Recruitment of participants in today’s digital age calls for the creation of a number of materials you can use to attract prospects, to explain your study and convince them to enroll. But often research teams fail to think beyond the basic research study flyer.
Out of the many marketing materials that a research team could use, which ones attract the most participants? For any study, it will depend on what demographic your participants tend to comprise, the kind of messaging they resonate with, and what kinds of websites and digital channels they tend to visit. For that matter, it’s not what you use, but how and where you use it.
Below is a rundown of some of the materials you can employ to recruit participants to your study, why they are useful, and some best practices you can leverage when creating them. We’ve seen these best practices help research programs scale their recruitment and enrollment quickly and with greater ease than usual.
You likely already know your study needs a website, but simply advertising your study on the internet won’t achieve your enrollment milestones. You will need to go beyond a simple, static webpage in order to recruit – and ultimately eConsent – patients and participants.
First, don’t rely on posting the contact information for your study team. You need an eConsent form that’s easy to use and optimized for the participant to consent online – on their own time. An optimized eConsent form ensures that patients have access to all the necessary information, including the nature of the procedure or study, potential risks and benefits, alternatives, and any financial or time commitments involved. By presenting this information in a patient-friendly manner, it increases the ability of patients to make a well-informed choice about their participation in your research study. You can learn more about what an optimized research study eConsent form here.
Many studies have success with including lead generation pages in addition to their eConsent form. Lead generation pages are web pages with forms that viewers can complete so that researchers can capture their information. In the case of study recruitment, these pages can provide information for prospective participants to learn about the study, in the case they’re not yet ready to consent. These pages can provide some basic information about the program to encourage participants to enroll while encouraging visitors to complete the form to find out more. Upon submission of the completed form, prospects can receive more information about the study through a page that loads, a brochure that downloads, or a message sent to their email address or mobile device.
How do you make these pages accessible to your target recruitment population? The answer is vanity URLs. You can utilize vanity URLs, which are custom links with names that users can easily remember to find/access your study’s page on your main institutional website. In this case, it might be ‘nameofstudy.com’ which can be easily remembered and shared. These vanity URLs also help to build trust with participants who can more easily associate a study with its colloquial name.
For instance, a study may be more formally called in publications ‘Study Created to Assess Longevity and Extraversion’, but be known colloquially as the SCALE Study. In this case, ‘SCALEStudy.com’ may be the vanity URL that helps prospects remember where to go to find out about and enroll in your study. A good vanity URL for a study is short and memorable.
Once individuals have filled out the contact form on your eConsent or lead generation page, you should have a plan to communicate with them using emails or SMS text messages. Your form needs to be clear on your website that you will be contacting them for their interest in the study, so they know what they are consenting to when they submit the form.
These emails and text messages can be sent to provide more information about the study, to encourage participants to enroll, or to complete consent, and to complete surveys and other requests if they are enrolled.
Here are some essential components every marketing email or SMS should have:
Being able to advertise your study via print is great for in-person events, or for posting at businesses or places where your target study populations may frequent. When creating flyers, we encourage you to include the following components:
The most important theme in these materials and their best practices is that you want to design and write them in a way that compels your prospects to take action. You want to make sure you are speaking to prospective participants in a way that they understand and in a way that they find appealing.
Encourage diversity through your graphics and photos so that underserved populations feel more comfortable enrolling. Make it easy for prospective participants to find and visit your recruitment site. Find a way to get their contact information to remind them of the study and compel them to participate. Remember also that when it comes to asking for information, less is more. After they enroll in your study, your informational needs as a research team will be much higher. Until then, get their contact information and a few other data points so you can figure out how best to communicate with them and encourage them to enroll. Capturing these communication preferences across specific participants will prove very useful over the full course of your study.
The Vibrent Health team collaborates daily with researchers and study teams to create materials that help attract and recruit participants for research. Our technology platform helps researchers to create study websites, to create segmented lists of contacts at different stages of the study and the enrollment process, to craft and send SMS and email communications, and to eConsent participants and collect, aggregate and normalize their data all in one centralized software. This is incredibly useful to teams who are used to relying on disparate systems for their various study needs, and who want to create a more cohesive experience for participants.
In addition to technology solutions, we also provide services to help study teams to design their websites, eConsent process, surveys, and communications to accord with state and national regulations, IRB expectations, and with best practices that ensure greater retention and data collection. The overall result is studies with more efficient methods and more robust datasets.
Ready to streamline enrollment and engagement for your participants? Contact us at email@example.com to learn more.
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