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Creating Microsites:
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Welcome to our comprehensive guide to microsites: what exactly a microsite is, when to use one, and how to be successful in microsite design and marketing.

If you're a digital marketer, you know this field goes nuts over tools. Hardly a day goes by without hearing about some new tool on the market, and every so often, "the tool to change your life." But they never do - they just become one more thing on the to-do list that we have to master and keep track of. If you really want to benefit from this guide, you'll need to tune out the chatter so you can focus your efforts on a senior, yet fundamental marketing tool: the microsite. We promise: it won't change your life, and it won't be the only tool you'll ever need. That said, brands have long used and benefited from marketing with microsites, many achieving incredible results and success. In this guide, you'll learn everything you need to know about microsite design and marketing and how to succeed with them.

Got doubts?

Perhaps you're wondering, "Why should I care? Do I really need this, on top of everything else!?" A valid concern, but here’s why you'd be unwise to ignore it: Although microsites aren't the latest or most cutting-edge in the marketing toolbox, they remain a staple in the digital marketing world because of the potential they carry. When constructed and marketed properly, microsites do in fact contribute to the bottom line. This guide will demonstrate how - in as little words as we possibly can - so you can start replicating success for your own campaigns.
What if I don't have a need for one?
This is something we hear a lot, but we’re going to tell you why this thought is completely and utterly off base. There is always a need. Heck, you probably have dozens. Is your company introducing a new product to the market? Do so with a microsite. Are you launching a seasonal campaign? Make a microsite. Rebranding? Show it off on a microsite. You get the point: There are many uses for microsites. This guide will point out the best of them.
What you'll learn
Now that you're convinced, we've got some chapters ready for you with everything you want to know about microsite design and marketing. We'll examine what a microsite is, how you can benefit and where to begin, followed by best practices, examples, and lots of expert advice.
What is a microsite anyway and how is it different from a regular website? We'll get to that shortly, but first, a few use cases to let you know if a microsite is right for you. Microsites are used for product launches, campaigns, brand storytelling, digital magazines, content marketing, and more. They've been around for years and were often built in Flash in a long-gone era.
Today, marketers are looking to build mobile-friendly and responsive, easy-to-build web presences optimized for sharing and conversion. Many don't know that they can do exactly that with a microsite. If you don't believe us, here are some well-known examples:

You've got the IBM Marketing Cloud on the left and middle, and Office Max's popular Elf Yourself to the right. These rather excellent examples offer a glimpse into all that you can do with a microsite. But let's back up a bit. Here's that definition you were looking for:
Our customers have tripled their audience and have seen at least a 25% growth in visitors on mobile using the Readz platform.
What is a microsite? "A microsite is a smaller, simpler auxiliary site that is different from a company’s main website, serves a specific purpose, and is sometimes temporary. Some have their own domain names, while others live happily on a brand's main site.”
Notice the last point of the definition. It’s often overlooked, so here it is again: "Some have their own domain names, while others live on a brand’s main site." This creates a lot of confusion for marketers, and many focus only on the former (a microsite with its own domain). We will expand on the topic of the URLs/domain name later on, but it's important that you understand early on that there is more than one way. The rest is just as important: Simpler, smaller, auxiliary. A microsite can launch a product, promotion or campaign in ways that full websites can’t (CreativeBloq). How so? By conveying information in creative ways and serving a single purpose (unlike a company’s main site). Microsites eliminate the clutter and distractions that come with a full website. Paul Boag of Boagworld points out that microsites integrate content with design and give marketers complete control over the look and feel of the website. Irrelevant headers, footers and menus are eliminated, leaving only microsite design that perfectly fits the content. By removing distractions and seamlessly integrating content with design, marketers can push readers to complete their calls to action far more quickly and effectively than is possible on a brand’s main site. Later in this guide we will explore more benefits, uses and best practices, but first, know this: Microsites are smaller, simpler websites that are associated with a company or brand that look and behave differently than the brand’s full site. The microsite serves a specific purpose, like launching a product or campaign, with the goal of pushing users toward a call to action. While they have the benefit of giving marketers total control of design and content integration, microsites can cause confusion if they stray too far from the company's branding, among a few other challenges. In the next article, we dive deeper into the many benefits of microsite marketing.
Microsites can offer real value to your digital marketing. In addition to helping you push out your key messages and better engage with your target audiences, microsites can, and do, contribute to your business’s bottom line(s). Here are just a few examples of companies that were able to do just that:

