Yesterday I had an interesting discussion with a client about how we should go about implementing a new brand/product strategy that she was looking to create. We had a good talk about the different options and ways we could structure the new brand and product offerings. It got my thinking that this was a great topic for a blog post.
I wanted to go through the differences between creating a blog vs a micro-site vs a landing page. Each has unique characteristics and a different strategy that goes along with them.
Choosing a Blog
Creating a blog, requires a larger investment of time and money compared to a micro-site or landing page. Typically a blog is more of a long-term strategy that takes time to build a brand and loyal readership. Primarily blogs are meant for businesses that want to establish trust and credibility in an industry over the long haul. To setup a blog is not hard, but to maintain a blog is where you will spend the majority of your time and money. If you are looking to separate yourself from the rest of your industry, you should create a unique design and have bloggers who can add valuable content on a consistent basis.
If you are just trying to make a quick buck and don’t plan on sticking around to see the long-term results, than stay away from creating a blog. A blog has tremendous long-term benefits, but you need to be committed to start to see the return.
When to Choose a Blog
- If you are trying to increase traffic over the long-term using other marketing techniques like Search Engine Optimization and Social Media.
- You want to have a centralized place on the web where you can send your traffic to.
- You have lots of content that needs to be organized and updated frequently.
- If you want to define your company or personal brand as an authority in a specific niche.
- If you are trying to build a long-term monetization strategy through things like banner ads, text link ads, and premium content memberships.
Choosing a Micro-site
A micro-site is almost like a mini website that may not have as much functionality or options as a typical website. It is a hybrid between a full website and a landing page. It is generally used when a business or person wants to create a group or set of products/ideas in a way that won’t distract the user with other things going on.
A good example would be if a personal development company that offers products in Career Development, Relationship Development, Personal Well being, etc…wants to create a targeted micro-site on just the Career Development idea. The idea would to be to have everything on that micro-site tailored to Career Development. You may have a a product that you are looking to sell, that has a few additional pages that show a demo of the product, a brief survey and a free whitepaper to download. All together it may be 3-4 pages, but is all relevant and targeted to users who are looking for guidance with their career. All of the content around the micro-site should be to support a main theme or idea.
When to Choose a Micro-site:
- When you have a specific idea or product that you want to segment from the rest of your full line of products.
- When you want to have a site that speaks only to that product and has supporting documents/pages around that product or idea.
- Franchisees or business owners who own a specific location who want to have a mini site targeting their store or service.
- You want to limit the number of options you give a user to get them to perform a desired action (buy, download, view a certain product/service)
Choosing a Landing Page
A landing page is the most simple and easiest strategy to get going. This is a good option if you are looking for short-term results where you can drive traffic using things like Paid Search, Media Buying and other short-term traffic tactics.
A landing page is just a one page site that is setup to get the user to perform one action. The key elements of a landing page include a call to action, feature/benefits, testimonials, offer or promotion, a lead generation form/buy now button. The whole concept of a landing page is to remove all of the choices a user has. That includes navigation or any link that goes to an internal page. That page should give them them best chance of converting into a lead or sale.
When to Choose a Landing Page
- You are promoting affiliate products.
- You are driving PPC traffic to a landing page where you want to user to take a single action.
- You are trying to build an inhouse marketing list.
- You are giving away a free piece of content.
- You are creating a sales page for a new product you are offering.
- Creating a place for people to go to for an upcoming event.
- For tracking off-line campaigns where you direct them to a unique offer/landing page.
- When you want to test the demand for a product/service you are looking to go to market with.
- When you want to gather market research and feedback.
Microsites may be used for purely commercial purposes to create in-depth information about a particular product, service or as editorial support towards a specific product, such as describing a new technology. A car manufacturer, for example, may present a new hybrid vehicle and support the sales presentation with a microsite specific to explaining hybrid technology.
Thanks Mark... Your post is one of the better comparisons I have seen lately on the subject and I think your conclusions were right on point. I believe Micro-sites are somewhat easier to establish when a geographic location is involved; however, landing pages are clearly an easy way to run a test case on something before putting the effort into a longer term solution. Thanks again...
Excellent article Mark, addresses the circle of confusion that has me chasing my tail! BTW - followed tweet posted by @NikkiPilkington, check her out!
Great question Claire. Personally I don't believe in creating a microsite and expect to see a lot of organic traffic being driving to the site, UNLESS you are in an under served niche. If the competition is relatively low, than it does make sense. But it will be hard to rank a mini site with minimal content in a saturated industry.
Great article Mark ! You have clearly explained the situations where a blog, a micro-site or a landing page could play an helpful role. I would like to add that a company having a dedicated blogger can always start up a new blog to promote the existing products and can always try out innovative methods for presenting quality content to readers/visitors.
Thanks for this Mark. It's interesting to see someone putting forward a great case for microsites. They seem to have fallen out of favour recently.
Hey Mark, Thanks for a very helpful post. This is the sort of thing that both companies and individuals need to consider when setting up their web presence. Also for those who are ready to expand their web presence. Now following on twitter!
Very interesting article - you've touched on a topic that many of us wonder about but can't find a lot of information on. We are indeed pondering that very question as we have entered into a joint a venture with another firm to launch a special series of workshops together and have been wondering how to proceed - i.e. landing page on each website or joint microsite. Your article is very helpful and confirms that we're on the right track thinking of a joint microsite. The main challenge with a microsite is linking back awareness of the programs back to our respective companies - we've each built a lot of credibility in the marketplace & we want our companies/brands to benefit from the renown of the workshops.
Thanks Johanna, When I was doing some research on the topic, I noticed that nobody has really blogged or written about the topic. But I deal with this issue a lot with some of my current clients and even personal projects. Hopefully you gained a few tips that will help you decide on which route to go.