Remixing the routes

Viral Campaigns Work Better with Microsites, Games, Video clips

Posted by annplugged on May 13, 2007

Marketing Sherpa’s survey shows that “Experienced viral marketers recognize that creating a separate presence for viral campaigns can have a huge impact. “Creating cool microsites” topped all other tactics, with 37% of very experienced marketers saying they produced great results. One-third thought that online games brought great results. (quotes emarketer in Viral Marketing’s Video Love Affair). And video clips? Right on the third place with 29%.

Viral marketing solutions

It is undeniably logical that microsites work so well, but not because viral marketing is a different kind of communication. Of course, a viral package travels faster if it is smaller: that’s what a compact microsite can ensure (i.e. a separate, easy to navigate site with light content). That’s what a 1-3 minute well-done video clip can ensure. But just like any other successful online communication, a viral video works better on microsites as they are a lot more targeted and easily discernible.

What makes microsites work better?

  • The navigation of microsites requires minimal efforts (most of them has a simplified navigation, short menu, yet transparent link to the corporate network consistting of other sites – like a family tree with some pioneering relatives)
  • The content of microsites is highly restricted, concentrating on one action, one task, one offer etc.: keeps visitors focused and interested – in theory they are informative and entertaining
  • Microsites are short: visitors have less time, less patience, brevity is key to success
  • Microsites are meant to be cooler than the average official homepages (where you cannot be cool on each and every page, can you?): easier to make separate entities harmonize with the preferences, style, values, attitudes of target groups. True. But microsites also tend to be braver in their communication. My assumption is that they are not necessarily cooler in a sense that they are more teenager like, more ‘dude-ish.’ Rather, they are coller in a sense one can be cooler in a micro-community. Wine-makers can know how to be cool in winery, lawyers have their own slang on which microsites can build upon.
  • There is more room for experimenting on microsites with different marketing strategies, and communication stlyes etc. as they are separate from an enterprise’s/ organization’s main, all-inclusive website
  • The visitors of microsites are coming through more convincing channels (viral by nature ensures this), and from deeper points of the funnel
  • The efficiency of microsites is a lot more reliably measurable and analysable (no extra pages to play in the results, less distraction to further web pages etc.), you can more easily track sales, orders, subsciptions, registrations, downloads, calls, etc.
  • The separate URL of a microsite enhances the SEO value: usually contains valuable keywords that immediately contribute to better placement on search results pages in Google, Yahoo,,, in all the search engines, basically. Mind you, if that single microsite is commentable (works as a one-page blog), you can build a community around the niche topic of the microsite, and comments will bring more valuable content, including important keywords to that very site. We could also dicuss the link strategy, inbound links, etc.
  • Microsites can be quickly made: no need for months of consultation, and hard thinking of the menu structure, content, harmonizing the mission statement or mantra etc. – oh, by the way, they are also cheaper than full websites.
  • Microsites can be more flexibly improved: primarily for two reasons: a, you get sharper statistics to base your tests upon, b, just like in the previous point: no need to re-structure the whole site (it takes 5 min to change the background color, the font, the placement of a widget etc.) and to convince everybody in every department. Further thoughts on this on Microsite.
  • Depending on your business, and marketing campaign, ad revenues from text links at the bottom of the microsites are easier to implement (just think of the Google AdSense program and the rules that are getting stricter – it is more simple to comply with the AdSense expectations on a single page), so you can turn your site into a source of revenue.

If you come to think of it, a good microsite is like a good landing page – way ahead the funnel, exploiting the pulling effect of viral marketing, right to the target, call to action sites.

But if you really come to think of it, a good video clip is like a good microsite: short, sharp, entertaining, focused, separately working from the main site, easily measurable (downloads, click-throughs to another site etc., number of comments, inbound links, experimental etc.

So is it worth making microsites, especially with video clips? Definitely yes. Is there a proliferation of microsites (esp. with clips)? Definitely no. Why not? Well, it still takes extra time, investment, understanding, risk taking on behalf of the businesses that wish to advertise, so they may think it is more simple and cost-efficient to use their traditional, established business website, many times linking the video ad to their front pages. If you look at the ROI, however, it may easily turn out that sticking to the more complex homepage as a (viral) video landing page may backfire, and bring less exploitable data, fewer leads than a well-structured microsite with an entertaining video clip. Also, agencies may make less profit from cheaper, more simple microsites than full-suite homepages, web presence so they may not be really motivated to learn making efficient microsites, and to offer them among their services.

But back to the survey carried out by Marketing Sherpa: it sounds as if the most efficient solution would be to combine microsites with games and video clips. I do not claim that they are easy to combine well, but they are surely well worth experimenting with. And once you experiment with one or the other, why not with both?


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