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Aug 04 2018

Love at First Microsite

Microsites

Microsite Unseen

This is you, B.M. (Before Microsite, not … the other… B.M. Clean it up folks)

So you’ve got a website–

And it’s big

And it’s robust…

Your website covers a variety of requirements and products, focusing on management– even contracts. You’ve got tons of traffic, multiple drop down menus, pages, a number of different products, shopping, customer service, etc. You name it, you got it.

That’s great. That’s what you want.

The problem occurs because…

By necessity, your website becomes overly structured and stuffy. Your focus is too broad and your language goes corporate-linguistic and robotic.

The result? Well, you’re not connecting with people as well as you’d like. Your best product suffers from competition from products within your own site.

You need to FOCUS.

You know that today’s sales and marketing trends tell you that it’s about relationships with your customers. It’s about helping and informing and not overloading or overwhelming them.

They don’t want to be sold, they want to be attracted.

But you’ve got business requirements– goals you need to achieve. Your website reflects those requirements… your goals.

So how can you keep your website, as is, and still elevate and focus your content on certain all-star products or information?

May I recommend to you a microsite?

Yes, yes–  I hear the question you’re asking.

Just what is a Microsite?

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Set your Microsite on it

Microsite

A Microsite is a website, distinct and separate from an organization’s main site, that delivers more focused, relevant content about a specific topic or to a targeted audience or even just requiring a defined action.

It’s basically a branded content site that lives outside of the company homepage and/or brand URL.

So what’s the difference between a microsite and a company blog or a newsletter?

In this case, a microsite is a branded platform that has its own independent URL. It probably doesn’t even have the company name affiliated with it and it’s often directed at a niche or subculture with an all-star product or a call to action.

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Two Types of Microsites

The Ongoing Content Microsites

The ongoing content microsite is just that; ongoing. It could be a blog or a magazine format. It probably utilizes vlogs and Youtube videos. The point is, it’s constantly generating and publishing new content to grab an audience and create a following.

This is a larger task to undertake and find success. Mainly because it’s difficult to plan and develop from the start. Then, of course, after launch, the site needs daily, weekly and monthly maintenance, relevant content generation, uploads and upgrades.

It also necessitates that it will be appealing to people. No one will read your boring stuff… It has to be awesome.

microsite for Loreal
So when make-up company, L’Oreal started Makeup.com, they didn’t do it with just a cool way to create leads in mind. They did it because they knew they would be shaping culture and influencing lives with their products and their content.

“The content is a well-designed mix of DIY tutorials, expert tips, trend reports, and beauty news. There are loads of original videos, interactive features, and interviews. The tone and voice are a spot-on rendition of “the beauty-expert friend who always looks her best and genuinely wants to help you do the same.” And the fact that it’s a microsite gives it some separation from L’Oréal itself.”

– Melissa Lafsky

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L’Oreal used their microsite to reach a niche audience at a time when make-up videos on Youtube attracted over 10 billion views.

Campaign based Microsites

So obviously this microsite is based around a campaign. This could be a social campaign with a brand component, like those awesome political ads on the Super Bowl.

I mean, did you know you could stop a race riot by handing a police officer a can of Pepsi?

Thanks Kendell Jenner!

Maybe not the best example, but in 1971 on a hilltop, people went hand in hand singing:

“I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…” That was awesome.

Okay, I need a second…. A little choked up, here…. So many memories… (a solitary tear)

Moving on–

You can do the same thing with your microsite! Raise awareness and sponsor it with your brand. Just– if you do it… do it with heart and sincerity… no exploitation.

People are too smart for that now… a la 2017 Super Bowl ads… Pepsi wasn’t the only culprit.

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Your campaign microsite is usually a short term engagement. In other words, the site isn’t going to be up and functioning forever. For a limited time only.

Further, it doesn’t need to be political or social at all. You might just want to raise awareness or single out an all-star product.

In 2015, BMW launched a campaign microsite targeted for their X-series drivers in India. They opened a microsite dedicated to the subculture niche of the X-series driver.

“As soon as the microsite loads, it greets users with a racy, adrenaline-pumping video featuring an X-series car. The video effectively demonstrates the car’s unique features — imposing road presence and sheer power. It engages the users, and with what establishes the brand value of the car (or the series).”

– Nitin Deshdeep

Even more interesting, it was not only product driven, not just niche driven, but it was geographically driven.

BMW focused the microsite for citizens of India.

This is not at all the type of content you would find on BMW’s website but it is the perfect type of content for a microsite used to reach a niche audience with a specific, all-star product.

And because it was a campaign, it raised impulse for consumers, and ultimately was only a short term fee for BMW. As opposed to paying for constant upkeep and maintenance of a site.

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A Microsite More

Microsite

You want more from your websites, you want more for your customers. Heck, you want more for your employees.

You want more of a boost to your SEO, Word of Mouth and Conversion Rate.

Let’s face it, we want more.

Because a microsite drills into a niche, it generally offers, either one or a narrow set of products and services. For this reason, those products and services will perform better, with higher results in SEO. This even includes results against your main website under the same search conditions.

