Beyond the Research Study Flyer: How to Recruit Participants for Health Research with Marketing Materials  - Vibrent
Blog | May 26, 2023

Beyond the Research Study Flyer: How to Recruit Participants for Health Research with Marketing Materials 

By Clark Herman, Content Marketing Manager

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. 

Design an Informational Study Website 

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. 

Optimize Your eConsent for Patients 

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. 

Attract and Engage Prospective Participants With Lead Generation Pages

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. 

When using either an eConsent or lead generation page, follow these best practices: 

  • Use a clear call-to-action (CTA): a call-to-action is a short statement designed to compel the reader into some kind of action, whether that’s to complete the eConsent process, read an article about the study, download a file, or something else. It usually begins with a verb. For instance, “Enroll now”, “Call us”, or “Learn more”. When writing calls to action, you only need to capitalize the first word. 
  • Create clean, user-friendly design: people need to be able to easily navigate your page, which helps motivate them to sign up. For many people, good design has come to be associated with a good experience—whether with an app, a service, or a type of product. In this case, creating a clean, intuitive design will convey the experience participants will have with the study. If it is a disorganized design, they may not want to enroll for fear that the study itself may be as chaotic or sloppy as its website. 
  • Place the most important information at the top of the page: research has shown that people tend to remember the first and last bits of information in any form of content, whether it’s a presentation, a video, or in this case a landing page. This is called the primary/recency effect. So use this to your advantage and keep the most important information up front, with any important calls to action at the end or in the middle. This would certainly include contact information so that potential enrollees remember how to get in touch with your research team. 
  • Experiment with different lead generation pages for different demographics: make sure that the messaging, and any photography or graphic depictions you use—stock or otherwise—speak to / represent the participants you are looking to recruit. For example, aging populations may respond to graphic depictions of elderly participants as well as messaging to encourage them to “give the gift of insightful research to future generations”. Similarly, African Americans in your literature helps to build trust with this demographic who may be hesitant to follow through with enrollment despite nominal interest. 
  • Only ask for information that is essential. The less information that prospective participants need to provide in a lead generation form, the more likely they are to provide it. 

Leverage a Study-specific Web Address 

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 ‘’ 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, ‘’ 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. 

Use SMS and Email to Engage Participants Further 

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: 

  • An easy to understand, clear call-to-action (CTA): once again, you need a CTA to compel participants to act! 
  • Concise writing that gets the participant interested or keeps them engaged: you want words and phrases that account for the average prospective participant’s understanding. Get to the point quickly, so that the message is easily read and understood so that action can be quickly taken. 
  • Sending to a list of participants or patients who are properly ‘segmented’: you want to be able to send emails or emails to those individuals who are all in a specific phase of their process with the study. If they have filled out a lead form but have yet to fill out the eConsent form, you want to engage that list of patients on the ease of completing your consent process, and giving them a CTA with a link to complete it. If you have a list of individuals that have yet to start enrollment, you could ask this group of participants if they would like to speak to someone on the study team if they have questions, with a CTA to ‘Call us’ if they want to have a conversation. 
  • Catchy subject lines: in the case of email, it’s important to have subject lines that speak to specific desires or needs of participants, ones that compel them to action, but most of all, to grab their attention. Many of us are bombarded with emails day-to-day, and since your subject line is your initial hook in to getting a participant to enroll, you want it to catch their eye and get them engaged. Try using ‘you’ and asking them a question, or inserting a call-to-action in your subject. 

Create Functional, Modern Event Flyers 

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: 

  • A clear call-to-action: once again, the CTA is essential. Make sure to include it wherever you want someone to take action. 
  • An incentive (if possible): we see that giving prospects some incentive can be helpful to encourage them to sign up. Whether it’s a gift card, travel reimbursement, the opportunity to win a contest, or something else, you are providing prospective enrollees with some form of reward to motivate their active participation in your research. 
  • A QR code: the general public has become quite familiar with QR codes since the pandemic drove many eateries to provide them for patrons to look at menus on phones. Using QR codes help prospects to quickly and easily access your website on their mobile device. This is a great way to quickly get prospects learning about your study—and possibly enrolling then and there. 
  • Vanity URLs: even if a prospect does not use a QR code, they may remember to visit your study’s website later in their day/week thanks to a simple, memorable study URL.  
  • Consistent branding: make sure that the coloring, the fonts you use, and the language all accord with a standard you have created for your studies in general or for the particular study you are marketing. If you have a branded, colloquial study name (like the SCALE Study example from earlier), use it. This helps to create an aesthetic that agrees with what the research aims to accomplish, who you are seeking to recruit, and how you plan to study your population. This is also helpful in the creation of other marketing materials such as your study website and landing pages. Make sure that your design is consistent across all your materials so that prospects can easily recognize the study. 
  • Tailor your message and graphics to your audience: like lead generation pages and study websites, you want to be sure that you are creating messaging that your audience will understand and will resonate with, and that you are utilizing photo and graphic depictions of typical participants of your study. Again, keep in mind diversity when inserting photos, graphics, and messaging—especially in the event you are looking to recruit minority or underserved populations. 

Create Materials That Inspire Action

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 to learn more.  

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