While it is nice to have a comprehensive website that offers all the information your target audience needs, it isn’t always the best approach.
Sometimes it is simply better to have a completely separate page devoted to a specific topic, which is where minisites (or microsites) come in.
In this blog post, we’ll cover what a minisite is and the various reasons why a company might consider having one as part of a bigger content marketing strategy.
Further, we’ll also go over why this is different from a landing page and the process for creating successful campaigns.
Ready to get started? Let’s jump right in.
What is a Minisite?
A minisite is simply a micro website with one to five pages of content.
Usually, it is super small in order to keep attention on a:
- Specific service.
- Product launch.
- Or other one-off event.
Think about this for a second.
When big brands like McDonald’s or Starbucks host a contest, they usually create a separate website for the duration of the sweepstakes entry period.
Once the whole thing is over, they take the website down. This is a prime example of a minisite at work.
Furthermore, minisites are usually billed as temporary.
While they can be for some organic traffic purposes, they are not often part of a long-term SEO strategy.
Instead, they serve a basic reason and when it is over, the page is no longer updated or is removed entirely.
Minisite vs. Landing Page: What’s the Difference?
This is a good question.
Most people confuse a minisite versus a landing page, which in all actuality they are noticeably different.
Landing pages are generally hosted on the same website as the company’s main page.
And, while they also promote various products or events, they aren’t usually deemed as fully separate from the main business or brand.
In contrast, microsites have their own unique domain name.
While they might use the main brand’s name or logo, they’re not fully connected to the primary website.
They’re also far more temporary than a landing page and have no real need for long-term organic traffic.
The Benefits of Minisites
When it comes to creating minisite for a specific purpose, there are numerous advantages to the process.
Opportunity to segregate a specific event or product
You’ll do this so that your event or product remains in the spotlight.
An example of this would be a realtor who creates a microsite for just one top-notch property to ensure it gets the right level of attention.
Minisites allow you to do a bit of split testing to see what works the best.
Some digital marketers opt to create two, three, or even more minisites around the same topic with different button placements, images, and colors.
Then they find the one that gets the highest response rate before shutting the remaining ones down.
Super easy and quick to create
Someone with an average level of WordPress experience can generally have a whole minisite done in just a few hours — which is in stark contrast to larger projects that take weeks, months, or even years to fully build-out.
Simply put, the main benefit of using a microsite is that it places emphasis on a particular subject while also being simple to build.
How to Build a Successful Minisite?
Building a successful minisite is simple as long as you know the right steps to make it happen.
Here are a few tips to help get you started.
Step One: Decide on a Singular Focus
The first step to creating any minisite is to decide on a singular focus.
- Is it a specific event or contest giveaway?
- Are you focusing on a collaboration with a different brand or a product launch?
Once you have this narrowed down, you can move on with the process.
Step Two: Brainstorm and Register a Domain Name
Next, brainstorm and register a domain name that best fits your particular microsite focus.
You can even browse expired domains to find one that might accurately match up with your overall message while still shuffling old traffic to the page.
Just make sure you’re not stepping into an issue with a previous page’s misdeeds first.
Once you’ve purchased the domain, you are ready to keep going.
Step Three: Choose a Host
Choosing a host might seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to realize that microsites have different needs than bigger websites.
For example, you might not need the most expensive hosting package out there or a five-year plan.
Instead, go with something that is affordable, quick loading, and offers flexibility for when you’re ready to take the microsite down.
If you’re interested in this, may we suggest Stage?
Step Four: Create a Content Map
Usually, the process of building a website involves designing the page and then figuring out what to put on it.
With a microsite, this is done in reverse.
You already know what you want the page to talk about, so briefly jot down an outline of the various parts of the main page and what three to five subpages should include.
This will give you a plan when you get to the design phase.
Step Five: Design the Website
This is where you’re figuring out the visual, technical, and user experience elements of your minisite.
Generally, you should skip any direct correlation between your primary brand page and this new micro addition, as it could confuse your target market.
Make sure the page is easy to navigate, looks great on all screen sizes, and is quick loading.
Need a quick way to build? Ion is a great choice for creating interactive microsites in a short period of time.
Step Six: Write Website Copy
Writing the website copy is a crucial part of the whole minisite process.
