When it comes to finding clinical trial candidates online, getting your message in front of the right people is half the battle — which means your website must be designed with its audience in mind. At the end of the day, potential participants won’t spend any time on your page if they don’t like what they see.
Healthcare marketers are engaging in an increasingly competitive fight to attract the most qualified clinical trial recruits. Unsurprisingly, e-recruitment has emerged as an incredibly effective channel for gaining a leg up, especially as over half of all consumers now turn to the internet as their first source for health-related information. And the most engaged segment of this audience tends to be people in poor health who are seeking immediate treatment, according to Deloitte.
As part of this growing trend, an average of 20% of clinical research candidates are now found via e-recruitment, according to a Cutting Edge white paper. Still, the recruitment process tends to consume nearly a third of every clinical trial’s lifespan, causing over 33% of all trials to stretch on much longer than expected — a huge problem when delays can cost pharmaceutical companies anywhere from $600,000 to $8 million a day.
Digital strategies like paid search and SEO have helped CROs and clinical trial coordinators reach ever-broadening candidate pools, but many overlook an essential piece of the conversion puzzle: the trial’s primary website.
Where Many Sites Fall Short
A website is often a candidate’s first impression of the proposed trial, the proverbial “top of the funnel” — and we all know first impressions matter. Unfortunately, according to the same Cutting Edge research, trial websites tend to present noticeable UX issues for first-time visitors, and their initial frustrations often turn into a loss of trust in the entire program.
Many trial sites are poorly designed, since the main work of the project obviously takes place in the clinical stage. These sites can be confusing and difficult to navigate, and often aren’t optimized for mobile browsers — a huge oversight, considering 52% of smartphone owners have used their device to search online for health information, according to Pew Internet.
Thanks to these issues with often-hastily constructed sites, many potentially suitable recruits are left unsure of whether or not they even qualify for the trial.
What’s worse, a poorly designed site can completely undermine the trial’s credibility. Visitors might fear that their personal information and medical history won’t stay personal for long — a huge blow for recruiters, since that data is the entire basis on which clinical trials select their participants. On the other hand, who can blame them? It stands to reason that, “If I can’t understand what they’re asking for and the site is second-rate, how can I trust they’ll be any more competent handling my information?”
Build Trust and Enhance Experience Through Surveys
Candidates should be guided to the information they need as soon as they reach the site — this means that everything from titles to trial descriptions to medical definitions to contact information should be clear, concise, and easily accessible. Picture your least tech-savvy relative, and ask yourself if they could painlessly navigate your site. And think about FAQs first: what do your trial candidates need to know?
Surveys and quizzes should be immediately accessible, both to screen for eligible candidates and to grow your candidate pool for future trials (not to mention demonstrate that you won’t waste your participants’ time). Remember, as with any type of clinical recruitment, quality is more important than quantity, so make a point of ensuring that candidates feel that their efforts are valued.
Some sites even use candidates’ demographic information to outline the clinical journey for them in text or video. Multimedia is increasingly an expectation for consumers on the web, and a short, informative video can dramatically improve the candidate experience and bolster conversion rates.
Also, remember to always track every visitor, regardless of their qualifications — many of them might not be a fit for your current trial, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be for the next one. To this end, remarketing strategies allow CROs and trial coordinators to target people who have visited their sites, qualify them based on demographics and online user habits, and serve them paid advertisements.
For clinical trial recruiters, these efforts are more than worthwhile. According to Datamonitor (via Cutting Edge), e-recruitment for clinical trials costs an average of 75% less per participant than traditional marketing channels. If marketers learn to focus on the candidate journey and improve their online presence with a high-quality website, those successes will only be multiplied.