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In a world that becomes more digital every day, digital marketing plays an increasingly important role for any business. The internet offers a variety of marketing tools. While having a webpage for your business is a great first step, it is no longer enough to set yourself apart from the competition.

In this article we will discuss what a microsite is and what they offer when it comes to marketing online. 

What Is a Microsite?

As the name suggests, a Microsite is a website with little to no subpages. In marketing, these sites are usually disconnected from the company’s main homepage. They use a different URL than the main site and are often only temporarily available as a part of a limited time campaign.

The main purpose of microsites is to offer potential customers another way to discover a business. While a microsite might share some of the branding and design aspects seen on the main page, they offer the opportunity to change things up and can have entirely different aesthetics. 

Since they are often used to promote a specific campaign, it isn’t unusual for a microsite to be supported by its own social media, email addresses, and interfaces. 

What’s the Difference Between a Microsite and a Landing Page?

If you’re familiar with the term ‘landing page’ you might have noticed that our earlier description of a microsite is similar in concept.

Both marketing tools are usually built for a specific, sometimes time limited campaign and they’re smaller than a traditional website. The main difference is that microsites are usually not hosted on the company’s main website. They have their own separate URL, while landing pages don’t.

There is also a difference in application. Landing pages are made for conversion. They aim to turn visitors into customers. In contrast, a micropage is a tool used to increase brand awareness. They generate interest in a specific product or service and while they can lead to conversions, it isn’t their main goal.

How To Use a Microsite to Boost Your Business

Microsites give you the opportunity to get creative with your branding. They are meant to deliver an experience to your audience and get them excited for your product or services. As they exist separate from the main webpage, they allow you to target a specific part of your audience to show them a different side to the brand. 

When it comes to the content of a microsite, you’re only limited by your creativity. Generally, microsites can be divided into two categories. They are either campaign based or act as media sites, publishing original content on a regular schedule. 

What are the Advantages of a Microsite?

You will now have an idea of just how beneficial a microsite can be for a business. It’s time for us to look a little closer at the many advantages a microsite can offer.

Focus: One of the main draws of using a microsite is to allow you to focus on one specific aspect of your business. This can be anything from a product to a new campaign. A microsite can be especially useful when you are trying to reach a very specific part of your audience. You can create something that caters to their exact interest.

Keeping your Homepage clean: A microsite is a focused webpage itself, but it also helps your homepage retain its own clarity. Too many subpages, too much content, too much information – all of it will inevitably pile up and congest your homepage, making it harder to navigate. By using microsites for specific campaigns, you can keep unnecessary clutter off your main page and keep things clean and organised.

A playground for creativity: Microsites allow you to get creative with your branding and experiment with different marketing strategies. If you are unsure about the viability of a campaign, you can easily test it out with a micropage. The micropage itself does not need to link back to your brand whatsoever, giving you a safe space to test out your ideas.

Save resources: Campaigns usually have a time-limit. No matter how well thought out they are, they will eventually be replaced by something else. Building an entire website around a time limited campaign can quickly drain your budget, but a smaller microsite will be cheaper and easier to develop.

Boost your SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for any business and a microsite can help you to perform better in this regard. By targeting a specific keyword or topic and placing it on a dedicated site, you have a greater chance of ranking higher within the SEO algorithm. 

What Are the Disadvantages of a Microsite?

Microsites can be very beneficial for your business, but that doesn’t mean that they always are. There are downsides to utilising them and it’s important to be aware of these disadvantages before you try to launch your own microsite.

Brand confusion: Microsites offer you the opportunity to get creative in your marketing, but if they are wildly different from your main page, they might cause confusion for some users. Sometimes it can be hard for users to even recognize the connection between your brand and the microsite. 

Brand leverage is lost: The main characteristic of a microsite is that it exists separate from your main website. This means that you can’t leverage the existing traffic of your main page. This can be seen as a huge disadvantage for larger businesses. However, those businesses can use their financial power to create truly unique and intricate microsites.

Attention is taken away from the homepage: Something to consider, especially for new businesses that are still working on increasing their online presence is that a microsite might take attention away from the homepage. This is a valid concern, because a microsite is much more focused and simpler, it might end up being more appealing to some users. If they prefer the microsite to the main homepage, traffic on the latter will suffer in return and the chance of conversion will be lowered.

Resources: While a microsite can be cheaper than a traditional webpage, their design requires a lot of focus and consideration. Developing an engaging experience for your users will drive up the cost of development. Additionally, they might be more costly in terms of maintenance if they require more frequent updates.

When Is a Microsite a Good Choice?

Now you know about the advantages and disadvantages that come with creating a microsite, but when should you consider using one?

To answer this question, you must think about what goal you are trying to achieve. Whether a microsite is the right way to go will depend on your answer.

Remember, microsites work best for increasing brand awareness. They hyperfocus on one thing, be it a new product or a campaign. If you want to display a specific aspect of your brand or show a different side of it by targeting a smaller more specific part of your audience a microsite will be the right choice for you.

However, if you are looking to boost sales as quickly as possible, a different tool might be better suited for you.

3 Great Examples of Microsites

To show you the creative opportunities a microsite can offer, we gathered three great examples you can try out yourself right now. Perhaps they will give you some inspiration if you decide to create a microsite of your own.

My Creative Type

This microsite was created by Adobe and it consists of a personality test through which the user can determine their ‘creative type’. The questions can be rather abstract, but at the end of the test the user will be matched to the creative type that fits them best. It even offers advice on what they can do to let their creativity prosper.

Between each question, the user is presented with short videos and animations. These showcase Adobe’s creativity and by matching them with a type the user resonates with, they show them how well they can understand their audience. 

It’s a fun test, perfect for sharing with your friends and it does a great job at raising brand awareness.

Every Last Drop

Waterwise created this microsite to generate awareness about water efficiency. It starts out with this cartoon illustration of a man in his bed and the instruction to ‘scroll down’.  As the user starts to scroll, the page begins to transform. Using parallax scrolling effects, the microsite tells a story following the man and his water consumption.

The story concludes when the user reaches the bottom of the page. There they can find an embedded video, filled with steps they can take in their daily life to increase water efficiency.

This is a great example of a microsite that is engaging and educational.

The Commute from Heaven

This microsite tells the story of an eight-day bike trip from Salt Lake City to Moab taken by three cycling enthusiasts. Just like in our previous example, the user can scroll down to experience the entire story in one go. However, this microsite also allows the user to jump to whichever portion of the trip they want to read.

The inspirational story is broken down on a day-by-day basis and the text is accompanied by stunning photos taken during the trip, making for an interesting read.

Conclusion

Microsites are webpages that exist outside of a company’s main homepage. They’re usually created to promote a product or marketing campaign and might only be supported for a limited time. 

Their main goal is to increase brand awareness by engaging with the user in an interactive way. While there are disadvantages to creating microsites, if done correctly, the benefits far outweigh the cons.

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Daniel Dippold

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