Post by Natalie Dewhirst
Microsites have the potential to make macro impact. They can be magical for a brand, providing a platform to express the human side, the creative side, the fun side of the business. Used in B2C and B2B -- though sometimes for different reasons -- microsites are like landing pages on steroids and have unique potential for hyper-targeting and user engagement.
Here are 8 examples of microsites to inspire you. Enjoy.
1. ElfYourself.com from Office Depot / OfficeMax
Let's get this most-famous-microsite out of the way first. This site has been around for 10 years and doesn't appear to be going anywhere. Pretty sure mom Elfed our family this year.
It was a genius way of warming up the Office Depot cold cubicle brand. Though the main focus is user engagement and social sharing, the company did not miss the opportunity to send you to their website to shop.
Inspiration Spark: Add an interactive, shareable element to your microsite.
2. BurgerBFF.com from Mellow Mushroom
When pizza franchise Mellow Mushroom introduced burgers to the menu they also introduced their customers to two personified burgers, Herb and Carnie, through this fun microsite. They stayed on brand with the hippy vibe, a reassuring way to say to customers: "We're changing our menu, but we're not changing who we are."
The microsite clearly supports a broader product launch campaign and uses a contest, social media and streaming music to engage their customers with social sharing as the primary goal. Why not let your customers spread your message for you? This is one of the great gifts of social media to business.
All of this would have been much harder to accomplish on the primary website. The microsite gave them freedom, while keeping users in a closed ecosystem so they could better control the actions taken.
Inspiration Spark: Drive engagement with social media based contests.
3. FU.com from House of Cards / Netflix
The microsite pretending to be the Frank Underwood (from Netflix series "House of Cards") political campaign website is excellent in design, content and functionality. Look for subtle animations like Frank's (literally) shifty eyes -- meaningful on more than one level. The writing is tongue-in-cheek, appealing to fans and would-be fans alike. The site includes the opportunity for social sharing through a meme you can create and download or share on the fly. Or you can download a media kit that includes"FU '16" themed Facebook and Twitter cover images, posters and stickers.
The creators perfectly captured both the mood of the show and the mood of the nation with this microsite -- guaranteeing that their fans would engage and share widely.
Inspiration Spark: Be playful.
4. Puppyhood.com from Puppy Chow / Purina
Who can resist puppies? This microsite does a wonderful job of talking to their target customers -- puppy owners or soon-to-be puppy owners. This is a perfect example of hyper-targeting. There is so. much. content. on this site giving Purina the opportunity to rank in search for a wide variety of search terms. Not many people would actively seek out a dog food company website to learn more about puppies, so Purina wisely brings people in through the back door with informative, high-quality content that people actually want to read. There microsite has some fun features, too, including an interactive Name Your Puppy tool. Lastly, they include a coupon that makes Puppy Chow an easy first-choice for new puppy owners.
Inspiration Spark: Take a sliver segment of your customers and dive deeply into what their interests, concerns and questions may be. Then create a microsite with content that resonates. Include an offer for bonus points.
5. Tesco Living from Tesco
Tesco, a store similar to Target in the US, created this microsite that behaves a lot like a publisher. They have tons of articles on a variety of lifestyle-related topics, none of which actively promote or direct people to the main Tesco website. They are creating valuable, sharable content. And in doing so, are building their reputation as a valuable addition to customer's lives. They have advertising, but it's not prominent. They have links to their website and to store locators, but they are in the footer. The primary goal is to share helpful, interesting information. And they are doing it well.
They could have chosen to add this content to their main website but by building a separate website, with its own domain, they can use cross-linking to build SEO value while also building their reader's trust that they aren't trying to sell anything.
Inspiration Spark: Consider creating a microsite with the primary objective being helpful, educational, timely, informative -- with self-promotion almost an afterthought.
6. CMO.com from Adobe
If you are a designer, you know Adobe for Creative Suite. But Adobe offers so much more and their marketing suite is one of their flagship products. The development of CMO.com (wonder how much that domain cost?!) speaks to Adobe's understanding of who their core customer is -- marketing professionals. "Digital marketing insights, expertise and inspiration – for and by marketing leaders."
Inspiration Spark: If you have varying customer segments like Adobe (some are designers, some are marketers) use a microsite like this to share niche content with a niche audience.
7. MusicLab from Chrome Experiments / Google
This microsite was built in support of Music in Our Schools month and gives everyone an opportunity to experiment with creating music. The tool was created by the very smart people at Google and is inspirational in both design and functionality. If you need a little work break, go make some music. This site serves the dual purpose of promoting awareness for a cause while building the brand image of Google as a playful innovator.
Inspiration Spark: Passionate about a cause? Build an interactive microsite to support and spread the word about things that matter to you.
8. 2G Sunset Roadmap from KORE
This microsite acts as an educational resources for their niche audience of IoT and M2M companies. It tapped into an industry-wide issue, created resources to help their customers address the issue and added plenty of lead generation opportunities through multiple downloadable resources.
Inspiration Spark: If you rely on leads for generating new business, build a hyper-targeted microsite with a mix of educational content and lead generation opportunities. This positions you as a friendly subject matter expert - a powerful place to sit.
Key Takeaway: Microsites Can Take Many Forms
The key takeaway from this sampling of microsites: there is no one right way to do it. Before you start building, know your objectives. Why are you building a microsite and what do you hope to get out of it. This will guide your strategy and design/UX decisions giving you a better shot at creating something that helps your overall business goals.