Ad:tech: Microsites Sidestep Corporate Site Weaknesses

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CHICAGO -- Search engine optimization firm Business Online marketing partner Aaron Kahlow gave usability and SEO advice to a crowd at ad:tech Chicago yesterday.

Microsites are a way to overcome the internal conflicts and budgeting constraints that arise when redesigning a Web site or creating a campaign-specific launch page, Mr. Kahlow said.

"A Web site should be the hub of all of your marketing efforts," he said. "A corporate Web site tries to serve the entire known universe."

Before purchasing, customers often visit the corporate site to learn more information and research the product. Sites that are difficult to navigate or lack unique or specific information will hurt the possibility of a sale.

A microsite is a Web site that has a different URL than the corporate site. It is much smaller and targets a specific audience with one offer or product. It differs from a product launch page because it does not fit into the larger corporate site, which often comes with constraints of meeting internal IT requirements and maintenance calendars.

"The reason your Web site is failing is because you've build it with your own objectives," Mr. Kahlow said.

Mr. Kahlow showed examples of microsites or launch pages gone wrong. They either replicated print ads, did not immediately address the specific product advertised or did not give the user enough options and interactivity to engage with the product. Marketers need to account for usability principles when building a microsite.

In addition, understanding how search optimization works is crucial to allowing your site to be found and to bring in business, he said.

"If you have a good site but not good [SEO], then you are a billboard in a desert," he said. "No one sees you."

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