5 Common Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment Strategy Mistakes

It's frustrating to plan out a detailed clinical trial patient recruitment strategy only to have something not quite click. There are a few common mistakes recruiters make in the planning stage that can cause problems down the road — if you're not getting the results you're looking for, it's possible that you've made one of these errors.

Luckily, most campaign issues are repairable — once you identify the problem. Once you've diagnosed the root issue, you can start troubleshooting and get your campaign back on track. These are some of the most common mistakes in clinical trial patient recruitment, with advice on how to fix them, too.

1. You don't know your audience well enough.

Audience research is one of the most important parts of putting together a clinical trial patient recruitment campaign. If your ads are getting low click-through rates, for example, the language you're using may not speak to your patient population. You may also have chosen imagery that doesn't match your patient population or capture the experience of living with their condition.

Before you start your next campaign, consider conducting a patient session or survey to learn more about what it's like to live with the condition being studied, and how better treatments could help. You can also spend time on patient forums, blogs, and social media to get a sense for how patients talk about their condition.

2. You're not running A/B tests effectively.

Testing ad variations and placements is an important part of any clinical trial marketing strategy, but it can be challenging to stay organized when it comes to designing tests. Follow these tips to set up an A/B test correctly to get usable results:

  1. Test one variable at a time. Elements of an ad that you can test include images, headlines, and call to action buttons.
  2. Set a goal. Decide how you'll measure success. Will you measure success based on clicks, pre-screener completions, etc.?
  3. Use a control. After you've run one A/B test, you can use the winner as your control variable in your next test.
  4. Make sure your results are statistically significant. Kissmetrics has a calculator that can help determine how statistically significant the results of your A/B test are.

If you're using Facebook ads, you can also set up an A/B test from within the ads manager. Running a well-designed A/B test may take a little extra time, but your results will be more reliable for influencing your campaign.

3. Your ad materials are confusing.

In addition to making sure your ad copy uses the same language as your patient population, it's also important to keep in mind that many people aren't familiar with clinical trials. Only 19% of Americans report feeling "very informed” about clinical trial participation, according to CISCRP. Avoid language that's too scientific, and try to understand what factors may motivate your patient population to take part in a clinical trial, as well as what their concerns may be. Addressing these head-on can be an effective way to let your audience know that you understand their needs and concerns.

4. There's a problem with your landing page experience.

If your ads are getting clicks but not conversions, take a closer look at your landing page. Ideally, perform user testing with patients before launching your landing page, especially if the page is a pre-screener for your clinical trial. You can also take a look at form responses and see if there are any questions patients are skipping, or if there's a common point at which patients drop off from taking your prescreener. These behaviors may suggest that something is confusing about how the question is phrased, or that you have included a question people are not comfortable answering. Comments on your ads, particularly on Facebook, may also offer clues about whether something is confusing or not functioning on your landing page.

5. You're not targeting the right audience.

If your ads are receiving clicks but those who take your pre-screener aren't eligible for your trial, there may be an issue with your ad targeting. Take a look at ineligibility reports and find out why patients you're sending to sites aren't eligible. If they have another condition that makes them ineligible, for example, you can try to find a way to exclude them from your ads.

It's also possible that your audience is too general. Targeting ads to reach those interested in clinical research, for example, may be too broad. Consider narrowing your focus to reach the right audience.

If you're looking for more guidance on clinical trial patient recruitment, get in touch to learn more about how Antidote connects patients with research.