Microsites: the good, the bad, and the effective

By signal

Marketers are always looking for creative ways to focus efforts, reach specific audiences, or convert web traffic to leads. Many are finding that microsites fit the bill. A microsite is a web page (or small set of pages) that’s a distinctive offshoot of an existing website – often with its own unique domain name. While such projects can inject more creativity and visibility into a marketing effort, they can also be confusing to users and pricey to develop and maintain. Let’s explore the pros and cons of microsites – and how to determine if a microsite is right for your next initiative.


The good: Microsite advantages

Microsites deviate from their parent websites by design, using images, animations, and other features to make a visual splash. Think of microsites as stylized, emotional representations of your brand or a specific facet of your brand.


Take a look at how Merck showcases its corporate responsibility with a standout microsite. This example highlights the most important benefits of a microsite:

  • Closer integration with a campaign. You’re not tied to corporate templates, so you can create a microsite that matches the marketing material for the campaign, in design and content.
  • Decreased distractions. Great campaigns usually drive traffic straight to a microsite. With the main site navigation and irrelevant elements removed, visitors can fully focus on your campaign and calls to action.


The bad: Microsite downsides

There are also convincing reasons to avoid microsites.

  • They can be confusing. Users browsing a corporate website may find themselves unexpectedly sent to a microsite. Everything looks different and they may not understand its intended purpose – or know how to get back to where they were headed.
  • They can be costly. Deciding to use a microsite means taking on added costs and complexities in design and backend maintenance – above and beyond those of the parent site.


Know that microsites can be the perfect solution if you need to:

  • Reach a target audience or market – they’re visually interesting, direct, and customizable to a specific need or group.
  • Track a short-lived campaign – they’re quicker to develop and launch, with no need for a full website.
  • Launch a new product – they take advantage of creative freedom and make a big impact.
  • Tell a story – images and animations take the stage and are better at telling a story than corporate copy.
  • Experiment – microsites are great for selective market testing.


Did we miss anything? Want to share a good or bad microsite experience? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

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