CSSi Blogs

The Magic of Marketing: Creating the Perfect Patient Recruitment Solution

  • By Myra Zerr-Korolev
  • 13-Oct-2021

images of perfect patient recruitment solution

Marketing and advertising are an art form. And as is true of all art, it evolves and adapts to the world around it (And enter the famous question: Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?). Reaching patients for clinical trials is quite a task. Creating awareness, providing education, and garnering true interest is a multi-pronged approach that requires an in-depth understanding of the needs and communication styles of your targeted population. Even with doing deep research and knowing everything from you could possibly know ad libitum on your patient population, this effort could be deemed useless until you actually impress upon and engage them. This is where the magic of marketing comes in, but…

…this is also where it gets tricky. Do you need to recruit patients with niche conditions that are less than .001% of the population? How about pediatric populations with heavy exclusion criteria? How about a minority population whose first language isn’t English and who may be distrustful of Western medicine?

There is a near infinite amount of combinations of marketing challenges that can arise from trial to trial. First things first, as mentioned above, you do your research. Great. (Struggling with patient research? Don’t worry, we’ll cover that in another blog for you soon!) But how do we now market to these patients to ensure successful enrollment and recruitment? That’s the hard part. This is where we review all possible campaigns and cater up (or down) to your trial’s own customized solution.

Patient Awareness Kits (PAKs)

Patient awareness kits are some of the most important aspects of a campaign. These are materials that not only begin the informed consent process but can be the early stages of awareness for your targeted patient population.

Now, what exactly consists of patient awareness kits? What does this usually include?

Typically, patient awareness kits are geared to both the patient and clinicians. This can take the form of: study brochures, study flyers, study site visit guide, doctor-to-patient letters, doctor-to-doctor letters, and ideal patient profiles. This is not all inclusive, as specific materials may bring in increased patient screenings over others.

Do you always need to include physician facing materials for a PAK? Certain trials may only need patient interacting materials while on the opposing end, some trials absolutely require heavier clinician facing tools. Enter your market research from earlier! Initial decisions may have you leaning one way over the other, but the great thing is if what you initially believed isn’t working, an expert patient recruitment team (like CSSi!) can adopt and adapt existing or new materials.

Traditional Media

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Traditional media has been a true staple in patient recruitment for decades and there is a reason why: it works. Tried and true methods like print ads (newspapers, magazines), out-of-home visuals (billboards, public transportation, public benches), standard television ads and radio ad breaks are able to access many targeted patients across a broad range of demographics. While these methods do hit many patients across different generations and other identifiers, there is noted increased/decreased impact for specific patient populations.


As of 2020, American adults watched television an average of 4 hours and 16 minutes a day.1 In terms of generational focus, current statistics show a wide range of television consumption in accordance with age, with retired persons being the highest consumer. This could be a wonderful tactic when recruiting for age-related disease trials.

The Generation Gap in TV Consumption graphic2

Print Advertising

Print magazines are still a high consumable, showing that advertising in magazines should not be overlooked. Actively, there is an estimated 228 million magazine readers in the United States.3 Likewise with print newspaper readers, of 2020 there was an estimated 51% preference for print newspapers only their digital counterpart.4

Out-Of-Home Media

Starting with billboards, the average American spends 300 hours in their car each year. Of these Americans, over 50% stated they have been highly engaged with billboard advertising. In the same vein of transportation, public transportation is utilized an average of 34 million times every week day. To only improve on that amount, 9.9 million Americans had used public transportation in 2019.5

Radio Advertising

A whopping 92% of Americans listen to the radio every week, which translates to about 240 million people. An additional positive aspect of radio advertising is the ability to reach more individuals in specific regions, as there are over 6000 individual radio stations in the United States alone.6 Radio is a free medium (as long as you have listening apparatus) which makes it an accessible source. Concerns on medium accessibility for certain populations makes radio a wonderful resource.


Digital Media

The media of the future, and one with almost limitless bounds! Digital marketing has become an integral part of advertising since the 1980s, and with each passing year we see increased growth in the digital world. As of 2021, there are: 5.22 billion global individual mobile users, 3.96 billion global individual social media users, over 5.4 billion global Google searches a day and over 232 million American streaming users.7,8,9,10 If those numbers seem high, it’s because they are! Digital marketing is a powerful, wide-spread tool that is able to reach and interact with nearly every demographic.

Social Media

Social media is a multi-pronged approach where different platforms can be used and exploited for specific needs. If you want to reach the most people in the shortest amount of time, social media is the way to go. Current numbers show that there are 3.78 billion daily social media users. This shows that most users who have a social media account interact and use that platform on a daily basis.11 There is a noticeable generational approach to social media as well for age-specific targeting.

