Designing a digital sales proposal

Five UX Rules For Designing Beautiful Digital Sales Proposals

Designing a digital sales proposal

If you’ve been asked to draw up a digital sales proposal, then paying attention to good user experience (UX) design is important. 

By sticking to a small number of rules, you can make sure that your audience finds the great content in your digital sales proposal easy and enjoyable to read.

To maximize the readability and effectiveness of your microsite-hosted digital sales proposals, we recommend adhering to the following design tips:

  • Aim to male your site as easy to navigate as possible 
  • Design with user experience (UX) in mind
  • Remember that digital media like websites are mostly scanned rather than read 
  • Provide your users with a reliable and consistent experience 
  • Test to optimize your design

Let’s look into each of these points in more detail.

1. Make Sure Your Site’s Navigation Is Clear

One of the key gauges of usability and solid UX design is how easy the site is to navigate. If users are unable to find the information that they need, they are unlikely to spend much of their valuable time searching around for it. 

And with sales proposals, the last thing you want is for your potential client to struggle to find your message. Clear navigation reduces drop-off, which can mean more sales and therefore higher revenue.

That’s why, if you’re building a digital sales proposal, making it easy for the various types of readers to find the content they need is an essential step.

After all, sales proposals are often passed around an organization and read by people from a range of backgrounds in a multitude of roles. 

If you’re building a microsite rather than a static document, it’s likely that your proposal will be seen by team members in functions ranging from accounting, to finance, and from sales and HR all the way to the executive suite.

Because different departments are likely to be interested in different parts of the site, it’s important to think clearly about how to best organize the content on your website so that it reflects a logical hierarchy, or structure. 

Research by Gerry McGovern suggests that good site navigation might be even more important than having a good search function on your site. According to research conducted by his team, seventy percent of test users started an online task by clicking on a link as their initial step. In contrast, only 30% of users began with a site’s search functionality.  

To summarise, make sure that your site is organized according to a logical visual hierarchy. Link between pages in the right places. And make sure that your choice of navigation works correctly across all device types (e.g. desktop, mobile, and tablets of different sizes) by taking steps like implementing a hamburger menu rather than inline nav for small devices.

2. Design For User Experience (UX)

It’s important to design websites while considering how people are likely to actually use them in reality. The same applies to digital sales proposals, marketing microsites, and similar products. 

Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on speculation to know how. At Zoomforth, the team has drawn upon a considerable depth of design experience in working with companies to develop microsites in order to put together our site design best practices. 

Some recommendations based upon these best practices include:

  • Making sure that your site’s visual hierarchy reflects a logical organization of text, images, and other elements such as any embedded video
  • Avoiding empty grid columns, which could be distracting for users
  • Using enough whitespace around each element to prevent the website appearing overly crowded

Additionally, it’s also key to consider how users are going to be interacting with the content. For instance, it’s important to build responsive websites that look good whether they’re displayed on mobile or on desktop. 

In some instances, you may be confident that your proposals are going to be read primarily on mobile devices or tablets. In such cases, you’ll want to make sure to test for usability on mobile.

Alternatively, If you’re including presentations on your microsite, you may want to make it as easy as possible for users to download that content for offline viewing, potentially as hard copy printouts. Make sure that there are enough well-placed download buttons on your site for file-based content.

Some people still prefer to print out documents that they download. Make sure you make it easy for them.

3. Remember Websites Are Scanned (Not Read)

“People don’t read online.” 

You’ve probably heard that countless times. And it’s true. People don’t read online, at least in the traditional sense. Rather, they skim. Research from the Nielsen Norman Group, among other studies, confirms this; 79% of users tested scanned a web page rather than reading it linearly.

To take account of this, those preparing online copy and other forms of content should follow a few best practices:

  • Write in shorter paragraphs. These are easier to skim through than long reams of text
  • Highlight keywords of particular significance
  • Break up paragraphs into sections with plenty of subheadings
  • Use shorter words, sentences, and paragraphs than you might in conventional writing 

This doesn’t mean that everything you write has to be short and skimmable. Users can still embed resources for download. But copy that is going to be read in a web browser should follow these conventions. 

If you can present your ideas more concisely with a few well chosen words, why wouldn’t you? 

4. Provide Users With A Consistent Experience

Users want a consistent and predictable user experience (UX) when visiting your website. 

When online shoppers are adding items to their digital shopping cart, for instance, they expect their shopping cart to look like a shopping cart and be located in the top-right corner of the page. 

There are conventions like this that people may not be consciously aware of but nonetheless intuitively understand for almost any task on a web page.

If those same users go to your microsite they’ll expect an online experience that their past browsing has prepared them for. Similarly, If your team sends multiple proposals, even to the same pool of recipients, you’ll want to make sure that the look and feel doesn’t vary too dramatically between builds.

