Today your customers are reluctant to buy, so what can product marketing folks do to help? You can educate your buyers. Whenever they are ready to buy, they will remember you.
Forrester SiriusDecisions says 67% of the buyer journey is done digitally. This provides a great platform for your inbound strategy to educate the target market with highly-targeted, product-related messaging and tools.
What Is a Product Microsite?
Simply put, it is a set of interconnected web pages that talk about your product. It is a subset of your main website. You can have microsites dedicated to different needs such as:
- Promote a product.
- Drive registrations to your annual user conference.
- Run a contest…
In this article, we are going to hone in on the what, why, and how of product microsites, building on my experiences from a project I passionately led while at CallidusCloud.
A product microsite can be the cornerstone of your inbound strategy. To be successful, it should be well-thought out and exhaustive in terms of coverage. Aim to educate your target buyer on why buy and why buy from you. If well executed, it can help reduce the time inside sales and sales spend on lead qualification and product demos. Let’s look at some examples.
A Product Microsite Example:
The Salesforce Sales Cloud microsite is impactful with dedicated pages for the platform’s features, different buyer personas, pricing, customer stories, FAQs and more. Plus, it is pleasing on the eye with attractive screenshots, endearing mascots, and sufficient white space.
A Product Page Example:
Sales enablement platform, MindTickle uses a product page to showcase its applications that leads you to a demo request page. There are separate pages for integrations, pricing, partners etc. but they are not all as intricately well connected as a microsite would be.
Let’s look at how a product microsite is different from a product page. Here are some key differences:
|Product Page||Product Microsite|
|User Experience||Flat and brief||Multi-layered and rich|
|Content||Single page that skims the surface||Several pages that are interconnected and exhaustive|
|Buyer Personas||Can only talk to one buyer persona. If you talk to multiple personas on a single page, it most likely will not resonate with any of them||Can talk to multiple target buyer personas through separate pages and distinct language|
|Objective||Create lead awareness||Two fold:
– Create lead awareness
– Convert leads into active prospects
|Audience Measurability||Measurability is often limited to:
– Time spent on page
– # of downloads
|There are several milestones you can measure such as:
– # of pages viewed
– # of videos viewed
– # of downloads
– Use of ROI calculator etc.
– Visitor navigation path
– Time spent on each page
Always start with a product page and run with it until you outgrow it. When you have too much content and need to talk to multiple audiences, that’s when you should consider a product microsite.
If you are a single product company, you may not need a product microsite unless you have a fairly complex product with rapid innovation and/or multiple buyer personas you want to target. But keep in mind that even a single product company like Slack has a product microsite that links to over ten feature pages.
Why Bother With a Product Microsite?
Is it for everyone? No. What are some triggers to see if a product microsite is right for your company? See if any of these situations resonate with you:
- You want to talk to multiple buyer personas.
- You are not getting enough inbound leads.
- Your target customers don’t understand your product and its value.
- Your sales face the same objections from prospects, time and again.
- You have several products but you want to put the spotlight on Product B.
If you face one or more of these commonly-found marketing quandaries, a product microsite might be just your thing. A product microsite will help you:
- Increase awareness about your product category and your product
- Improve organic discoverability
- Educate buyers so sales can spend less time selling
Besides that, in today’s situation when customers are not always ready to buy, this is a great long-term investment to educate buyers on their problems and why you are the best solution in town.
Some Microsite Prerequisites
A microsite is a big lift, involving not just the entire marketing team but even sales. Be ready for the long haul. It will take a quarter or two to complete, as it requires thorough research, rigorous planning, and diligent execution.
For an effective microsite that converts casual leads into active prospects you need:
- Thorough customer research and insights
- Spot-on product positioning
- Credible information and an authoritative point of view
- Attractive, contemporary design
- A plan for content updates on a 6-monthly or 12-monthly cycle
- Meticulous performance measurement
You want to be absolutely sure you need a product microsite before you embark on this high-visibility project.
Know Your Product Deeply Before You Get Started
If you are new to product marketing or new to the company, I would not recommend you build a product microsite right off the bat. This is a big project. You want to be sure you know your product, market, customers, and competitors.
You should know:
- Why your customers buy you over your competitors.
- What value and benefits customers get from your product.
- Key buyer personas and what they care about.
- Your product and company’s strengths.
- Your competitors’ weaknesses.
If you know your customers well, the microsite’s structure and messaging will easily come to you.
Get the Marketing Team’s Buy In
A product microsite is a collaborative project between product marketing, content, design, digital marketing, and demand gen. So make sure everybody is onboard, before you go full steam ahead.
Come up with a high-level plan of the various elements of the microsite including the high-level message, target audience, and goals. To get you started, I created a Product Microsite Planning Template as a Free Download
Present the plan to your boss and the entire marketing team. Tap into your digital and design specialists to include the latest digital marketing and design trends and best practices. Get their time and buy in for the project. If there are conflicting priorities, sort it out with the team leads in the room.
