By Joe Pulizzi published December 31, 2010

How to Develop a Microsite: 5 Examples to Get You Started

A popular way to present content is through a microsite. As described in the Content Marketing Playbook, a microsite “concentrates on a narrow topic or issue, featuring rich content developed by the sponsoring brand itself. Correctly executed, the microsite creates a gathering place that positions the brand as a contributing member of the community.”

So, the main difference between a microsite and just content on your website is that the microsite actually has its own brand. Think of it like a magazine.  For example, our magazine is produced by CMI, but the magazine title is Chief Content Officer.

If you are thinking about developing a microsite as part of your content marketing program, check out these examples.

Home Made Simple

Home Made Simple is one of the superstar examples of microsites.  With well over six million opt-in members at this point (we are unsure of the exact figures), Home Made Simple continues to develop fresh and relevant content, recipes and tips to keep homeowners organized.  The site was developed over six years ago by Proctor & Gamble (P&G). After starting with just web and enewsletter content, Home Made Simple has grown into a TV channel, social media integration and a ton of great content.

BeingGirl

BeingGirl is another P&G microsite:

“Being a girl is like being part of a club where everyone knows what you’re going through…at least on some level. Girls have fun. Girls have opinions. Girls have a lot of questions about stuff like PMS, dating, their bodies and even serious subjects like addiction and abuse – just about anything you can think of that has to do with being a girl.”

A nice content mission.  In a study performed by Forrester Research, P&G found that a microsite like BeingGirl.com was four times more effective than a traditional marketing campaign.  Not too bad.

Out-Law.com

OutLaw, from UK law-firm Pinsent Masons, is THE place to get answers on your IT and ecommerce legal issues.  The site now has over 10,000 educational articles on important legal issues, and serves as Pinsent’s main marketing activity, where they have two full-time people manning the site.  There is no doubt that one of the reasons Pinsent is considered a leader is because of their consistent thought-leadership content that attracts and retains customers.

CMO.com

CMO.com, originally a traditionally media property, was purchased by Omniture (now a part of Adobe) and revamped into the new CMO.com.  Upon first launch in 2009, the site was basically a content aggregation site about news relevant to marketing executives. Since that time, CMO.com has developed an interesting series of original interviews with executives while continuing to fine-tune the site.

OpenView Venture Partners

Who would ever view a VC as a trusted source for information?  Well, in the case of OpenView Venture Partners (a CMI benefactor), it’s true.  After launching a successful employee blog last year, OpenView Labs is a treasure trove of articles, posts and videos (over 700 by last count) about how expansion-stage technology companies can grow their business.

In a recent conversation with CEO Scott Maxwell about the performance of the microsite, Scott simply said, “We don’t have to explain the value we bring to the table anymore. All they have to do is go to the Labs site and see for themselves.”

Some final thoughts to consider if you are developing a microsite:

  • Focus on your key buyer persona. Each one of the sites above have a clear idea who they are targeting.
  • Content is about the customer, not the brand.  This may seem small but it is probably the single, most important reason these sites are successful.  So many brands start with content focused on their product or service.  For a microsite to be successful, that can’t happen.
  • Consistent content. You’ll notice that each site is constantly updated.  Remember, a microsite is a content promise to your customers.

What other microsites do you think work well and why?

Looking to score big points with your target audience? CMI’s 2016 Content Marketing Playbook has tips, insights, and ideas that can help increase your success with 24 of the top content marketing tactics.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute , Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • http://www.avitage.com Zak Pines

    We find that microsites are a great way to deliver a targeted message, tailored based on different topics, issues or buying stages. We like to use microsites both for early stage prospects interested around a topic, and later stage prospects to present a specific offer. As an example, this is a microsite we created discussing taking your webinars to the next level – this is not centered around our services, but rather around ideas and best practices. The navigation includes links to other microsites of different topics and issues – http://content.avitage.com/webinar-success.html

    • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Zak…I know Avitage is doing some great work re: content marketing.

      • Eric T.

        I was always under the impression that mini and micro sites were big no-no’s with regard to SEO, particularly because the content/copy is almost –if not entirely– identical to that found on the primary or “main” website. Such tactics lead to Google banning both the micro site and its parent site.

        • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

          Hi Eric. Most of the microsites discussed above are original editorial sites. Others, like CMI.com, are curated sites (abstract and link). Some of those actually do quite well in Google.

  • http://blog.junta42.com Joe Pulizzi

    Hi Jim…I think Microsites are hanging steady. Sometimes direct site integration works better, and sometimes a microsite does. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the microsite by any means.

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