In order to achieve this, you’ll want to firm up on exactly what your visual branding guidelines are. Design teams will often crystallize that in a formal visual branding guide that officially declares the font and color palette that the company will be using on all its online communications. 

By using well configured templates as your starting point for each digital sales proposal, you can make sure you keep to the same conventions from site to site. 

5. Test To Optimize Your Design

Like most things marketing-related, there’s no need to rely on guesswork to figure out what works and what doesn’t for your website’s UX. There are plenty of excellent resources available to help you learn quality UX design principles, and these offer a good starting point for a non-specialist. You’ve already started by reading this post. 

To take things further, you might want to:

  • Run A/B testing on UX elements: A/B testing involves randomizing two variations of something and then seeing which performs better in relation to achieving your end goal. For a digital sales proposal, that might be as simple as an increase in sales, but it could also be more modest such as increased interaction with the page or more time spent engaging with it. Microsite designers could A/B test two versions of a site navigation menu, for instance, in order to determine which users have an easier time interacting with. 
  • Convene recorded UX testing sessions: Another popular option to help improve UX is to convene testing sessions. In these, users unfamiliar with your company and its offerings are recorded navigating through your site, sometimes commenting on what they like and don’t. Their behaviour is of even greater importance. All that’s required for this is screen recording software and a microphone. Those organizing the tests can use heatmap analytics to drill deeper into users’ engagement. 

Better UX Leads To Better Results

User experience (UX) is a vital part of developing effective digital sales proposals and digital products like websites more generally. Now that you’re familiar with these core concepts you’ve got a headstart in designing microsites, landing pages, and other digital documents that will impress those reading — or skimming — your content.

An image of an advanced interactive content platform

7 things to look for in an interactive content platform

An image of an advanced interactive content platform

If you are thinking about purchasing an interactive content platform (sometimes known as a content experience platform) for your organization then it’s important to choose wisely.

If you’re using this tool to send bid responses, after all, it’s going to be storing a lot of important and commercially sensitive data. Security, performance, and pricing are all going to be paramount concerns.

Here’s a checklist that you can use to assist during the evaluation process. 

1. Platform security

Perhaps the first thing on your purchasing evaluation list for your interactive content platform should be the security and integrity of your data. That depends heavily upon where it’s being stored. Some important questions to ask would be:

  • Who is the CMS using to host their data with? Is it a trusted cloud provider or are they hosting the application themselves, on their own infrastructure? If the latter — what infrastructure are they using?
  • What encryption standard is being used?
  • Does the company have a track record of securely hosting other sites?

Most content management solutions are offered through a software as a service (SaaS) model. This means that you are renting access to the software which is being hosted on infrastructure managed by the company — so all you have to worry about is paying a subscription and logging in through the internet.

Usually, in order to provide this, the company is actually renting server space from a dedicated infrastructure provider — such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure. Sometimes, though, SaaS companies operate their own infrastructure. Knowing these details might seem like getting stuck in the technical weeds, but is important to helping your security team evaluate whether the platform is secure and trustworthy enough to use for hosting business critical data.

Zoomforth hosts customer data with Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is considered one of the most secure infrastructure platforms in the world — and it’s one of the most widely used. It’s so secure, in fact, that the US intelligence community trusts it to host its data. Zoomforth uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt data to and from its servers.

2. Content platform uptime

In addition to making sure that your content experience platform is hosted on a reliable and trustworthy provider, it’s important to evaluate the host’s uptime performance. Uptime is the percentage of time during which the platform is available. Things like service interruptions and hardware failures can cause downtime — which could mean that your website is off the internet. 

Questions to ask include:

  • What has the host’s uptime been over the past 12 months?
  • Does the host guarantee an uptime percentage?

Zoomforth’s interactive content platform has experienced 100% uptime over the past 12 months and guarantees 99.9% uptime. As Zoomforth’s architecture is built on AWS, even when we’re updating and maintaining the website your sites remain fully accessible.

It’s important to only invest in services you can rely on. In the age of remote comunication, uptime is a vital aspect of reliability.

3. Business Continuity Management (BCM)

If you’re evaluating a technology partner that is going to become a critical part of your business operations then you’re creating a business dependency in your day to day operations. If your business has a business continuity and disaster recovery plan, then you need to make sure that your technology partner’s plan for disaster recovery is congruous with your objectives, including your recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO).  


  • What is your prospective partner’s RTO (how long business systems are unavailable before they declare a disaster and begin a restore process)?
  • What is your prospective partner’s RPO (how much data loss is acceptable before a recovery process will be initiated)?
  • What disasters the firm has planned for? These should include natural disasters such as pandemics as well as cybercrime and human error. 

