Your brand is a crucial part of your business, and marketing that brand is even more important for growth. However, some of the more commonly used branding tactics – such as product-specific landing pages and email marketing campaigns – aren’t enough.
Enter ‘microsites’. These are typically independent of your main website, and they work to expand your reach and target a narrower audience. While seemingly contradictory, they help you build your overall brand and business’ standing.
In this post, we’ll introduce you to microsites (including what they are, why they’re used, and how they can be effective). We’ll also outline a few ways they can be marketed. Let’s get started!
What are microsites?
In simplest terms, a microsite is a collection of web pages created for a specific campaign or target audience. It’s typically located on a separate domain from the company’s main website, but it can also exist as a subdomain. They’re not suitable for every campaign, but when they are, you stand to benefit greatly.
How do I get started designing them?
Microsites are unique because they don’t have to match your core site’s design, given that they’re a separate entity. This is common for marketing campaigns independent of your larger brand.
However, a microsite could also mimic your core site. For example, you can use it for campaigns semi-related to your larger brand, or that require your brand’s backing for additional credibility.
What’s the best way to market microsites?
As part of your larger brand, it’s crucial that your microsites are marketed effectively. Fortunately, you can market them just as you would your core site.
Microsites and SEO
It seems quite obvious that creating a microsite will help to boost your site’s search engine rankings. However, there’s a fine line to walk between smart marketing and black hat Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics.
Essentially, microsites should not be created to boost your core site’s search engine rankings. Instead, they should only be created with an eye towards branding, which may then have a positive impact on your core site’s search engine rankings. However, this shouldn’t be a primary concern.
We recommend that instead of focusing on your core site’s search engine rankings, you should focus on the ranking of your microsite. Since it has a narrower target audience, it’s likely you’ll have unique long-tail keywords not used on your core site.
In short, by focusing on the ranking of your microsite over your core site, you ensure you aren’t competing with your own brand.
Combining Email Marketing and Microsites
We mentioned that microsites are a great way to target a specific audience. As such, they can prove a beneficial addition to your email marketing campaigns.
For any campaign, a narrowly targeted audience makes for a more marketable list. After all, you’re better able to tailor your emails to fit your subscriber’s needs if you know exactly what they want.
This is where a microsite comes in. By adding an email subscription sign-up form to your microsite, you can build a highly-focused list of potential leads. You can then use this in your larger email marketing campaign to create more valuable content.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a marketing model used to direct traffic to a specific website. When the ad is clicked (and traffic is brought to the target website), the advertiser pays the publisher for the click:
In fact, microsites are a great platform to include in your PPC advertising. First, they’re simple. This means anyone coming to your site through a PPC advertisement won’t be faced with unnecessary and distracting website elements.
Second, they can be used for distinct campaigns. With a microsite, you’re able to create a platform with each specific PPC advertisement in mind. This can boost conversions.
Overall, a microsite enables you to offer an uninterrupted viewing experience to your PPC visitors. You can create a site without confusing navigation bars, social media buttons, and unrelated links. Essentially, you simplify the experience to boost the odds of conversion.
What are the differences between microsites and landing pages?
It’s common to confuse microsites with landing pages. However, there are key differences between the two.
Foremost, a landing page exists on your core site as a separate page while a microsite is a completely separate website (using a different domain).
A landing page is best used when looking to bring focus to a specific product or service offered by your brand. These include a specific Call To Action (CTA) and usually focus in on a small aspect of your larger brand.
A microsite is best used for a larger campaign that may require more space than a landing page provides. They’re used for building brand awareness, as well as bringing interaction with a specific segment of your audience to the next level.
Landing exists as a pit stop in the complete user journey that is your website but microsites are their own destination. This more targeted information gives the user a more focused experience; they are less distracted by navigation.
Microsites in Action
The only real way to experience the power and diversity of microsites is to see some in action. These microsites are helping to create captivating digital experiences for their users.
The University of North Hampton has created a strategic, beautiful microsite dedicated to one goal: fundraising and investment. Users are not lost in the typical immense navigation that happens on university websites and instead can focus on ways to support the university, where the money goes and associated events.
Set The Page Free, a campaign championed by Xerox is a project in which 14 famous authors have joined forced to tell the multi-lensed, multi-faceted and ever-surprising story of the modern workplace. The book is readily accessible via their dynamic and engaging microsite in an effort to promote literacy worldwide.
Using WordPress and WP Engine to Create Microsites
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) with unparalleled flexibility and scalability. As such, it’s the ideal platform for microsites (especially if your core site is hosted on another CMS). With WordPress and a suitable host (such as WP Engine) on your side, you can create a powerful and effective microsite that fits your exact needs.
While WordPress can be used to create complex websites, one of its greatest features is the ease with which you can create a simple website. Microsites don’t require bells and whistles – a simple home page and a handful of separate pages (if necessary) is all that’s really required.
If creating a microsite using WordPress wasn’t easy enough, it’s even easier with the WP Engine Digital Experience Platform. With our help, you can build a suite of microsites, or just one. To learn more about what WP Engine can do for you, check out our plans here.