Launching a microsite – a separately branded website with limited content and functionality dedicated to a single topic – can be an effective strategy for drawing attention to a specific issue or initiative your campaign wants to highlight. But there’s more to making this tactic work for you than just building a website.
Before your campaign launches a microsite this year, consider these keys to a successful microsite strategy.
Think Twice Before Launching a Microsite
Is a microsite the right strategy? Too often I see campaigns misuse microsites as a shortcut to address a legitimate challenge. Start by testing your message with existing channels, including social media and email to see if it resonates with your target audience. The idea, writes author Jim Collis, is “fire bullets first, then cannonballs.” Creating a new microsite and social media accounts only dilutes your primary online audience, so make sure you really need a separate brand for your message.
Spend More Time Thinking About Distribution
Building the website or landing page is way less than half the battle when it comes to microsites. As Morton Blackwell says, “in politics, nothing moves unless pushed.” The most important part of an effective microsite strategy is how the message will reach its intended audience, whether that’s voters, the media, influencers, or your base. Even simply identifying your intended audience is a critical first step.
When you’re launching something brand new, like a microsite, you need to budget money for its promotion online. “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work outside of the Field of Dreams. If the goal is to drive search traffic, you either need to have a paid search plan or an ongoing search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
Domain Name Trolling Isn’t a Digital Strategy
Snapping up a domain name that mirrors your opponent’s name or slogan is just trolling. Yes reporters still fall for it and your team may think it’s funny, but the best digital strategy is building your email and text messaging list. You can engage in trolling behavior when your conversion funnel is tight and every other aspect of your digital strategy is humming along. Until then, focus on the fundamentals.
Consider the End
If you decide that launching a microsite is the right strategy and worth the investment of precious campaign resources, it should be ready to last the whole campaign. “Set it and forget it” doesn’t work with microsites. Too many campaigners assume that once a message is out into the world everyone has seen or heard it. The truth is that repetition is essential for making an idea stick. So only when you’re sick of hearing something are voters starting to notice.
Don’t Break the Bank
Most of your microsite budget should be for advertising to promote it. There are a number of affordable tools, like Instapage or LeadPages, that you can use to build your own microsites without having to spend money on custom website development.
Keep these best practices in mind the next time your campaign suggests a microsite is the right digital strategy to pursue.