Best practice for participant engagement
This flow will help you get into the mindset of best practice for project dissemination to participants and guide you through the communication planning process, making sure you get through to your audience.

Online environment can bring general awareness about your initiative faster and cheaper than the regular recruitment campaigns. Digital participant engagement platforms can significantly raise engagement rates for different types of research initiatives. To unlock the advantages of the digital approach, consider the below guide.

1. Who is your target audience?
This is the first and most important question to ask of all! You must define the group of participants that you plan to engage in your project. This will help you identify the right strategy and channels to reach out to your participants.
  • Specific audience
    In case of very specific requirements, such as rare diagnosis, there might be no point in spending your time and resources on huge public campaigns. What is more, you might even already have a direct contact to your audience via doctors or other contacts. However, in case you don't have the necessary mailing list or contact person, start with finding and contacting channels that have direct access to the cohort of your interest, for example, patient organizations, clinics, or self-organized social media groups.
    In this scenario for most of the time you will not directly communicate with your target audience. Thus, your main task will be to prepare various informative materials for your partners.
  • Broad audience
    If there are less limitations to participation in your project or the participants could effectively be pre-screened by the Engage platform, it makes more sense to invest in a public campaign.
    Compared to the first scenario, public campaigns normally require plainer language and visuals when it comes to material development. Since you will be targeting a rather broad audience it is important to remember that you are going to compete with all other online surveys or in fact also any other content out there. Your main task will, thus, be to get people interested and enter the Engage platform where you can, next, present all the details about the project and participation.
2. Digital channels for digital tools
When using the digital Engage tool, it makes more sense to push more for online as your priority communication channel. Emails, social media posts and ads all allow to easily attach or integrate clickable links, helping to lead participants straight to your initiative on Engage. Read more on how to start utilizing the most popular online channels for participant engagement. And remember, whatever channel you choose to make use of, it is crucial to add a direct and clear path to the Engage platform either via link or QR code.
Facebook Ads
This methods works well with a broad target audience. You will just need to take some time to get acquainted with the promotion process and test different audience targeting to find the most suitable one for your project. We would advise to start out with a smaller budget and see how it goes. When it comes to messaging, try your best to get your main message across already in your visual materials. Keep it short as the algorithms are friendlier if you have less texts on the materials used for ads. Ads allow to directly link from the poster to your site, thus, don't be afraid to use action words on your posters such as "click here" or "come in".
NB! Always think twice about what account to use for advertising – it should have some clear link to the message you will send. E.g. an academic-related profile when talking about research; a patient organization or an industry association profile for just a friendly peer-to-peer invitation.
Social media posts
This option will be more useful with a broad audience, however, can be helpful also when targeting some specific disease domain. Normally posts help to generate extra notice and credibility if posted via partner accounts, e.g., industry associations, patient organizations or clinics. But be careful, if someone promises to do a post on your behalf, make sure to provide all the content and visuals yourself, so your message is aligned to the official one and it is not distorted along the way.
Keep in mind, as people tend to read mostly visuals on social media it is important to get your main points across visually. Additionally, while on the subject, it would be smart to ask partners if they could disseminate the same information via other channels e.g., emails, websites, or closed groups if they have access to any. It also makes sense to look for closed interest groups on Facebook on your own and try your luck there with the ready-made materials.
Emails can not only help you approach your audience in case you already have a contact list for specific patients, but also is a great supportive channel for a broader audience. If you already have a mailing list you want to target, we suggest you use one of the email marketing tools online to make the invitation more appealing by adding visuals and buttons leading straight to your project. However, in case you cannot get access to any tools, make sure that you work on your email message and its design. Add visual materials and bold your call to action. If you are trying to get a third party to email their contacts on your behalf, make sure to always prepare a ready-made email template and visuals that they can use without any adaptation.
3. Complementary channels to digital communication
Physical posters with QR codes
This method might help to get extra traffic and engagement from passerby audience who fit your project needs. You don't necessarily have to buy advertisement spots around the city, perhaps your partners in clinics or universities agree to simply put your posters up on their premises. While we suggest to mostly stick to the digital approach, surely the analogue world with ads in magazines and posters can also help you get some extra attention. In this case use the benefits of QR codes to create a direct path to your project online.
Press releases
These methods can prove to be a useful recruitment channel for broader research initiatives but can also be used for more specific audience in case there are some niche media outlets or conferences covering your project interests. In case of broader initiatives, it is always worth to send out media materials about your upcoming project just in case some media picks up the information. The situation really differs from market to market, but for a higher success rate it is very important to invest your time in developing a proper media list. We advise you to scout for media outlets and journalists that cover issues related to the subject of your project or science in general.
We will be happy to assist you in case of any questions or issues.

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