Picture this: You’re planning the marketing campaign for an upcoming benefit concert to support your nonprofit. You’re updating the event webpage on your organization's main website with the attendee sign-up form, lineup, driving and parking instructions, safety information, and other important logistical details. The page is becoming increasingly complex and lengthy. A thought crosses your mind: Should you create an event microsite?
Event microsites are single web pages or a cluster of web pages focused on promoting individual fundraising opportunities. A microsite can be a highly effective way to promote your organization’s fundraising events, but only when you have a dedicated, intentional web design and development strategy to guide the process.
So, is your nonprofit in the right place to create an event microsite for your upcoming fundraiser? In this guide, we’ll cover the questions you should be asking before creating an event microsite. We’ll also highlight a few bonus tips for creating a successful microsite if you decide to move forward with the project.
Questions to Ask Before Creating an Event Microsite
Creating a microsite to help promote your upcoming fundraising event might seem like a straightforward project at first. But to develop an effective site that actually drives engagement, donations, and event sign-ups, you must plan carefully and thoughtfully.
To assess whether your organization is ready to take on this project, Kanopi offers a list of questions you should ask yourself before launching into the process:
1. Is your event a major and/or recurring gathering?
If your fundraiser is a major, recurring event, such as your annual charity auction, it might be useful to create a microsite that remains up year-round to deliver ongoing information about the event. Interested supporters can learn more about your signature event, its impact on your fundraising and mission progress, and how they can get involved.
On the other hand, if your event is a one-time occurrence or a smaller fundraising initiative, you might not want to go through the trouble of creating a microsite. It’s probably more worthwhile to simply create an event page on your main website and include the event in your virtual calendar. Then, you can devote your marketing resources to promoting the event on social media and via email.
2. Do you have the resources or know-how to develop a microsite?
If you struggle to maintain your main website, you may not be in the best position to create a microsite. Your main website is your nonprofit’s digital hub for engaging supporters in all of your initiatives, so you should focus your efforts on making it the best it can be.
However, if you don’t have a team member or members with the technical know-how needed to develop a microsite, that doesn’t mean you will never be able to create one. Consider working with a nonprofit tech consulting firm to build the site. A web design firm can help you conduct audience research, map out the site’s content, optimize the branding, and create a strategy for promoting the site.
Before moving to the next step, assess whether your internal tech team has the bandwidth to take on a microsite project or if you have room in the budget to hire a nonprofit web design partner to help out.
3. Will your microsite’s content differ from your main website?
If you think your microsite will basically look the same as your main website, it might not be worth the time and effort needed to create the microsite. You wouldn’t want to hurt the SEO strategy of your main website by pulling audience members away to duplicate content on your microsite.
However, if your event covers aspects of your mission that aren’t highlighted on your main website, a microsite is a great opportunity to describe the event fully.
A microsite can also be helpful if your event’s branding is significantly different from your organization’s overarching brand. You can use the microsite to get creative with your brand, using different colors, fonts, and design elements than those on your main website. This allows you to build greater event brand awareness ahead of your fundraiser, too.
4. Does your fundraiser’s audience differ from your main audience?
Perhaps you’re trying to reach a new audience with your fundraiser, such as a younger generation of supporters or those who share a particular profession. In this case, a microsite can help you differentiate your event’s audience from your main nonprofit audience.
You will want to design your site with that audience in mind, so adjust your tone, color scheme, imagery, and headlines accordingly. A microsite allows you to get creative with your audience outreach and offer exclusive digital experiences that resonate with different audience segments.
After reviewing these questions, have you determined your upcoming fundraising event could benefit from a microsite? If so, read on for some tips for developing a high-quality, engaging microsite that boosts event sign-ups and donations.
7 Tips for Optimizing Your Microsite
Although your microsite will be less complex than a full-fledged nonprofit website, that doesn’t mean you can just wing it. A poorly designed microsite or ineffective marketing strategy can hurt your event marketing efforts and even have negative repercussions for your main website.
To optimize your microsite, leverage these seven best practices:
- Design the site with your audience in mind. Who are you trying to reach with your fundraising event marketing? Pinpoint your event’s ideal audience and design your microsite with those individuals in mind.
- Maintain a simple, streamlined user experience. Keep your navigation straightforward and use a variety of calls to action to help guide users through the site.
- Follow accessibility best practices. Ensure your microsite is accessible to all audience members by incorporating accessibility guidelines. This includes having descriptive alt text for all visual elements, captions and stop/pause functionality for videos, and sufficient color contrast between the text and the background.
- Make giving easy. Your fundraising page should be easily accessible so that visitors can find it within seconds of landing on your event microsite. When your giving form is easy to find and fill out quickly, you can even use it to boost in-person donations at your event. Share the page’s URL or a QR code throughout the event and periodically remind supporters to give via their mobile devices.
- Optimize for mobile. Many of your microsite visitors will use their smartphones to access the site, especially if you’re using the website to promote mid-event donations. Double the Donation’s nonprofit web design guide recommends using vertical layouts, larger fonts, and buttons, as well as keeping the site simple and uncluttered to appeal to mobile visitors.
- Share impact. One of the most effective fundraising tips for any digital campaign is to be transparent about the impact of your event’s fundraising efforts. Describe how the event fits into your overall mission and what success will look like. For instance, explain how reaching your fundraising goal means being able to house 20 more abandoned animals in your shelter or purchase tablets for 15 of your after-school program participants.
- Create an SEO strategy. Just like your main website, your microsite can benefit from a dedicated SEO strategy to raise awareness of your event. Make sure to incorporate relevant, unique keywords and valuable educational content to boost the chances of ranking highly in Google search results. Ensure the keywords you’re targeting are different from the important keywords on your main website so you don’t drive traffic away from that platform. As a nonprofit, you might even be eligible for a Google Ad Grant to support your SEO strategy with free credits to spend on Google Ads.
Your microsite can also be a testing ground to get creative and try out new design formats or interactive elements to assess audience engagement. If these elements receive lots of engagement, you can implement them into your main website.
The question of whether your upcoming fundraiser event needs a microsite is also a question of whether your team is equipped to develop the site, design it effectively, and create an SEO strategy to support it. Remember, if you don’t have an in-house web design expert, partnering with a nonprofit website design firm can help bring your microsite vision to life.
But before making this investment, make sure you review these questions and design tips to determine if you’re in the right spot to launch an event microsite. Good luck!
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