Do you own a business and want to expand your online presence? A microsite may be just what you need. Having an innovative way to engage with customers is essential for any business that wants to get more exposure, traffic, leads, and customers.
But what is a microsite, and what are the benefits of having one? Learn the basics of microsites below, including the definition and examples to help you create your own.
- A microsite is an independent website separate from a business’s main domain, used to promote a service, product, or topic.
- Microsites differ from websites and landing pages in that they have their own URL and focus on one product or service aspect.
- Benefits of microsites include targeting new audiences, generating leads, and getting more traffic through unique content that keeps visitors focused on new products or a specific campaign.
- Negatives can include expensive development costs, time-consuming upkeep, and the potential to harm SEO rankings if you use duplicate content from the parent website.
What Is the Definition of a Microsite?
A microsite is an independent website specifically dedicated to promoting a single offering or product. It’s a website that is separate from a business’s main domain. It’s typically used to promote a service, product, or topic for an upcoming launch or campaign, but it can also be used to reach a new demographic.
You could use your own domain for a brand microsite, but it’s not as common. This is especially true if your company is launching a new product or service that deserves an entire website to itself.
Microsite vs. Website
Still not sure what the difference is between websites and microsites? Here’s a look at what sets them apart.
- Websites: Regular websites tend to be the “face” of a business. Company websites are typically used to list all of the services a business offers, and they will often have multiple different landing pages that offer information to users. In other words, it’s a business’s “main” website where they want to direct all of its traffic.
- Microsites: Microsites are designed as smaller content pages that are separate from the main company website. They often have separate URLs but can sometimes be subdomains too. They allow marketers to attract specific audiences, highlight certain products, or even use creative apps to direct customers to the main site.
Microsite vs. Landing Pages
If you want to create a microsite, you might be wondering if it’s the same thing as a landing page. While they might seem similar, they’re actually used for different purposes. Landing pages are typically created on your own website and are designed to attract audiences to the various services or products you offer. However, a landing page is usually a part of the main site.
The reason for this is that it helps with the overall SEO rating of the website, and they’re usually the pages that show when someone searches for specific terms that are related to the main website. For instance, a landing page is often a location page for a service, or it can be directed at a specific service.
In comparison, a microsite is a separate website from your main website, often built with its own URL. These sites are usually focused on a single aspect of your product or service.
With the power of its targeted messaging, detailed content, and engaging design, having a microsite is one of the best ways to grow visibility and get more leads for your business. Here’s a look at the biggest benefits microsites provide.
Target New Audiences
Microsites are websites that are separate from the main business site. This means they have different domain names and are counted as different entities by search engines. This allows you to create focused content that appeals to targeted audiences.
For example, if your business is launching a new product targeted at a different demographic, then you’ll need content that is specific to them. You can tailor the page’s content to draw in potential customers that may be unfamiliar with the parent site or your brand.
In short, a microsite allows you to generate interest for your brand on a new site while focusing on a specific initiative. You can include a link to your primary website on your microsite as well to cross-promote.
Microsites are great for generating leads because they make it easy for potential customers to find what they need quickly and easily without having to wade through unnecessary content on your main website.
Additionally, since microsites appear as separate entries in SERPs, potential customers are more likely to click on them if their search query matches what is included on the page.
By including contact forms or automated email campaigns on your microsite, you can start building relationships with potential customers right away and encourage them to take action, such as signing up for a newsletter or requesting more information about a product or service.
Get More Traffic
A common purpose for a microsite is to encourage a target audience to check out your brand website. A great example of this is creating a microsite for a particular product of yours. The microsite would have specific content for that product, or you could use it to test drive a service that is available in full on your main website.
A microsite like this is easily shareable on platforms like social media, making it a fantastic asset to have when you’re looking to increase traffic to your main website.
Create Unique Experiences
One of the big advantages of a microsite is that it stands out from the full site you already have. It’s short, to the point, and helps to raise brand awareness.
With a dedicated space on the web where all the focus is on one particular topic or product, you have more freedom to experiment with different design elements and features than you would on a regular website. This means that visitors will have an engaging experience when they visit your microsite — one which they won’t soon forget!
