4 Tips for Building a Microsite for Your Event

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Microsites are small, often temporary, websites with limited content centered around one topic.  This structure makes them perfect for promoting and hosting events for many organizations. Rather than cluttering your main website with event details, a microsite can host everything your guests need to know about your event in one place. 

When executed right, your event microsite is your central hub for driving ticket sales, boosting event registration and a platform place where you can build a following. While several design elements will overlap for many event websites, you can still get creative and be original while building your own microsite. 

Whether you’re a nonprofit engaging in virtual fundraising for the first time, or a larger business accustomed to presenting to crowds of thousands, you should create your microsite with these four tips in mind:

  1. Invest in engagement tools. 
  2. Apply SEO best practices. 
  3. Set up analytics tools. 
  4. Follow accessibility guidelines. 

Before launching a microsite, make sure a microsite makes sense for your goals. Some organizations can greatly benefit from the increased exposure and data gathering potential inherent to microsites, while other, smaller organizations, may find more success in keeping traffic on their main website by hosting events there. 

1. Invest in engagement tools.

Your event’s microsite should be solely focused on your event to create a consistent, informative experience for your guests. However, this doesn’t mean you need to make a cookie-cutter microsite to run a successful event. Consider how you want to display information about your event and position your organization’s brand. 

Your microsite’s features and content pages will depend on whether your event is in-person, virtual, or hybrid. Here are a few features you should consider including and notes about how to adapt them for different event types:

  • Live-streaming tools. Live-streaming tools are a necessity for virtual and hybrid events as they allow remote guests to participate in your event through chat features. For in-person events, live-streaming is optional, but recording parts of your event to create promotional materials for future events is recommended. 
  • Real-time updates and measurement tools. If your event is raising money, counting down to something, or encouraging online participation from visitors, make sure you have tools that keep your supporters updated and engaged. Many of the best nonprofit websites invest in fundraising thermometers and similar tools to provide guests with a visual indicator of their funds raised. These tools make hybrid and virtual events feel like “an event” since the audience gets to watch something be accomplished in real time. You can also display your real-time measurement tools on a presenter during your in-person events to create excitement and increase participation. 
  • Event registration forms. Before your event starts, guests need to sign-up online. Your registration page should contain all relevant logistic details such as when and where the event is. For hybrid events, make sure you ask guests whether they will be attending in-person or online, so your event team can make the appropriate accommodations. 

While microsites represent your organization, they are a step removed from your main website, making them a perfect opportunity to show off a different side of your brand or experiment with new brand identities. If you’re interested in expanding your brand, consider how you can tie your new core values into your engagement tools, so guests can get firsthand experience with this new side of your organization. 

2. Apply SEO best practices. 

If you’re familiar with SEO best practices, you likely know that building a backlink profile is a necessary part of establishing a strong online presence. Your organization should strive to create quality content and accumulate natural links from external, trustworthy websites. Your microsite should also contain high-quality content since it can help your organization expand your main website’s link profile. 

When adding links between your microsite and your main website, make sure to do so deliberately and judiciously, as link-stuffing can decrease your websites’ search engine performance. However, a few well placed links will help guide traffic back and forth between your main website and your microsite, making it far easier for donors to stay updated on what’s going on with your nonprofit.

As an external website, your microsite will also have its own SEO ranking and can help new visitors discover your organization. Consider how you can attract new visitors by optimizing your microsite with keywords that are related to your organization without competing for keywords with your main website. The rankings of both of your websites could be harmed by too much of this competition. 

3. Set up analytics tools. 

Microsites have limited content and a more narrow purpose than your main website. This means microsites provide an opportunity to collect precise analytical data about your event. Set up your analytics tools before launching your website to collect data that’s relevant to your event. 

Dataro’s fundraising analytics guide offers several metrics nonprofits should consider tracking on their microsite: 

  • Donation volume. How often do donors give? The best nonprofit websites will see an increase in donation volume around the time of their event. 
  • Demographic data. Learn who your guests are by collecting basic demographic data like age and location. 
  • Conversion rate. Establish a few target actions such as registering for the event or donating, and measure how many people complete that action. 
  • Cost-per-dollar rate. How much did you spend on your event and how does it compare to the revenue your event generated? This metric is important for all organizations looking to measure their events’ success. 
  • Churn rate. For nonprofits, churn rate applies to donors who lapse out of a giving program. This can also apply to previous guests not attending subsequent events.

While you don’t need to be a tech expert to set up analytics tools and measure their results, some nonprofits might need extra help identifying what metrics they should prioritize for their microsite and implementing the tools to measure them. If your organization fits this description, you may benefit from seeking out a consultant. 

Consultants specialize in a variety of fields and topics. For example, as Cornershop Creative’s guide to nonprofit consultants demonstrates, the nonprofit sector alone has an extensive range of consulting services, including fundraising consultants, website consultants, marketing consultants, internal organizational consultants, and more. For your nonprofit, this means you’ll need to take the time to assess your specific needs to ensure you reach out to the right kind of consultant. 

4. Follow accessibility guidelines. 

Your event microsite can only reach its full potential if it’s accessible to all of your attendees. Every website you launch, including microsites, should follow basic web accessibility guidelines to welcome all visitors. 

Many of the best nonprofit websites follow accessibility guidelines, and it’s likely your organization has implemented a few already to improve users’ experience. Here is a list of just a few web accessibility best practices you might already be familiar with and should be sure to implement on your event’s microsite:

  • Add alt text and video transcripts to visual content. Alternative text and video transcripts allow all guests to engage with visual content such as images and videos. Make sure your alt text provides useful descriptions of the image rather than generic text. For example, the alt text “a group of people” isn’t as helpful as “guests at our organization’s previous event listening to a presentation.” 
  • Provide comprehensive directions on your registration forms. Make sure your registration forms have detailed instructions outside information fields. Directions inside information fields disappear once a guest starts typing, which can make them difficult to use for some guests. Plus, guests who step away from their registration and return to fill it out later will also appreciate the external directions. 
  • Use headings in hierarchical order. Headings group content together and let your microsite’s visitors know what to expect from each section of text. Make sure your headers have meaning by placing them in chronological order (H5s under H4s, H4s under H3s, and so on). Doing so will allow guests to navigate your content easily and find what they are looking for with minimal confusion. 

If you’re concerned about accessibility, consider reaching out to a web design consultant for advice. Web accessibility guidelines can be found online, and a professional web design consultant will be more than familiar with how to implement them on your microsite. 

Microsites are a tool, and when built and leveraged correctly, they can elevate your event and drive more traffic to your organization’s main website. Make sure you have the right tech tools backing your microsite, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a consultant to learn how you can take your microsite to the next level. 

Author: De’Yonté Wilkinson’s a late-80s baby who found his passion for web design and development during MySpace’s heyday, when he helped his friends create awesome profiles. He’s spent the last three years specializing in WordPress and conversion optimization, and is an active proponent of coding guidelines. In his off time he enjoys cooking, Rugby, and hanging out with his wife.

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