Microsites 101: An In-depth Description of these Mini-Websites
Last week, I had lunch with a prospective client. She asked me how I felt about microsites. So in honor of her, I will spend today talking all about microsites.
What is a microsite?
A microsite is a scaled-down, single-purpose website that gathers users with a common purpose toward a common marketing goal. What does this all mean? I think it can best be described through an example.
Besides Boxless Media, I own a DJ company. For that company, I operate a wedding microsite. This is a website solely built for brides. On this site, I give them free tools for planning their wedding, a list of great vendors and a menu of company services.
First, a microsite is a scaled-down, single-purpose website. It only describes a small part of our total business. My DJ company works with so many different clients on countless different types of events. The microsite breaks apart one element of our total business and builds a community around it.
Secondly, a microsite gathers users with a common purpose. I don’t know if it is a common purpose, but my wedding microsite identifies a very specific target audience (brides-to-be) and offers them information and tools for their convenience.
Finally, a microsite operates toward a single goal. Our wedding microsite was built to be a one-stop shop for brides-to-be. It offers them tips, tools and resources with a single goal in mind – contracting my company to plan or DJ their wedding.
Walk the Line: When Should You Use A Microsite
Implementing a microsite can be a very effective marketing tool. To maximize a microsite’s effectiveness, it must complement your existing website and not detract from its effectiveness. If you setup a microsite that defers traffic from your main website, you are probably implementing the wrong strategy. Your microsite should build a community among similar online users, and then direct them eventually to your main site.
Microsites are best used when there is a single, unique call to action. It could be a short term product or service that you want to promote. They are also a great element of a integrated marketing campaign. For example, you could develop a microsite that is the call to action from a direct mail or other advertising campaign. Another important part of a microsite is that it operates under a completely different URL as your main website.
Some tips for the effective use of a microsite…
- Remember the #1 Rule. Microsites are about a single audience, single product or single campaign. When you go beyond that, you are developing a second website which is most likely a bad idea.
- Be Brand Rich. It is important that when you leave your brand’s principal domain, you make sure that your site continues to carry your brand. Your microsite, while it will look significantly different than your main site, should still hold true to your brand. Nike is a great example of maintaining several microsites that still are true to the Nike brand.
- Set specific goals. It is important that your microsite has a specific goal and that each webpage that is added stays true to that goal.
- Be content-rich. You are gathering a very targeted audience with a microsite. Be sure to give them enough content to engage them and keep them engaged and coming back for more.
- Be social. You need to evaluate how to best do this. There needs to be some social integration with your microsite. It may be to your main brand (typically the best approach) or it could be a campaign’s social accounts.
Overall, I believe that there are some extremely well-run microsites and that they, on occasion, can be a very effective e-marketing tool. Just make sure that when you are considering adding a microsite that you carefully plan the integrations between your main website and the microsite and your social accounts with the microsite.