Microsites aren’t a new marketing strategy by any means. Companies have been using them for years to great effect, though they’ve fallen out of fashion over the past couple years in light of newer strategies.
But even in the face of newer trends, microsites pull their weight and bring a new level of engagement to your marketing channels.
For the uninitiated, microsites are web pages just like your company website, but they aren’t included under the umbrella of your brand URL. You’ll register a new URL for each microsite, often with a completely different domain name than those used in your primary web assets.
Why would companies bother with this if they already have a website?
It’s because microsites offer two important benefits over your behemoth web page:
These two characteristics make them the perfect tool for conversion rate optimization.
By their nature, microsites support conversion by offering a focused set of messages targeted specifically toward their viewing audiences.
An easy comparison to make is custom landing pages. You’ve likely built numerous landing pages across your website for your products, each of which is customized to provide information and support the gathering of customer information. Microsites work much in the same way, except their capabilities are radically expanded to suit a broader swath of marketing goals.
Microsites are easy to launch, making them the perfect pop-up tool for specific marketing campaigns. Unlike your landing pages, microsites can be built out with additional content, links, and resources to help users explore a topic and get the information they need to take the conversion plunge.
Just like your landing pages, you can create microsites for each promotional campaign set forth by your marketing team. Consider including different types of pages, testimonials, or product details that address questions a reader might have about the product or service.
This type of rundown is particularly helpful for more technical products that the average reader won’t understand at a glance. Microsites work best when they fill a need not addressed by a static landing page, and when they do, they offer clear marketing advantages over the traditional web experience.
As you might expect from the above info, microsites are ideal for sustaining on-site engagement.
Look at it this way. Landing pages have the singular goal of information capture. On the standard landing page, best practices tell us that navigation should be reduced (to try and keep users on-site longer or reduce distraction) and information should be kept to a need-to-know basis.
Microsites, on the other hand, can be built from the ground up with these information capture tools in place, along with any additional resources that may help customers near the point of conversion. Plus, you can leverage the flexibility of these pages to create completely new narrative journeys for readers.
We like to think of microsites as customized “landing page experiences.” Whether you’re driving traffic from your website, social media, ad buys, or any other channel, microsites offer a lead capture approach designed to keep users engaged. From a conversion standpoint, this is an easy win.
As detailed above, two of the key benefits of microsites are simplicity and flexibility. From a conversion rate optimization standpoint, these are powerful features you just can’t find through traditional web pages.
With microsites being so easy to launch, they’re perfect complements to traditional outbound advertising campaigns or any other marketing campaign you launch. They can be deployed quickly and adjusted as needed to align with any changing campaign goals your brand might require. If something isn’t working, they’re easy to scrap and retry. If they do their job well, they’re easy to amplify.
And while many of the same rules apply to your landing pages proper, there’s just no comparing the ease of adjustment. Microsites are basic frameworks designed to accomplish specific goals at speed—exactly what you need to capitalize on fast-moving marketing trends or to apply real-time data you’ve gathered through market research.
Before getting started, it’s important to take note of these common pitfalls.
Replicating Functionality: Avoid needlessly complicating the site’s functionality. If customers need to shop or buy from a microsite, transfer them over to the main site.
Adding Additional Systems: On a similar note, avoid needlessly complicating your infrastructure. Microsites are designed to be launched quickly which means you should work within your existing infrastructure and platforms. One advantage of utilizing a hybrid commerce platform, like Slatwall, is that it can give you the option to launch your microsite through a built-in CMS or an integrated CMS system (headless).
Long-term Planning: Determine early on if the microsite has a lifespan beyond the campaign. If it doesn’t, determine how much traffic to route back to the main site. If there is a value in keeping the site live in the longer term, how can the content review fit into the existing marketing workload?
In our view, microsites are an underutilized tool that offer some great advantages. Though similar in function to landing pages, microsites are quicker, more flexible, and more helpful—exactly what you want in a conversion portal. Look at your existing products and see whether your custom landing pages are performing as they should. If they’re not, a microsite might be just the thing you need to improve your conversion potential.
Microsites can add significant value and opportunity to deliver an optimized purchase experience;
Microsites are best used when they can fit into the existing site infrastructure—one CMS, many sites. Avoid adding another CMS platform completely;
Consider a microsite when your existing ecommerce design or structure isn’t flexible enough to form a new product or campaign;
Use microsites as learning opportunities that will provide insights for your future site redesign or replatforming projects.