Testing value of content

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Hello to all,

Currently, we are a non-registration site. People can use our website (industry search portal) without signing up first but that leaves us without a database of names to continue to market to. I am now tasked with building our audience.

I want to add content to the site and promote that content as the reason users can elect to sign up (registration would be optional). However, it would take pretty close to a million years for our programming team to add new website pages. So I am electing to create a microsite that will essentially test the value of content as a way to motivate registration.

What is the best way to measure the microsite’s effectiveness? If we have never offered any real content before, is there an accepted standard by which I can measure value? Is a microsite the best way to test content? Should our main site link to the microsite? If the challenge is increasing our audience, should social media even be part of the marketing mix promoting the microsite? I’ll save my question on whether to include a customer loyalty program on the microsite for another time!

 Thank you for your help and insight!


All Replies
  • What a great set of questions you have here Catherine!  A microsite is a site dedicated to a specific product, market, or promotion.  Sometimes they last only for a short period of time and eventually get folded in to the primary site.  Sometimes they stay as-is because of the novelty that they provide to customers, or anyone else for that matter.  Here's are some of the steps I've considered when implementing microsites and building my registered user base.

    1. Set Your Goals
      Based on your post it sounds like you want to build a list of registered users for opt-in targeted marketing and to learn what content is the most effective.  Often I consider the question "For the sake of what?"  What do you intend to use your new email list for?  What is important to you about knowing which content is most effective?  What will you do with this data?
    2. Identify Something to Measure Success
      Some simple success metrics given the two goals above will be the number completed registration forms.  Setup your web analytics tool to track this over some fixed period of time.  Tweak your verbiage and the way you promote what's in it for them to see how the rate changes.  Contests like photo contests, essays, product reviews, and holiday themed games are also effective registration boosters. 

      As for the content I believe the best way of testing this is simple A/B analysis.  You can use Google's free Content Experiments to play with different page presentations or simply create different banners, buttons, etc. to see what works the best over a given period of time.  Utilizing unique query string name/value pairs will help you get even more insite into what's working.  For example, say you have a blue button and a red button on the home page of your site that says "Register Now" on it.  Run each button for a week and append a query string to the destination URL.  Here's how you can distinguish them, assuming you have a web analytics tool like Googl Analytics or Adobe SiteCatalyst gathering the data.  The blue button can link to www.yoursite.com/register?button=blue_registernow, the red can go to www.yoursite.com/register?button=red_registernow.  After find out which color works better you can do the same thing with the text on the button.  Say that red is the button generating more clicks (counted by looking at a page view metric in your analytics system).  Now you want to try three different red buttons:  "Register Now", "Sign Up Free", "Register to Win an iPad".  Pass in new name/value pairs like this:  button=red_registernow, or button=red_signupfree, or button=red_RegisteriPad.  Those will all get counted in your analytics solution.  You can narrow in on them by searching for them.  I use SiteCatalysts built in CID variable for this.  I refer to each of the different buttons/banners/etc. that I try as creative elements.  You can use several creative elements within a campaign to understand what's working and what's not. 

      Other success metrics to follow for your microsite include:  Unique Visitors, New vs. Returning Visitors, Page Views, Visits, Downloads.  If you're interested at targeting a specifice geography you can set goals there too.  Understand how your social media presence is working by looking at referring site data.
    3. Align with Your Current Web Strategy
      Make sure that you have a long term plan for what will become of the microsite.  Is it branded consistently with your overall company brand or is it different.  Have you done one before?  Do you already have a hundred others? 
    4. Do What You Say You'll Do
      To get users to register you'll have to let them know what's in it for them.  Tell them and then deliver as promised.  It's all about integrity and relationship when it comes to online communication.  A little humor always adds a nice flair too.  I tend to remember the funny stuff and usually look forward to more of it.

    Lots to consider here, but you're asking good questions.

    Bottom Line:  Set goals, measure, recalibrate.  Let customers know what's in it for them and then deliver what you promise.

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