The folks at Moosend have developed an all-in-one marketing platform for businesses worldwide. From email marketing, automation, to landing page design and analytics, they know the drill. They are trusted by brands like Ogilvy, Gucci, Vogue, Domino’s, Isobar, and more. Today they’re sharing their knowledge with us on mailable microsites, a new trend taking over email marketing. Let’s hear them out!
A microsite is nothing new when it comes to marketing in general. But it’s not something that’s easy to define.
In the simplest of terms, all microsites are websites, but not all websites are microsites. So, we’re talking about a very small – no more than 3-pages long – website that exists for a very specific reason; kind of how a landing page is a standalone page that serves a purpose.
And much like how the recipient of an email newsletter can access a landing page by clicking a designated link, a microsite can be accessible in the same way. Or not.
Microsite: the Identifiers
A microsite is not a website with fewer pages or of the main website’s subdomains. Marketers usually create microsites to “accommodate” a limited-time offer, a specific marketing campaign, an interactive quiz that aims for lead generation, or a contest.
This means that the nature of a microsite is temporary. Since it’s created with a specific goal in mind, the keyword a marketer needs to target sets the tone in terms of design and content.
So, imagine a tiny website that won’t give you all of the information on a brand or a business but will promote specific marketing actions, products, or services. It will have its own content, a generic contact email, and, of course, content that will engage and entice users.
Mailable Microsites: How Did It Come to This?
A microsite can be incorporated into an email marketing campaign. After all, one of the reasons marketers use microsites is the same reason they use email marketing: to target a certain audience and reach a specific goal.
So, combining microsites and email marketing makes sense. Not just by adding a sign-up form to your microsite. You can create an email that looks like this:
This is an email by REI, a brand that urges people to live their life outdoors. Their target audience is people who read their emails on the go and probably won’t convert or proceed with a purchase if it can’t be done right there and then.
This is why REI needed to create a mailable microsite; to target the prospects moving from one place to the next and lead them further down the sales funnel.
Of course, REI’s ideal customer might be on the go, but not all customers are. This means that the mailable microsite’s content needs to be different from the content of the brand’s main website.
Mailable microsites, to put it plainly, came to be because of their unique ability to allow prospects to complete marketing actions right there and then, without clicking on links or CTAs and without ever leaving their inbox.
How to Create a Mailable Microsite
The example above is a clear indicator that enhancing user experience and interaction with a brand through tools like online chatbots or burger menus is, in fact, the future.
Here are some elements you can incorporate into the email marketing newsletter campaign you’re going to design next to help you give your emails the look – and the function – of a microsite.
- Video embeds. This may be the most difficult one to do when creating a mailable microsite, along with in-email payments that come next. To embed a video in your email, you will need to use HTML5. If the ESP your prospects use is inconsistent with HTML5, it would be best if you considered a workaround instead.
- In-email payments. Google allows online payments through its Google wallet service. This feature will be very valuable, especially if Gmail is the main ESP in your email list. See if this is something that will benefit you by filtering your email list and checking your data.
- Live content. If you want your prospects to buy right from their inbox and you’ve set an online payment, and you’re ready to go, then live content is all you need. And live content doesn’t mean email images that change. It means countdown timers or weather-based emails. Content like that one takes advantage of the impulsive nature of purchasing, especially when coupled with something as targeted as the weather conditions of the prospect’s area.b
- Navigation bars. Whether it’s in the form of a bar or a hamburger menu, a navigation bar can be an invitation to click and check out more content and, finally, conversion.
The above may seem difficult to incorporate into a simple email marketing campaign. The truth is that they are, as the more intricate the elements, the more details you’ll need to take into account. For example, most email marketing platforms offer users the ability to create video email marketing campaigns, but not all ESPs can show HTML5 properly.
Another thing marketers will need to take into account when creating a mailable microsite would be the metrics they’ll need to track from that point on. Suppose the mailable microsite aims to minimize friction and allow the user to browse content, view offers, and make purchases without ever leaving the email inbox. In that case, CTR isn’t applicable anymore.
The only issue with mailable microsites is the inconsistency of various design elements across different ESPs. If you want to include a testimonial video, for example, you may need to come up with two plans, one for ESPs that work well with HTML5 and one for those that don’t.
The best tactic to overcome this issue is to filter your list whenever you need to create a mailable microsite and create a workaround for the ESPs that don’t support your design.
What Are the Details to Look Out For?
Creating a mailable microsite is not exactly easy, and there are some things to take into consideration before you begin, both when it comes to your audience and when it comes to your content calendar and abilities as a marketer or a brand.
First goes the cost. Creating a microsite can be costly, especially one in an email marketing campaign. You will need to keep it up and running for a certain period of time. So, consider that before deciding anything.
Secondly, as with everything, you need your mailable microsite’s message to be timely and relevant. You will need content that will not be available on your main website since a mailable microsite is a “smaller” website in and of itself. This is where your buyer personas come along, as well as the customer segments you will have to create.
Your personas and segments will help you come up with answers to the following questions:
- What is the motive behind the mailable microsite?
- Why do you need to design it?
- What is the target audience you want it to interact with?
- What are you trying to promote?
Analyze the offer and the marketing message you want your users to receive and gather data. Invest in an AI and machine learning tool and analyze patterns that will reveal specific behaviors.
You will see these patterns everywhere, from the way prospects interact with your social media posts to how they react to branded content, such as your photography portfolio or product images.
These behaviors will allow you to understand your prospects better and help you develop a tailor-made, targeted message that will be on par with what they expect from you.
Make sure to offer concentrated information and a laser-focused experience through your mailable microsite. You don’t need flashy colors or a lot of information here. Just enough to keep your prospects moving across the funnel and going from top to bottom.
Don’t use distracting images; make sure your hamburger menu has only what your users need – this is not your main website after all – and give them small nudges towards conversion. Also, use a platform with an email builder that can allow you to incorporate more elements and test how responsive they are across devices.
You don’t want to lose conversion because your mailable microsite’s elements were broken when viewed on mobile.
Lastly, make sure that your recipients won’t get confused. As with all marketing messages and actions, you need to adapt the tone but have a characteristic voice. This means that your visitors should be offered the same experience when they’re on your website and your mailable microsite.
That is not to say that you shouldn’t make any adaptations or changes. You need just enough to know they’re interacting with your brand and service, not with an impostor. If they think the latter, they will most probably mark your mailable microsite as spam, and you’ll end up with harmed deliverability rates.
Mailable microsites are not exactly a thing of the future, but they’ve not been used as widely – or wisely – as a marketer would have expected. However, they’re an excellent tool, provided they’re used correctly.
A mailable microsite allows brands to deliver highly focused, targeted messages to specific segments of their audience, reach only said segments and minimize friction while leading prospects down the funnel and further along their customer journey.
Since mailable microsites help marketers get a bit more creative and experiment with their marketing message, they minimize friction and the risk of creating content that could potentially harm the brand’s name. If your mailable microsite doesn’t have the desired outcome, you can always try again with a different email newsletter.
The art of email marketing is not as simple as it used to be. However, it’s getting more interactive, and marketers have come up with new ways to reduce friction and increase conversion – and a mailable microsite is one of them.