A topic microsite is a website or a section of one that features a company’s expertise on a particular issue. It is a much more effective way to disseminate a message or a point of view on a complex matter than a white paper or one-off article. That’s because there are many components that you can include to create engagement and participation, and to generate return traffic, that can’t be included in other media.
Components of a topic microsite
In the last post I listed some of the elements that can feature on a topic microsite including blogs, animated graphics and videos. And I showed how some existing microsites vary widely in the components they include. I don’t think any one of those sites has the right combination of components to maximize traffic and engagement, so in this post, I am going to explain which elements are essential.
They fall into 4 categories:
- In-Depth Point of View
- Topical Narrative
- Audience Participation
A microsite designed to show off a company’s expertise on an issue shouldn’t just be a collection of articles — that’s a newspaper or a special interest site. It should feature a company’s point of view on how to address a complex issue and therefore must feature in-depth article(s). If there is more than one, they must align around a consistent approach — even though that may evolve over time. And new content must be added regularly to keep the audience interested and coming back.
There has to be a topical narrative to keep people’s attention from day to day or week to week. That means at least one blog. Apart from keeping the site exciting, it also disciplines the authors to keep on exploring and developing the topic in new ways every week.
The site must feature news. It’s easy to aggregate news articles and blog posts from other sites. People who are following the space then don’t need to go anywhere else to find out what is happening, helping to make the site the go-to destination on the issue.
Finally, a microsite needs audience participation. Starting of course with the facility to comment on the blog(s) and articles, but potentially also including polls, surveys and forums.
Those are the key elements. Interactive graphics, videos and so on all help make a site more interesting, but they are optional. The four above are essential. If you look at the sites we reviewed in the last post, none of them has all four elements. Microsites are a great way to drive traffic and engagement with current and prospective customers, but they must have all four parts to be effective.