Microsites Pay Back Big Branding Numbers

By Steve Smith

Microsites really do work as effective brand awareness and messaging tools, according to new research from Dynamic Logic. The average microsite caused a greater lift in overall brand metrics than straightforward display advertising, a survey of microsite traffic reveals. A visit to a microsite conveys key brand messages to 7.8% of its audience, compared to 2.3% who were similarly impacted by an exposure to display advertising.

In some measure, the superior performance of a microsite is to be expected. People landing on the site are in some way self-selecting and are more interested in the brand. Still, the substantial lifts in purchase intent, brand favorability, ad awareness and aided brand awareness suggest that a microsite experience offers a client an unusual level of engagement with that targeted user.

Dynamic Logic also found that certain characteristics of microsites succeeded in moving the brand metrics needles. "Aided brand awareness," for instance, was enhanced when the site made very clear the brand’s benefits and particular relevance to the visitor. A good user experience, where the site is easy to navigate and there are simple clear taglines communicating brand benefits, will help the user associate the messaging with the client brand. Also, visitors seem to reward brands materially that entertain them or give them useful information. These qualities in a site positively impact purchase intent, suggesting that visitors like to reciprocate when they feel a brand has given them some kind of value.

Marketing budgets are moving away from traditional advertising, and publishers need to recapture that lost income through broader “marketing services” that bring a client closer to the consumer. Digital custom publishing projects like branded “microsites” have become a part of most b2b marketers’ portfolio of offerings, and the product is increasingly popular among consumer publishers as well. But unlike display media, which has years of research and post-campaign analysis to prove its value as a branding tool, there has been little research on the impact microsites have on visitors relative to other parts of a marketing package. While they are more expensive to build and maintain than a simple display campaign, it is clear that they strongly affect the people that publishers can drive to such microsites.