Further, your microsite can have the look and authenticity that your niche audience desires and even needs. This results in the creation of a trusted brand name.

With almost 30 million small businesses in the United States, crafting the right kind of personal branding campaigns online will set you apart. No matter what product you sell or what service you offer, if there are two identical businesses – and they are both at the same price point – which one are you going to go with? It’s a blindingly obvious answer – customers will always choose the one with the brand name that they feel more connected to. The brand that they trust.”

– CMDS

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When the niche identifies you as one of their own, they will shop and share, not just your products but what your brand is all about.

This will increase your word of mouth and your conversion rate.

“Test after test confirm that because a Microsite is more focused, it typically produces higher conversion rates than a company’s general site. This is one reason why Google and others recommend landing pages be used in keyword campaigns.”

– Microsite.com

In 2004, Fairmont Hotels launched a golf and spa niche microsite, apart from their main website. Their results were no less than stellar.

They conversion rates and ROI sky-rocketed to levels approaching 200 percent.

I know what you’re thinking.

That sounds great. I’ll have that. I’m ready to start developing my brand new microsite. Let’s do this thing!

I can see that you’re head over heels in love with microsites, now. Perhaps we could slow down for just a moment longer and discuss the–

“But soft, what light through yonder webpage breaks?

It is your brand identity, and microsites are the sun.”

(Bill Shakespeare has nothing on me)

Okay, so maybe I’m getting a little carried away. However, just like the wise man once said…

Only fools rush in.

Actually, the song “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” paraphrases a line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush stumble and fall.”

… Just saying.

At any rate, let’s make sure we’re seeing microsites clearly.

(Get it? Seeing sites clearly? … anyone?…. No!? I’ve been doing it the whole time)

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Upkeep Costs in Microsite

microsite cost

Development Costs

A microsite is essentially a new website. Building websites from scratch, costs.– well– scratch.

The costs are various, but also pretty basic, including but not limited to the costs of website-domain, developers and designers.

“A microsite is only a few webpages of useful information and interesting content. As a result, this is an inexpensive way to have marketing impact. A microsite focused on a singular, distilled goal, can easily align CTA to performance goal, making it easier to judge ROI. Microsites, if successful, can grow into a more robust offering, which can allow brands to harness the lower cost model to drive more ROI with marketing efforts. Microsites allow marketing teams, not accustomed to a continuous improvement design model, to work faster, cheaper and more efficiently. Lessons learned from microsite campaigns can be adopted by the larger enterprise.”

Ironpaper.com

Costs can range anywhere from $2,500 to $50,000. Additionally, a microsite may need more employees, a content management system (CMS) along with other functionalities, such as community features, email sign-up, and payment processing.

The more sophisticated a design for a microsite, the higher its expenses will go. Especially if your IT team gets involved, but often a microsite is developed and run by a sales and marketing team. This helps to keep costs down and your site nimble.

“Focused and nimble” are sticking-points in the world of microsites because the main goal is to attract an audience and reach a niche. Your content needs to be awesome and rapid fire. Whether it’s a blog, cool images, videos– it must relate to your brand, your audience and SEO strategy equally.

Design, technology and content are not the only costs associated with running a microsite. Let’s not forget maintenance.

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Maintenance Costs

The cost of an ongoing microsite is not just a one-time setup affair. It requires that content be updated regularly.

And here’s a point worth reiterating: your content needs to be top-notch.

This endeavor will take time and resources. Be prepared to spend both.

“Back to the “extensive time and resources” point. A microsite can sink just as easily as it can rise (actually, the former is more likely) and there’s no point in playing a game you can’t win because you run out of resources halfway through.”

– Melissa Lafsky

The cost of a campaign microsite may be more manageable based on a known lifespan and therefore an allotment of specific and finite resources. A short-term microsite doesn’t need to worry about the ongoing costs of content and maintenance. Neither does it contend with the ever changing, fickle-mindedness of the internet.

Changes and updates for technologies are always occurring. For this reason, an ongoing microsite will need ongoing technical support and maintenance.

Your microsite may have looked awesome a year ago, at launch but now it looks like 40 miles of bad road. You want to turn off your niche market in an instant? Go ahead and neglect your website.

Then, of course, there are the numerous websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. If your microsite isn’t designed to be responsive you’re literally cutting out over 80% of your audience.

A Final In Microsite

Microsites can be a great way to promote your brand, raise awareness and generate leads for your business. They can help a huge company focus on an all-star product or services that appeal to a niche market.

Conversely, they can help a small brand make a huge impact with great content that really appeals to a clear and defined niche audience.

However, there is a cost. Not just a financial one, but time and resources, too. You’d better make clear your company objectives, and target your niche accurately.

Count the cost.

Business owners and entrepreneurs pursue the same goal. How to reach the target niche effectively, precisely and sincerely. Let the microsite professionals at CMDS help build your brand, offer you the guidance you need and build your microsite today.

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