Microsites: for you?

Getting your site right is difficult. Not only do you have to contend with the many aspects of design in order to make the desired impact, you also have to ensure regular, quality content is produced in order to secure vital hits and traffic for your products from elsewhere on the web. All this can become even more complicated once you launch a new campaign or product.

A microsite is a site that is distinct and separate from your company or organisation’s main site, and it is all about delivering focused, relevant content about a specific topic, issue, product or audience. They are small, conceptually minimalist, and generally a maximum of just a couple of pages—if not one. Before the advent of social media, they were once the go-to format for digital marketing campaigns—until they were all but written off as dead, (thanks to the rise of SEO) and consigned to the dustbin of Internet history.

This is because microsites, while useful in a lot of ways, are not particularly SEO-friendly. “If you’re targeting the same keywords in your microsite as you are in your main site, you’re simply splitting your resources and your sites are competing with each other for rankings,” argues Denise Goluboff of TREW Marketing.

Today, however, the simple and shareable microsite is making a resurgence, in part thanks to the dominance of social networks across the web. Let’s look at some of the ways a microsite can benefit not just a specific product or promotion you are offering, but your online presence as a whole.

Bring user-generated social media content front-and-centre

Microsites are great for implementing user-generated social media content into a product campaign.

One way of doing this is by incorporating a hashtag feed into your microsite. This could gather data from a variety of social media platforms, using custom hashtags to categorise and display user content. This has a variety of applications. You could, using a custom hashtag, incorporate an Instagram or Twitter feed into the microsite to promote your product or event. That’s just what Chipotle did for their Cultivate Festival microsite, and by just waiting until users naturally flooded the hashtag, their microsite had automatically become a source for original, quality – and product-oriented content.

(If you’re interested, there are a variety of hashtag feed APIs available out there, such as the popular TINT.)

Cultivate microsite
Chipotle’s Cultivate microsite

Expanding beyond your usual audience

At the end of the day, a microsite is about creating concise, quality content that appeals to a very specific issue, so they can be used to speak to a very specific, targeted audience which your main site may not usually cater to. This could be to help a product campaign in a new geographical location, or simply a new audience requiring a new aesthetic and different types of content.

One way of using different content to achieve unusual, targeted goals is through microsite infographics. A good example is dangersoffracking.com, which uses an interactive, scrollable infographic to explain its case for opposing fracking. This not only shows the facts about the topic in question, but also visually demonstrates how fracking works. A microsite like this is easily shareable and very accessible – the perfect combination for reaching new audiences.

Anti fracking infographic

Launching a new product

Most microsites are used when it comes to new product or campaign launches. One of the advantages of the microsite format here is that you can use it as a quick go-to in all your promotional material. Interested users, potential clients or customers can check out the site for more information, and if you style the microsite in a similar way to the existing promotional material you’re using for the campaign, the outcome will be even stronger. This will only strengthen any calls to action with a clear message. Quick, straight-forward, and to the point content– a microsite isn’t a cheat code for getting there, but it can certainly help.

[Photo by Nadine Doerle]

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