Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Social Media PPC campaign successfully recruits participants for medical trial

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust provides a range of acute services at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, Hampshire. Our Pay Per Click (PPC) team was approached by the Trust to discuss the possibility of using digital marketing to help publicise a forthcoming medical trial.

Outline Strategy

In early 2015, Dr Will Storrar, a Clinical Research Fellow at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, contacted us to discuss the possibility of using digital marketing to help publicise and increase recruitment to the LASER Trial.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR-HTA) programme and sponsored by Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, the trial was aiming to assess whether a new treatment device, Airsonett, might help to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks in patients with severe allergic asthma. In order to determine whether the treatment device is effective. The trial was looking to recruit 222 participants in the UK.

After gaining a good understanding of the trial and the type of end user that the NHS trial team was trying to engage with, our PPC Specialists assessed the different possibilities for the Trust to promote the LASER Trial.

With the target audience being so varied, we needed to adopt a strategy that would get the maximum exposure for the trial and enable the Trust to reach their recruitment goals. The team recommended using social media advertising and promotions as the best engagement tool as it could reach a large audience cost effectively with great targeting options.

Our social media campaign focused on Facebook and Twitter to begin with. Ads on these platforms directed potential participants to the LASER website where they could register their interest in the trial. The trial team then contacted participants directly to discuss their participation.

Both our Facebook and Twitter campaigns produced really good results but with limited budgets the trial team decided to try different advertising platforms to see if these could increase participation. After running newspaper and radio advertisements with very limited success, the team re-engaged with us and our social media campaigns were resumed.

We would love to be part of your success

participants signed up to trial
website visits from Facebook Ads
participants signed up to trial
website visits from Twitter Ads


After a few months, the recruitment targets were achieved and the social media campaign was viewed as a tremendous success, with Twitter Ads contributing 1,647 website clicks and Facebook PPC Ads doing even better with 4,640 website clicks. In addition to this, there were 611 post likes, 83 page likes, 207 post shares and 118 post comments.

Most clinical research trials have ambitious targets and strict timelines for recruitment and many struggle to reach their targets to time and within their pre-agreed budgets. With the help of Tillison Consulting the recruitment target for the LASER Trial has been achieved and we now look forward to analysing the results of this important trial for patients with asthma.I believe that Social PPC has contributed considerably to reaching the recruitment target and would recommend Tillison to other businesses and public sector organisations.

Dr William Storrar – Trial Coordinator, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

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