Procter & Gamble - “Being Girl”

The decade-and-a-half-old microsite,, was created to provide information and expert advice on topical self care issues for young girls. The microsite offers plenty of helpful content, such as body and wellness, beauty and style, life, relationships, and even some free stuff (courtesy of a handful of P&G brands, think: Secret, Venus, Covergirl). When the site first launched, it earned a lot of media attention and was the subject of numerous case studies. Nicolette Beard writes for TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog, “ offered a gathering place that helped position the brand in a way that would have been lost on the main site. Ultimately, the purpose of a microsite is to provide deeper content that’s easier to consume, which P&G accomplished.” The company’s big-sister approach garnered some impressive results... Results: While the site was originally limited to a bulletin board format that controlled peer-to-peer interactions by screening all posts before they went live, it transformed into a community where of 100 percent of daily posts are user generated, which allows P&G to focus on developing the evergreen content the site is known for (DeWitteDigital). has over one million site registrants and is indexing 436,000 unique visitors per month, according to Nielsen/Net Ratings. The site continues to grow as it drives awareness through schools, sampling, and smart search engine marketing. Although no specific numbers were reported, a study by Forrester Research found that was four times more effective as a similarly priced program using traditional media (Content Marketing Institute).

Courtesy Chevrolet

Courtesy Chevrolet, established 60 years ago in Phoenix, AZ, is a premier ecommerce dealer that achieved over 4,000 online sales when it deployed an intense microsite and search engine marketing campaign to boost sales. While there were many parts to Courtesy Chevrolet's strategy (sponsored posts, PPC and display ads, etc.), we are going to focus on the company’s microsite strategy and how its micro-site contributed to product sales. The strategy went like this: Courtesy created ads, then used key search words and microsites to target which people saw the ads. Using a simplistic microsite design, the company was able to quickly recoup its investment in developing them. Results: According to Auto Dealer Monthly, “Courtesy saw an immediate increase in leads, conversion ratios and sales volume with Courtesy’s keyword segments coupled with the boost delivered by its microsite.” In addition to lowering the cost per lead by nearly 50 percent, Courtesy Chevrolet’s SEM and microsite combination generated closing ratios on SEM leads at 7.27 percent, surpassing the closing ratios on third party leads (5.15 percent). The dealership’s cost per sale on SEM/microsite leads was $134.93, while the cost per sale on third party leads was $358.24 (a 2.6x higher cost).

Logicalis - “Elements of Design”

Logicalis, an international IT solutions and managed services provider, launched a B2B brand storytelling content marketing campaign to introduce new HP hardware, software, and related services to customers and prospects. The ultimate goal was to increase its HP sales and pipeline. The thought leadership campaign included an eight-page microsite with six targeted messages based on the prospects’ interaction with the campaign. To drive traffic to the microsite, the organization used a series of six emails and a call to action for a free downloadable e-Book to capture names and emails as folks requested the download. (This is an excellent example of how content assets work together in a campaign and contribute to different areas of the buyer’s journey.) Results: According to Logicalis agency partner, Communications Strategy Group, the 12-week campaign targeted nearly 2,000 existing and prospective customers, with the microsite generating a 15 percent click-to-open rate. The creation and delivery of the marketing materials cost the company $20,000, and brought in nearly $8 million in closed and new pipeline business. Logicalis was so pleased with the campaign that the team opted to run this type of program once a quarter. The process remains the same, but the content of the microsites and emails change to reflect what's going on in the marketplace and what information prospects are looking for. *The campaign earned the company (and partnering agency) a Killer Content Award for “Best Sales Enablement.”

