Amine is a tech entrepreneur and writer. He is currently the CMO at Regal Assets and CEO at IronMonk Solutions.
Today’s digital world is loaded with distractions, noise and fancy bells and whistles. Microsites, by contrast, stand out for being simple and straightforward. That’s what makes them so effective.
A microsite is a single-function website that usually consists of just one page. They’re used to attract conversions for a specific task — usually, email sign-ups — or to bring awareness to a product or upcoming event.
The magic of microsites is in their simplicity. Since there are few, if any, distractions on the page, they lend themselves well to driving conversions or commanding your audience’s attention.
As the owner of two digital marketing agencies, I’ve helped many entrepreneurs build microsites to highlight their projects. In this article, I’ve decided to shed some light on this underrated marketing technique and provide some tips for working them into your digital marketing strategy.
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What’s A Microsite?
Microsites are marketing tactics that involve the creation of small-scale websites dedicated to a specific product, person or event. These sites are purely promotional and are designed to focus on a single topic without any of the usual add-on content you’d find on websites, such as the “About Us” or “The Team” pages.
Usually, microsites have their own domain name or are a distinct subdomain within a larger site. They aren’t application-based either — meaning they aren’t Shopify sites and don’t have e-commerce functionality. They also aren’t a part of a large sales funnel.
Instead, microsites are fun, interactive websites that double as advertisements. They’re designed to maximize engagement with an audience and to build hype, anticipation or direct conversions (i.e., an email sign-up or account registration).
Are Microsites Right For You?
Microsites are naturally well-suited for short-lived campaigns. It doesn’t make sense to siphon traffic from your brand’s main landing page to a microsite in the long-term. Think about all the traffic and lead generation you’d lose over a multi-year span.
You should think about promoting a microsite for short-term marketing campaigns built around limited-time products or offerings (i.e., less than six months). Specifically, microsites are great for niche products or events that might not appeal to your entire audience.
For example, a microsite would suit a promotion for your upcoming 2021 Virtual Summer Retreat but probably wouldn’t lend itself well to the launch of a permanent clothing line.
Tips For Building Microsites
Without getting too bogged down in the details, let’s go over some of the most important tips and tricks for developing a top-notch microsite:
• One call to action: A microsite should be based around a single CTA, such as an email sign-up bar, a prompt to join a waiting list or an RSVP for an event.
• Interactive multimedia: Microsites are simplistic in the sense that they don’t include a navigation bar or multiple pages, but they should involve a mix of media (i.e., videos, images and graphics) that responds to user input.
• On-site navigation: Users shouldn’t be able to navigate to sub-pages, but they should be able to zoom and scroll to interact with the various elements on the site.
• Link back to your brand site: The microsite should link to a parent domain to reinforce that it’s a part of your larger brand and not a standalone entity. This can also help with lead generation and SEO.
• Use a unique domain: Microsites should be hosted on a unique domain name to help solidify them as unique websites and not merely pages on your primary site.
Microsites Done Right
There are countless examples of super-effective microsites that do a great job of advertising a specific brand or product in a minimalist design. I’ve showcased a few of my favorites below.
• Red Bull: Karl Meltzer: Karl Meltzer is a Red-Bull-sponsored ultrarunner who, in 2016, ran a record-breaking 46-day course through the Appalachian Trail. Red Bull’s microsite dedicated to his thru-hike record (45 days and 22 hours, in case you’re wondering) is a beautifully designed one-page journey that tells Meltzer’s story and highlights the magnitude of his achievement in images, text, video and infographics.
• Future of Car Sharing: This elegant microsite is the result of a collaboration between design studio Hyperakt and VC firm Collaborative Fund. It’s a fun sidescrolling one-pager reminiscent of 1980s arcade games. It’s loaded with infographics to make the experience educational about the environmental benefits of car sharing while providing a clear CTA that calls for the visitor to share the page.
• The Commute from Heaven: The Commute from Heaven is a microsite made by Adventure Cyclist, a cycling publication, that chronicles an epic eight-day bicycle tour from Salt Lake City to Moab. It blends long-form photojournalism with the digital design of a well-made microsite. At the end of the piece, it links to the publication’s main landing page and provides a “Share The Story” CTA. In other words, it has all the hallmarks of an effective microsite.
Microsite Marketing: Focused Content In A Noisy World
As a digital marketing professional and longtime user of the internet, I feel qualified to say that, these days, there’s too much complexity online. The beauty of microsites is that they’re refreshingly basic. Microsites serve a clear, singular purpose without any distractions or surprises.
A microsite is an example of simplistic marketing done right. That’s why I love working with them — in both a creative role and as a visitor. They’re honest, they waste no time and they cut right to the chase. For these reasons, I believe microsites are hugely underutilized for short-term marketing campaigns around product launches and upcoming events.