Backups and disaster recovery plans need to be tested in order to be effective. Ask your prospective technology partner how often they test theirs — and don’t be afraid to ask for proof. Zoomforth is happy to share details of its disaster recovery plans and risk assessments.

4. Auditing

After asking “what is a microsite platform?” and finding your best pick, It’s also a good idea to ask whether the technology partner you are thinking about working with subjects themselves to regular audits. Ideally, audits should be conducted to a recognized standard such as SOC 2 or ISO 9001. 

Because many auditing standards are internationally recognized, this allows you to compare providers based in different countries.

Zoomforth’s interactive content experience platform is audited annually against the SOC2 standards. Copies of its latest audits are available upon request. 

5. Pricing 

As great as your prospective content engagement platform partner might be, it’s not going to be much use to your business if it’s outside your budget. 

Before including or ruling out a solution for consideration:

  • Check that there are no hidden costs
  • Ask for a quotation that covers a variety of potential pricing models

When evaluating pricing, ask whether the per-seat charge covers everything required to operate the service. Are there charges for the traffic you receive, provisioning the infrastructure necessary to deploy your sites, new features or even the number of sites you create?

Zoomforth charges a flat annual seat price, per user, which includes everything needed to use the platform including unlimited sites, visitors, and storage.

6. Support 

Support isn’t just required when something goes wrong. Proactive customer support focuses as much on the onboarding phase as it does upon issue resolution and troubleshooting. If you’re looking at hosting your content experiences on a third party platform, it’s worth asking whether the company is prepared to allocate support resources towards ensuring that you enjoy a successful onboarding. 

Other questions you might want to ask include:

  • What support methods will the company be contactable through? Can you reach them through email? Live chat? The phone? 
  • What are the support hours? And in what time zone is the company based?
  • Will you have an account manager or dedicated point of contact?

Zoomforth offers custom training sessions on its interactive content platform by video call, a personalized onboarding program for every signup, and custom templates to help your team get up to speed fast. 

7. References

Your potential partner of choice has great things to say about themselves. But does anybody else?

It’s important to ask what other firms are using the platform you’re thinking about signing up for and asking if you can speak to their users. Firsthand recommendations and references can put your mind at ease — and convince you that the platform is as good as it says it is! Zoomforth can provide references upon request.

Better Content Experiences Await

How to influence a customer hero image

How to influence a potential customer that you’ve never met

How to influence a customer hero image

If you’re currently putting together remote sales proposals, then — as we’ve discussed before — you’ll want to make sure that your content comes across as personalized and authentically as possible. 

The good news is that the two go hand in hand — so the more you can do to convince your target audiences that you’re speaking to them, the better your message is ultimately going to be received.

Another important factor to bear in mind is who is going to be evaluating what you send over in your tender response or buying communication. Different personality types have very different preferences in terms of communication. Thankfully, there are some well-established models for helping to categorize your potential recipients and understanding these can lead to better results.

Understanding more about who is reading your proposal will help you communicate in a more impactful manner. In this post, we’re going to look at personality types through the lens of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) © system. Here are the main personality types you should keep in mind. And how to write to them in a way that will get your message across.

The Myers Briggs © Dichotomies

The 16 personality types under the Myers Briggs paradigm are based on four basic dichotomies which form the distinguishing letters for each personality type.

Those are:

  • Extraversion (E) vs Introversion (I)

One of the most fundamental personality differences that springs to most people’s minds when they put people into ‘boxes’ is that between extroverts and introverts. Extroverts draw their energy from being surrounded by and interacting with other people. Introverts, on the other hand, are more comfortable with the solace of their own inner world. For them, being in social situations with large amounts of unfamiliar faces can be draining — whereas extroverts thrive on this kind of experience and are energized by it.

  • Sensing (S) vs Intuition (N)

People process information and make decisions in different ways. Those on the sensing side of the scale prefer practical information, facts and details and they focus on the present day. Those who are more intuitively minded prefer concepts, theories and high level ideas, with a focus on the future. 

  • Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F)

Decision-making is another area where people differ markedly one to the other. Thinkers prefer logic and analysis. Somebody who makes decisions by feeling focuses instead on their personal values, relationships and how they are affected by the world around them. 

  • Judging (J) vs Perceiving (P)

People also organize their world in different ways. The ‘J’s’ of this world prefer structure and control. Those with a preference for ‘P’ favor flexibility and spontaneity.

How to Communicate For Each Group

Whether your sales team is trying to sell to a buying committee of several different personality types or is just laser-focused on winning over one individual, assessing that person’s personality can be a strategic advantage in communicating with them to win influence.

