I’ve talked about landing-page testing and optimization for years. One thing I hear repeatedly is marketers can’t get their sites built the way they want them for an optimal pay-per-click (PPC) campaign.
Marketers are smart. They know a poor brick-and-mortar storefront turns off people walking or driving by. A catalog merchant knows the importance of a good cover. Likewise, marketers know a good site experience is integral to the success of a PPC campaign.
If you feel your site is getting stale and it isn’t the best place to send traffic, or there’s simply room for improvement, you’re probably right. Perhaps it’s time to consider a microsite or a minisite.
If you’re spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on PPC search every month, it doesn’t take much of an efficiency lift to recoup $5,000-10,000 spent on developing a micro- or minisite. If the conversion rate on PPC search traffic increases 50 percent, your overall lead or order volume also grows 50 percent, all other things being equal.
But not all other things are equal. Gains in conversion from a new microsite mean, given your return on investment (ROI) objectives, you can afford to pay 50 percent more for clicks from your keywords. What positions could you afford if your ability to bid increased 50 percent? My guess is you probably have some important power keywords that could deliver dramatic volumes when empowered by an efficiency lift delivered through the microsite.
A microsite can be used for power keyword segments of a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign, the entire PPC campaign, even for a campaign segment you couldn’t have executed without it. For example, Jens Thraenhart, director of Internet strategy at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, recently shared his observation that microsites are a great tool to target niche audiences that wouldn’t have responded to content on existing sites.
Several Fairmont hotels are perfectly suited to catering to the needs of golf and spa enthusiasts. Yet the existing site’s messaging and content aren’t as strong as they could be in respect to the lucrative golf and spa categories. Fairmont’s new microsites have the content and message tuned to the appropriate niche. They’ve sped up editorial approval in the engines and delivered conversion rates that resulted in profitable campaigns.
As with landing-page testing, we’ve seen lift in conversion rates and ROI for microsites and minisites at levels approaching 200 percent. Of course, the lift for your particular site depends on where you start and how customized you get.
If you think you might benefit from a microsite and have budget allocated for development, consider the following when planning and executing:
If you’re already committed to a microsite strategy, take the additional time to turn the project into a sophisticated testing and optimization platform from which to test and improve all aspects of the user experience. Many of the questions above could be answered in more than one way. That means the "right way" may not be your first choice. Darwinian or sophisticated multivariate testing is often easier to execute in a microsite environment.
Once your microsite is ready, treat it like a new campaign. Test keywords, engines, price, position, and creative.
Go forth and build microsites. At best, they’ll vastly outperform your existing site. At worst, they’ll prove your current site works. Given the modest investment, it’s a win-win scenario.
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Kevin Lee, Didit cofounder and executive chairman, has been an acknowledged search engine marketing expert since 1995. His years of SEM expertise provide the foundation for Didit's proprietary Maestro search campaign technology. The company's unparalleled results, custom strategies, and client growth have earned it recognition not only among marketers but also as part of the 2007 Inc 500 (No. 137) as well as three-time Deloitte's Fast 500 placement. Kevin's latest book, "Search Engine Advertising" has been widely praised.
Industry leadership includes being a founding board member of SEMPO and its first elected chairman. "The Wall St. Journal," "BusinessWeek," "The New York Times," Bloomberg, CNET, "USA Today," "San Jose Mercury News," and other press quote Kevin regularly. Kevin lectures at leading industry conferences, plus New York, Columbia, Fordham, and Pace universities. Kevin earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management in 1992 and lives in Manhattan with his wife, a New York psychologist and children.
May 22, 2013
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June 5, 2013
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