Xerox - “Chief Optimist”

After studies showed there was little to no difference between Xerox and its competitors when it came to value propositions, Xerox set out to launch a content marketing campaign that would help it break out from the pack. The “Get Optimistic” campaign began with a series of targeted biweekly emails that drove prospects to a personalized microsite where they could access content specific to their role and industry. The campaign also included a digital magazine in partnership with Forbes that was sent to top prospects and optimized for iPad and PC (Solutions Insight). The site is designed to be a hub for decision-makers to share ideas that work in the workplace. Results: According to TopRank Blog, 70 percent of targeted companies interacted with the microsite. In addition, the campaign added 20,000 new contacts, and generated over 1,000 new sales and more than $1 billion in pipeline revenue. The content marketing program won Xerox a Killer Content Award for “Best Brand Building Campaign,” the ITSMA Marketing Excellence Award, and four B2 Awards from the Business Marketing Association, including “Best in Category” for multi-channel lead generation.
Modernista! teamed up with FL2 to develop a microsite for the National Park Foundation that coincided with the company’s broadcast campaign supporting the Ken Burns PBS documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea. The goal was to create a digital experience that would generate awareness and drive action and involvement in the form of donations and email subscriptions. In a case study written by Modernista!’s Tracy Brady and FL2’s Matt FaJohn, it says, “The site provides a destination for users to explore the National Parks, make a personal contribution, and most importantly share it with others, reinforcing the sense of collective ownership, pride and responsibility of our National Parks System.” (AIGA) On the site, users are asked to comment on their own personal National Park experiences and tag those locations (see above image). Results: Though no real numbers are included in the case study, the team writes: “We were thrilled with the results of this project — not only over how quickly the site was put together, but also how comprehensive it is in addressing the client's goals and how different it is from anything it had done before.” Every U.S. state and territory has a presence on the site, with the most viewed collecting nearly 2,000 user generated tags. In addition, the microsite won the Communicative Arts Interactive Annual award for “Informative Design,” the Hive Business Awards for “Technical Achievement,” and the W3 Awards for “Best in Show.”
No matter the size or scope of your company, you can still create great content AND see stellar results. By designing and creating custom microsites to enhance the user experience and increase consumer engagement, you can better convert your viewers into buyers. Just follow the steps in this guide and you will be on your way to creating some kick-a$$ microsites.
We already defined what a microsite is:
"A microsite is a smaller, simpler auxiliary site that is different from a company’s main website, serves a specific purpose, and is sometimes temporary. Some have their own domain names while others live happily on a brand's main site."
In this chapter, we'll zoom in on the benefits of using a microsite for your digital marketing campaigns, rather than adding new content to your main site, blog, or other marketing assets. Here are seven main reasons why microsites are one of the best (and most underrated) marketing tools.
When visitors open a microsite, everything you want them to know is right before them. No fluff, no fillers, nothing more than what is necessary to your message. Microsites allow you to choose a very specific message to communicate to your targeted audience. It could be a new product you’re promoting, a brand change, or a new campaign you’re launching. This is not something you can do so easily on a full website, or even a mobile app because of their complexity. On your full website, you have your navigation, footer, maybe a sidebar, links to other pieces of content, etc. Very often, only a small part of the screen is available to display your content.
With microsites, there are none of these “distractions,” and all content and visual cues exist to deliver your messages. You have full flexibility in terms of content, allowing you to fine-tune and target your message to your audience.
With microsites, you have the freedom to create designs that support and push the message you choose. The look and feel of the site, the taglines, headlines, domain name, and images you choose all contribute to the central message you want readers to connect with. You are almost creating a “mini” or secondary landing page dedicated to the product, service or solution you want to promote.
Because you are not restricted to the design template dictated by your website, mobile app or other third-party platform, your microsite design can remove any ‘clutter’ that might deviate your visitors from your main CTA. Some UX experts even feel that the limitations set on main websites are too inflexible to be ‘fit for purpose’ (Boagworld).