The good news is that microsites are the perfect medium for communicating simultaneously with people with different personalities: creating iterations, and tailoring copies to individual members, are both readily achievable with a few clicks.

When doing so, these are some guidelines as to ways to communicate best with each of these groups.

Communicating with different perosnality types.
Communicating with different personality types can be improved by adopting different approaches.

Extroverts / Introverts

Extroverts will tend to be more engaged by interactive content than by static resources like documents or ‘wall of text’ style resources. They tend to experience the world in a less linear fashion than introverts. Building rich content experiences with lots of graphics and embedded objects might be a great way to pander to their energy.

Conversely, those on the more introverted side of the scale might be easily overwhelmed by interactive content that prompts them for input. To them, this can feel like a social interaction with an unknown person — which they are likely to find draining and negatively stimulating. These individuals prefer to take home resources and mull over them. They are interested in sitting with information and slowly processing it in order to try extract the deeper information. For this group, consider offering key resources as downloads. PDFs and even podcasts are popular choices. 

If you know that different personalities are in charge of different functions in your buying audience, then you might consider developing different pages or sections of the microsite for each function.

Sensing / Intuition

How people prefer to process information is key to how they make decisions. Those who are biased towards sensing enjoy facts and live in the here and now. For them, direct on-site and detailed resources are the most effective means to communicate with them. Show them milestones, project charts and action plans – they like to know how you’re going to get from A to Z.

Those who are biased towards intuitive ways of processing information respond well to headlines, executive summaries, concepts and analogies. They need to understand the bigger picture before they are prepared to engage with the detail so create layouts that draw them to the key points of your message. 

Again, you can adopt both strategies in the one website to cater to both sets of buying audiences.

Thinking / Feeling 

Those biased towards the thinking side of the scale take decisions based upon rational information — such as balance sheets and profit and loss accounts. Show them pricing tables, forecasts and bottom line impacts. 

On the other hand, those who experience the world through feeling are less swayed by logic and analysis and more influenced by ‘softer metrics’ – such as impressive personal biographies which might instill confidence in particular resources and team members.

Judging / Perceiving 

It’s also important to think about how the information you present is going to be carried over into your readers’ day-to-day lives. Those with the Judging preference prefer structure and control. 

If you’re trying to build a content experience that works for these types, make sure to include timescales for delivery and clear plans to get there. 

Perceivers on the other hand enjoy the freedom of being able to do things, and take decisions, on the fly. For this group, don’t forget to include things like contingency plans. While perceivers like the liberty of being less constricted, they also like to have a backup plan if things don’t pan out as expected.

Speak To Your Buyers

It’s important to take into account the unique personality of your buyers when communicating with them.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) © system is just one of several that can guide how to target potential customers.

Whether you prefer to work through a formal personality categorization framework or just trust your intuition, you can build better and more personalized content experiences when you know who you are marketing to. Use some of the tips above to better guide your microsite building.

Making a business case for a content experience platform

Building a business case to purchase a content experience platform

Making a business case for a content experience platform

Reasons to convince your executives it’s time for a different approach to content

You know that it’s time your business adopted a fresh content management system (CMS). Your colleagues might too. But you still need some compelling arguments that will win over upper management.

At Zoomforth, we’ve helped countless organizations move from putting together individual static documents to designing navigable and feature-rich microsites using our platform.

In this article, we present some helpful reasons you can offer to your team to make the case for an exciting new content experience platform that will empower you to make the most of your online presence.

Increase revenue

Digital sales proposals tend to do better than static presentations in terms of winning over recipients and encouraging them to award business to your organization. 

Relative to text-heavy resources such as PDFs or presentations, microsites or CMS-developed content:

  • Allows you to create more engaging content experiences for buyers by integrating multimedia elements and other assets
  • Allows marketing departments to run A/B tests in order to test out variations of a page and target their readership with the most engaging version
  • Gives teams the freedom to create individualized business proposals targeted directly at individuals or smalls groups within a company (account based marketing)

All the above translates into a greater ratio of won bids and higher income for your business.

Decrease costs

Software as a Service (SaaS) involves companies making software products available over the internet in exchange for a subscription fee. In order to make their services accessible through a login on the internet, the companies behind SaaS products provision the underlying technical infrastructure necessary for this to work. 

This frees up users from the hassle of having to take care of servers, other hardware, and networking. Additionally, users can rest assured that the SaaS provider is making necessary updates to the platform and maintaining its security. 

For smaller organizations without an in-house IT team, using these services can be a great way to not have to worry about keeping applications and infrastructure secure. 

SaaS has revolutionized computing (think of Gmail), but it’s not only webmail providers that make their services available in this way — many CMS companies, including Zoomforth, deliver their technology through this model.

