Public engagement and awareness campaigns

Recently we have developed an email campaign and microsite to encourage participants to return to take part in a pilot for the world’s largest imaging study.

UK Biobank is a significant health resource set up by the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the Department of Health in 2006. It aims to facilitate research that will improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a range of serious diseases, through examination of the contribution of genetic predisposition and environmental exposure to the development of disease. It is also working to establish the UK as an international research hub.

Half a million people from across the UK were originally recruited to take part in the population-based study, providing an unprecedented level of data for scientific research. Open work with UK Biobank to develop strategies and campaigns that respond to their varied communication aims and keep all stakeholders actively engaged and up-to-date using a combination of infographics, animations, video walk-throughs and interviews with key figures from UK Biobank.


UK Biobank audiences

UK Biobank has a responsibility to keep key stakeholder groups informed about its work.

Participants - UK Biobank must uphold its ethical duty to participants by maintaining a strong relationship with them and keeping them informed about how their data is being used. Continuing to encourage ongoing participant engagement is also an important part of their mandate so that they can keep adding data to the resource. 

Scientists - It's essential to publicise the resource globally in order to ensure that the international scientific community makes the best possible use of it. Researchers who use the data must put their results back in to the resource so others build on work that been done – so the more people use the resource, the more valuable it becomes.

The public - UK Biobank has to be accountable to its funders (including the taxpayer) by being transparent in all its dealings and proactive in making information easily accessible for everyone.


We reached out to our audience with a targeted email campaign. The email feature an attractive and effective HTML design that echoes that of the microsite, including a prominent button to click through to the microsite. By sending emails in small batches and using image beacon tracking and analytics we have been able to test subject lines and adjust email content to maximise opening and conversion rates.  


Emails direct recipients to a responsively designed and content-managed microsite featuring a suite of succinct explanatory videos. The site combines interviews with key figures and introductory voiceovers, with footage of facilities and processes, animated text and graphics (infographics). The microsite has a simple site layout and navigation to cater for elderly participants. Participant testimonials and a visitor counter reinforce the feeling that UK Biobank participants are part of a large community that is contributing to the health of future generations.


Using a baseline analysis we set key performance indicators (KPIs) for the recruitment campaign. Our ongoing monitoring and review processes examine comprehensive analytics, tracking external and internal conversions, to direct design and functionality tweaks where necessary to optimise outcomes. We also implemented a participant feedback and follow-up strategy, assessing user perceptions and experience of UK Biobank at all stages to help us reflect their interests and concerns in future outreach efforts.

20% of email recipients visit the campaign microsite

The imaging centre is running at full capacity with places filled months in advance

40% of email recipiants register to take part in the imaging study

To date over 5,000 participants have been scanned as part of the in pilot imaging study, which had an initial target of 1,500