Research Study Recruitment

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Research Study Recruitment

Currently working with:

Struggling to recruit for research studies during COVID-19?

We specialize in digital recruitment for research studies.

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What Would Digital Recruitment Look Like for Your Study?

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How we Help You

f Define Criteria

You determine the criteria that must be met for a participant to be qualified.

 Awareness & Recruitment

We increase awareness among your likely candidates and actively recruit them. We don’t rely on outdated databases.

Z Qualified Applicants

You get participant data in real-time once they’re recruited and qualified.

f Define Criteria

You determine the criteria that must be met for a participant to be qualified.

 Recruitment

We increase awareness among your likely candidates and actively recruit them. We don’t rely on outdated databases.

Z Qualified Applicants

You get participant data in real-time once they’re recruited and qualified.

Research Study Recruitment: Best Practices

Recruiting ideal participants for research studies is a common problem among all researchers. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever met a director, manager, or coordinator that is completing all of their research on time with no recruitment struggles. 

By its nature, recruitment is never going to be easy. Finding persons that meet your qualification criteria is only half the battle—you still have to convince them to enroll and participate. 

With this in mind, we need to remember that there is no magic wand for research study recruitment. Nor will there ever be. Some studies will always be more difficult to recruit for than others, but the key is to make sure you’re following the proven best practices when recruiting for research studies. 

Let’s walk through these best practices for research study recruitment!

Generate Awareness for Your Research Study

Your ideal participants—or target audience as I like to call them—need to know about you before you ever invite them to apply.

You’ll always be tempted to immediately invite all prospects to apply; that temptation never goes away. However, most of the time, this approach is only going to scare them off.

When you get the attention of a prospect, and immediately transition from zero awareness to “apply now” or “enroll now,” you’re doing the same thing. You’ve given them no reason to proceed. 

The solution to this is generating awareness for your research study. Here’s what this entails:

Who You Are

Are you a university? Government agency? Who exactly are you?

Clearly sharing who you are is a crucial first step of generating awareness for your research study. As you’ll see in a moment, we want to build trust, and people don’t trust people/entities they don’t know.

In addition to promoting your entity, promote your team. Feature their friendly faces on recruitment materials. Showcase interviews with them that allow them to share why they love their research and to share success stories. Not only promote them, but make it clear who they are and what they do. 

What You’re Researching

People are, by nature, very curious. The majority of your prospective participants are going to be curious about what exactly you’re researching. And as I mentioned before, the unknown is a major deterrent to enrollment.

Therefore, be open and upfront about what you’re researching. I’m not suggesting that you divulge sensitive information, but I am suggesting that you be clear about what your research consists of. 

What are you hoping to learn?

What are you hoping to prove or disprove?

Be forthright with these goals. 

Why You’re Researching

Beyond what you’re researching, why are you performing this research?

When you share the answers to these questions, you’re going to tell the story of your research study. You go beyond the “what,” and truly connect with your best applicants on an emotional level.

“Why?” is a very powerful question. Anticipate that your best participants will want to know the answer to this question, and proactively share your “why” with them.

By improving awareness of your research studies, and all related components and factors, you’re positioning your studies to appeal to your ideal prospects, while making it easier to recruit them later.

Build Trust

In commerce, no one buys from a company they don’t trust. It’s no surprise that Amazon is one of the world’s most trusted companies.

The same is true among researchers seeking to recruit participants for their studies. No one is going to apply to or enroll in a research study unless they trust the entity and its people. When you consider the fact that many screenings require the prospect to divulge sensitive information, possibly information that they’ve never shared with anyone before, trust becomes paramount. Even if you aren’t collecting personal information, just remember that many people by nature are a bit leery about trusting others.

Therefore, it is crucial that once your target audience becomes aware of your research, you earn their trust before recruiting them for enrollment. 

The single best way to build trust is to feature and showcase current/past participants in your research (ideally the study you’re recruiting for). Show their photo if you can (video is even better!), along with a testimonial. 

Please know that I’m aware that this will not be an easy task. The IRB approval process alone can be daunting. But it can be done, and it will be more than worth the effort. 

Set Expectations

Few people are immune to having some sort of medical-related fear. Trepidations of needles, tests, MRIs, etc. are common. Just visiting a medical office or setting of any kind can be daunting to many.

Further, consider that all humans have vividly pessimistic imaginations. We’re excellent at imagining worst-case scenarios instead of likely scenarios. 

Let’s apply these factors to your research study recruitment: there is a very good chance that your prospective applicants will imagine a terrifying scenario or procedure that they’ll have to endure should they enroll. If they fall victim to this, then they’re unlikely to proceed further and learn more about the study. They’ll just abandon the process altogether and remove your study from their mind.

For all of these reasons, it is crucial that you clearly communicate what prospects’ expectations should be. Be open and upfront about any procedures that will be performed, and discuss them in an appropriate context. Yes, some prospects will get spooked and give up on your study. That’s okay—your study isn’t going to appeal to everyone, and this keeps you from having to spend time and resources on a prospect that ultimately is highly likely to drop out. 

Clearly Communicate Qualification Criteria

Throughout your recruitment content, be clear about who does and does not qualify for your study. This achieves two excellent objectives:

It reduces low quality applications.

The last thing you want to do is waste your staff’s precious time on applicants that aren’t going to qualify. 

It makes your study more appealing to persons that are interested.

Qualified applicants are great, but do you know what are even better? Qualified applicants that are interested and motivated! 

When applicants know in advance who you’re looking for, and they know that they’re at least a partial match, their excitement and enthusiasm increase. Excited and enthusiastic applicants are the best applicants.

