Most nonprofit marketing specialists have likely already heard of microsites and how they can supplement or target their online outreach strategy. As a common buzzword, microsites have also caught on in the nonprofit world, especially as a way to promote fundraising events.
With the tumultuous experiences of this past year, it’s likely that your organization’s event schedule for 2021 is full of virtual experiences. In order to garner excitement and increase participants, many nonprofit marketing leaders have considered using a microsite to advertise their virtual events.
However, you should not create a microsite on a whim. If not developed with a targeted strategy in mind and with uniquely different content from your regular site, an event microsite can even be detrimental to your marketing efforts.
It’s always worthwhile to do your due diligence and research before jumping into creating a microsite for your event. Use this guide to help you understand what a microsite can do for your nonprofit, as well as to explore 4 common mistakes to watch out for when creating one:
- What Is A Nonprofit Microsite?
- When Should You Create A Microsite For Your Nonprofit?
- Mistakes To Avoid When Creating Your Nonprofit Event Microsite
An event microsite can be an invaluable component of your digital nonprofit strategy — but only when done right. Let’s dive into the article.
What Is A Nonprofit Microsite?
Taking insight from Kanopi’s guide on charity microsites, a nonprofit microsite is “an individual web page or a small cluster of pages that function as a separate site either within or to complement an existing nonprofit’s website.”
Your microsite should have a completely different domain or subdomain name from your core site and should be able to stand on its own without visitors necessarily knowing your organization. Your microsite might even be the first-ever touchpoint that a person has with your mission, making it the gateway to helping them become consistent supporters.
As a key marketing tool, microsites are usually created by nonprofit leaders to:
- Target specific audiences that require certain messaging.
- Get creative with different media forms, including blog posts, videos, audio recordings, and more.
- Gain another channel of visibility for the nonprofit brand.
- Heavily promote a new event or program.
- Add an additional way for the nonprofit to grow its email list, build social media followers, and capture prospect information.
- Provide a dedicated platform for one specific nonprofit service, like for a specific campaign or a microsite for webinars.
You’ll be using your event microsite as a tool to attract an audience who are most likely to participate in your event. Consider creative ways you can capture their attention and hold their engagement throughout the site. Incorporating fun elements like an interactive quiz or an immersive video are key methods you may want to try out.
When Should You Create A Microsite For Your Nonprofit?
You already know that a microsite can be a common asset for marketing a nonprofit event. However, since microsites are so good at prioritizing a goal and targeting a specific supporter base, they can actually be used for many scenarios.
In fact, many successful nonprofits have used microsites for these specific purposes:
- Long term/recurring fundraising campaigns
- Published media like a blog or webinar
- Online donations
- Educational resources relating to mission
- Creative projects
However, just because these opportunities present themselves doesn’t mean that the microsite you create will be beneficial. In fact, creating too many microsites might even hurt your nonprofit’s web standing and search engine optimization (SEO) quality. With too much of your information and content spread between different sites, your nonprofit’s ranking on search engines may fall.
So, what makes a good nonprofit microsite? Look for these qualities:
- High-quality content that is unique from your main site
- Easy navigation, especially if the microsite has more than one page
- Shareability so that the microsite can maximize its marketing and outreach potential
- Clear calls to action so that as soon as a user clicks on the site they know exactly how to engage with it
- Connections to a performance analysis tool or nonprofit CRM to track key performance indicators
- Optimized URL name that is directly related to the mission of the site. This could be a campaign name or event title.
- Elements and content that are accessible for all web users, no matter their ability, location, language, or device
Keep the above in mind when creating an event microsite. Having a clear idea of your microsite’s specific goals and target objectives will be essential as you continue developing and designing it.
Mistakes To Avoid When Creating Your Nonprofit Event Microsite
If creating a nonprofit event microsite is a path that you want to take, you will need to incorporate a lot of careful consideration and planning. It is critical that you have a clear understanding of the audience you’re trying to reach and outline a targeted marketing strategy to make your microsite appeal to them.
In order to keep you on the right track, here are some of the common mistakes that nonprofit marketing leaders make when it comes to creating an event microsite.
1. Reusing content from your organization’s main website.
We touched on this briefly before, but your microsite should be completely unique from your main website. Your microsite should stand completely on its own. In fact, if your microsite has duplicate content from your main site, you run the risk of getting both sites flagged by Google as being spam.
If you find yourself reusing content from your core website, this might be a clue that you should update your main site with a landing page for your event instead. This way you can still come up with a targeted marketing strategy while still using some of the existing content that’s already on your site.
2. Utilizing the same marketing tactics as with your regular website
Similar to the previous mistake, don’t use the exact same marketing tactics on your microsite as on your regular website.
If anything, a microsite is a perfect opportunity to be creative and think outside the box to start your online outreach. For instance, consider posing your microsite as an interactive quiz. This can ask questions about the user’s personality, and then assign them to specific event segments or panels that relate to their answers.
Then, your site visitors can be encouraged to register for the event and share the fun quiz with their friends and family!
3. Letting SEO fall by the wayside
Because your microsite stands stand on its own, developing a data-based and comprehensive SEO strategy is a worthwhile investment.
Here are some quick ways you can improve your nonprofit SEO:
- Publish content that contains keywords that are relevant to your event
- Incorporate metadata within your CMS to your title and page description so that search tools can crawl it easier
- Use alternative text for media formats like images or videos for screen reader access
- Ensure your microsite is optimized for both mobile and desktop, which improves user experience and in turn benefits your SEO presence
When you focus on your microsite’s SEO, you improve the chance of supporters and prospects finding it organically, whether that is via search engines, social media, or other online platforms.
4. Using a simplistic and unscalable CMS
Just because microsites are usually smaller and not as extensive as traditional nonprofit websites, it doesn’t mean you should use a simplistic or unscalable CMS. A lacking CMS can make it harder to update the microsite down the road or even lead to site functionality problems.
Look out for a CMS with the following capabilities:
- Templates for web pages
- Drag and drop tools for easy design
- Scalability with extensions or plugins
- Integrations with databases for report compilation and data analysis
Having the right technology and tools at your disposal is what will set your nonprofit event microsite up for success, and your CMS is the most important tool. Common platforms that nonprofit leaders tend to use are Drupal and WordPress due to their scalability as well as ease of use.
Make sure to do your research well before you decide. Or, you can use the CMS that your nonprofit already uses!
A microsite is an invaluable tool that, if developed correctly and designed smartly, can bring in new leads to your nonprofit and increase conversions exponentially. However, it’s not enough to just use any old CMS and pull together a web page. Consider the domain name you’ll need, the goals of the site, and the actions you want your audience to take.
Keep the above tips and common mistakes in mind when going forward with your event microsite and you’re sure to set the stage for success. Good luck!
About the Author:
As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne helps create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.
Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew.