When Covid hit, Marketing and PR Agencies had to adapt their client’s product launch strategies. With big events on hold, big brands still needed marketing and PR agencies to get the word out to press and media.
Out of this need, the dynamic microsite (a stand alone, customized, one page website) reemerged as a go to tool to deliver a variety of media.
From embedded videos, fact sheets, photos, expert insights, and a dynamic, fun, interactive experience to learn about new products launching, microsites are becoming the new go-to product launch hub.
WHY STAND ALONE MICROSITES ARE BACK
Years ago, building a stand alone microsite took months and $10’s of thousands of dollars to execute.
The stand alone website for product launches were replaced with live events, for a deeper connection, and basic fact sheets, as follow ups.
But today, the cost of microsites has decreased dramatically along with the time it takes to concept, build and launch a site.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A MICROSITE?
Imagine for a second there is a big brand, lets call it “Big Brand.”
And “Big Brand” has a big fancy website selling all of their products.
The logistics of adding a page to “Big Brand’s” website would take months of coordination and cost on your client’s end to do so.
Instead of trying to coordinate “Big Brand” to build a webpage, a microsite is built, completely separate from “Big Brand’s” website.
The microsite is totally customized to look and feel like “Big Brand” or their new product.
The domain name can be tailored to “Big Brand” or the new product. Something like www.FancyProductLaunch.com.
Now, you have built and launched a stunning microsite, running on a server you control, in a matter of weeks, not months, and your client doesn’t lift a finger.
UNDERSTANDING THE PLATFORMS WITHOUT YOUR HEAD EXPLODING
If the thought of designing a website gives you cold sweats, relax.
The Creative Agency you work with should and will handle everything, but it’s good to have a basic understanding of, and be able to understand the lingo of the web development world.
Here’s what you need to know:
- A microsite is built on the WordPress platform or on Shopify
- We do not recommend building a microsite using Squarespace or any website builders that share public hosting, limiting your privacy and limiting what you can build
- Your website will need a custom domain name (the website.com name you type into the browsers) and a hosting account. Think of hosting as storage for your files, that connects with your domain name.
FACT SHEET OR MICROSITE?
Having a stunning Fact Sheet is always a must.
We recommend designing your fact sheet as the first step to designing your microsite.
When you write and design your fact sheet, you pack it full of information that can then be broken apart and laid out in the microsite.
At the top of the microsite, you would have a button to download your fact sheet.
You can think of your microsite as a spread out, smoothly animated and designed, user experience that gives information in bite sized, digestible pieces as a visitor scrolls down.
WHAT CAN BE BUILT WITH A MICROSITE
We’ve built microsites for single products, groups of products, or fully shopable websites with over 60 products.
Your imagination is the limit when it comes to what can be done with microsites.
One of our clients, Devries Global, was looking to build to a microsite for their client’s product launches.
Devrie’s client is a major retailer of woman’s beauty products. But their website and web team are fully focused on their website.
So together, we built a stand alone, customized, private, Shopify site that gave editors their own log in information and allowed them to browse, shop, and order free product samples with zero friction or back and forth between Devries and the editors.
The project was a huge success for both Devries, their client, and the editors who were able to get product faster, with a fun experience, and spread the word with more enthusiasm.
BENEFITS OF A MICROSITE
A Central Communication Hub
Microsites can have a variety of media embedded to communicate and relay your message. Everything from videos, downloadable PDF’s, downloadable high resolution photos, interactive dropdowns, contact forms, the list goes on.
One website, for all of your product’s information means more organization, an easier launch, and information getting to the market place faster.
Data and Insights
You can track the useage on your microsite to develop a more clear picture of your client’s ROI.
A few things you can track:
- Page Views – How many times visitors visited your microsite page or pages
- Sessions – How many times people visited the site or revisited the site
- Product Views – What were the most popular products or sections on your website?
- Products Ordered – If you build a Shopify microsite, you can track which products were the most popular based on order quantities
- Video Views – Track the amount of times your embedded videos were played
- Length of Video Watched – Determine how long viewers watched a video for
- Feedback Collection – Collect responses from users via a contact form or even a live chat application
AN INTERESTING EXPERIENCE FOR YOUR AUDIENCE
If you build your microsite correctly, your information will be quick and digestible.
Each section scrolled to can feel like a new experience with smooth animations and graphics that excite.
This experience will make visitors feel like they are getting a one on one experience with the brand or product, and be sure to spread the word with a little more umph.
OK, SO HOW MUCH DO MICROSITES COST AND HOW LONG DO THEY TAKE TO MAKE?
This is the question everyone wants to know, a.k.a. is it worth it to build a microsite even if it’s not generating direct revenue.
It’s up to you to determine whether it’s a good fit in terms of cost and timing for your client.
Here are some ballpark estimates to keep in mind when you are planning your project:
- Single page microsites for one product start at $2,500 and take 2 weeks or less to build
- Multi product microsites, with up to 10 products, cost $5,000 and take 3 weeks or less to build
- Private, shopable, Shopify microsites, with up to 60 products, start at $15k and take 4-6 weeks to build
Some additional costs to keep in mind:
- It usually costs ~$100 per year to keep your domain name and server active. You can turn it on and off as you need to, but if you stop paying for your domain name, it can be purchased by someone else.
- Some agencies charge monthly management fees. We only do this if it is requested, other wise we build the sites so they are easy to manager on our client’s end and deliver ‘how-to’ training videos to answer any questions about managing the sites
One of the biggest concerns of our client’s is privacy of the website and privacy of the product on the internet.
Here are some things to know about keeping your microsite and product secure before launching:
- Whether you are launching a wordpress microsite or a shopify microsite, make sure the website is unlisted from google or any search engines. Google and other search engines should not be allowed to list or “scrape” the web pages for data. Bring this up in your meeting with your creative agency or web developer and they will know how to set this up before any work is done.
- Develop the website with a password protected page on.
- When we are building microsites for clients, we always keep the website password protected before launch. Create a simple password you and your clients will remember to keep things safe and secure.
- Keep your products private
- We always sign an NDA before product microsites are worked on to keep your client’s new products private until launch
One thing to keep in mind, if you want to have each member of the press (or website visitors) enabled with their unique login information, this is usually an added cost. It’s a ‘nice to have,’ but if you follow the steps above to keep your site off of google, you shouldn’t have any privacy concerns since only people who receive a link, will be able to find your microsite.
HOW TO GET STARTED
Whoever you choose to work with to build your microsite should take on 99% of the heavy lifting so you and your clients don’t have to, but we always recommend going into every conversation with a plan that consists of knowing:
- Do you want a single page microsite, multipage microsite, or multipage shopable website?
- Have a budget and deadline in mind. The prices we gave above are ballpark estimates and can be adjusted to fit the needs of your site
- Spend 5 minutes to map out your site. You can use this free powerpoint guide as a starting point to get started.
- Prepare an assets folder with the following assets and info:
- High resolution logos
- High resolution photos
- Fact Sheet
- Video files (mp4 file format recommended)
- Quotes from experts and experts photos
- Brand or Product Style Guide
Having this information organized and prepared will allow the designers to get started immediately, even if you need more time to gather other information.
That’s it, you’re now a microsite master!
If you have any questions or want to schedule a free 15 minute strategy call to help clarify how to plan out your project, book a time here.