How Microsites are Delivering a Competitive Advantage Across Industries
Microsites are becoming a competitive strategy in a number of industries. Put simply, a microsite is a focused group of pages that provide information that is designed to serve a unique audience, location or product/service. It wraps the sales and value message up in a focused package, along with critical information and answers to questions so that when a prospect visits the microsite, they are able to learn what they need to and move to the next level of the buyer's journey.
The microsite creates a focused experience that allows for easy updates by marketers and better conversion with website visitors.
The short answer to "Who is using microsites in 2020?" is simple- everyone. Large brands, multi-location and multi-product companies are using microsite systems. Some of the big drivers for this move is the need for ease of updates by multiple marketers, while IT retains security and access controls, better ad conversion rates, the ability to make rapid transitions during market disruptions, and the big-one- fatigue with waiting long periods of time for website development cycles that will have to be modified anyway. Microsites deliver a better website experience for users, and a more agile approach to growing online traffic
The microsite allows visitors to escape the "phone book syndrome" and simply focus on what they were looking for. A focused message plus all the answers they need (without searching around) delivers better conversions. During big market disruptions when digital ads are working the same way they were before, and rapid changes have to be made to marketing plans, agility and performance are more important than ever.
Here are a few examples of Microsites that illustrate their impact:
Innovation and Product/ Service Launches
In the category of rapid innovation and launch, PepsiCo gets the award for fast deployment of a microsite for a business pivot. With the pandemic changing eating and shopping, they ramped up two new direct to consumer snack programs in a hurry using microsites. They went from concept to live operations in 30-days, which is a great example of the versatility and speed that the microsite approach brings to marketing. Their microsite? Snacks.com
Multi-Location Businesses and Franchises
Both franchises and multi-location businesses can make good use of microsites. For multi-location businesses, the microsite allows a more local feel to be established. People really want to do business with those who are nearby, and a microsite can picture the location, feature services most appropriate to that community along with testimonials. The other big advantage is the ability to improve local search engine optimization (SEO) with multiple place-named pages and links. The advantage of a microsite approach rather than simply a set of templates is that the underlying automation and marketing can boost marketing outcomes much more than simply placing a few details in a standard template. A WordPress multi-site used to be the preferred solution, but software as a service (SaaS) has made that obsolete with much stronger supporter and features.
Franchises and Multiple-location industries that may benefit from a microsite system:
- Home care
- Senior Care
- Funeral Care
- Health Care
Franchises also use websites as a large multi-location business, providing templated pages to their franchisees. This is great because it is fast, allows the brand to retain integrity and removes the web development burden. Some franchises have not taken this far enough and only provide a single customized page, or include "leaks" in the local website that go back to the parent. The execution of a microsite is often mixed however, with some franchises providing a robust microsite with multiple place-named pages and references, but still capturing leads back into the corporate system that originate in the local site. You can tell the difference by hovering on the links on a microsite page to see if they are place-named or go to the corporate site.
Learn more about microsite systems that allow for local domains and still fall under a branded system
Ad campaign conversion optimization (A/B)
If you have a campaign to run for a cause or to boost sales of products or services, it's standard practice to push those ads to a landing page that matches the ad click intent. Microsites take this much farther than the squeeze page or the simple landing page by allowing the online visitor to learn everything they need to know, answer their questions and take action all without losing focus. Microsites are truly about focusing your message. Instead of spreading your message across an entire website, the microsite allows for a customer experience that can move them along the buyer's journey much more effectively.
Here's a cause oriented microsite run by Patagonia, which is clearly within their brand story, but has a unique focus and action opportunity.
And when it comes to building brand awareness and getting both ad responses and viral sharing, the campaign around Dominos DXP delivery vehicle is a great example. The site provides a couple of simple functions and connects people to one of Domino's core differentiators- hot pizza delivery. Not to mention the cool factor.
Special Events and Campaigns
Doordash has launched an innovative microsite that focuses on the stories of immigrant entrepreneurs "fulfilling their dreams and enriching our communities with diverse culinary traditions." This is a great example of a campaign that allows them to celebrate their relationships with an important group of restaurants that participate in DoorDash. It also speaks uniquely to the communities that are connected to the entrepreneurs they feature. In one microsite they are helping to grow participating restaurants plus niche communities- pretty clever. It also tells some compelling stories about entrepreneurs.
By reviewing these examples, you can see the versatility, speed and message focusing that microsite systems bring to marketing. Whether it is a multi-location, special campaign, franchise, or a new product launch, it is easy to see why this approach is becoming a best-practice choice in a variety of industries.
The key to the effective use of microsites is choosing the underlying operating system. An all-in-one system allows for the needs of marketing and sales to be supported and integrated into the microsite. Tools like onboard SEO, A/B testing, IT access and edit controls, theme management, CRM, marketing automation, SaaS security, and customer service and deal tracking increase the impact of microsites.