The Success of Our Microsite Marketing Strategy
We launched our microsite votethesite.com exactly 7 days before election day. We had grand ambitions of gaining thousands of visitors and thousands of votes to the site, hoping to be able to figure out the correlation between a successful online campaign and an actual election victory. We knew that this was a bold undertaking that had a chance of failing, but we were excited about the prospects of the project and thought it could gain some traction. Also, before launching the microsite, we put together a comprehensive strategy on how to successfully market our microsite and reach our traffic goals.
We adhered to our strategy and were able to accomplish our goals for the site. My original goals with votethesite.com were to have 2,000 unique visitors and 10,000 votes. I thought these were lofty goals that would both achieve a significant sample of data and also gain our company some recognition. By the evening of the election, we had over 3,000 unique visitors and 14,000 votes, exceeding both goals by more than 30%! Beating our goals was extremely exciting, but it would not have been possible without our original microsite marketing strategy or a group of others that helped spread the word about votethesite.
We first sent the site to our friends and family, encouraging them to check out the site and make it their Facebook status, Tweet about it, etc. This was a great first step - it got us around 300 initial visitors and 1,000 early votes. This group was even more rock star than we ever expected when it came to discussing the votethesite on social networks. In the end, votethesite.com was the Facebook status for more than two dozen people (leading to 155 unique visits), tweeted about more than 50 times, and linked to from various other profiles and away messages. These friends and family were able to help us get off to a quick start, and they demonstrated the importance and reach of the individuals in your immediate network.
From there, it was time to engage strangers and see if they liked the idea as much as our friends. We sent the site out to all of the campaigns that we featured on the site. We didn't expect much out of this and were surprised when we immediately got emails from candidates thanking us for featuring them and for having us update their screenshot. When anyone asked us to update their image or include different information, we were quick to oblige, because we knew that if we took care of them, they were more likely to pass it along to others.
The strangers that really helped us take off were news aggregators and the blogosphere. We submitted the site to Digg, Reddit, and Hacker News. Digg never really caught on - a visitor of the site submitted it without us know and didn't insert a descriptive name, just the link to the site, so people weren't really pushed to click it. However, we made hard pushes on the other two networks.
We submitted the site on Reddit under the title "Vote for Politicians Based on Their Web Design" and got more than 30 ups. One important thing is that we submitted it in the Web_Design thread, making sure that it was in front of the most relevant audience that would be interested in the topic. More than 7,000 people subscribe to this feed and it shot to #1 in their feeds, which was a great push for us. In the end, Reddit pushed almost 500 people to the microsite and engaged them to the point where they spent more than 8 pages/visit on the site. Similarly, on Hacker News, we referred people to our blog posts about the site and pushed them to go directly to the site. It's hard to know the exact number of views that HN generated views, but I would estimate it was around 1,000.
Finally, we were fortunate enough to get some love from the blogosphere. None bigger than being featured on the homepage of Download Squad, which ended up driving nearly 400 visitors to the site. Also, several other, smaller blogs picked up the site, accounting for around 100 visits.
I know this doesn't add up to the 3,000 unique visitors, but the majority of the visits came directly to the site - I would wager that most of them saw it on one of the news aggregators, a social network, or a blog and just typed the URL in rather than clicking on the link.
We had a great rush of pride after accomplishing our goal, but it was accompanied with a sense of graciousness for all of those that passed our site along. It just goes to show that if you create something interesting or continue generating good content, your idea can get traction on the web. It's good to approach every marketing situation with an executable strategy, but the most important part is that you really believe in the idea and how it could help/entertain different people.
Thanks again to everyone and stay tuned for the final voting results from votethesite.com!