Multichannel Marketing: How to Apply Direct/Indirect Marketing Strategies to Your Plan

Direct and indirect marketing can sound abstract when it comes to forming your multichannel marketing plan, so we want to help simplify the process for you and provide examples of how different channels can be used to attract new patients to your clinical trials. Advertising channels are the mediums used to reach people, and examples of some of these channels include radio, email and regular mail, television, newspaper, and social media. The digital upswing our society has gone through has resulted in a proliferation of advertising channels, and using these different channels together will help make your marketing plan a unified one.

Direct mail can be a great channel for direct marketing and getting patients enrolled in a clinical trial. Direct mail allows you to send a blanketed message to homes within reasonable driving distance of your research site. Typically, the purchase is within a zip code or mile radius around your site location. This allows for an effective, geo-targeted advertising technique. Print advertisements in catalogs or newspapers are another effective direct marketing strategy. Specialty, niche publications are a good way to target the right demographic of patients in a traditional medium which is typically hard to do. Television is another effective way to get potential patients’ attention. Television is probably the most daunting form of clinical trial advertisement, but it can yield good results, especially in older populations. These direct marketing channels (direct mail, catalog/print, and television) can be especially effective when paired with a digital landing page for patients to learn more about the study and your site, and to self-administer contact information. These examples have associated costs for media buying, as is true for most direct marketing channels for patient recruitment.

When it comes to indirect marketing channels, the first example is a dedicated website for your research site. Your website should be an extension of your research site; the same values you instill in your staff to serve patients and provide scientific solutions should be reflected on your website. Your website can also host other forms of indirect marketing like blog posts, social media links, etc. In today’s climate, especially with the younger population, your website is very important for attracting new patients and participants for your clinical trials. A nice, functional, aesthetically pleasing website is a good start for building trust within your community of patients. Next, your physical location serves as a channel for indirect marketing. Among many other things, it can be an outlet for branded materials (brochures, flyers, etc.), and a place of clinical trial education. Lastly, email marketing can be employed for building awareness for your clinical trials in your community, and your site’s other services. All these channels adhere to the characteristics of indirect marketing as they are inexpensive, and they can provide long term success and patient awareness without needing any follow up action from the patient.

Social media can be an important tool in your multichannel marketing plan that has the potential to fall under both categories of direct and indirect marketing. On social media platforms like Facebook, you have a variety of ways to get the word out about clinical trials and your research site. One of these methods is paid Facebook advertisements. Paid Facebook advertisements allow you to communicate with a large group of people who might not necessarily know about or follow your current social media pages. Furthermore, paid Facebook advertisements can be geo-targeted within reasonable driving distance for your site. The goals for these kinds of paid social media advertisements are for patients to interact/click on the ad and visit a dedicated landing page. This kind of action should be recognizable as direct marketing. On the other hand, social media, and Facebook in particular, can be leveraged for awareness and growing trust in the community. Regular upkeep on your social media pages, writing blogs, posting industry news, and interacting with potential patients are all inexpensive ways to use social media for indirect marketing. These indirect methods typically don’t elicit direct actions from patients, but they can still help cultivate long term success for your site.

It may seem like an intimidating task to put all these together and begin, so here is a good place to start: The first thing you should do is start with indirect marketing efforts; website and social media creation and upkeep, blog posts, and interacting with your community. These tactics require little or no monetary investment, just consistency and patience. Post industry news, staff updates, non-research related community news like sports, events, etc. Make people aware that your research site exists. Have a consistent voice across these channels, connect social media pages to your website, and educate your staff about the importance of every patient interaction. Update your website and create landing pages for your enrolling trials with clear calls to action. You can use your website and landing pages to measure the success of future marketing campaigns. After you have the ball rolling on indirect marketing, start experimenting with direct marketing. Use your sponsor-allotted advertising budgets! Less than half of sponsor ad budgets are used by sites. Have distinct calls-to-action on direct advertisements that clearly tell the patient how to follow-up and get enrolled in your clinical trials.


Developing a cohesive multichannel marketing plan is essential when it comes to attracting new patients. Integrating direct and indirect marketing techniques can help make recruiting patients less difficult, and can help your research site gain awareness and trust in your community.