I believe micro-hubs (some call them micro-sites) will become a significant marketing trend in 2012 and are a key driver of Rapid Growth Optimisation (RGO).
If you have been to one of my talks on Rapid Growth Optimisation you will know that I am a bit of a champion of marketing Micro-Hubs! In the next year I would expect to produce around 50 micro-hubs for a range of clients, because I’m convinced that they will all reap huge rewards for their businesses.
But not everyone agrees with me - not unusual. A debate has been on-going on the Go-Social LinkedIn Forum on the benefits of micro-hubs.
Amongst the common miss-conceptions people have are:
* Micro-hubs would be too time consuming to manage.
* There are “easier ways “to effect an SEO boost.
* Micro-hubs may dilute your marketing message if you like to cross sell several products at a time to the same customers
* If you don’t have the time to update them they go out of date and look bad for the brand.
I disagree. I firmly believe that businesses that overlook micro-hubs in their marketing armoury are missing out on the potential for significant uplifts in highly targeted traffic and leads generated, prospects identified and improved conversion rates. I build my Micro-hubs in WordPress and so it’s quick and cheap (especially if you can do it internally).
*Keyword rich domains: Domain names that say what the company offers or does continue to do well in Google, so businesses that are smart about their domain names can reap the SEO benefits. Last year, Google threatened to change this but they were hit with a lot of negative feedback, myself included. As long as Google still rate keyword domains, “there will continue to be search related benefits to key word rich domain micro-hubs”.
* Social engagement: Adding social engagement to a microsite, especially WordPress, which is focused on the product that you are selling, is a simple process. Simply add in some widgets to get Tweets and Facebook updates on your homepage, increasing social engagement and giving an instant impression of approachability.
* Link-building: Highly focussed Micro-Hubs offer the opportunity for linking to a company’s own sites. And because people tend to have more trust in sites with highly focused content they are more likely to link to the site and leave blog comments on the blogs. All of that combines to improve search results.
* Cost-effective: Building a Micro-Hub in WordPress is low cost. The platform is also easy to change and quick to implement. Once you have picked a product or service to promote, hopefully the one with the most profit and growth potential, you can have the focused micro site in the market place in just days, rather than the many months that other websites can often take to design and launch.
* Campaign flexibility - It can take less than a week to pull together a Micro-Hub and launch a site that puts a marketing focus on a distinct product or service or even special offer. Sure you can make your Facebook landing page all about your special offer, but how many of your target customers can look at Facebook at work and doing both will often double. Not sure this makes sense…
* SEO boost and more: Think of micro-hubs as more than a website. A micro-hub is about:
- Positioning you as the knowledge leader in a niche sector
- Providing an exact match and instant access to relevant information on the searchers query
- Using social proof to build trust
- The conversion mechanic
- The lead capture
- The sales engine behind the blog, such as salesforce, hubspot, Get Satisfaction, MCRM etc
- The starting point for an ongoing, highly engaged relationship
* Trust building: A business that wants to sell or generate leads, needs to be trusted. Think about the reaction of a potential customer who finds a specialist website. They think: "Job done. How luckily am I to find a specialist site that answers all my questions and isn't trying to sell me 100 things?”
* Product focused: Some commentators argued that micro-sites are not ideal for businesses with multiple products. But customers don’t search for 10 products, they search for the one that they want. The science of modern marketing is to allow the customer to make their initial purchase – and then engage them on a deeper level and use the relationship to up-sell and get them to follow links to other specialist sites.
Case studies reveal the benefits of micro-hubs
Peter Symes is the owner at 1000 Mile Journeys and a range of outdoor activity businesses. Although he warns that it does take time and effort to keep all of his several micro-hubs updated, they have significantly boosted his business.
He said: “Even with the poor job we do of maintaining our sites they still drive business. We used to do about 30 adventure trip bookings a year to Morocco from our main site. Last year we did 700 using a dedicated site.” http://moroccoadventuretours.com/
Richard McKay, Director of McKay Flooring, stated that “micro-hubs have worked fantastically well for us”. He added: “We built a specialist Sports Flooring site at www.sportsflooring.co.uk on WordPress and it’s now ranking in the top three for most of our keywords. For SEO benefits alone, this has proved invaluable.
Sales in year one were close to half a million pounds for this particular site.
Stop for a second and reread that last sentence if you still have any doubts. Oh, and while you are at it, grab a calculator and work out the percentage increase in Moroccan Adventure bookings that Peter generated.
“My initial concern was that these might dilute the McKay Flooring brand but these sites are all now working well as standalone sites. There is a lot of work to build and maintain the sites but as our WordPress skills improve we're getting quicker!”
Capita Explains Unified Communications.
A joint marketing venture by Capita PLC and Cisco aimed at letting private sector SMEs to understand Unified Communications and what it can do for their business utilises the Micro-Hub approach. http://www.unifiedcommunicationsblog.co.uk/
This site is all about paying it forward, sharing knowledge and simplifying a complex and often misunderstood area of business communications. The site offers a free eGuide to Unified Communications and the content focus is around blogging and Twitter feeds and innovative use of video (see zooming flash video). Simple and to the point this site takes a single product and helps people to understand it.
Just launching today so we can’t talk percentage increases in traffic and leads yet but give it a couple of months.
It’s not just about the SEO benefit, it’s really about creating a more engaging online presence that is highly targeted at solving the problem or question that potential customers have without cluttering their thought process by tying to sell them a dozen different products at once. Micro-Hubs help you to get your foot in the door and establish a relationship on a foundation of trust and engagement. Sure they can take time to manage but a few minutes out of every hour every day - yup thats all! - given that most marketing people spend hours every day doing the old crap that doesn't work anymore I think it’s time they got their priorities right!
Go on, tell me I’m wrong!
Or give me some examples that have worked for you!
Disclosure - All of the case studies and examples mentioned are clients of businesses, or members of online communities that are owned by the author. That is why he knows so much about them.
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