The Microsite is dead. Long live the microsite!

August 25, 2008 at 12:13 pm 1 comment

At the risk of overquoting David Armano these days, when I read his blog entry on Microsites, I could literally hear the chords being struck for me there. And, of course, I was mad I didn’t write about Microsites before he did. ūüėČ

Currently, we get to do quite a number of microsites for our clients, as they are part of their “mix” now. Generally, I don’t have a problem with microsites: they can be quite engaging and also deliver on some key metrics.¬†Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, they even get viral and create the extra boon of awareness.

However, I think there are a number of other things as well that you can do to achieve communication objectives, and more imporantly, user objectives. When Microsites are briefed automatically and as an after-thought,¬†as part of a larger “big idea” ad campaign, it makes sense to step back and first assess what the objectives were and then choose the correct tactic. The fact is, a microsite isn’t always the right tactic in the digital toolkit, or sometimes, it can only be a good tactic if¬†you do a number of other things as well.

In order to do this assessment you need to really look at how people behave in regards to level of awareness they already have, where they go to get the kind of information you are talking about, where they would expect this information to be if they didn’t already know where to look, and also, if whatever context you embed your microsite in can ever be a credible one. This, unfortunately, takes time to find out; time you don’t always get at the tail-end of an already established “above-the-line” campaign. Also, it requires redefining the true and tried marketing KPI of reach and impressions. If you keep gauging digital experience with those, you will never be quite happy with what you did.

That’s why, in my experience, the most effective campaigns in which microsites played a vital role were those, where the campaign idea wasn’t created in a vacuum of¬†creating a big idea TV spot, but rather when¬†a team of multi-channel creatives,¬†planners¬†and designers¬†got together simultaneously to come up with ideas¬†based on existing human behavior and to create ideas for experiences, not just messages.¬†

In effect, how I would like to think of as the microsite is that it is a¬†great tool, when you don’t see it as something you have to produce just because¬†it is part of the marketing toolkit. What it should rather be is a reason to look at what people do and to influence the purpose of the whole campaign,¬†including your “ATL”¬†.

Hint: if you can’t make a microsite that achieves objectives, it’s not always because the people who make¬†it are out of ideas, or because¬†there is a problem with making digital work for your brand.¬†Sometimes, it’s because you should ask¬†your digital¬†people to help you create the overall campaign to carry a bigger purpose than just a message.

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Entry filed under: Experience, humankind, Insights & Strategy. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Dennis Neiman  |  November 26, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I think any content you could put on a microsite would be better used in social networks and widgets.
    How do users even know your microsite exists? SEO? Banner campaign?
    If you really looked at what people do, you would realize that they are spending most of their time on Facebook and not necessarily writing out a URL for a microsite that was mentioned in an ad.
    Facebook applications will wipe out microsites

    Reply

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