, physicians, and patients for a brief focus study about the clinical trial. Explain a little about the trial and its benefits, and ask the group to discuss keywords or phrases about it. Prepare some potential keywords in advance, but be open to suggestions and input from the group. This knowledge will be extremely beneficial in formulating highly-targeted PPC campaigns that will drive traffic to the microsite.
- Think Mobile: More consumers are utilizing mobile technology as their primary information source these days. Make sure your website is easily viewable on mobile sites and develop separate PPC campaigns to address this segment.
- Write Several Blog Articles in Advance: Education is a big part of recruitment and retention. Have several blog articles ready and available to post on your website to help prospective participants and recommending physicians better understand what you are trying to accomplish. This will ensure that the education component is not overlooked in the initial rush to attract participants.
- Set Your Analytics: Have a method of analyzing results in place before beginning recruitment so that you can quickly determine success rates, and allow for corrections on the go.
- Pre-Plan the Patient Engagement Experience: The odds of increasing retention are higher when patients feel involved and engaged. Set up a series of engagement opportunities, such as emails or tweets, to let participants know you care about their progress. Have a way for them to easily contact someone affiliated with the study if there are any questions.
Utilize the time before clinical trials begin to pre-plan digital marketing strategies, and you can minimize the amount of time that will be spent later wondering what went wrong.