Using Zoomforth, companies can design and create compelling microsites using an easy and attractive website builder. Because hosting is included as part of the subscription package, users have no infrastructural worries or associated costs. They only need to pay an ongoing fee to retain access to the software. The result of this more efficient delivery model is cost savings / easier budget management for users.

Speed to market

These days, many large companies contract the design and upkeep of their sales and marketing assets  to internal or external design agencies. There are costs associated with this. 

For one, the update process can be tediously slow. Busy agencies juggle dozens of active projects and even a small text edit can become another item on their to-do list. The result is that many frustrated pursuits managers report waiting weeks for agencies to make simple changes to their content. 

Spend less time waiting and get infront of your prospects sooner.

Using Zoomforth’s what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG editor), just about anybody can learn how to design, duplicate, and update microsites. The simple drag and drop interface makes it easy to both create and update pages. The results are that this task can be brought back where it belongs: under your competence. 

Costly agency retainers can be replaced with Zoomforth’s simple per-seat licensing price model. The results are freed up budget for your team — and having to wait minutes, rather than weeks, to make important content updates.

Reduce risk

These days, cybersecurity is on everybody’s lips. No company wants to be known as the one that breached privacy rules or spread malware to others.

Sending information as attachments to email has known vulnerabilities — for one, if the computer sending the file is infected then the file might be, too. Sending a link to a microsite containing that information is a safer strategy.

File scanning (for viruses) can be taken care of server-side (another task you won’t need to worry about!). The files can be stored encrypted and access can be secured by second factor authentication (2FA) — making it much harder for unauthorized parties to gain access. 

Sharing information through microsites reduces the risk that businesses will breach compliance regulations. 

Improved user experience

For your recipient, the microsite presentation reduces friction and is a much more enjoyable way to consume the content that you wish to transit. Compare viewing a microsite, for the recipient, to trying to piece together various emails from several different senders — the microsite experience comes out on top every time. This is particularly true if you are trying to transmit business proposals.

Additionally, a microsite makes it easy to bake in your brand guidelines to your communication. Users can customize their styling to create the exact look and feel that best reflects their company’s brand. Achieving this kind of standardization with file based communications like PDF and PowerPoint is significantly harder. 

It’s a differentiator

Finally, using microsites to transmit business proposals is an easy but effective way for you to differentiate your business from the competition. Many companies are still sending out long (yawn-inducing) PDF documents to potential buyers. The content might be compelling, but static documents confer several disadvantages — for both sides.

Sending over a microsite, especially a personalized one, targeted to the organization, is likely to resonate very well with buying audiences — particularly younger ones. Many B2B buyers are millennial or Gen-Z digital natives and they will be particularly appreciative of this new and engaging way of sending over information. This brings us back to our first point – increased sales income!

Why content experiences are effective

What makes a content experience effective?

Why content experiences are effective

These days, with so much online pitching going online, it’s extra important to put effort into ensuring that content experiences are crafted as effectively and expertly as possible. 

At Zoomforth, we’ve helped countless selling teams and organizations to build better online microsites to communicate with target audiences ranging from buying committees to potential job candidates.

Here are some of the best practices we have developed from that experience. 

Make Your Hierarchy Easily Visible

Site hierarchy designer tips
Left: cluttered navigation. Right: just right!

When writing for SEO, authors are commonly advised to develop their text from an outline and then order sections into H1, H2, and H3 tags according to their priority in the flow of the text. It’s not only search engines that like pages of text that are well organized into a fixed hierarchy.

When developing microsites, it’s advisable to make sure that your pages adhere to a very clear visual hierarchy. Readers tend to scan online text rather than read it linearly. Those designing online content experiences must bear in mind that readers are likely to jump to the sections that interest them and skip over the rest of the text entirely. The key to doing that? Section headings.

Use Your Space Wisely

Developing sites according to a column layout is a great way to pack a lot of information into a short amount of pixel space — saving the recipient from having to scroll through reams of text. Nevertheless, attempting to cram too much information, or leaving empty patches, are both likely to leave an undesirable impression on the reader. Here are some ways to avoid that:

  • Don’t leave too much white space: While it’s important to space out your content in order to avoid making the website look too cluttered and overwhelming, equally it’s a good idea to ensure that there aren’t any obvious gaping reams of white space on your page. If you don’t have any content to fill up a multi-column layout with, then consider just reverting to a single column layout.
  • Don’t make the design too visually ‘busy’: Sometimes, designers will attempt to use a bewildering variety of different font sizes and colors in order to differentiate between different thoughts in the same paragraph. Invariably, this just makes the website appear disorganized and overwhelming to those reading it. Avoid the temptation to fill up sites with too many tiles and font styles. This only leads to visual clutter. That makes it much harder for readers to engage with your message. End result: less impactful communication. 
White space design tips
Left: too much whitespace. Right: just right

Pay Attention To Your Navigation Bar

If you’re developing a content experience for a group of people, like a buying team, then the site navigation matters a lot more than you might think. The finance representative on the receiving team is likely interested mostly in the financials. The recruitment or HR representative wants to know about the company background. If you’re using a website as a modern upgrade on a pitch deck, then make sure that it’s easy for recipients to jump to the parts of the site that interest them.

If you don’t include a clear navigation, and spread relevant links throughout the appropriate anchor text, you risk negating a lot of the benefits that microsites have to offer over text documents or presentations. Some specific tips to make your content experience more navigable include:

  • Ensure that your menu only extends to one line wherever possible. If your menu breaks into two lines then again this tends to look overly busy and is distracting.
  • Remember that many recipients are going to be viewing your microsite on a mobile device. How does your site look on that? If you’re not sure, then you can use Developer Tools as a simulator. 
Navigation bar design simple

Use The Same Font Throughout!

Professional brands pour extensive resources into standardizing their brand. This extends to layout elements such as font types, font points, and colors. Our recommendation: borrow a page from the professionals and do the same. 

Even if you don’t want to invest the time in creating formal branding guidelines and a style guide, you can still take some basic steps. These include:

  • Keeping font variability to a minimum. Your H1, H2, H3, and paragraph text should all use the same font. The sizes of each of these standard headings should also be uniform. 
  • Make sure that you don’t have text overruns in key sections of your website. This might require playing around with the font to keep paragraphs to a consistent layout.

Purposeless Images Are…. Purposeless

A picture speaks a thousand words. But a stock image that has absolutely no relevance to your microsite might speak … none at all. 

Landing page design simple and clear
Left: a non value-adding image. Right: better!

We’re all constantly being encouraged to be more visual. However, at the same time it’s important that everything you include in your content experience adds value to the reader. These days, with so many meetings and introductions happening remotely, it’s important to strive for authenticity. Stock imagery can achieve the opposite effect — sending a message to a client that your communication is a cookie-cutter formula that uses elements that you didn’t develop yourself.

Review your content experiences. If you have images that don’t add any value, you can simply replace them with text. Keep the pictures for those visuals that will really drive home a  message about why your company is the obvious choice for the job/project/hire.

Make sure to also:

  • Avoid low resolution imagery. Use the following table to convert between tile size and pixels and make sure that your image resolution exceeds the guidelines for both height and width.
  • Crop photos to full width or tile. Poorly cropped photos look amateurish. Make sure to crop your photos to the full width of the tile. Account for the caption height when cropping faces.
Pixel width for collumn design in tables
Column pixel reference. Download it here.

Other Tips and Tricks

You should also:

  • Be selective about what content you include above the fold (the level where the page loads and before users scroll). Although there are those who advocate including absolutely all important content above the folder, this can lead to visual clutter. Strive to include your best content there. But not at the expense of creating distracting visual clutter.
  • Use a variety of widths and heights on your tiles in order to vary up the appearance of the page and make it look less formulaic for visitors. 
  • Use the grid in order to indent text. This allows text to be laid out side by side. 
Design tips for page layout microsites
Left: stuffed above the fold content. Right: just right.

Create Beautiful Microsites

Follow the above guidelines to create beautiful looking microsites which will leave static resources like text documents and Powerpoints biting the dust and wondering why nobody wants to open them. 

Click here to book a demo or contact us to find out more about the Zoomforth platform.

how to create a microsite

Using microsites for account based marketing

how to create a microsite

Account based marketing (ABM) is an effective means of targeting individual accounts, or a set of them, rather than an entire market. Companies that engage in ABM generate more than double the revenue of those that do not and cut down on wasted sales time courting low intent leads.

ABM is more than just a buzzword — it’s a total re-invention of the typical marketing paradigm that involves laser focusing on a few high priority prospects rather than giving passing attention to many at a time. 

Typically, marketing works by targeting either entire markets (sales geographies) or by targeting large segments of them built around a demographic — such as a demographic in a country. This often involves developing buyer personas that are built around survey findings of what profile typical customers fit (or actual customers). Automation is commonly used to target these types of prospects at scale. But while automation and inbound marketing can help marketing teams to do a lot with limited resources, they’re not the best means for showing the most serious prospects that your sales team really means business.

