A friend of mine tweeted a link to an old article that ranted about microsites: they’re expensive, they’re ineffective, and they’re dead ends. I’ve seen a number of similar articles over the past year. They declare that the microsite, like the online banner, is dead. While I won’t argue that all microsites work well, I think these types of posts miss the point. Rather than thinking microsites as Web sites, how about if we think of them as a guerrilla marketing tactic in an integrated strategy?
What got me started was a post by Jonathan Salem Baskin about a great promotion by Charmin. Charmin opened a public bathroom in Times Square to get people to try its products. Jonathan points out the strength of contextual relevance and he’s right. But I look at this public bathroom and think: “microsite.”
The public bathroom is not a Charmin store. It’s a temporary experience in the right place to engage customers. That’s what microsites usually are: temporary. I’ve created microsites in online banners; we see microsites on YouTube, as Facebook groups and even as widgets.
It’s not that microsites are so wrong, what’s wrong is that the marketers aren’t connecting them to other marketing and even social microsites. Want some examples of good microsites that work because they’re integrated?
How about The Creative 30? A Volvo microsite, connected to a group of other microsites. Look at each piece as contextual, but leading back to an overall engagement on the main microsite. The ingredients are here: micrositese on YouTube, Flickr, Facebook. The central microsite isn’t supposed to replace Volvo.com. But it does its job, with support, of engagement and conversation.
How about Dell Re-Generation? Same inter-connectedness, same central microsite and social microsites. They’ve added Twitter into the mix, along with Facebook and Flickr, all in the name of connection, engagement and conversation. Again, the main microsite is the hub, but it’s not replacing Dell.com
Look at the Twitter buzz around Refresh Everything. Here’s the power of multiple, relevant microsites, connected to each other and real people.
Yes, these are big brands doing this. But the supporting microsites don’t cost that much. It’s all about strategy, commitment and connecting the dots.
Good marketing, like nature, hates a vacuum.