Point-of-sale displays were once all the rage in marketing. The same can be said for print, radio, catalog and television, but their ability to generate awareness and sales also declined, at least compared to digital. Social media, websites, influencer marketing and the like are where the action is today, resonating even more than the old in-store channel with consumers, but microsites, something the average consumer is probably already familiar with, could change all that.

Over the past few months, millions of consumers interacted with microsites when they went out to eat or grabbed a takeaway. That’s because, instead of getting a physical menu, some restaurants now encourage customers to scan a QR code to display food and beverage selections on their phones (instead of handling potentially tainted menus). Simple as it sounds, that’s a microsite.

The challenge is to analyze and implement how these kinds of microsites can add to an online store experience. Of course, restaurateurs are not the only ones who opted for microsites during this pandemic. Retailers and brands are also getting into the game, placing QR codes next to displays or elsewhere within their stores. A quick scan via a smartphone and consumers are in for an incredibly immersive and hyper-focused digital experience, one that is paired with information about a product or service or offers a contactless payment option. 

Consumers also take these microsites home with them, and potential consumers are no longer out of sight once they leave a store shelf. These unique online pages or groups of pages provide a unique opportunity to further the conversation and perhaps even influence it.

After all, simple, clear and memorable messages and stories conveyed by microsites can have a greater impact on final product selection than large, complex stories on major websites. With this, each moment along the customer journey can be treated differently, moving consumers closer to a purchase. That’s simply not possible through a traditional branded site.

More importantly, these microsites enable attribution. You can always get point-of-sale data from the retailer, but that doesn’t tell you anything beyond units sold. By having people access a microsite, you now have attribution power to know how many clicks you got in the week or how many social shares. Customer activity and inactivity, hotspots, comments and repeat opens on a microsite will help tell the story of what customers want, need and demand.

One of the most important metrics of all is conversion – did consumers take the next step after interacting with content on a microsite? If not, that’s a good indication to rework the digital experience being offered. That’s a relatively easy task when the job involves just one web page.

While microsites can be beneficial in many ways, the real power of the experience can often be found in the purchase decision itself. For example, when taking the in-store channel, if there is no real means of assisting the consumer with a sales associate on the floor, why offer a brochure or main web page when a QR code could provide a more focused experience? It has an extremely low barrier to use and has the potential to deliver a much more meaningful experience for the consumer. This is not even to mention that it comes with the ability to track that person’s retail activity in the future.

Even before the pandemic, retailers were moving toward virtual and augmented reality to enhance the customer experience. Microsites and AR, on the other hand, can help fill the gap and provide a similar experience for the consumer without all the additional risks.

If you’re looking for a secret weapon to improve in-store engagement, microsites are the way to go. They allow you to personalize the customer experience, reach a highly targeted audience and provide the information needed to encourage a purchase decision, whether online or offline. It’s the power of persuasion in the palm of a consumer’s hand. But more importantly, the in-depth information to be gleaned from microsites allows the agility to not only adapt to the changing climate created by COVID-19, but also to create a healthy foundation for the future.

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