What is a microsite?
A microsite is what it sounds like, a smaller website. A law firm will have a main website that describes the firm as a whole. This main site will typically have a home page, an about page, attorney bios, practice area descriptions, and news, among other things. A microsite is a separate site, with its own address, that has a lot less information. For law firms, microsites are typically about a specific campaign, or a particular practice area. Microsites use a different domain or subdomain than the firm or company’s main website.
Why might my firm need a microsite?
1. You want something that looks different.
One of the most common reasons a law firm may want a microsite is related to branding. Maybe you are working jointly with another firm on a project, and don’t want to use brand elements from either firm. Or maybe you want a site that looks more informational, or is more casual in tone than the firm’s site. When you want something that looks, sounds, or feels different from the firm’s main website, you might want a microsite.
A great example of creating a microsite that looks and feels different from the main website is Real Estate Fast Forward, a microsite that LISI created for Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. The goal for this microsite was to create an immersive, experiential digital space to bring people together during a time of isolation, especially those in the real estate industry whose lives and livelihoods had historically been so deeply entwined with the physical spaces of the city. This is a very different goal than the firm’s comprehensive main website.
Creating a microsite allowed the client the freedom to be innovative, whimsical, and entertaining, creating a unique metaverse-type experience, pushing the boundaries of conventional client relations and legal marketing with a one-of-a-kind digital adventure. Given the different objectives of the firm’s main site and the Real Estate Fast Forward campaign, a microsite was a great way to achieve the goals of the real estate practice.
2. You have a time-limited campaign.
Another reason a firm may want a microsite is when you have a targeted marketing campaign that is limited in time. A microsite is easier to change and control than something that appears on the main website. By the time you get all the approvals to change the main site, your campaign could be over. In this situation, a microsite may better meet your needs.
An example of a time-limited campaign might be an upcoming event. An event may have a short shelf life and specific characteristics such as a unique brand, location, time, and target audience. A microsite created for an event serves as a central hub where visitors can see information related to the event without having to search a comprehensive website.
A microsite creates a space for multiple webpages, such as an agenda, speakers, travel information, and registration page, and can make it easier for attendees to register for the event. A microsite such as this should be engaging and experience-driven. An example of an event microsite is one LISI recently created for the #FollowFriday Conference.
3. The new content or subject-matter doesn’t fit your site.
If your new content substantially varies from the length, tone, or type of content on your website, you may need a more flexible microsite to present the information to your audience. For example, if you have a hot new practice area with loads of related resources, infographics, and materials that don’t fit into the main website structure, you may need a microsite.
A good example of this is the Vaccine Injury Law microsite LISI developed for a client. Our client is a personal injury law firm with many different practice areas. For the vaccine injury practice, the attorneys wanted a site that provided a lot of information and resources to potential clients. The main website did not have a structure to support the amount of information desired. In this case, we built a microsite and loaded it up with a detailed description of how the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program works, as well as descriptions of the vaccines covered by the program and the most common vaccine injuries.
The tone of the vaccine microsite is also different than the main website’s tone. While the law firm’s main site set the tone of an aggressive method of litigation, the vaccine injury practice website needed to express caring. A microsite allowed us to accomplish the client’s goals for this individual practice without changing the tone or the structure of the main website.
4. Wait! You don’t need a microsite—You need a landing page!
If your primary purpose is to drive PPC or S.E.O. to this content, and it doesn’t meet the conditions above, you probably just need a landing page. A landing page is a single page within a website. This one page is concise and focused: bam, this is what we do, then contact form. The landing page typically does not contain videos or other visual effects. The main point is to give a little bit of information and collect and convert leads into clients.
Unlike a microsite that wants visitors to engage and explore, a landing page is focused on lead generation. A microsite is more of a long-term relationship-building tool, whereas a landing page is more focused on an immediate lead.
Lemon Law lawyer Tim Abeel already has a full website designed by LISI that serves his firm’s needs. But as his firm expands into new states, LISI creates landing pages specific to those locations. By doing so, Timothy Abeel & Associates are able to provide their clients and potential clients a centralized hub of lemon law information specific to each state where they practice, such as this page for California lemon law.
5. But hold up! Maybe you don’t need a microsite or a landing page!
The customer is always right! Right?! The most well-intentioned attorney or legal marketer has suggested you build a new microsite to support your firm’s new [something]. But does that [something] match the criteria above? Sometimes the best way to support the firm’s marketing and business development efforts is with careful evaluation that ends in the answer “no.”
Every new practice or idea does not warrant a microsite, even if it sounds like a fancy solution. With a microsite, you will lose out on domain authority generated by your main website, and you will create a second website that needs to be hosted and managed.
Perhaps the answer is not “no,” but rather “instead, let’s…” The solution may be working the content into the current site in a new page or even developing a new structure to accommodate it. Sometimes the simpler solution is the best one, depending on the goals and nature of the project.
Before you embark on a microsite, you should carefully consider the goals of your project and what you hope to accomplish by developing a microsite. Are you branding a new product or service line? Are you setting up an event that is time-limited? Or are you looking to convert leads? A microsite may end up being an indispensable part of your marketing strategy. But by carefully evaluating your options, you might find that a landing page or additional content on your website is the most cost-effective solution to reaching your goals.