Social Media Platforms by Generation graphic12

Search Engine Advertising

Google has reigned king in the search engine world for almost two decades now and it has no signs of giving up that title. Globally, Google accounts for 76% of desktop and 86% of mobile searches.13 The remaining percentage is shared by Bing, Baidu, Yahoo and Yandex. Directing search engine results in your favor via sponsored Google Ads will greatly assist in assuring users end up at a trial associated website. The use of geotagging and SEO will greatly increase the numbers of impressions and clicks for the trial website.

In-App Advertising

As earlier mentioned, nearly the entire population is a mobile user… but how is that user using their mobile device? The average person uses 9 apps per day and a total of 30 apps per month, with a total of 4.2 hours a day being donated to using those apps.14 By placing targeted messaging into specific app platforms, ultra-targeted marketing efforts take place.

Over-The-Top Media

So, what’s so ‘over-the-top’ about over-the-top marketing? For starters, it implements video streaming services such as Hulu, YouTube, or Amazon Prime. Video streaming services are quickly becoming the alternative for traditional television, over 55% of American households have multiple streaming platforms, with 80% having at least one streaming platform.15 With this expected-to-grow population, focusing on targeted messaging using these streaming platforms can prove useful. Another interesting aspect of OTT marketing is the ability to make advertisements interactive. This can provide useful information regarding decision making and perceptions of targeted populations.


While it may seem tricky trying to go a-la-cart with your patient recruitment marketing efforts, remember that treating it more as a ‘buffet’ will help! Instead of immediately going all in for one method, feel free to pick and choose the amount of budget dedicated to multiple medium outlets. Finding your study’s perfect marketing style shouldn’t be difficult, reach out to CSSi today for recommendations and creative deliverables to ensure your best patient recruitment season yet!

















Follow us!


CSSi, 'Tis the Season for Patient Recruitment: Recruitment Strategies for Research Studies During The Holiday Season

'Tis the Season for Patient Recruitment: Recruitment Strategies for Research Studies During The Holiday Season

  • By Myra Zerr-Korolev
  • 12-Dec-2023

While the holiday hustle and bustle may be in full swing, clinical trials are at risk for delayed patient enrollment during the winter months.

A recent survey shows an estimated 84% of people plan on traveling to celebrate the holidays this year, and of those who plan on traveling, most respondents noted they are staying with either their siblings (51%) or at their parents’ house (51%).

Read More
CSSi, Patient Recruitment For Novel Therapies

Patient Recruitment For Novel Therapies

  • By Myra Zerr-Korolev
  • 26-Mar-2023

Gene and cellular therapy are novel treatment methods that are avidly being studied in a realm of different indications including oncology, neurology, rheumatology, pediatrics, and more. As of 2023, there are over 1,500 gene/cellular therapy trials actively enrolling with a majority being in Phase 1 and Phase 2 stages.

Read More
CSSi, Improving Patient Recruitment within the LGBTQIA+ Community

Improving Patient Recruitment within the LGBTQIA+ Community

  • By Myra Zerr-Korolev
  • 17-Mar-2023

LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersexual, Asexual/Agender, + Additional Sexualities and Identities) make up a significant portion of the population: around 8% of the total United States population and an estimated 10% of the global population.1,2 Trends show an increased likelihood of identifying as LGBTQA+ in younger generations such as millennials and Gen Z.

Read More
Image of the New Generations: Gen Z and “Zillennials” recruitment solutions

Recruiting the New Generations: Gen Z and “Zillennials”

  • By Myra Zerr-Korolev
  • 5-Oct-2022

Now that we have a flood of new adults entering the scene, they are eligible to participate in many clinical trials. These new adults aren’t their Millennial elders and are far removed from Gen X and the Baby Boomer generations, so new recruitment tactics and strategies need to be implemented to gain their interest.

Read More
Image of telemedicine used for patient clinical study recruitment solutions

A Brave New World: Recruiting Patients for DCTs and Hybrid Trials

  • By Myra Zerr-Korolev
  • 27-Jul-2022

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many clinical trials were halted or stopped altogether due to the inability to recruit and screen patients. Much of this was due to a centralized study set up, where patients were required to appear in person for screening and secondary study visit activities. As the pandemic progressed...

Read More
Image of patient discussing research study requirements with study coordinators.

The Magic of Marketing: Creating the Perfect Patient Recruitment Solution

  • By Myra Zerr-Korolev
  • 13-Oct-2021

Marketing and advertising are an art form. And as is true of all art, it evolves and adapts to the world around it (And enter the famous question: Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?). Reaching patients for clinical trials is quite a task. Creating awareness, providing education, and garnering true interest is a multi-pronged approach that requires an in-depth understanding of the needs and communication...

Read More
Image of diversity in our general population in America today.

Rebuilding Trust in Clinical Trials: Diverse Patient Recruitment

  • By Myra Zerr-Korolev
  • 03-Aug-2021

The health and well-being of all persons regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender is integral to public health. As a nation, the United States is slowly improving and becoming self-aware of the maladaptive behavior towards its minority citizens both past and present.

