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Promotion Microsite Protocol - Top 10 Tips

Promotion Microsites are dedicated 1–3 page websites that enable customers to easily enter online promotions.

Microsites should be:

1.     Quick to load

A fast-loading website is best-practice in general, but for a promo microsite this applies doubly. Any clunky interaction reflects poorly and disincentivises competition entry, possibly putting off the consumer from repeatedly buying products to gain further entry chances.

2.     Easy to enter

It’s easy to get carried away with market research and ask for very detailed information from an entrant, but marketers must keep in mind that consumers are put off by having to take the time to enter too many entry fields in a form. They also worry about privacy issues. What store did you buy the product in? What is your post code? Which product did you buy? Your date of birth? Your cat’s name? Some of these can be obtained through the back end of a microsite, or a database of product codes, or by using the last 4 - 5 digits of a barcode. Having a ticked box for ‘over 18’ is also viable in lieu of obtaining age (for legal reasons, though this does forgo collecting data on entrant age ranges). A marketer must be selective in what information they want to gather and should consider running multiple promotions for the same products to nail that target demographic over time. Despite this, microsites can be very insightful as we discuss below.

3.     Helping marketers to build the next Promotion

A Sales Promotion and an accompanying microsite is the perfect medium to highlight a new product/campaign and gather succinct data. A dedicated landing page can determine the success of pay-per-click advertising while also giving customers tailored information and opportunities. Microsites tend to be separate from a brand’s main website  - where analytics may be less conclusive. And, because of the control a microsite gives the marketer over the consumer’s journey, data collected from microsites can be used to make reliable business decisions in relation to advertising, promotion and other future marketing initiatives.

4.     Cross-platform responsive

iPhone may be the largest selling smartphone in the U.S, but it’s not the largest selling smartphone in the world. Most people use Android (70% worldwide) - Samsung and Google phones. In fact, people use many types of smartphones and desktop OS and browsers. Microsoft Edge support may be discontinued, but people still use it – alongside Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and so on. Developers must make their websites as cross-platform responsive as possible. However, consumers using unsupported browsers and operating systems will always be an outlying issue in this regard.

5.     Tested thoroughly

This point acts in conjunction with point 4 - always test thoroughly for bugs, layout issues, and different ways in which the microsite loads on different devices and web browsers. Not every instance will look the same. Make sure links are working and that information is conveyed correctly to the consumer. Comprehensive run-throughs of entry scenarios should also be done to ensure that all information and entries are captured in the database.

6.     Easily tailored

Your branding is reflected from the point of sale to the product and then on to the microsite. This means that the microsite isn’t just a generic online entry portal – it’s a dedicated microsite, an addition to your brand’s online presence. It is still advertising a promotion. Its functionality, and more importantly design, should be on-point and on-brand. However, branding can change from promotion to promotion. A marketer may want to use the microsite to launch a new product or revamp an old one. Therefore, the microsite should be easily adjustable while still maintaining that core user experience and ‘feel’.

7.     Accessible from adverts, point of sale or products

Does your product have a rounded, ergonomic grip that you want to print promotional information on? You should keep in mind that QR codes do not capture properly unless almost flat. Make sure that the pathways to your microsite are streamlined and intuitive to customer expectations.

Don’t use a long, clunky URL that reads: and don’t use such a link on email advertising or SMS marketing. Use either an image button or a short-form link like bitly, or, better yet, use a QR code when the customer is interacting with your point of sale in-store or physical product. If you must display the full URL for your promotion, a short/punchy URL is best because it can be a separate website, apart from your main branding. Instead of, using a microsite you can have Keep it short, sweet, easy to type and preferably memorable!

8.     Able to provide an entry confirmation

The last thing you want when a customer enters your competition is for them to feel…confused. Did that work? Did I just waste my time? At the very least have a microsite page dedicated to ‘Thanks for entering!’ Or, better yet, send them an email confirmation that their entry has been successful. This is an easy trust-building, positive interaction that can doubly act as a chance for the consumer to subscribe to information on further promotions, or for the marketer to reach out to the entrant with some additional information and opportunities. One of the last things you want as a marketer is frustrated consumers trying to get in contact with you because of a simple issue like whether their entry worked, which leads to the next point…

9.     Transparent about how the promotion works

“I bought the 250g pack, is this part of the promotion or not?” This is a fair question if a consumer is uncertain about that they need to purchase to enter.

As a marketer, you should make all this information clearly available on all advertising and the microsite, as well as pre-empt as many possible FAQ’s as you can. Detail exactly how the promotion works, what the prize will be, what drawing the winner entails and what customers can do to increase their chance of winning. Try and avoid customers having to ask for more information - or worse, trying to discuss the promotion on social media while in a frustrated disposition.

10.  Easy to manage

It’s not only consumers and possible entrants that will be using your microsite. Running a promotion takes effort, money, time and people-power. Microsites that are efficiently organised can smoothly mitigate all of these cost factors without too much effort. Let a microsite collect entries and analytics for you - better yet, let a promotional microsite generate brand awareness, foster positive interaction, dedicate campaign data collection, run a competition, display terms & conditions, and more!

A discussion point in relation to fraudulent entries:

Marketers often worry about people entering promotions in bad faith, and one of the precautions against this is to request that customers upload a receipt as proof of purchase to a microsite in order to enter a competition. This is a hassle for many time poor consumers because it creates a user experience nightmare, as it takes up their valuable time and forces them to navigate through saved data on their phone. Everyone knows that this is a pain. It can also feel unjustified to the well-intended competition entrant. 

One way around this is to forgo proof of purchase and to instead dedicate a code (or unique codes) to each individual promotional item - perhaps printing a code underneath a lid, label, or elsewhere on packaging. The customer can be instructed to have the product on hand as proof of purchase if they are a winner. 

In some settings customers that make a qualifying purchase can be handed a promotional coupon or a register receipt that is uniquely coded and directs them to the competition microsite. In turn they simply enter their name, contact number and the unique code as proof of purchase. 

People entering an online competition in bad faith must also provide correct contact information to be contacted if they’re a winner, and therefore fraudulent entries can be checked in the back end of the campaign database and weeded out manually. In our experience, only a very small percentage of the general public can be bothered with fraudulent competition entries and we generally know how to identify them.


Do you think that having to upload receipts to enter an online competition is a valid thing to ask of consumers? Can you think of other ways for marketers to get around this problem? 

Whatever your view – the key objective of a Sales Promotion is to move stock or sell a service. So long as a campaign achieves that objective, the campaign is a success! It’s not always the number of entries that counts.


If you’re planning a promotion and require assistance in setting up a functional microsite, contact Peter McKinnon: (03) 9646 5644 /             

For more information on microsites, watch SAM's video here!

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