My last post was about how to successfully market a microsite for your company, and it outlined the current steps we're taking to market our recent microsite votethesite.com. However, I realized today that in that article, I didn't put forth the basic tenets of why a microsite can be a very good choice for many businesses.
I think the general philosophy behind a microsite is one that Jason Fried articulated in his keynote at Northwestern (if anyone has the video, leave a comment):
"Out teach, out share, and out contribute"
Fried was describing how the marketing of celebrity chefs demonstrated to market online, and I think that quotation is nearly identical the goals of launching a microsite.
Perhaps the biggest reason to build a microsite is to drive traffic to your organization's main site. Due to the fact that you're out contributing to your space, people will be driven to your site. It's nearly impossible to make a corporate site go "viral" and quickly spread around to thousands of people - however, an interesting microsite can easily take off and start referring traffic to your main organization's site. In addition to the upfront traffic from initially marketing your microsite, there will also be a longtail, as different blogs continue to pick up the site down the line and it continues to rank on Google for keywords.
One great example of a long tail generated by a microsite is Website Grader. This microsite was created by an internet marketing and SEO company named HubSpot. It started off as a fun experiment and microsite for their team and has resulted in thousands of sites linking to the tool, references from major blogs, and more than 400,000 URLs being graded. The microsite captures people looking for a free website evaluation and then drives a portion of that traffic to HubSpot as; almost all of these visitors are part of the company's main target.
Another great reason for a microsite is to establish your firm as an innovator in the space. This would be considered out teaching. By creating a forward-thinking microsite that has great content and addresses an important topic, people will begin to look to you as a thought leader and innovator in your space. This was certainly one of the motivations behind votethesite.com; our firm has always done a great job of developing political websites, but the microsite helps establish us as a thinker in the space that is exploring how online campaigning is affecting real elections. By taking the time and putting in the effort to build an innovative microsite, people will realize that you're a leader in the space and a company worth following.
A microsite also allows you to create powerful spinoff content, whether it is blog posts, free reports, white papers, or others. Giving this content away would be classified as out sharing. Our microsite wasn't just a one-off solution, we've used it to generate several good blog posts (one of which drove nearly a thousand visitors to our site today), and it will also allow us to repurpose the data for reports and white papers. A microsite gives you an ideal opportunity to generate valuable data and content that you can continually use for your company's advantage.
These are a few really compelling reasons to build a microsite. It is certainly a time investment, but is well worth it when you think of the longtail and the ability to create spinoff content. However, be sure not to half-ass it; if you're going to build one, really throw yourself behind marketing it and getting value out of it. Have you had success with a microsite? If so, leave a comment and let us know your story and why you decided to build it.