 

Make it Easy to Apply

Earlier, I mentioned how Amazon is a great example of an entity that earns the trust of its customers. Here’s something else that you can learn from Amazon: think about how easy they make it to engage with them.

Amazon has made it incredibly easy—almost criminally so—to complete a purchase.

You need to make it just as easy for prospective applicants to apply to your study. 

Here are the most common mistakes we see groups make when recruiting for research studies:

Lengthy Application Form
Lengthy forms scare away prospects. No one wants to spend time completing a form. Our research shows that the more fields a form has, the lower its completion rate will be—no matter how short the questions are. Also, remember that a large majority of your prospects will be on mobile devices, and no one enjoys typing on a small screen.

Non-Essential Questions
Yes, you need to ask a lot of questions to qualify someone. But referring to the first point above, your initial application needs to only ask the 2-5 absolute most crucial questions. Think about it… Would you want to complete a 20-question form?

Mobile-First
Most of our recruitment efforts see over 90% of all prospects learning about your study on a smartphone. Therefore, design your recruitment materials and form with a mobile-first mindset; mobile-friendly isn’t enough.

User Experience
Earlier I referenced how easy Amazon makes it to give them money. This is the same mentality you need to employ when working to recruit applicants: make it almost impossible to not complete the form. 

Set Expectations
When prospects submit your application, clearly explain what happens next. Will you be calling or emailing them? When will this happen? Who will be doing it? The absolute worst thing you can do is have someone apply and then give them no indication of what happens next, and leave them waiting for the unknown. 

Applicant Management
Let’s pick up right where we left off with the last point: Simply put, you need a process in place that allows you to quickly connect with applicants—ideally within minutes! We know from experience that the longer you wait to connect with an applicant, the less likely you are to ever get them on the phone.

We understand that not everyone has the staff or ability to constantly correspond with applicants, but whatever your “best” is, make sure you implement it! This is why setting expectations is so important, so that even if you are unable to call them right away, at least the prospect knows what to expect. 

Summary

Digital recruitment for research studies has been proven to be incredibly effective, even for reaching highly complex audiences. However, like anything else, there are good and bad practices. 

With research study recruitment, there is little room for error. Shrinking recruitment budgets require that researchers get recruitment right the first time, or else you may never reach your target enrollment, or worse, you may never be able to complete the study. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to figure out what works. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for each study. Follow the best practices outlined here, and you’ll be well on your way to consistent and streamlined recruitment!

Let’s Discuss Your Recruitment

How to Increase Enrollment by Building Trust

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What You’ll Learn

At Rekrewt, we strategize and execute hundreds of digital recruitment campaigns each year. We’ve consulted with, strategized for, and executed campaigns for studies at the university level, as well as government agencies at the federal level.

Why does this matter? Because we know what it takes to succeed with a digital recruitment marketing campaign. We understand the problems you’re facing.

We know how you can get butts in seats.

Most PI’s or study managers are new to digital recruitment marketing, or haven’t ventured beyond dipping their toes into the shallow end. If you’ve tried a few isolated ads on Google or Facebook, and didn’t get the results you were hoping for, don’t give up on digital capabilities! Isolated ads rarely work, and one of the main reasons why is what we’re covering in this guide: trust.

If you’re not sure where to start, or how exactly digital can be successfully leveraged to recruit your ideal participants, then don’t worry—you’re not alone, and this guide is going to help you.

The cornerstone of any successful digital recruitment campaign is trust. Once you earn prospects’ trust, everything else becomes so much easier!

This guide is going to walk you through exactly what your prospects want you to show them, how you can earn their trust while helping them, and how you can make them want to engage with you further. All with capabilities that are unique to digital recruitment.

Get access now to dive in!

Checklist: Successful Digital Recruitment During COVID-19

Get the checklist right now via email:

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What You’ll Learn

I’ve heard from quite a few directors and managers over the last few weeks that have been forced to transition studies and trials to a remote format. This has, understandably, been a difficult adjustment to make.

A common refrain that I’ve heard is that you’re either struggling to recruit as a result of the “covid crisis,” or now that you’re off campus, you just don’t know how to recruit and keep your pipeline full (or both!).

With this in mind, we have assembled a free checklist for all of you performing any kind of research/trial during this time.

It is a quick read, but is filled with actual best practices that we’ve learned and are implementing for the agencies, universities, and companies that have hired us.

I hope you’ll check it out and that it helps you during this tough time.

Questions? Let me know!

-Zach Jones
Founder & President, Rekrewt

What You’ll Learn

At Rekrewt, we strategize and execute hundreds of digital recruitment campaigns each year. We’ve consulted with, strategized for, and executed campaigns for studies at the university level, as well as government agencies at the federal level.

Why does this matter? Because we know what it takes to succeed with a digital recruitment marketing campaign. We understand the problems you’re facing.

We know how you can get butts in seats.

Most PI’s or study managers are new to digital recruitment marketing, or haven’t ventured beyond dipping their toes into the shallow end. If you’ve tried a few isolated ads on Google or Facebook, and didn’t get the results you were hoping for, don’t give up on digital capabilities! Isolated ads rarely work, and one of the main reasons why is what we’re covering in this guide: trust.

If you’re not sure where to start, or how exactly digital can be successfully leveraged to recruit your ideal participants, then don’t worry—you’re not alone, and this guide is going to help you.

The cornerstone of any successful digital recruitment campaign is trust. Once you earn prospects’ trust, everything else becomes so much easier!

This guide is going to walk you through exactly what your prospects want you to show them, how you can earn their trust while helping them, and how you can make them want to engage with you further. All with capabilities that are unique to digital recruitment.

Get access now to dive in!