Specialized marketing isn't a revolutionary concept, but the expression of that concept across digital platforms is really shaking up the playing field. Microsites are the latest volley in the battle for consumer attention. They offer a focused ecommerce experience that larger, "clunky" brand sites aren't agile enough to deliver. They aren’t necessarily the best solution for every marketing need, but in a few specific scenarios they provide benefits that are difficult to overlook. Does your project warrant its own microsite? Here are three niches that provide a target-rich environment for microsite development:
1. Launching a New Product
Whether you have 6 SKUs or 600, the launch of a new product can often be missed by consumers who are already focused on the rest of your line. Microsites give your new product a clean platform to make its own case, uncluttered by its predecessors and sibling offerings. In addition, a separate mini-site allows your brand to take a few risks in terms of design or copy; your marketing can get a little more edgy or narrow without risking alienating your regular site users.
Ometria's Hannah Stacy points out that even something as simple as a personalized quiz, ala Reebok's "Be More Human" microsite, can be enough to engage a customer and keep them clicking on a microsite. Your core brand identity stays strong and your new product stays fresh. It's a win-win outcome that will reflect in traffic and conversion metrics on both sides.
2. Unique Promotional Efforts
Sometimes a product can't be sold easily through e-commerce, or brand awareness is the goal, as opposed to direct sales conversion. In these cases, microsites truly shine. Consider Newcastle Brown Ale, a brand effectively curtailed from ecommerce sales of its product due to interstate commerce and age restriction complications. As a smaller brewer in the shadow of much larger competitors like Miller and Budweiser, the scrappy beer brand didn't have a lot of budget to throw at Super Bowl ad time, so they created a tongue-in-cheek microsite called "If We Made It," complete with over-the-top faux storyboards for the commercial they couldn't afford to make.
Taking a jab at "the big guys" on their main website might have cast the brand in a poor light, but a clever microsite allowed them to push the envelope of satire while still retaining brand integrity. This freedom is especially important for "young" brands, who are expected to bend the rules and test limits a bit. Red Bull and Doritos, for example, both make judicious use of microsites in their campaigns.
3. Preparing for a Future Campaign
If you've got something big in the works for your brand, chances are you'd like to get as much customer interest as possible before launch. Microsites can deliver a targeted ecommerce experience as well as important information about upcoming promotions, such as rules, deadlines and FAQs, all while collecting customer data. Microsites are also a smart route to take for server-taxing contests and giveaways, preventing a massive influx of traffic from collapsing your core site when the promo finally goes live. As Brett Langlois of Catalyst explains, directing paid campaigns to the microsite will help establish authority for your product or promotion, even if it won't be ready for primetime for a while. Consider microsites to be a sort of "marketing investment" in these cases, allocating effort and resources now to support future contests and product launches.
Microsites won't guarantee a successful marketing effort every time, but they will act as guides to make your eventual target a little easier to hit. Customers who find themselves already in a rich, informative environment are more likely to explore and engage, increasing your company's chances of a successful conversion. Whether your aim is to inform, entertain or convert, microsites offer a unique ecommerce experience that's typically easier to build, maintain and change than a core site.