How large a website does a business really need?
Let's rephrase the question... If you needed real estate to run your business, would you need an entire department store plus warehouses or a corner shop?
Suppose you have a single product and you're expecting to sell it for $30; and would be really grateful if you were able to sell one per day.
Now ask yourself, "Does it make sense to pay between $3,000 and $5,000 for a website to sell $30 per day?" (Because that's what it will cost you to get a regular web developer to build a relatively simple website you can sell through.) Let's say that you make a $15 profit on your $30 sale. That means that it will take over 200 days for your sales to cover the cost of building your website. It also means that for 200 days you're making no money at all.
Unless you get a little bit of information to know what you're doing...
In the last year, we've seen an increasing trend away from traditional websites towards smaller, purpose-built sites known as micro-sites.
Micro-sites are very specific in their purpose and when used well, can lead to significant benefits for both customers and ultimately for the online business owner.
Why are Micro-sites becoming popular?
Micro-sites usually sell just one product or service. This means that for the website visitor the buying decision becomes easier to make. Instead of having to decide whether what you're selling is what they're looking for and which of the items you sell will best suit them. You've brought the decision all the way to "do I want this?", and that's a yes or no answer , something people find much easier to do.
When a visitor comes to your website, you have about five seconds to get their attention.
Your average website tries to be all things to all people by providing information about job opportunities with the business, media and news announcement, lists of recommended links, helpful customer support information, FAQs etc. etc... In doing this you're adding a whole bunch of decisions between the page your visitor is looking at and them buying something. Decisions like, Am I on the right page and have to scroll to find it? Which menu link will get me to the page with the item on it?, Will it be easier to search for it? Do I want to look at that interesting affiliate ad now?, Is this underlined text a link? Is this picture of what I want a link? Where's the price? How do I buy? Do they ship to me?...
Remember you've got 5 seconds, so if you put too many questions in the way they'll leave your website and go to one where there's a big red button that says 'Buy Now' on it.
Micro-sites allow you to be very specific about who you market to and the way you provide information to your visitors. When you've identified your target market, micro-sites let you create an online presence that appeals specifically to that very precise group of people.
What is a Micro-site?
A Micro-site is a website of a few pages that focuses on communicating a specific message or selling a single product or service. Typically each page has a single, clear and distinct call to action, that ensures that decision making is as easy as possible for visitors.
You can think of a Micro-site as the start of your online sales funnel - it encapsulates your marketing message and brand into one or two pages.
If there was ever a time and a place where less is more, it would be in the design and creation of Micro-sites.
The emphasis is well and truly on sales and marketing with the goal of obtaining quantifiable results - very different to a standard website.
Standard websites, on the other hand, are created to represent a company together with its products and services. In fact, if you examine any standard website, you'll see a pattern. You'll find, without too much difficulty, a standard set of menu items (About Us, Services, Products, Support etc.). Most of the information and structure of the website offers a representation of the company from a company's perspective. It's like saying - "Here's what we do. If you can find anything of interest, get in touch with us.".
Micro-site Heaven - Know your Audience
Micro-sites are the answer to the problem of people not having enough time any more to browse before they buy. They solve this problem by offering a singular purpose (they only have information about one product or service) and a clear unambiguous message created around what the customer is looking for that you provide (each page has one call to action, either contact us, buy now, register/sign-up, download, comment or login). Let's take a simple example...
Suppose you sell a product that appeals to both time poor business people as well as those looking to double their size without doubling their effort. Using the Micro-site approach, you would consider creating two Micro-sites, one to appeal to your time poor business people and the other for business people wanting to double the size of their business. Furthermore, you could name each Micro-site according to the benefit your product offers.
Now you may be think, "That means I now have more websites to build and look after!". And you'd be right. What's also right is that you can now track each of these micro-sites using analytics and measure which is converting visitors into buyers better.
Going back to our example, let's say the time poor business people go to a website called SaveTimeInBusiness.com, whilst the business people wanting to double the size of their business go to GrowYourBusinessWhileYouSleep.com. The SaveTimeInBusiness.com micro-site would only have information, pictures, and multimedia that helped to sell your product to people who are short on time, stressed and need a quick solution to their problem. On the other hand GrowYourBusinessWhileYouSleep.com would have information, pictures and multimedia aimed at selling to people who have more time to read through information and may want to compare your item to others on the market.
Now let's say that SaveTimeInBusiness.com is getting huge numbers of people visiting it, but only 1 in 154 are actually buying, whereas GrowYourBusinessWhileYouSleep.com is only getting a few hundred people visiting it but 1 in 8 people are buying. You can see how, by separating these two different groups of people by getting them to go to two different micro-sites that it becomes very easy to see where you need to focus your business.
And that's why Micro-sites have become so popular
Another advantage of micro-sites, if you're into SEO (search engine optimisation), is that you no longer need to compromise your keywords or descriptions, you just optimise separately so that the search engines can send you the most appropriate visitors possible.
Here's the best thing... after a customer buys, you know which micro-site they brought through, so you'll have a pretty good idea of what type of customer they are and if you've done your homework you'll know what other problems they might have that you can solve for them. With a little bit of extra work and a customer database (hopefully a CRM - customer relationship management system) you've now got everything you need to strengthen your relationship with them. The next step becomes easy, selling them something else.
Micro-sites are springing up everywhere online because they actually work
Where companies had previously spent $5,000 or more on their website with an uncertain return, they can now get more value by spending less than $2,000 today
...plus get highly valuable customer information really easily
So when you take a look at your products or think about the one compelling reason someone will buy from you, what is the reason? What is the situation you propose to solve for them?
When you have an answer, ask yourself this...
Is your current website specifically targeting this group? If not, or you're not quite sure, consider a micro-site over and above extending your website.
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