To do that, account based marketing brings that down to a much more individualized and concrete level. By tailoring marketing efforts to the anticipated needs of a hand-picked audience rather than a general one, marketers can much more directly target specific high-interest accounts. ABM isn’t new. In fact, it was popularized in the early 2000s as a means of bringing sales and marketing into closer alignment. But these days, it is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. And if your sales team’s success relies disproportionately on winning business from a few potential high value clients, then it’s a strategy that should definitely be on your radar. 

When should account based marketing be used?

A common question from many considering adopting ABM-based approaches for marketing to prospects is when it should be used. 

The choice between whether to use ABM or a “competing” philosophy such as inbound marketing needn’t be binary.

ABM flips traditional marketing on its head by first identifying target prospects and then moving them through a funnel — think of a narrow net that gets wider. Traditional methodologies — and inbound marketing — focus firstly on attracting unqualified leads and then progressing them down marketing and sales funnels where they are segmented and nurtured until the most promising ones start receiving individual attention from account managers (AMs). For this, think of a wide net that gets narrower.

how to create a microsite

So although ABM and traditional marketing have very different features, ultimately, most traditional marketing and sales approaches eventually lead to a form of ABM. It’s just that they differ in their starting points and how precisely they target their prospects. With that in mind, it might make more sense why the two could be used in tandem:

  • Inbound marketing and traditional sales efforts cast a wide net whereas ABM efforts can be run in parallel to target very selectively a promising group of prospects. 
  • Prospects might be simultaneously targeted by ABM resources and receive general brand awareness efforts that are part of a broader campaign.

How Should ABM Be Rolled Out?

After deciding to engage in account based marketing, many organizations wonder questions such as: does ABM require a separate strategy? How do we begin deploying ABM resources?

Ideally, we believe that ABM should have a separate strategy to a general marketing plan, although tactics will certainly differ between pools of targets. Unlike in traditional marketing, assets and collateral developed will focus in on the needs of a small group of target customers.

Examples of account based marketing in action:

  • A microsite could be developed which targets a specific large organization. The designers of the microsite could have done due diligence to highlight the pain points which they believe the organization to be encountering. Then, they might map out precisely how the company’s service offering could help the client resolve that difficulty. Clearly, this level of individualization would be nigh on impossible to achieve using conventional marketing methods. But microsites — which can be easily replicated with a few clicks— support this use-case ideally.
  • Content marketing teams could put together a customized resource, like an ebook, guiding a particular target account on how they think they could gain traction in their market. Unlike a typical ebook, this resource’s intended readership might just be a few key decision makers within a target account.
  • Inside sales teams could put on lunch and learn presentations in high value prospects’ offices or via conference call. These educational sessions could focus on sharing information specific to the customer and their problems. 

What tools facilitate account based marketing?

The good news is that your marketing team likely already has all the tools it needs to roll out effective ABM campaign in its arsenal.


For instance:

  • Consider writing individual emails to prospects in the company’s CRM rather than entering leads into an automated drip email funnel along with the rest of the leads.
  • Develop microsites which pitch for work directly to the most promising prospects on an organization’s radar
  • Build out the same collateral that you have experience building — like ebooks — but target them individually to a specific niche audience rather than a general readership.

Where do we do ABM?

ABM doesn’t require special channels in order to be effective. Again, the marketing channels that you have built out already likely do the job. 


  • Using your CRM to send individual emails rather than automations. This leverages the functionality of the CRM (personalization, cross-organizational visibility of contacts), but the contact is individually personalized.
  • Roll out the same inbound marketing campaigns with the same assets (landing pages, email campaigns) but design your resources to target only a narrow intended readership rather than your target market at large.

Personalization Is the Name of the Game

As we have explored before in this blog, these days, buying audiences are craving more authentic communications from sellers. ABM is an ideal way to target potential buyers with very personalized campaigns. ABM isn’t just a nice concept — it leads to higher lifetime value and more profitable accounts for the organization. Microsites are an ideal tool to help make the process work

Taking your sales presentations online – design dos and donts

If you’re presenting online during the pandemic, then you might have considered whether putting together presentations or microsites represents the better approach for your business at this time. 

Each methodology has its own advantages and disadvantages. But understanding them is vital to knowing when it’s best to send over, say, a presentation, and when an interactive format such as a microsites might be a more appropriate solution. 

Linear vs. Non-Linear Reader Journeys

One of the fundamental differences between microsites and sales presentations is that between linear and non-linear reading experiences. Static documents — like Word files and presentations — present information linearly. Even when these resources have embedded hyperlinks, by habit, readers tend to read them from beginning to end, like a story or a book. 

Compare this to the typical manner in which web browsers interact with online content. Users are accustomed to every online web page having a header or sidebar filled with links to other content. Jumping around on the internet is the norm. Statistics bear out just how true this is. Your average internet user reads only about 20% of the information on a web page and their average attention span has dropped to just 8 seconds (from 12 seconds in 2000). 