While there are many benefits, microsites aren’t guaranteed to work. Keep these considerations in mind before you invest time and money into one.
Tedious to Execute
Microsites aren’t just a single web page that focuses on a specific product, service, or event. They can be fully-loaded websites that target specific buyer personas and have as many pages as your main site. As such, they can take a tremendous amount of work, and you’ll also need to handle the SEO work to help it rank well in search engines.
When you have several microsites or a branded vertical to manage, this can get tedious, and you may need several people working full-time to manage those websites and keep marketing and SEO efforts up to scratch.
Expensive to Develop
A microsite serves a specific purpose for your business, but it needs to execute that purpose extremely well. This usually means you have to invest a lot of time and money into improving the content, upgrading the design, and researching audiences to make them stand out. All of this is in addition to working on your brand’s main website.
In short, microsites can be as expensive and time-consuming to grow as a full website. While developing microsites isn’t expensive, it can get costly to build several of your own microsites and manage them. Once you start launching and maintaining multiple microsites, your team will begin to grow, and you’ll have more website responsibilities to take care of.
Could Affect SEO Rankings
A microsite needs to look different from your main website. If you start using duplicate content on many microsites, search engines won’t be happy and could remove them from search results. When done properly, microsites are fantastic for drawing attention to a new product or service. But when used poorly, they could be detrimental to your brand.
Potentially Short Life Cycle
Lastly, let’s not forget that microsites aren’t really meant to be long-term projects. In fact, outdated microsites are abandoned or even deleted once they have attained their marketing goals.
For example, once a microsite has generated new leads through the initial launch and excitement, the content becomes outdated, and the company no longer needs it. After spending so much time and money on a microsite, they will ultimately be abandoned because they can’t generate brand interest for that specific campaign anymore.
Of course, that’s not to say that all microsites have a short life cycle. Depending on the page’s content, you may find that a microsite can outlive its intended life cycle because it provides evergreen content. Sometimes it can continue to generate targeted leads with minimal maintenance.
Examples of Successful Microsites
Looking at microsite examples is one of the best ways to learn how to use these correctly. So here are some of the best microsite examples you can learn from.
Elf Yourself by OfficeMax
Elf Yourself was an interactive website developed by OfficeMax that allowed visitors to upload photographs of faces and add them to cartoon elf pictures or use them for personalized mini-films. The idea was simple, but it became a viral internet phenomenon that was even featured on television.
OfficeMax used the microsite to “warm up” its corporate image. They also mentioned that getting more sales was not their intention. Since its purpose was clearly defined, they could rate the microsite’s success based on factors like brand engagement instead of looking at sales.
Website Grader (HubSpot)
Website Grader is a free tool that gives reports on a website’s SEO performance, security, and mobile friendliness. The tool also provides recommendations on how to improve those aspects.
Website Grader is a simple page with a singular purpose; to get users to enter their website’s URL and email. The application itself can be considered effective, but the recommendations it gives are ultimately tied to HubSpot’s tools. This is a prime example of how a microsite’s content on a unique site can lead to more traffic for the main brand site.
This is a great microsite because it has a memorable domain name, the design is simple, it provides value, and has a call to action once the recommendations are given.
Emojitracker is one of the quirkier microsite examples that tracks the live usage of emojis on Twitter. The entire website is just a list of emojis with numbers next to them, showing how often they have been used on Twitter.
While it’s hard to tell what the motive behind its development is (outside of pure curiosity), it meets all the criteria of a successful microsite. It’s simple, performs its job well, and has links back to the main Emojipedia website, which may be the sole purpose of this microsite.
Microsites Can Be a Powerful Tool
A microsite can be a powerful marketing tool for businesses looking to generate leads, launch new products, or target new demographics. When well-executed, a microsite allows businesses to focus their message and create a more targeted online experience for their users.
But when done poorly, it can hurt your rankings. It can also be an expensive and time-consuming project. If you’re considering creating a microsite for your business, keep these benefits and drawbacks in mind.
Barbara Lawson is a marketing writer with over ten years of experience teaching marketing at a university level. Her content is backed by extensive research, and her expertise in the field is invaluable. Living in the beautiful city of Burlington, Vermont, Barbara enjoys practicing yoga to stay centered and focused.