Microsites continue to be a prominent aspect of marketing. They create SEO value and provide an alternate way to engage with your customers. The ability to turn on these experiences has typically been a development exercise. In today’s world though, marketers don’t have that luxury. Instead of waiting days and sometimes weeks to build out a microsite experience, marketers need to be able to build and launch these experiences in hours - it’s just what today’s customers expect.
Looking at the Microsite Problem
Microsites create an exciting opportunity for organizations trying to market a specific event, highlight a new product or otherwise engage in a timely initiative. They become problematic if companies can't manage them efficiently.
A recent Forbes story by contributor Mat Zucker highlighted a potential microsite nightmare. In this example, a hypothetical microsite that launched in 2007 for a short campaign would run alongside television ads. Early conversions and ROI were good. The problem is that the site is still up, uses outdated technologies, performs poorly and siphons search results from the main domain.
This microsite initially cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in IT expenses and agency fees, and the company is still paying for hosting and generating negative customer experiences well after the campaign was over, Zucker explained.
This exemplifies the overarching problem of microsites - they can divide a brand's online presence and create significant management overhead. While Zucker was describing a theoretical example, he used an experience many businesses have encountered. The problem is real, but effective strategies can overcome microsite concerns.
Countering the Microsite Problem
In order for companies to reap the benefits of microsites, a good microsite strategy must:
- Have a clear start and end time to avoid wasted hosting expenses.
- Align with the brand's SEO and customer experience goals.
- Function as part of a larger marketing strategy, not an isolated instance.
- Do something unique - either visually or in terms of interactivity - to make it stand out as an independent entity.
Each of these tactics are easier to enact with the right technology in place. Getting a site out on time is easier when the content management system allows for rapid development and customization. Getting messaging on point is simpler in a CMS with robust editing, commenting and approval tools.
A microsite must be heavily branded, not a one-off experiment. A report from The SEM Post describing a Google Hangout hosted by the search engine giant's John Mueller reinforces this point.
During the Hangout, Mueller explained that Google generally frowns on the idea of creating a bunch of small sites focusing on individual topics. Mueller warned that brands taking this approach can get overwhelmed managing and maintaining these distinct pages, and are generally better able to drive conversions and achieve goals by focusing on fewer sites.
Notice that Mueller isn't saying that microsites themselves are the problem, but that they become an issue when organizations can't manage and maintain them well. Businesses can take advantage of the benefits microsites offer while avoiding potential downsides by eliminating operational overhead. A good CMS enables organizations to streamline development, content creation, editing and publishing processes. Simplifying these backend procedures makes it easier to not only create a microsite, but also manage it throughout its life.
Using a CMS to Keep Microsites Valuable
Establishing a microsite used to create development and technical burdens that made rolling out new experiences challenging. In today’s world, it is essential that any microsite be developed and managed within the same platform as the rest of the organization's content. Building microsites from the same CMS that its other web properties are managed allows companies to take pre-existing development work, media assets and content processes and apply them to the microsite.
Content management systems that can support microsites allow organizations to take all of their brand guidelines, design elements, reporting systems and management capabilities and apply them to the microsite. This means that the unique site can be rolled out quickly and easily within the core CMS, making it easier to manage and support over time and shut it down at the end of the campaign.
Brightspot offers the vital functions needed to deploy, manage and support microsites effectively. The platform simplifies development across web and mobile channels to simplify the backend. From there, Brightspot eases content creation and publishing across all stakeholders, allowing teams to quickly roll out custom microsites without unnecessarily building everything from scratch or learning new interfaces. With Brightspot, companies get the value of microsites without the headaches.