8 Best Practices for Creating a Microsite

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Microsites can support a great communication or marketing strategy for your association, but make sure you think it through before you launch.

By Bart De Pelsmaeker

Hopefully, you’re already sold on the value of microsites. With that assumption made, here are eight best practices and tips for success so you can start creating your association’s microsites today.1. Identify the strategy. Microsites can make for awesome marketing tactics, but they should be part of larger campaigns or business strategies. Can you define your audience? How about your stakeholder personas? What is the intended outcome of your microsite? What are the distribution, promotion, and social media strategies? How is your content going to help you accomplish your goals?Only when you have answered these questions, should you set out to create your microsite.

2. Define the URL. Are you creating an additional brand? If not, your best bet is to create a URL that is a subdomain of your association’s or publication’s main domain/URL. This will add to your domain authority and search results.

If you are creating an additional brand or semi-independent venture, don’t completely discount this route, for it can be a viable choice as well.

3. Create a brand-consistent design. Perhaps you have some freedom to create something new that isn’t restricted to the same look of your association’s main site. But don’t get too carried away. It wouldn’t be wise to design without keeping your main website in mind. Too much deviation will likely cause confusion.

That being said, you have the opportunity to create something fresh and unique, so think about "experiential” marketing and leverage new technologies to create that wow factor to engage your audiences.

4. Include only relevant content and visuals. It is a microsite. You want to make sure that all the content on it has purpose and is there to support the main goal of your microsite. If you love an element but think it has the potential to detract from your message, take it out. Chances are, it will.

5. Limit your call-to-actions. Keep your microsite focused; include a single call-to-action — or very few of them. What is the desired outcome? Focus your content and design on those specific call-to-actions. Here’s a stellar call-to-action example from the microsite.

6. Recognize that mobile-friendly and responsive is not optional. According to Internet Retailer, 60 percent of global mobile consumers use their mobile device as their primary or exclusive Internet source. Therefore, when you create your microsite, make sure it is mobile-friendly and responsive. This is crucial — otherwise, your investment will quickly become obsolete. You will reach a much larger audience with a mobile-friendly microsite, as more and more information and product searches are happening on mobile devices.

7. Gather analytics and connect your microsite. Connect your microsite with your main analytics package to track your progress and identify areas with room for improvement. You should also hook it up with your marketing automation platforms to see how many people clicked through from email.

8. Determine your technology and maintenance. Before embarking on actual production, take the time to reflect on how you will build the microsite. Will you build or buy? Will you go for hand-coded HTML or use a microsite-oriented CMS? Whatever you choose, make sure you create a stable end-user platform, optimized for SEO and social sharing that is easy to update and maintain.

Bart De Pelsmaeker is CEO at Readz and has a background in content marketing, online media, and software development.

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