While it may seem advantageous to use linear resources for sales online presentations, the opposite is often in fact the case. 

Consider a resource such as a website being shown to a prospective client while a call is in progress. Halfway through the call, the prospect — who is an executive in a financial capacity — asks whether your company is compliant with a key financial data governance standard. There’s good news — your marketing team has a page on the website outlining the data certifications the company has achieved. And better news — you’ve added that page to the header navigation and your reader can easily pick it out while the demo is going on. Directing recipients’ attentions to different URLs while jointly reviewing a text document would be far more cumbersome and greatly increase the chance that things like misspellings and miscommunication could muddy the message.

sales presentation

Therefore, whether to use linear resources or non-linear ones really depends upon the type of information being presented and your readers’ typical browsing habits:

  • Legal documents, such as terms and conditions statements, typically do not require the reader to jump to text links. Rather, they are parsed linearly. Additionally, for that reason, recipients often print them out and have their legal teams inspect hard copies. Because of the above, it is often better to create these resources in the traditional manner — as PDFs or Word documents. These are designed to support linear reading.
  • Sales presentations over Zoom, on the other hand, often involve drawing the reader’s attention to several different aspects of the selling team’s offering — not all of which can comfortably be fit within the confines of one text document. Consider using a microsite for such a purpose.
  • In other instances, it’s best to mix and match. There’s no reason why the legal page of a microsite, for instance, couldn’t simply contain an embedded text file with a download button for legal recipients to quickly download the file.

To determine which is a better fit for what you’re trying to communicate, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is my recipient likely going to read this on their computer or will they print it out?
  • If we’re going to be reviewing this document in tandem during a pitch call, is everything I will need to draw their attention to already in the document or should I preempt that they will have questions about other parts of my service offering?

Some Best Design Practices

Some guidelines which will help sales teams develop pixel-perfect microsites which will both impress their recipients and achieve their communication objectives in the best way possible.


At Zoomforth, we’re seeing many users develop microsites in a deck-like format, with a page dedicated to each service offering. They’ll present the information linearly from header to footer whilst on a conference call. If the client has a question on a related service, they can seamlessly navigate to a different page, for that specific content. 

We commonly recommend that primary site navigation should contain no more than 7 topics. If design teams have a lot of content to cram into a single microsite, they should consider adding additional pages into sub-navigations. Alternatively, in-page navigation panels can be used to include additional site content without cluttering up the main site. 

A sample header navigation for an RFP response could include links to:

  • Home
  • Proposal
  • Team
  • Pricing
  • Credentials
  • Case Studies
  • Resources

Microsite designers could consider hiding or revealing content as the sales development process progresses. For instance, pages can be created in advance and only later made visible to the user in the site navigation. 

Content and Typography

Each page on the microsite should have clear content. 

Additionally, users should stick to their brand font and color palette. Unless users have graphic design and branding experience, it’s best to stick to just one font. Sans serif fonts look more modern and work well for online media. Arial and Old Sans are both popular choices. Just make sure to steer clear of Comic Sans at all costs (unless you want your bid proposal to be perceived as humorous!)

It’s also a good idea to keep each page of the microsite relatively brief. You don’t want readers to get lost in a wall of text while you are trying to draw their attention through a microsite page on a call. Bear in mind that people scan text while viewing websites — they don’t read linearly!


Video is great to liven up a text page but videos, when used in microsites, should be short and sweet. We commonly recommend 60 to 90 seconds as a good target length. If they’re any longer than that, readers’ attention tends to get drawn away.

Consider also adding photography and other visuals that you know will resonate with your buying audience. Make sure to keep these appropriate, though. If they don’t add value, there’s no need to include them. We often see users trying to ‘glam up’ a page with unnecessary visuals that often just distract. Avoid stock imagery too if possible — real photos are preferable and do a better job at conveying authenticity.

Charts, graphics, and infographics are all great resources that can be used to convey complex points easier than by using words. 

Calls to Action (CTAs)

It’s a good idea to record the online sales pitch and then upload it to the microsite where those who couldn’t attend the call live can conveniently access it. It’s also a good idea to include a call to action (CTA) with the recording link. After they have listened to the call, what action do you want them to take, specifically?

Make sure to include clear contact information and set up notifications so that you know when the audience has visited your site. 

Microsites and Static Resources Both Have Purposes

Both microsites and static resources can be deployed effectively during remote sales engagements. In fact, static content can be interspersed throughout microsites. Knowing when to use which depends on whether the audience is going to read your text in a linear or non-linear fashion. Pay careful attention to design aspects, include appropriate CTAs, and make good use of visuals to create the most effective and compelling buyer experiences. 

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