Understanding Promotional Microsites

Promotional microsites are a long standing firm favourite in shopper marketing digital to capture entries, opt-ins, and more. Brand managers benefit from certainty to be live on time and don’t have to rely upon slower in-house teams - and let’s face it for many brands technically they are not geared-up to handle PII (personally identifiable information) at scale of participants. So let’s dive in a little deeper.

Loui Chen

What is a microsite and what makes it different?

Promotional websites, or microsites, are domains that focus on a certain part of a brand. This could be various things, but it’s most commonly used for specific products, services, or promotional campaigns. 

Having a website separate from a brand’s primary site means that the microsite can hone in on one aspect of the brand instead of being an overview of everything within the brand, giving each site its distinctive purpose.

Scenarios and benefits of microsites

Microsites offer brands a dedicated platform to concentrate on a specific aspect, yielding numerous benefits. By catering to a niche segment within the brand's broader product or service range, microsites captivate a more engaged and targeted audience due to their focused content. Moreover, they establish a distinctive sub-brand identity, setting the microsite apart, and differentiating it from the main brand website.

One clear advantage is that it assists brands in enhancing the visibility of products, services, and campaigns. Promotional microsites frequently serve as digital hubs for brand promotions, such as prize draws, instant wins, and try-me-free offers. They provide shoppers in store with a digital platform to participate in and interact with the brand, extending engagement beyond shelf activations.

Meeting promotional live dates is essential, especially considering regulatory requirements, such as on-pack promotions. It's imperative that your digital partners grasp the immovable nature of these live dates, which cannot be postponed. Engaging a specialised promotional digital agency to create a microsite eliminates the risks associated with relying on in-house digital teams that may be understaffed, lack expertise in promotional technology, or prove unreliable.

Focusing intensely on a single topic can be challenging on a brand's primary website, which often features a broad array of content. Microsites offer a solution by allowing for heightened brand awareness and increased conversions without the constraints of maintaining consistency with the main website, dealing with previous content, or cluttered pages.

With their concentrated and specialised content, microsites are inherently more captivating and shareable, providing a streamlined and efficient reading or scanning experience. This characteristic makes them ideal for launching engaging and targeted campaigns, making promotional microsites valuable for gathering high-intent leads for upcoming events.

Specific keywords offer the advantage of enhancing search engine ranking and SEO effectiveness. By emphasising targeted keywords, you can attract organic visitors, while providing dedicated content tailored to your audience can further boost organic traffic and increase brand engagement. Additionally, there's potential for increased backlink opportunities, which can further elevate your brand's ranking. However, the SEO and ranking potential of microsites are debated and a topic we'll look into with more nuance shortly.

When to use a microsite

There are numerous situations where having a microsite can benefit a brand. Here are some common examples:

  • Introducing new products, services, and brand values
  • Promoting events
  • Overcoming limitations of in-house digital resources
  • Targeting specific audiences
  • Supporting marketing campaigns

When utilised alongside an active campaign, a microsite offers a valuable opportunity to leverage the web traffic generated by the promotion, gathering valuable consumer data. This data, being first-party, eliminates any reliance on third-party data providers and allowing for more precise and valuable customer insights directly from the consumers themselves.

What makes a microsite effective?

Ensure a clear call-to-action (CTA)

Instead of overwhelming visitors with numerous CTAs, centre your microsite around one or a few prompts. For a promotional microsite, this might simply encourage visitors to participate in a brand promotion.

Offer an interactive and captivating experience

Despite the simplicity of microsites, incorporating diverse media types such as images, animations, and videos provides value and user attention. That's why gamification and interactive experiences are popular in brand promotions, enhancing the appeal of any promotional microsite.

Utilise a unique domain name

Assigning a distinct domain name to the microsite establishes it as a separate entity rather than merely a few pages on your primary site. This also presents an opportunity for backlinking to the main brand site, reinforcing the microsite's connection to your broader brand while maintaining a distinction. Additionally, this practice helps with SEO and lead-generation efforts.

Integrate messaging seamlessly

Effective communication and interactions are essential for positive consumer experiences. Microsites can be used to streamline connections to automated messaging, winner notifications, prize claim workflows, and third-party APIs. These APIs can offer various functionalities, such as serving coupons, validating entrants, and more.

Issues & workarounds

Temporary Nature

Crafting a quality microsite can be a significant undertaking, particularly if the microsite is intended to be temporary. For a one-time microsite, the cost-benefit ratio might not seem favourable enough to justify its creation. However, when a microsite is designed to be 'always on,' and ready to launch whenever a new campaign, event, or promotional opportunity arises, brands will find that there’s more of a financial and labour incentive to utilise the benefits of a microsite.

For instance, the cheese brand, Ivy's has ongoing monthly promotions for their audience, accompanied by monthly email communications, and employing gamification through digital specialists at Promotions Interactive.

Weak SEO

As mentioned previously, the effectiveness of microsite on SEO may not be as strong as once believed. In the past, multiple microsites were often developed around different keywords to secure top positions in search results, sometimes even ranking more than once. Additionally, they were used to backlink to a brand's primary website, as backlinks typically enhance the SEO of the main site. However, such practices are now considered detrimental to SEO as search engines have become more adept at identifying and penalising black-hat techniques. Building a microsite solely to boost the ranking of the primary website is not advisable.

Backlink Density Dilution

Another weakness is the 'backlink density dilution' which is caused by having multiple microsites for a brand. When backlinks are spread across numerous microsites, the overall impact is diminished compared to concentrating all backlinks within a single site. Therefore, the purposeful creation of each microsite is essential. Having just a few well-managed microsites can prove more beneficial than having several simultaneously. Additionally, to avoid the constant creation of new microsites, promotional microsites can be reused for future competitions, promotions, and events instead of creating new ones each time.

Authority Potential

Microsites often struggle to become authority sites due to their typically temporary nature and lack of diverse incoming links from other authority sites. However, if a microsite is intended as a long-term or permanent addition to a brand's digital presence, it can gradually build authority. For example, Sony's Xperia Rewards microsite is an 'always on' promotional platform, showcasing live promotions and an archive of previous ones, fostering customer engagement and loyalty. Similarly, Batchelor's winwithbatchelors.co.uk microsite maintains the same URL for each new promotion, encouraging repeat visits from customers.

Brand Consistency

Some brands may prefer to integrate microsites into their main website to maintain consistency in branding and quality. One solution is to use iframe embeds to create microsites that seamlessly blend into the main website's design and functionality. This approach offers several benefits, including facilitating collaboration with external parties without disrupting the main website's operations. It allows the involved parties to maintain control over the microsite while ensuring a cohesive user experience across the entire website.


Microsites can be highly effective in various situations and brand activations. Using promotional microsites alongside competitions, promotions, or campaigns can attract engaged leads and encourage participation. A continuously available promotional microsite platform supports ongoing campaigns and events. As long as the vision and direction of a microsite are clear and consistent, brands will benefit from having one.

Promotions Interactive is a highly experienced digital agency, working both as an independent agency and an agency partner – rapidly and robustly delivering digital activations, such as prize draws, instant wins and much more. If you're unsure whether your brand will benefit from a microsite or if you have questions about getting started, feel free to get in contact with us at https://www.promotionsinteractive.com/contact, email  hello@promotionsinteractive.com, or call us at +44 (0) 203 80 555 36.

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