While the trend for microsites seems to ebb and flow, I often have clients ask me whether a microsite might be right for their marketing needs when opening a new medical office or health service line, or when launching a new healthcare marketing campaign. While the microsite trend can seem appealing, it’s not always a good fit. The idea should be approached with caution. Here are the main caveats to consider before deciding a microsite will deliver what you need:
- You set yourself up with additional designs, technology, and content to maintain. Because of this additional overhead, microsites rarely yield positive ROI compared to having a robust toolkit that allows you to create landing pages or well-defined sections within your main practice website
- You subject your users to unnecessary confusion as navigation and design shift from the main site to the microsite and back. The result is a lack of cohesiveness with your primary brand, diluting your messaging around your brand. A microsite can even erode relationships by making the online relationship a transaction related to an offer rather than a foundation for sustained patient engagement
- You lose traction with search engines. It takes time for search engines to find a new site, build metrics such as trust and relevancy for keywords, and give your microsite enough value for it to rank well. The alternatives can ultimately do even more damage to your ranking if you choose to carve off content from your main site to make it part of the microsite. Remember, content cannot be duplicated from the main site because it will penalized both sites in search rankings
Microsites do have their place in the channel mix, and I will expand on that in a future post, but what we have seen at Syncresis suggests the benefits are quickly lost if the tactic is applied in the wrong strategic scenarios. In more cases than you’d think, your priority should be to maintain the brand value of your main patient site. Instead, use a subdomain (microsite.domain.com) or directory (domain.com/microsite) while keeping your users inside your brand framework and your content inside your content management platform.