On full websites and other marketing platforms, visitors are bombarded with options and can be quickly overwhelmed by the amount of calls to action. With microsites, the strong focus on content and design means you can create a clear path for your visitor to the action you’d like them to take. Microsites can be as focused on a CTA as a landing page. (There is actually a vast discussion in the marketing community on when to use which, but more on that later.) When your visitors can easily find what they need, bounce rates are reduced. This means conversions are relatively better than they would be on your homepage or in your ‘full’ website.
There is a common misconception about the SEO effectiveness of microsites, and it has to do with the URL selection. Rule of thumb: Microsites with their own root domain are unlikely to be effective in SEO. All you have to do is point the microsite’s URL to a subdomain or subfolder , and create a link to it on your main website so that visitors can find it, like the IBM case in Chapter 1 of this guide.
Because microsites allow you to hyper-focus your content and design, you can benefit from directing that focus to answer a specific search query, and thus respond to Google’s Quality Score demands (TopRank). Google’s search algorithm gives prominence to in-depth content. Microsites improve your domain authority and push your ranking higher on the search engine results page (SERP) with content spread over multiple pages. If you decide to create the microsite under the same domain as your main website, the fresh content will contribute to your website’s domain authority as well. In addition, search engines love niche content, which is generally what microsites are built for. Later in this guide, you will also find a checklist of actions to take that will help your microsite achieve higher rankings on Google and other search engines.
With the ability to focus on specific content and design, you can create a highly targeted marketing tool. Coupled with promotional tools like Facebook advertising, you can quickly bring your message to the attention of thousands and gather data on audience engagement, fast. In this sense, microsites can act as landing pages. Create some ads and select the audiences or search terms you want to target.
Social media sharing can be really effective with microsites. You can encourage engagement by displaying your microsite link on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media feeds. Visitors will discover your highly focused content, making them more likely to share it, and with the ease of just one click, they can. You have the opportunity here to create some great organic sharing, possibly even a viral effect. And even though you are promoting your microsite, the SEO juice created by the social sharing will contribute to both your main website and your microsite, giving both a higher domain authority and a better chance for ranking high in search results.
Putting a microsite together doesn’t take nearly as many resources as launching a full website or mobile app. Microsites contain fewer pages and content, making them quicker and easier to develop. Recently, pure-HTML microsites have become more popular due to their fast load time, short learning curve, and easily locatable nature.
For this reason, microsites are a great choice for seasonal and time-sensitive campaigns. When the campaign is complete, it’s just as easy to kill off the site.
Define the strategy. Microsites, as you already know, can make awesome marketing tools, but are most effective when combined with other tactics, like social media and advertising. There are a few things you need to settle before you begin:
Who is the intended audience?
What is their stage in the buyer's journey?
What is the intended outcome of the microsite?
 How does that tie in to your larger business goals?
What are the distribution and promotion strategies?
What does success look like and how will you measure it? Only when you have answered these questions should you set out to create your microsite.
Define the URL. Are you creating a subsidiary or subdivision of the brand? No? Then your best bet is to create a URL that's a
subdomain or even better, subfolder,
of your main URL. This will add to your domain authority and overall SEO performance.
If you are creating an subsidiary or semi-independent venture, this can still be a viable option, but you may find that in time, it makes more sense to put your microsite under a unique URL.
Brand-consistent design. So you've got the room to create something that's not entirely restricted to the design of your main site, but try not to get get too carried away. It wouldn’t be wise to design without keeping your main website in mind, as too much deviation can cause confusion and a lack of brand identity. That said, you have the opportunity to create something fresh and unique. Try your hand at experiential marketing, and leverage new technologies to create that wow-factor and effectively engage your audience. Relevant content and visuals. Remember: This is a micro-site. You want to make sure that all of the content it contains has purpose and is there to support the main goal of your microsite - this includes the headline, copy, images, multimedia, call to action, and other elements. Anything with the potential to detract from your message should be taken it out. Call to action. Keep your microsite focused; include a single call to action, or very few of them. Microsites can be extremely effective in moving your prospects through your sales funnel, but the desired outcome must be obvious to visitors. Check out this stellar example from Linda Dong's Dangers Of Fracking microsite. The main CTA is clear, and there isn't much competing for its attention.
