How Microsites Build on In-Store Experiences
What makes microsites so powerful? In short, it’s their simplicity and potential to do one thing really, really well: connect the online and in-store experiences.
Let’s consider one of the most pervasive, fun microsites of the past generation: the ridiculously sharable and addictive ElfYourself.com. Not only was the microsite a branding boon for Office Depot, it became a must-send among friends, family, and coworkers. (After all, who could resist turning themselves and their compatriots into dancing elves?) It was a pure customer experience that highlighted the lighter side of Office Depot.
Although ElfYourself provided a lighter online experience that didn’t connect directly to Office Depot’s in-store offerings, more modern microsites have an unparalleled opportunity to bridge this gap—creating a seamless user journey across all channels—just as more customers have opened themselves to new offerings and digital experiences.
Take restaurant QR codes as an example: COVID-19 has created somewhat of a renaissance for QR codes, which the food and beverage domain now uses to bring customers to online menus—rather than offering physical menus, which can harbor a variety of pathogens. Menu QR codes not only assuage public-health concerns but also create a microsite that’s relevant to the restaurant-specific retail experience.
Square’s restaurant QR code offering has emerged as a leader in the space. Instead of speaking to servers or handling menus directly, guests who visit equipped restaurants can scan QR codes to place their order, receive their food, and pay their check. Plus, because Square’s offering also integrates with a restaurant’s kitchen and payment system, it not only enhances customers’ safety and satisfaction but also makes these digital interactions seamless across all levels of a restaurant’s business.
There are countless applications for such emerging microsite solutions—and, as we find ways to grapple with retail’s new normal—there is certainly ample opportunity for microsites to merge the in-store and digital spaces.
Helpful Hints for Mastering Microsites
However, before diving headfirst into this year’s microsite ventures, companies still need to spend quite a bit of time considering what resources they should invest in developing such microsites. While microsites might be smaller reflections of the company’s overall user experience, you need to give them their due attention—especially when you’re trying to provide touchless branding. For instance, one of the biggest problems many microsite makers struggle with is cramming too much content into these bite-sized packages.
It’s easy to see how a microsite could begin to take on a life of its own. Marketers start brainstorming content ideas and, all of a sudden, the microsite has become a full-fledged, SEO-rich Web site that is capable of hosting domains. But that’s not the point. Microsites are the Halloween mini-candy bars of the universe. They’re meant to whet the appetite—not satiate it. Ideally, consumers should land on a microsite, make a couple of decisions at most, then follow its call to action.