As a nonprofit marketing professional, you know that proper advertising is critical to the success of your organization’s events. You probably use a combination of social media, email, direct mail, flyers, and other online and offline marketing techniques to raise awareness and sign-ups.
But there may come a time when you feel you’ve exhausted those avenues and are looking for an innovative way to modernize your event marketing approach. As a unique, effective, easy-to-create marketing tool, event microsites can help you do just that.
According to Kanopi’s guide to charity microsites, these sites are made of a single web page or cluster of pages that complement an existing website. An event microsite can increase awareness of your event, act as a supplementary lead magnet, and offer supporters a new, engaging way to interact with your organization.
However, there are plenty of instances where your microsite can be more of a hindrance than an advantage. To ensure your microsite benefits your event marketing strategy rather than dragging it down, use these five planning and design tips:
Keep the site’s scope narrow.
Follow UX best practices.
Brand the site to your organization.
Incorporate SEO strategies.
Don’t be afraid to get creative.
These strategies will help you create a site that accurately reflects your event while boosting your registration numbers. Let’s get started.
1. Keep the site’s scope narrow.
Your microsite is meant to offer a more in-depth look into one of your organization’s most important events. Therefore, it should contain unique content that’s different from what’s already on your main website.
For instance, if you’re creating a microsite to market your annual auction event, you don’t need to include a long “about us” page that recounts your organization’s history. If audience members have made it to your microsite, you can rest assured that they already have a general understanding of your nonprofit’s mission.
Infusing your microsite with tailored, unique content ensures that it will be optimized to offer visitors everything they need to get involved, including the event’s logistics and sign-up form. Visitors won’t get distracted by other links or non-event-related content.
Additionally, incorporating unique content in your event microsite ensures that you won’t run the risk of having duplicate content on your microsite and main website. Duplicate content can negatively impact the SEO rankings of both websites.
2. Follow UX best practices.
Just because your event microsite isn’t as complex or prominent as your main website doesn’t mean you should neglect all of the nonprofit web design best practices that enable a streamlined browsing experience. Specifically, we’re talking about crafting a positive, engaging user experience (UX).
By optimizing even the small details that create a better user experience, you can offer a positive first impression to your visitors.
Keep these UX best practices in mind:
Incorporate simple navigation. Your microsite shouldn’t have more than a handful of pages, and in fact, might only consist of a single web page. Use menu links and call-to-action buttons to quickly direct visitors to different pages, such as your sign-up form.
Prioritize accessibility. Don’t overlook accessibility when designing your microsite. Ensure all images have descriptive alternative text and videos have accurate captions. Also, your visual elements should be optimized for accessibility, with sufficient color contrast and no flashing or strobing elements.
Tailor content to your audience. Your event might have a slightly different audience than your main nonprofit’s website. For instance, you might be trying to engage high school and college-age supporters with a young activists’ event. If so, you might incorporate short videos, a social media feed, and more casual language into your microsite to appeal to a younger audience. Ensure your microsite’s content and design appeals to your target audience demographic.
Optimize for mobile devices. You’ll likely be sharing your microsite across your social media pages and emails, which many supporters will access using their mobile devices. Therefore, your microsite should offer a responsive design that automatically adjusts to fit different screen sizes.
These UX tips also apply to your microsite’s forms. For example, your event registration form should be streamlined and simple. It should only ask for necessary information such as attendees’ names and any required payment or donation information. Your form should also be accessible, with descriptive labels, clear instructions, and keyboard-navigable content. This way, your microsite will facilitate an easy event registration experience for all visitors.
3. Brand the site to your organization.
Even though your microsite covers different information than your main website, it should still look like it belongs to your nonprofit. This ensures that you aren’t confusing your existing supporters who recognize your organization’s branding and your event’s branding.
Subtly infuse your organization’s overarching brand into your microsite by designing it with a variation of your organization’s main brand elements. For instance, you might use the secondary colors from your brand’s color palette or your secondary font style.
Within this framework, you can still incorporate unique elements into your event’s branding. For instance, you might have an event-specific logo or image style that conveys a more relaxed, laid-back tone than your main branding elements. You can even create an event tagline to help strengthen your microsite’s branding. Review Getting Attention’s nonprofit taglines guide to help develop a catchy, concise, relevant event tagline.
A strong brand helps raise event awareness and get supporters excited about attending. Plus, if your event brand is unique and appealing, attendees will be more likely to purchase your event merchandise, like your t-shirts or mugs.
4. Incorporate SEO strategies.
To earn more event sign-ups using your microsite, you need to promote the site to the widest possible audience. As far as online marketing is concerned, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most useful strategies to help your microsite reach prospective attendees.
When your microsite is optimized for search engines, it has a greater chance of appearing higher on search engine results pages, giving your event greater visibility. Keep these tips in mind when planning your SEO strategy:
Incorporate relevant keywords. Conduct keyword research to identify high-traffic search terms that are relevant to your event. For instance, if you’re hosting a 5K color run fundraiser, you might include the keyword “color runs in [your city’s name]” to help your site stand out in local search results.
Proofread your content. One of the most important SEO factors that search engine crawlers look for is whether a page offers useful, accurate information for visitors. Double-check your microsite’s content to ensure it’s up-to-date, streamlined, and error-free.
Reduce site load speed. Your site’s load speed is another central SEO consideration. Don’t overload your microsite with too many code-heavy multimedia elements such as large video files that increase the page load time.
Don’t make a microsite just for SEO purposes. You might be tempted to create a handful of microsites to drive traffic back to your organization’s main website. But having too many microsites can spread your content too thin across multiple locations, making it less valuable overall. Search engines reward websites with high-quality, robust content, so it’s more effective to put the work into optimizing a single event microsite.
SEO strategies will help you reach a more targeted audience that is already interested in your content since they’re researching relevant keywords. This can give additional dimension to your online marketing campaign, supporting your social media and email marketing efforts.
5. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
As a designer, how often do you have the opportunity to test out your designs in a lower-stakes environment that still reflects reality? Event microsites offer the ability to do just that.
Try out innovative and unique design strategies or new types of content that you don’t want to roll out on your main website just yet. For example, you might incorporate videos, interactive slideshows, polls, quizzes, social media feeds, or a live chat.
Use website analytics to assess the effectiveness of these elements. For instance, you might analyze key performance indicators such as the average time spent on each page of the microsite, the click-through rate for different links, or conversion rates for pages like your event registration page or online donation page.
Then, you can determine which of these elements you might want to incorporate into your main website or adjust for greater effectiveness within your microsite.
With these strategies, you’ll be able to create an event microsite that bolsters your event marketing campaign and boosts registration numbers. Once you’ve created your optimized microsite, you can share it across your social media pages and email newsletters to drive traffic and ensure your audience has all the event details they need.