Mobile-friendly and responsive. According to Internet Retailer, 60 percent of global mobile consumers use their mobile device as their primary or exclusive internet source.
Therefore, your microsite should be mobile-friendly and responsive, or your investment may become quickly obsolete.
Keeping a mobile-first strategy will not only help you reach a larger audience but also earn respect in the eyes of Google.
Gather analytics and connect your microsite. Connect your microsite with your main analytics package to track your progress and identify any areas with room for improvement. If a big part of your strategy is email marketing or social media, be sure to hook up your microsite with your marketing automation platforms to determine which channels are most successful. Technology and maintenance. Before embarking on production, take the time to reflect on how you will build the microsite: Will you build or buy? Will you go for hand-coded HTML or use a microsite-oriented
content creation platform
like Readz? Make sure you create a stable end-user platform, optimized for search and social that's both easy to update and maintain.
According to HubSpot, 80 percent of website traffic begins with a search query. Which is why search engine optimization is such an important part of digital marketing.
Since you’re not bound by any stringent rules with your microsite, you can design your web page bottom-up for better, stronger SEO. Here are 10 things that'll guarantee you some Google love:
As you know, Google and other search engines do all that they can to make sure the most relevant and high-quality content surfaces as a result of search queries. So, spending some time crafting your content and adapting it to your audiences will definitely help improve your SEO. Search engines also keep track of “dwell time” on your page, meaning the more captivating your content, the longer visitors stay on your site, and the higher your ranking as a result. The content on your microsite should be unique. Resist the urge to copy existing content on, say, your main website. Google frowns upon duplicate content and it could harm your search rankings. Apart from making sure that you have the correct reading level (novice/pro) for your intended audiences, quality content also means:
A catchy title and description.
According to Copyblogger, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This just shows how important your headlines are, and there is more to it than just adding your keywords in it (although that is of course essential). Spend some time crafting how your content will pop in search engine results among the rest. An important factor for your ranking is the CTR (click-through rate). The better your title, the higher CTR, the higher your ranking.
Relevant illustrations and images, appropriately tagged. Visual marketing can be a huge asset for drawing a sharing response from viewers. Consider how tweets with images receive 18 percent more clicks, 89 percent more favorites, and 150 percent more retweets (Jeff Bullas). The more people share, the better your SEO. These images should exist to supplement your topic or illustrate a concept/idea. Focus on the substance of the image rather than purely the aesthetics.
Appropriate length. There are countless posts about the optimal length of a blog post or article, and it was once widely accepted that the ideal length was about 500-700 words. However, Medium published its research and insights into which content performs best, and educated us that seven-minute posts capture the most total reading time on average. In other words, it is alright to provide more content if the topic needs it. Great content performs well, short or long.
Related content, or in Google-terms: supplemental content. This is more important for companies with large amounts of online content. Basically, Google attributes positive ranking scores to pages that include outside sources, or related content on them. This can be as simple as adding some related articles or sources, as we do on this page.
Keywords. There is no use stuffing your content with keywords anymore. Search engines no longer value pages filled with targeted keywords and your readers certainly don’t either. But don’t worry, Google can still understand what your microsite is about. Just write naturally — for the purpose of people, not SEO. Use synonyms and close variants of your keyword, just like you would do in your conversations or other writings.
*This includes anchor text and meta keywords, which search engines say signal spam.
Meta description. This is your page description appearing below the link to your microsite in the search engine results page, and it is about 155-160 characters long (see below). It tells searchers what your content is about — it’s what entices them to click on your content versus someone else’s. Remember what we said about CTR? Don’t ignore your meta descriptions!
Mobile-friendly and responsive. As mentioned earlier in this guide, mobile is increasingly important, and it is no secret that Google now penalizes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. Luckily, Google has created a free test that will help you find out how Google sees your content, available at