Read More
Image of Study Coordinator and Patient reviewing considerations for study trial.

Post-COVID-19 Patient Recruitment: Dealing with the Aftermath

  • By Myra Zerr-Korolev
  • 02-Jun-2021

Clinical trial recruitment has been understandingly difficult for the past fifteen months. Isolation and quarantine have kept patients (not to mention site and trial staff) from being able to undergo appropriate screening and enrollment measures. Because of this immense issue, many trials have been paused (or worse, stopped all together).

Read More
image of doctors office nurse performing a telephone chart review.

The 24-Hour Window: Responding to Your Referrals Before They Lose Interest

  • By Gabrielle St Remy
  • 03-Sep-2020

Patient recruitment is often a time-consuming and high-cost step in completing your clinical trials. Your marketing team will have to develop the correct study message and a strong call-to-action to get people motivated to see if they prequalify. You must strategically target your patient population and generate interest in participation among this audience.

Read More
image of LES performing a telephone chart review.

Recruiting for Trials During a Global Pandemic

  • By Gabrielle St Remy
  • 16-Apr-2020

The COVID-19 virus has significantly changed the way the world operates. It has caused unprecedented interruptions to many industries and businesses around the globe, and clinical trials are no exception. New guidelines have been issued by the FDA regarding clinical trials, which could have a significant impact on study enrollment and patient retention.

Read More
image of plnning for Multichannel Marketing

Don’t Put All Your Recruitment Eggs in One Basket

  • By Gabrielle St Remy
  • 12-Mar-2020

As you begin the patient recruitment process for your study, it can be tempting to put all of your money towards one method. You place all bets on digital advertising because that generated the most referrals during your last study. What happens if digital doesn’t perform for you this time? It’s best to spread your advertising budget out over a number of recruitment methods. This gives you the ability to truly test what is most effective.

Read More
image of divers people

Answering the Lack of Diversity in Clinical Trials

  • By Gabrielle St Remy
  • 15-Nov-2019

Identifying and implementing ways to increase diversity in clinical trials is a growing topic in the industry. Almost 40 percent of Americans belong to a racial or ethnic minority, but roughly 80-90 percent of participants in clinical trials for new drugs are still disproportionately Caucasian.1

In order to make sure drugs and treatments are safe and reliable to all people, there needs to be a better representation

Read More
image of a woman comparing streaming app on her phone and computer

New Advertising Options for Patient Recruitment: Are they on your radar?

  • By Gabrielle St Remy
  • 29-Aug-2019

We all see others do it, and we probably experience it ourselves it every day.
Watching videos and tv shows on devices other than the TV in the family room, catching up on your favorite sitcom on-demand because you weren't home to watch it at 8pm when it originally aired, or streaming videos on YouTube to pass time. As the years go by, technology and media are changing – and so is how we are using them.

Read More
image of a woman reviewing app on her phone

Understanding & Removing the Barriers to Patient Retention

  • By Gabrielle St Remy
  • 14-Aug-2019

Each year, $1.89 billion is spent on patient recruitment for clinical trials.1 With a 30% average dropout rate across all clinical trials, many pharmaceutical companies are spending a large amount of money to recruit patients who aren't staying enrolled in their trials.

Needed study data for regulatory submission and the overall success of a clinical trial depend largely on study participants fulfilling their roles...

Read More
images of 14 Years in Service

CSSi Celebrates 14 Years as a Full-Service Patient Recruitment Agency

  • By Gabrielle St Remy
  • 11-Apr-2019

As a sponsor, CRO or site, there are a surplus of patient recruitment companies you can turn to when you need help finding patients for your studies, and that number grows higher every day. Most of these companies offer a niche service, but very few are a full-service, global recruitment agency like ours.

Read More
images of digital advertizing

Traditional Advertising Is Still Alive

  • By Gabrielle St Remy
  • 01-Apr-2019

We've all heard it before: "traditional advertising is dead." But if that were true, why are we still seeing commercials on TV, hearing ads on the radio, and seeing billboards on the highway during our morning commute?

Because it's not true! Traditional advertising is still very much alive and used by some of the largest companies worldwide.

Read More
images of responsive design with websites

Eight-Step Guide to a Strong Clinical Trial Website

  • By Gabrielle St Remy
  • 05-Feb-2019

There are about 93 million Americans searching online for information related to a health-related topic, with 63% of those individuals looking up a specific disease or medical problem. In fact, looking for health or medical information comes high on the list as one of the most popular activities people do when they are online.

Read More
person working on logo design

Clinical Trial Branding: Why is it so Important?

  • By Clara Hughes, Creative Director
  • 25-Jan-2019

Let's imagine two different scenarios:
A: You're sitting in a doctor's office, and you see a poster for ACN-053-2414, a clinical trial testing medication for acne in adults.
B: You're sitting in a doctor's office, and you see a poster for the Face It Acne Research Study, a clinical trial testing medication for acne in adults.

Read More