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.