After all, you only have limited space to convey your point and say what you want to say.
If it helps, create a buyer persona sheet that elaborates on who you’re trying to target and the type of messaging that resonates with them the best.
Once you have the type of message you want and a buyer persona, you can outsource this to a ghostwriter, this will allow the writer to understand better the needs of the project.
Step Seven: Launch the Minisite & Drive Traffic
Now is the time in the process where you’ll actually launch your microsite.
This is a big deal, as it means your idea is fully out into the world.
Since you won’t be focusing too heavily on search optimization, try sending traffic to it with paid ads, social media marketing, email blasts to your brand’s main list, or whatever else your marketing team comes up with.
Some big brands even buy billboards, television commercial time, and more to hype consumers up.
Step Eight: Wait Out the Duration
This part is less exciting, but waiting out the duration of the campaign is important.
By the end, the main focus of your microsite will come and go.
Maybe that event you were drawing attention to is over or you’ve given away the sweepstakes item to a few lucky winners.
Perhaps the product you were pushing is long gone or the excitement is over.
Whatever you’re waiting on to happen, let it happen.
Step Nine: Take It Down
Finally, you’ll want to take your minisite down after an extended period of time.
Keeping it up just competes with the traffic of your main brand website, which can be a bit of a pain in terms of long-term marketing.
If your event is annual, you might actually consider leaving the microsite up, but adding wording that states customers should plan to attend next year.
Attention: pointing separate domain names to your main website
As an added word of caution, it is important to note that building a microsite just to point the domain name to your page later is not generally a good idea.
Google is not a fan, which means you could be hurting your overall organic chances and ranking position later on if that is your plan.
While it is okay to link to your main website, do not point the microsite domain to the main page after you’re through with the niche page.
Examples of Minisites
We wouldn’t want to give you an ultimate guide on minisites without at least giving you a few key examples.
These are all pages based on the idea that a minisite is separate from the brand’s main page, offers a singular focus, and can be taken down at any time when the event or product launch is over.
- Goldfish Smiles by Pepperidge Farms.
- My Creative Type by Adobe.
- Every Last Drop by Waterwise.
- Campaign for Nursing’s Future by Johnson & Johnson.
How do You Know a Minisite is Right for Your Business?
Understanding when and how to use a minisite for your business is important.
Not all brands really need one to create buzz for a particular reason, but it can be a good way to ensure the right level of attention lands on what you’re focusing on.
If you’re thinking about creating a microsite, decide whether the event or product is far enough removed from your general brand focus.
Those that are fairly close to what you normally do should just be left on your main homepage.
Also, your minisite focus should be somewhat temporary, lasting a few weeks to several months.
If it is something that is a long-term focus, then go ahead and just leave it on your main page or build out a full website instead.
Downside to Minisites
Of course, we need to at least touch on a few reasons why you might not want to have a minisite for your brand.
Here are a few that you might want to consider.
Slower traffic growth than existing website
You’ve worked hard to build up your audience on your existing website.
A brand new niche page might take longer for your target market to find unless you’re doing a fair amount of paid promotion.
Time and resources to build
Microsites are small, but they still take a fair amount of time and resources for your team to complete.
And that can take away the focus temporarily from your main website.
Diluted audience engagement
If your main target audience is having to go elsewhere to engage with your content, this dilutes the interaction they’re doing on your main website.
Confusing loyal customers
Some long-term loyal customers might not understand the reason behind why you have a minisite in the first place.
Thus, it is important to make it clear that this smaller page focuses on a specific event or product, but your main website is still primary for your brand.
While these are all factors that come to mind when deciding if a minisite is an ideal choice for your defined purpose, it is important to remember that having them does make sense for some reasons more than others.
Wrap Up: Creating Minisites for Marketing
A solid way to draw attention to a very specific purpose, event, or product is to create a minisite.
Not only does it offer extra flexibility, but it also allows you to test out specific marketing messaging in a way that is separate from your main website.
Plus, you have the ability to take it down when whatever you’re promoting is through.
Not only is this something that major brands do on a regular basis, but it also works well with both B2B and B2C applications.
As we mentioned in this post, one great tactic is to use interactive elements as part of your minisite.
So check out our ebook with tons of tips on getting started with interactive marketing!