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A minisite is a website by which companies offer information about one specific product or product group. Typically, a minisite is enhanced by various multimedia content, such as an animated, narrated introduction, and accompanied by a visual scheme which complements the product well.
For example, a soft drink company might have a minisite with bright colors and a carbonated bubble motif. This offers a more immersive experience for the visitor, in comparison to a traditional corporate website, which is usually presented in a classic professional layout describing the company's statistics and range of operations, and products' technical details.
A minisite may also refer to a single-page website through which the operator aims to sell one particular product rather than present a company's product portfolio. Unlike traditional websites, minisites usually consist of a single page website that utilizes a direct response marketing approach to sell its single product. Such products are often digital products that can be sold in a number of electronic formats such as PDF eBooks, interactive web videos, software, audio, podcasts, membership subscriptions or an online eCourse. However, it is also not uncommon for a minisite to sell a physical product.
Minisites have existed since the popularization of the World Wide Web in the mid 1990s as direct marketers adapted their offline direct mail campaigns to accommodate for a worldwide audience provided by the Internet.
Telltale signs of a minisite include the following elements:
- a graphic header
- a large headline, accompanied by a smaller sub-headline
- utilizes a letter-style format, i.e. using terms such as: From:, Date:, Dear Friend;
- addresses a readers problem
- provides a solution
- encompasses direct response marketing techniques such as: scarcity, social proof, guarantees, testimonials and call to action graphics
- uses virtual product packages or ‘eCovers’ to create higher perceived value
The growth of online direct response marketing has meant that minisites have become extremely popular and are attracting a large audience of both companies and individuals worldwide who are adapting to the online direct marketing environment. This growth has also led to an array of minisite related services such as; copywriting, minisite graphic design and minisite video production.
Minisites are popular marketing vehicles, as marketers are attracted by the ease and speed of creating a minisite to sell their digital goods or information, which in turn allows them to run their own part-time online business.
Minisites can work for many different kinds of companies. They are primarily used for marketing of single products and are the most common form of website among companies promoting digital products on the internet including ebooks and software programs.
These are also popular for people who are looking to build opt in email lists for marketing. Minisites can also be used to sell and promote services but they are more often used to promote products. They can also be used for fun things such as contest and promotions. Pretty much every business can use the minisite in some way within their marketing plan.
Although they are most popular in the direct marketing industry any kind of company can benefit from a minisite in the form of a landing page. They can be used to introduce a new product; they can also be used for promotions and contests. Anything a company wanted to separate from their own regular website would be a good candidate for a minisite.
Some businesses only use minisites for their marketing whereas other companies use them as secondary sales pages to their main sites. You will find one man businesses that use these types of sites as well as Fortune 500 companies. Minisites are very high converting and for that reason many types of businesses choose to utilize them for their marketing campaigns.
Many companies that do pay per click advertising also use minisites. This allows them the ability to create pages that specifically advertise the particular search term the visitor came in through. So for example if the company sells software with a home version and a business version they would have two minisites for promoting each. Obviously these would be two completely different audiences to target for PPC so they would send each stream of traffic to its corresponding minsite.
A marketing minisite often has a short lifespan. The marketers usually sell information products and software on these sites. In this category you will usually find site that are one column layouts. In early ages of the internet they were usually only using text, but as marketing evolved they got more media friendly, using graphics, video and audio, such as:
- graphical headlines
- audio messages to welcome the user
- video to present product features and more
The usual structure of a modern selling minisite is:
- graphic header
- graphic title
- graphic subtitle
- sales content
- Johnson box (order form)
- author signature
- P.S. section
- order button
The usual structure of a sales funnel used by minisites is:
- squeeze page
- sales letter
- OTO (one time offer)
- (optional) upsell
- (optional) downsell
However there are also content minisites. These actually have two main structures:
- Blog like/content minisite
- review site
The Blog Like/Content Minisite type was very common before blogging platform became a standard for blogging. This kind of minisite was usually a two-column layout, using a header, a menu, a left sidebar, a content column on the right, and a footer for copyright and menu.
The Review site Is actually still used at the moment of writing (Jan. 2011). It's basically a site that reviews products for making affiliate sales. The structure is:
- Home Page
- Menu containing a few items such as the reviewed products home pages and 10 or more articles
- 2 column layout
- 3 or more reviews with excerpts of text, each having a rating and a "read more" button
- a vertical menu on the right sidebar
- Individual review page.
The visitor is presented with an in-depth review of a product, with pros and cons.