Crucial Sections to Make Your Product Microsite a Killer
1. Pages by Persona and/or Key Benefits and/or Verticals:
Deciding how to organize your microsite and divide your pages can be the most difficult part. Do you want to divide them by buyer persona, key benefits or by verticals. You might want to choose a combination of these as well depending on who you want to target. Whiteboard it out with the product marketing team and see what works for your product.
Don’t be afraid to spend time on this. Only then will it resonate with your target audience/s. You want to get this absolutely right. A change mid-way will mean a lot of disruption for everyone involved from content writers to designers.
Let’s talk through an example. Say you sell an online sales coaching product to small businesses. The Head of Sales is your key buyer. The CFO is a key influencer. And they both have separate problems. In such a scenario, you want to have separate pages for them. Use relevant language and highlight the benefits that each persona would care about. See table below for more details:
|Key Buyer Persona||Customer Problem||Key Message|
|Head of Sales||Poor quota attainment||Your product delivers higher sales quota attainment|
|CFO||High cost of travel and in-person coaching||Your online product delivers significant cost savings|
Now suppose, in addition to these high-level benefits your product also delivers several other benefits such as:
- Ease of use
- Increased accountability
- Superior analytics…
Prioritizing benefits can often be a challenge. Here’s a super simple way to think about it – just focus on the benefits your customers care about the most.
So in this example, in addition to the persona-based pages, you could have benefit-oriented pages dedicated to each of the key benefits with relevant content and supporting screenshots.
2. FAQ Section
Remember, even buyers typically look for answers with a Google search. And when they do, your site will come up. With a well-researched FAQ, sales can spend less time answering questions. Plus, it’s great for SEO.
Create an FAQ section with questions and objections your sales repeatedly face such as those around benefits, integration, reporting, pricing etc. Work with sales closely to develop it and get it spot on. Make sure sales uses it to answer queries, and enlist their help to maintain it.
3. ROI Calculator
You may already have a spreadsheet-based ROI calculator that your sales team uses to showcase quantitative benefits to prospects. Repurpose it. Make it self-explanatory and simple enough for a lead to be able to use without any guidance.
Create the calculator on an HTML page so your buyers can key in their specifics and see the quantifiable benefits they will derive. Not only does this make your benefits more “real”, it also adds an interactive angle to your microsite.
Hubspot has a visually engaging ROI calculator, which shows you how much your annual revenue will increase by using their product for a year. A prospect who is doing an ROI calculation is pretty advanced down your funnel, so Hubspot doesn’t leave them hanging. Hubspot takes them further down the funnel with case studies, which leads me to my next point…
4. Customer Stories
Hopefully, you have a rich library of customer case studies before you start work on your product microsite. Otherwise, that can be a separate project by itself, from targeting and outreach to execution.
Work with sales and customer success to develop a library of customer case studies on your happy customers. Go after recognisable logos, your target verticals, and customers who have been with you for over a year. Case studies are also a great way to make your customers feel special.
Use customer case studies, video testimonials, customer quotes, and photographs across your microsite to make your customer stories come alive. When a customer says something about you, it carries a lot more weight than when you say it about yourself.
5. Product Collateral
When was the last time you went to a company’s product page and you just couldn’t put a finger on what it is they do? I see it way too often for my liking. You can’t keep your product and your category a mystery if you want people to buy from you. You got to shout it out from the rooftops.
Showcase your key product collateral, such as:
- Demo videos
- Product tours
- Feature sheets
- Plenty of attractive screenshots
- Product whitepapers
Keep the majority of your product collateral ungated so people can freely learn about it. The more that buyers know about your product, the less time sales will need to educate them.
6. A Collection of CTAs
Don’t leave your microsite visitors hanging. At the bottom of every page, give visitors something to deepen the engagement, something to download and remember you by. You can gate many of these assets and rake in the form fills.
Don’t just give visitors your content, give them unbiased market research reports from reputed research firms.In addition to your Click to Action (or CTA) buttons offering free trials and product tours, create a comprehensive list of all downloadable and trackable content such as:
- Webinar recordings
- Analyst reports
Many of these may already exist in different parts of your website or in shared folders. If they are dated, refresh them with a fresh coat of paint. Consolidate all relevant assets and bring them under the microsite umbrella. It will create a much more effective customer education experience, and will likely improve your SEO along the way.
A product microsite is a weighty project which will take a quarter or two to complete from planning to execution. And did I forget to mention reviews and approvals? Before you try to steer this ship, make sure you know your product well and have solid positioning in place. Try to leverage a lot of the relevant, positioning documents and content assets that already exist. This is a team effort so you want to have the entire marketing team’s buy in.
To make your product microsite a killer, make it very exhaustive, highlighting key benefits to key buyer personas. Add in plenty of rich content which deepens the engagement with your audience. Answer their questions with an FAQ section. Demonstrate value with an ROI calculator. Be human and tell customer stories. Give them unbiased opinion with third-party analyst reports.
I hope you found that experience helpful. Here’s wishing you luck with your product microsite! Write to me if you have specific questions or want to discuss strategy for your project.