National Park Foundation - “This is Your Land”

What Is A Microsite & Is It Right For Me?

How to Increase Sales With Microsites
[Case Studies]

Why Microsites Are The Most Underrated Marketing Tool

Stronger content focus. Stronger message.

2 - Focused design.

3 - Action-oriented = More conversions.

4 - Search engine optimization (SEO) benefits.

5 - Targeted audience and data collection.

6 - Social media integration. Better engagement.

7 - Quick to make. Cost-effective.

Tips For The Most Successful Microsite Ever

Previously, we discussed the many advantages and few 'costs' of marketing with microsites. Now that you have a better understanding of what a microsite is and how you can benefit, let’s go over some best practices and tips for success, so you can get started.

How To Make Your Microsite An SEO Gem

Relevant, quality, and above all, unique content

Burger King's Subservient Chicken microsite is a great example of image use. The microsite saw more than 750,000 unique visitors in its first three months.

“Technical” SEO

Sharing and linking

Speed. Your readers prefer fast load times when looking for content online (you probably do too). So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Google and other search engines place ‘page load speed’ high on their wish lists. To find out how fast your pages are loading, use Google’s Speed Test. Paste in your URL, and Google will give you lots of info:
It is imperative that you make your microsite shareable via social media sites. Although Google gives no official confirmation that social signals are used in its page ranking algorithm, many studies show a very strong correlation between rankings and signals.
There has been a lot of press about Google’s stance on linking after its crackdown on link-building farms. But, as Google’s John Mueller confirmed during a hangout, “We do use links as part of our algorithm” (Search Engine Land). Organic links on high-authority sites will help boost your rankings. What Google penalizes is artificial link building activities, or “black-hat” SEO techniques. So, put your content in front of those who will be interested, make it easy for them to share, and your microsite will have a better chance at ranking higher. You can easily track which sites refer to you. One way is to go to, type in your URL, and click “search links.” You will see your URL rank, ahref’s domain rank, backlinks, referring domains, and other useful information.

The Costs of Microsites
(They're Not So Costly After All)

"But any different design, no matter how small, creates confusion." This is likely the most common objection to using a microsite.
It's a valid point. Placing a micro-site with its own interface and dedicated navigation among your homepage is risky because it can potentially confuse your visitors. That is, if you don't keep it in check.

What we mean here is there's a very simple remedy to this issue: keep your branding and design consistent and recognizable. 

When people move between your main website and your microsite, they should always feel the presence of your brand.
In essence, this is not so hard. Most companies with a blog presence already do this, and while the two can vary in many ways, visitors should always recognize the brand delivering either content. Some other examples are your helpdesk or FAQ section. These are often popular choices for a microsite.
Let's go over some other concerns.

Potential Cost.

If you have a website in place, you may think the best option, in terms of your time and cost, is to create additional pages to your website via existing templates in the content management system (CMS). But there is a better option. In fact, it is quite rare for CMSs to support templates that somewhat deviate from the standard (as good microsites should - see above). The existing templates will likely include the standard header, footer, body style, etc., but some features are more complex. For example, few CMS’s boast support for multi-page web pages, nor do they offer no-coding support for parallax. If you find that developing templates on your CMS is too complex, requires too much coding, or involves too much red tape, then you want the better option. The faster, easier, and more cost-effective solution is to use a platform that offers built-in visual and requires no coding. (Disclaimer: Our website builder, Readz, offers this exact service).


Maintenance is another concern, and rightfully so. With web technology evolving so rapidly, the code-base that your microsite is built on will need constant updating to comply with the latest standards and changes made in the HTML and CSS, as well as any third-party API’s such as Facebook or other social media platforms. Luckily, companies like Readz remove this headache by providing a permanently up-to-date technology platform.
As you can see, with every concern is a solution to ease your qualms.


In this guide to microsite marketing, we went over what a microsite is, how and when it should be used, the many advantages of marketing with them, and plenty of tips for success. Now you have all of the necessary info to create an effective microsite of your own that maximizes your digital marketing success. Exciting, right!? We wish you the best of luck with your microsite marketing.
P.S. if you enjoyed the guide, check out the Readz resources page for more helpful resources like this one.

IBM Marketing Cloud

Creative Bloq

Boag World
Top Rank Marketing Blog
Dewitte Digital 

Content Marketing Institute
Auto Dealer Monthly
Communications Strategy Group
Solutions Insight
Boag World

Top Rank Marketing Blog
Dangers of Fracking
Lauren On Demand

Copy Blogger
Jeff Bullas


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Search Engine Land
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