In part 2 of this series (part 1 can be found here), we’ll focus on some of the more overlooked aspects of a digital recruitment campaign for clinical trials. While part 1 was more focused on getting people interested in your trial, these points should be kept in mind during the post-advertising phase, that is, for interested people wanting to get in contact with you. Videos provide a unique method of delivering your message, and attracts a significantly different audience to those who engage with text and images. Providing relevant site information and contact details are essential – this is the key that turns interested people into actual subjects! Finally, there are some considerations regarding pre-screening forms that can assist in running a smoother trial if done correctly. Read on to find out more.
Complimentary Video Media
Creating a good video is easier said than done. While the average campaign may not require video footage, a high impact or wide reaching campaign can absolutely benefit from video media. Consider, if your target audience has the choice of either text or a video, which would they choose, and why? People consume media in different ways: some prefer the brevity and self-pacing of text, while others may prefer watching a video. Videos are sharable, easier to understand when done well, and connect with a viewer on a more personal level.
These benefits inherent to the video medium cannot be found anywhere else. A video enables direct communication to your audience while establishing a personal and sincere connection that is extremely hard to replicate in text media. This is because you have the double human element of both voice and visuals, and this is something that should be used to your advantage. Furthermore, videos double as an excellent clarification tool, as one can overlay even basic visuals on top of narration or a green-screened speaker.
Videos also allow greater flexibility in presentation, which can help you stand out from otherwise similar adverts. Consider, for example, the ALS ice bucket challenge, or the 22 pushup challenge for PTSD. These are very successful campaigns driven primarily through the use of video. And although focusing primarily on video may not always be appropriate for a small or local clinical trial campaign, nevertheless a simple video to speak to the public increases the reach of your advertisement dramatically. Thus, for larger studies it is good to think beyond the traditional approach of a poster on a notice board, which would only reach a smaller audience.
With the flexibility of video media comes several important considerations:
- High definition video is a must for engaging viewing – 720p is considered standard.
- Pay attention to the very start and end of your video: make sure they aren’t jarring and flow in and out naturally using video and audio fades.
- A still camera increases the viewability of your video massively. Using a cheap tripod or a flat surface will work.
- Sound levels and quality are also important, so make sure you speak clearly. When editing your video, adjust the volume of the audio so it is comfortable to listen to.
- Sometimes less is more: Relatively unedited videos with little post-processing (eg visual effects and transitions) can provide that genuine connection that may otherwise be lost.
- Finally, consider where the video will be hosted. All websites have file size, length, and/or format limitations so understand these while planning your video.
Don’t be afraid to get behind a camera because you would be surprised what it could yield.
Clinical Trial Contact Details
While the hardest part of any advertising campaign is winning viewers over to your side, the post-campaign phase is just as important. In fact, we believe this is one of the most overlooked issues in clinical trials around the world, impacting directly on the number of subjects participating in clinical research. Contacting a site is the vital link that determines if people willing to participate will actually do so. Think about how interested people should contact your site, and who your best people are to have on the frontline for facilitating the contact. Take into consideration both the convenience of the participant, but also the resources at a site. And make sure contact information is freely available and appears on your ad.
There have been several studies that have received great coverage on prime time television, providing viewers with a single phone number to call. The site was subsequently bombarded with phone calls, without a call centre or answering machine to mitigate this. The volume of calls was simply beyond the capability of the study team. The site struggled to complete recruitment sufficiently as a significant number of interested people were lost due to poor communication and planning. Consideration needs to be given from the planning phase of a clinical trial as to how this communication and contact is to be managed:
- In which channel(s) will communication take place both during recruitment and participation? Phone, sms, email, websites and in-person options should be considered, but think about what would facilitate convenient and rapid communication.
- Who is in charge of communications and how will this be managed at your site? Make sure they establish a coherent tracking system to make sure no one is forgotten.
- Think about automation systems, for example, a communal email system compared to forwarding an email between staff members.
- Future contact: regardless if a person is eligible or not, how will you keep track of people that may be interested about future studies? Databases can be convenient but must be maintained.
Information and Directions to Site Locations
Research simply cannot be done if participants are unable to find their way to sites! If a subject has many questions (such as where to go, how to get there, and who to talk to), even before initiating contact, they will be much less likely to respond to your ad. Thus, it is your job to present this information as best you can, within the ad or by linking to another website. Think about these points and list this information prominently in your ad, or somewhere easy to access:
- The address of the site. Consider embedding Google Maps and posting a picture of the front entrance on your website.
- Travel directions. Often it is helpful to list how far your site is from the nearest public transport point.
- Is there any parking, and how much (if any) does it cost? Reimbursing any parking cost can make subjects more willing to travel.
- Will you reimburse for travel costs? This can be worth stating twice, in the description and travel details.
- Can geo-targeting assist in finding the right people close to your sites? Using this approach will ensure travel times will be short and that people are familiar with your location.
A digital solution like AustralianClinicalTrials.com is an centralised system designed primarily for easy patient and site communication. Site contact and location details are also displayed prominently. However, feedback and tracking systems are also in place in order for your sites to manage individual trials effectively, and grow over time. In this way, one can bridge the gap between people and clinical trials, by allowing sites and trials to easily present themselves and their trials in the public domain.
Contact Forms and Pre-screening Questionnaires
One way you can add more value to your campaign is to provide a contact form. By providing a place for people to enter their name, phone number and email address, it can then be followed up by your preferred staff. Doing this reduces pre-screening time, as this information would need to be gathered eventually. However, be sure to keep these points in mind in order to obtain the best conversion rates for your campaign:
- Decide whether to separate the contact and the pre-screening form. Short forms can be combined together without issue. However, a large amount of questions at this point in time will almost certainly lower your response rate.
- Ask for only what is required. Any more than a name, contact, and the primary eligibility criteria may scare off your patient and might not be approved by ethics.
- Consider if form submission should be confirmed on the page, or by follow up email. Manage both your automated and manual follow up procedures, and remember to contact your subject as soon as possible.
- Test your systems regularly to make sure everything is in working order. Tests across multiple browsers and devices will ensure that software problems do not drive away potential subjects.
If you have time for an in depth look at the importance of contact forms: check out this video
By now, you should have a good idea about what must be thought about during both the planning and execution phases of a clinical trial advertising campaign. As you have learned, the campaign does not stop once you have people interested – there must be enough communication and follow-up in order to convert that interest to participation. If you have any comments regarding any aspect of running a clinical trial, let us know below!
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