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Microsite Experience Strategies

Posted on 3.31.2013

When it comes to website success, the bigger the site and the more detailed the information provided to visitors, the better off your enterprise will be. Yet, despite the obvious importance of having a robust, feature-rich and immersive Web experience, there remains a place for (and a draw toward) microsites. These are highly focused digital destinations, which serve direct and implicit purposes – be it lead generation, branding, awareness or something else entirely like organizing supplementary content for consumption by users. Microsites have their place on the modern Web, but you’ll need a real plan to make them work.

The Modern Microsite Opportunity
Microsites provide an opportunity to improve and build upon relevant topics of interest related (in some capacity) to a brand with information and data that is valued by the end-user (consumer, client, etc.). The higher the quality and relevancy of the content that’s published and distributed, the more opportunities there are to attract and convert browsers to buyers.

It’s really quite straightforward: microsites provide Web workers with control over potentially important brand experiences for users. Done well, users receive value, companies can brand their products and services, and Web workers can learn about what motivates users and where they can and perhaps should invest their time and financial resources in.

Say for example that you sell hiking gear. Providing resources that would benefit buyers as a microsite– be it an immersive video guide to popular trails or a Web application that helps users choose hiking boots based on the type of terrain they’ll be traversing – is a terrific digital marketing initiative. Both could inject the brand into the buyer’s purchase funnel, making microsites a potentially viable digital acquisition strategy.

Internet, We Have a Problem
The use of microsites does raise some important questions, however – like where to host them. Microsites can dilute “authority” as links/citations can be distributed over two separate digital properties. While in the past it was common to use a separate domain, it’s popular now among the savviest digerati to develop microsites that reside on subdomains or folders of the primary website (as it’s more valuable from a search engine optimization perspective). It’s still a popular tactic to use different domain names to promote these stand-alone destinations, but today it’s common to mask, redirect or forward those descriptive domains to the microsite which resides on the primary Web property.

With the technical question all wrapped up, it’s essential to turn your attention to the real issue – what problem is being solved in this microsite effort? Microsites present immense value when they can drive interest in and benefit from what it being provided.

Three-Step Microsite Shuffle
Creating microsites needn’t take an immense amount of time. In reality, with a little experience it’s possible to develop working, functional microsites in hours.

STEP 1: Create Supplementary Information Silos
The microsite development process is an important one – and not just the decision about where it’s hosted. It’s also important to consider the naming and design and if the microsite’s theme and experience supports the primary brand objectives. Since microsites are typically only set up once, choosing wisely from the outset will ensure success in both the short and long term.

STEP 2: Edit, then Extend Content with Data & Details
Your enterprise likely already has a sufficient amount of content – some of which will be public and some private. The best course of action is to select an appropriate, topical theme of interest, edit down any existing materials for use on the microsite, and improve upon it by adding new data and details.

STEP 3: Modify/Produce Content by Format Type
Turn a bullet list into an infographic, turn a glossary into a wiki, turn a blog post into a video – there are a variety of formats by which content can be presented. Speak to individual demographics by the type of content their general age and gender profile typically consume.

Take a few minutes now to identify potential topic areas where your website visitors could benefit from (or at least appreciate) additional, supplementary information. In the case of our hiking retailer, creating an additional subdomain or folder about the world’s best hiking trails onto its Web property could prove valuable and provide an opportunity to keep adding content in the future.

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