Tips for Low Budget Patient Recruitment Ad Campaigns: Leveraging the Landing Page

In today’s patient recruitment setting, advertising budgets seem to be continuously shrinking, but the desired results of advertising campaigns are still the same – recruit patients and finish the study on time, within the given budget. Having access to your site’s advertising metrics allows you to maximize your marketing return on investment (ROI), and can strengthen your request for sponsor funds. How do you get those metrics without breaking the bank? This article will provide tips for requesting sponsor ad funds and maximizing your advertising ROI by creating a detailed ad plan, complete with real metrics gathered from study-specific landing pages.

Create a Patient Recruitment Advertising Plan

Sites that present a patient recruitment advertising plan with real metrics on the sponsor’s ROI have higher rates of success securing funds, especially if the sponsor doesn’t have a centralized campaign in place. Plus, a detailed plan will help you pinpoint exactly which advertising avenues to invest in most heavily and which to scale back on.

How do put together a solid patient recruitment advertising plan? Start with the inclusion/exclusion criteria for the study – get an idea of exactly who your study’s ideal patients are. Once you have an idea of who you are looking for, think of how they consume media—particularly scientific or research media. For example, if you are recruiting for an Alzheimer’s study, your patients are probably older adults who likely consume media through newspapers or basic cable news stations. If you’re looking for younger or middle-aged participants, online media might be the best option for clinical trial advertising. Outline your chosen plans in your proposal.

Next, set a timeline for your recruitment plan. We recommend starting a plan that will last no longer than one month. Keep sponsor fund requests in the $3,000- $5,000 range for a one-month campaign. Throughout our experiences building and managing patient recruitment ad campaigns for sites, this tends to be the most-approved range for requests.

Measure Your Advertising Results!

Like any other business, sponsors need to measure the returns on their investments—and so does your site. Numerical data will give sponsors an idea of what they can expect to gain from giving your site an advertising budget, and will help your site maximize its ROI. Lots of advertising outlets give projected numbers for impression, reach and results. Use these in your request for funds!

Your proposal should also include language on how you plan to measure results from your advertising campaign. We recommend sending potential participants to the contact information page on your website, or better yet—to a study-specific landing page.

What is a landing page?

One of the easiest and most cost-effective strategies for measuring the results of your patient recruitment ad campaigns is to create a specific landing page for each study you run an advertising campaign for.

A landing page is a customized web page that is connected to your website, but not linked in the Navigation Bar. This means that it can only be found through a specific URL that has been specifically searched or clicked on. That’s what makes a landing page so great for directing traffic from specific advertising campaigns—it will direct only those who have seen your ad and engaged with it. For example, if you run a Facebook advertising campaign, the link that a person is directed to when they click on that advertisement is the landing page.

The landing page should consist of a brief description of the study and your site along with some basic inclusion criteria. It is important to have a form on this page that allows patients to fill out their information for your site to receive (details below).  

When should you use a landing page?

A unique landing page should be used for every campaign that runs on sponsor funds. This includes paid social media ads, paid search campaigns (such as digital banner ads), Google AdWords campaigns, and email marketing campaigns. Along with high referral success rates, landing pages help to track what ads and media outlets are bringing in the most referrals.

Building a Landing Page

Include a Form Fill

It is important to build these landing pages to include both study-specific information and a contact form that will capture potential patient information. You can store this information and follow up with the potential patient, versus waiting for them to contact you. Make sure to always include a form fill that asks for name, phone number and email address at a minimum. Remember to make these questions “required” when submitting the form fill so that the patient does not have the option to leave these blank.

Asking potential patients where they heard about your study will help you track and measure the success of your ads across different media, and will help you provide your sponsor with important metrics. In a dropdown menu, list options for the different media you’ve used in your campaign. Keep track of this as the patient moves through the trial pipeline and (hopefully) randomizes. A few pre-screening questions can help with the initial pre-screening call, but these aren’t necessary. Make sure this form fill is not more than 6 questions long—a lengthy form could cause some potential referrals to lose interest.

Once you have the contact information from the referrals, make sure to keep them in a patient database (look for a future post on creating your own patient database!). Regardless of their enrollment qualifications for the study they originally inquired about, you can keep their information and make notes about future studies that might be of interest. You’ll be able to bypass the difficult step of finding this potential patient again through external advertising, saving you time and advertising dollars.

Keep it Simple

When building landing pages, keep the language at a 4th-grade reading level. The simpler it is, the better; clear, concise language is more inviting and will stand out as you try to catch the attention of the patients your study is designed to help. Landing pages help to direct the traffic generated by the ads into one funnel that can easily engage the interested patient. An easy sign-up for a study a potential patient is already interested in will give you a better chance of getting their information.

With digital marketing, the fewer link clicks it takes to get to the desired end, the better. Once you have gained a potential patient’s attention and they have clicked your ad (which is the hardest part!), don’t lose them by leading them to your homepage or another web link that requires more effort to find out how to participate. During the initial pre-screening call, you can go into more detail about the study protocol and criteria. In these vital first steps of patient recruitment, don’t lose an interested participant due to a simple communication barrier.

Be mobile-friendly!

Another tip for maximizing your ROI is to make sure that all of your advertisements, including your landing pages are mobile-friendly. According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 8 out of 10 Americans own smartphones that they use for browsing the internet regularly. Plus, one-in-five Americans rely solely on their phones for access to the internet, and the majority of these smartphone-only internet users are from lower-income households. The uptick in smartphone usage combined with an increase in searching for medical information online means that neglecting your mobile pages could make you miss out on patient referrals across a variety of important demographics.


In today’s clinical trial space, low patient recruitment budgets are quite common. Working within their limits can seem almost impossible. Luckily, there are steps you can take that will help you make the most of each ad campaign you run. Building study-specific landing pages lets you easily capture potential patient information, helping you meet enrollment goals and build a patient database for future studies. Asking the right questions on landing page form fills can also help you measure the effectiveness of each of your ads and allow you to gather metrics you can share with your study sponsor when requesting advertising funds.