Building, Using & Marketing Microsites

Microsites are a viable option for many brands trying to publish differentiated content or as platforms for specialized campaigns and products. This article will shed light on designing and marketing microsites. 

Definition: What Are Microsites?

If you run in any marketing or web development circles, chances are you throw around the term microsite. Microsites are becoming increasingly relevant in today’s online landscape. As the attention of the average web page viewer continues to shrink, the need for more focused content increases.

Microsites are a viable solution in many instances. A microsite is an individual web page (typically with its own domain) or small cluster of web pages that act as a separate entity for a brand.

Microsite Design

Websites generally stick to straightforward information about a variety of usual things: about page, products, and services, contact, resources, blog etc. With microsites, you are often targeting a specific market with in-depth, clutter-free information for an actionable goal.

However, because you are often dealing with hyper-focused content, there is no clear cut way to design microsites. They are not defined by common universal technique, size or technology. They are, however, first and foremost marketing tools and should be designed accordingly.

Often times, you’ll want your site to mimic the parent site as a way of targeting a specific client base or highlighting a new product. For example, if you are launching a new product or promoting a campaign you’ll want to create a separate promotional campaign via a microsite that gives all the information about the product. It makes sense to design the microsite according to the company with highlights to the product’s features.

However, sometimes you’ll want a microsite that is completely different than your parent brand site. Say, for example, you want to differentiate your brand from the company website by highlighting unique characteristics about your brand identity. This might be a site that publishes regular, ongoing content. In these cases, you’ll want to take a risk with design and create something based on how customers view your brand.

Marketing Microsites

Microsites can be a smart approach for niche campaigns, specific products, and unique ideas. A microsite can offer many benefits to your business including new ways to find your site, the ability to experiment, more conversions, and the ability to cultivate a highly focused message.

However, marketing microsites appropriately can be a tricky business. You’ll want to market in a way that both draws visitors to your site and functions as a supplement rather than a competitor to your parent site. It’s important to follow certain guidelines so that microsites are built in a way that does not hurt the SEO of your main website.

Incorporating microsites into email marketing can be a great way to generate leads and promote sales. Microsites can also give brands greater flexibility, targeting, and user engagement when using Microsites for Pay-Per-Click Advertising.

Microsites and SEO

Often being dedicated to a specific niche, Microsites can drive SEO by establishing a highly targeted domain name and keywords without being bogged down by the SEO strategies already in use on your main website. However, there are important things to consider SEO-wise when creating your microsite.

For example, large brand sites often have highly-authoritative domains and placing a microsite on a separate domain prevents the opportunity to leverage that authority. Additionally, if you have any repeated content on your microsite or similar keywords, your two sites are splitting resources which will result in a drop in search rankings. At the same time, however, sharing a root domain is also not great for SEO. Subdomains, however, force you to split authority between two sites.

For the most part, for those highly concerned with SEO, creating microsites on a separate domain are not advisable; a new domain means you need to commit the time and resources to marketing and SEO for a completely separate site. Subdomains or subdirectories are recommended so that your content can still benefit from your site authority. Either way, the best way to optimize SEO is to populate your site with excellent content.

However, there are some cases where microsites aren’t an SEO catastrophe contingent on the fact that you have significant time and resources to devote to building site authority. If you want to promote content that is not suited to your main site, creating a microsite is a viable option. Or, you might not want a connection between your microsite and your brand and the separate domain is necessary. Lastly, a microsite is advisable if you are driving paid traffic to it via a specific campaign.

Microsites for Email Marketing

Microsites are a focused way to make direct leads into sales because of their way of giving the user exactly what they are looking for in an easily navigable way. Microsites are therefore perfect for incorporating into emails. With strategically placed content, microsites can give the customer everything they need to know in the convenience of their inbox.

Microsites are much more effective for marketing then static messages when used in emails. With the ability to incorporate cool features like product and content browsing, navigation and video, microsites sent to your subscribers via email will be more engaging and generate more leads.

Microsites for Pay-Per-Click Advertising

If you are looking to promote a short term promotional campaign or project and have sufficient time and resources, Microsites can work in tandem with paid ad campaigns to drive traffic to your site. While the more well-known way to use PPC is to send clicks to a specific landing page on your site relevant to whatever ad they clicked on, microsites can be a better way to take your campaign advertising to the next level.

When ads are migrated to your main website, you often have to worry about slow load times, visitors being exposed to an overwhelming amount of irrelevant information, and the stress of being limited to the design of your main website. Microsites are compact, straightforward sites that are guaranteed to load fast, have simple navigation, and have pointed messages to cut out distraction and boost sales. Additionally, microsites are small and fairly easy to build allowing for versatility and the experimentation you wouldn’t be able to get on your main site.

Microsites vs. Landing Pages

When faced with the decision to create a microsite, it might be wise to compare and contrast landing pages and microsites to decide the appropriate way to create and showcase your project, campaign, or product.

 

Microsites Landing Pages
What is it?

  • Separate domain or subdomain than the main website
  • Own navigation, design, and content
  • Highlights a specific topic, product or campaign
  • Usually 2-3 pages
  • Requires significant time and resources  

When should I use it?

  • When building brand awareness while telling a larger story
  • Want to create a custom URL for a product or service
  • Need a custom experience or user interface that wouldn’t be feasible to include on your main site
  • Have a franchise business or store that wants a separate site targeting their location  
 

What is it?

  • Live within your main website
  • Created for a specific topic with a specific goal: lead generation
  • Same overall brand cohesion of your main website
  • Single page
  • Quick to set up, relatively cheap
  • Setup for users to perform one action

When should I use it?

  • When promoting a very specific product or offer
  • If you have a limited of information to provide
  • When wanting to test the demand for a product
  • If you’re looking to highlight a call to action or collect information in a form

 

WordPress & WP Engine for Microsites

Given that microsites are often extensions or separate entities from the main site, you’re going to want a CMS that is flexible, easy-to-use, and offers the scalability you need for experimentation. Chances are you are going to want to get content out there fast while also having the freedom to make changes and try out new things on your microsite. WordPress offers a platform so easy to use that even someone with no technical knowledge could figure it out.

WordPress is the best content management CMS platform out there. If your main site is already being hosted on another platform, WordPress might be the perfect option for your strategic campaign or product pitch. WP Engine’s digital experience platform expedites, simplifies, and optimizes the process of creating microsites on WordPress. WP Engine offers top-notch page speed, highly scalable architecture, and page intelligence to give your microsite a leg up.

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