What is a Microsite?

Kendall Brennan
By Kendall Brennan

Surely by now you’ve at least heard of a microsite, but are you really aware of what a microsite is and the purpose it/they serve?

Microsites can be incredibly useful marketing tools when utilized correctly, and might not take as much effort to set up and maintain as you might think. In this post, we’ll dive into microsites and why your company should be using them as part of your digital marketing efforts.

The Microsite Defined

So what exactly is a microsite, anyway?

A microsite is a website, or small series of websites, that delivers content that is more focused on a specific topic than your regular web pages. A microsite can do any number of things but is most often used to target a specific audience with a defined call to action. For instance, a microsite can be used during a special campaign to promote a product, a limited-time offer or sale, or an upcoming event, and more. Access to the site will be sent to a very specific set of people, with a singular intended outcome.

Microsites are typically separate entities from your brand and main site, having their own domain, while others may be a subdomain of your main site.

No one can seem to agree on what the first microsite actually was, but it appears they originated somewhere around 1999 as marketing departments began to crave more control over their organization’s online presence. Microsites quickly became more popular and are used widely as an online marketing tool in both marketing and sales departments at organizations worldwide.

Why Do I Need A Microsite If I Already Have A Website?

It’s totally understandable if you’ve become attached to, and are a bit defensive of, your main website. It might get the amount of traffic you’re happy with, and surely took you and your coworkers a lot of thought and time to get it just right, but you really don’t need to worry about your microsite having any negative effect on your main pages. In fact, it can have quite the opposite effect and can help to boost traffic to your main site.

That’s because microsites are generally stand-alone pages that are separate from your main site. The URL can tie into your main site in some way or be a subdomain, or can be completely specific toward the specific sale or event. The latter option, however, is more temporary, meaning you may end up with a dead link if it is only used one time. For this reason, evergreen microsites are highly recommended, giving you lasting life out of your page.

Microsites are handy and flexible marketing tools that can essentially serve any role you would like them to. They are highly adaptable and can utilize any technology or rich media, so a lot of thought will have to go into a microsite’s design and name.

It’s important to note that a microsite is different from a static landing page on your website. A microsite will typically have its own set of themes and a separate brand message from your main site and landing pages. A microsite can cut out the fluff you have to include on your main site and get straight to the point, hopefully leading to quick conversions.

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Microsites Are More Versatile

Microsites can essentially promote anything you want them to. While you can surely throw a rotating banner at the top of your main site (and should), a microsite will have everything related to the specific event or promotion you want to highlight. If its an event, your microsite will have the time and date, ticket prices and how to buy, directions, and an FAQ to handle any other relevant information.

For promotional sales, you would highlight everything about the product, and make it quick and easy for the site visitor to make a purchase. Either way, the goal of the microsite is a prominent call to action for fast and convenient conversions.

Microsites Are More Specific

Having solid traffic to your website is great, but you may not be generating conversions or grabbing leads the way you really want to be. People may visit your site and browse around for a while, but you might not be capturing their information, and they may not even find the item you want them to be looking for, as odds are high they will only view a small portion of your site.

With a microsite, everything is right out there in the open for them on the exact thing you want your site visitors to be looking at. You can put specialized content on a specific topic, making your microsite much more targeted than your main web pages. This should help to drive leads and conversions by encouraging interaction.

Boost Your Search Engine Optimization

You can use a microsite for much more than just a sale or event. Really, you can use them for any keyword-rich content that you want to create to help improve your SEO.

This is where you can get really creative with a microsite. If something in your industry becomes topical, for instance, you could create a microsite to discuss/explain that topic, and generate traffic back to your main site. Having a microsite targeted toward a specific topic that is garnering a lot of web searches should get your page ranked highly in the search results.

The URL itself can be highly targeted for SEO, and the microsite page or pages should be rich with keywords on the given topic. This way, your microsite should skyrocket up the search rankings without being weighed down by the many search terms you use on your primary website.

The results you achieve from your microsites are also much easier to measure than your main web page because they will have a completely separate set of analytics. You’ll be able to easily track what’s working and what isn’t. There won’t be much in the way as far as irrelevant data since your microsite mainly serves a single purpose. You just need to make sure you have that purpose clearly defined, otherwise you’ll end up muddling the effectiveness of your microsite and entire targeted campaign.

How To Get Traffic To Your Microsite

Beyond organic search, you can also generate traffic to your microsite through tools like banner ads on your main website, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on Google and elsewhere, and more.

If you’re using a microsite in tandem with your social media marketing efforts (more on that later), you will need to create some compelling social posts that will generate clicks to your microsite, and hopefully, interaction once they arrive.

Once you’ve set up different marketing pieces with the intention of directing traffic to your microsite, you can follow where your microsite traffic comes from to measure how well each performs, as well as how much interest there is in the topic your microsite covers.

Using Microsites With Social Media

While various social media campaigns are great ways to reach a variety of audiences, they might be fragmented, and social media has its limitations, such as the infamous character limit for all of your Twitter posts. Other platforms may be less-than-appealing when it comes to design or adding images and video. But a microsite can step in and fill the void.

You can use a microsite to fill in the missing information that you can’t fit into a tweet or other social media post. Your microsite will also be on a specific topic and encourage engagement and lead generation without requiring any changes to your main page. This allows you more control over your messaging and campaign targets.

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With so many social media platforms out there for you to use, it’s also hard to manage and measure them all in one place.  Sure, there are tools like Hootsuite that help you get your message out across all of the many channels you use, but learning where your site visitors come from can be a challenge, to say the least. But directing traffic to your microsite, which is a specific page on a single topic, allows you to accurately measure why your site visitors are there.

Wrapping Up

Microsites are great tools to help you target new, niche markets within your broader audience. They will help you be more timely and effective in your marketing efforts by reaching the people you want to reach and when you want to reach them, with just the message they were looking for. Their immense flexibility and specificity make them ideal for any specific campaign you might have.

They’re great tools for boosting your SEO, customer engagement and lead capture, site interaction, and of course, conversions. And since they require little-to-no changes to your main site, and not much effort to create themselves, there’s little reason not to add a microsite to any marketing campaign.

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Kendall is a Senior SEO Strategist at Power Digital. She specializes in SEO, but also has a passion for the holistic view of digital marketing and seeing how all channels work together to create a strong digital presence.