So, What's A MicroSite? (continued)
The use of microsites should be considered as one facet of a multi-
faceted and full featured digital marketing system.  Microsites can have either
a positive or negative impact on a dealership’s overall digital marketing results
depending on how they are deployed and many other factors.  The key to
microsite success is the role they play in achieving a balance and synergy
within the other components of a dealer’s digital marketing strategy.  The goal
of this article is to provide a foundational understanding of what microsites are,
how they differ from landing pages and to share a few examples of the many
uses of microsites that dealers and Internet Sales Managers can consider for
potential deployment within their own digital marketing strategies.
Copyright © 2008 Automotive Dealers Network. All rights reserved.
    During the Digital Dealer conference I was asked many questions about how microsites are used, what
    they were, where to get them and how much was the right price… I am going to outline a few of the questions
    and share my opinions as to the right answers.  The following questions and my answers to them have been
    set up within the context of a “how to” and “why” perspective for use in developing a dealership’s digital
    marketing strategy and ongoing digital advertising campaigns.
    When and How are Landing Pages and Microsites used?

    Both microsites and landing pages are used for a variety of purposes by dealers, 3rd party lead providers, SEM
    services providers, dealer advertising associations, dealer groups and car companies.  Compared to landing
    pages and depending on the richness of content they contain, automotive microsites usually show increasing
    levels of effectiveness in generating leads over time.

    There are 3 prevalent digital marketing campaign objectives that microsites and
    landing pages are used for within the car business today:

  • Generate sales leads in the form of completed online forms, incoming phone calls and showroom traffic…
    When used by SEM services providers, landing pages are typically designed to generate electronic leads
    and are optimized for the highest possible Visitor-to-Lead conversion rates.
  • Attract unique visitors using highly specific and limited subject matter content that is indexed by search
    engines as relevant to key word searches related to the site’s subject matter. When successful, a
    microsite’s title and description appear at the top of specific search engine queries based on richness of
    relevant content.
  • Generate online traffic to other dealership web sites through the use of linked objects displayed within the
    microsite, or within the text based content of the site.  This objective is best met through the use of managed
    organic content that is search engine optimized around a subject matter that is popular among a targeted
    audience that will be searching for it.  Otherwise, a microsite could be misconstrued as a link farm.

    If you are like me, seeing a few examples really helps to clarify a concept.  If you visit www.Chevy-Malibu.
    com you will see a microsite that is focused on the all new 2008 Chevrolet Malibu and nothing else.  It has lots of
    rich content relevant to the all new Malibu, including an interview with the dealership’s New Vehicle Director,
    Scott Gruwell. At the bottom of the landing page are links to content within the store’s primary full featured
    web site that supplement the forms and phone numbers within the microsite in seeking to convert visitors into
    leads and phone calls.  3 months after being launched, a search for “2008 Chevy Malibu” returned a world
    wide front page listing as follows:

    2008 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid from Phoenix Arizona Chevy Dealer ...   
    2008 Chevy Malibu. Come and fall in love with the all new 2008 Malibu from chevrolet. Courtesy Chevrolet in
    Phoenix offers the best pricing and financing on ... - 19k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

    The model specific microsite that has outperformed any other microsite I have ever seen in generating
    incremental eLeads and unique visitors to the primary web site operated by the dealership, visit www.  A Google search for 2008 Chevy Camaro returns the following listing at the very
    top of the world wide search results:
    The All New 2008 Chevrolet Camaro from Courtesy Chevy in Phoenix ...
    2008 Chevy Camaro. Your Valley Chevy Camaro Dealer located in Phoenix, Arizona, The New 2008 Chevy
    Camaro, Courtesy Chevrolet Camaro, 2008 New Chevy Camaro. - 15k - Cached - Similar pages

    In July 2007 the Camaro microsite attracted over 25,000 unique visitors, of which over 1,800 of them submitted
    an online lead form.  This microsite also generated over 2,500 unique visitors to the store’s other web sites,
    which resulted in over 50 additional leads. Courtesy Chevrolet operates the microsite
    and spends less than $100 a month hosting it. There was no paid advertising used to generate traffic, although
    the Transformers movie seemed to generate a big hike in Camaro related searches.

    One of the first microsite’s I created is the popular  If you Google “2007 Tahoe”
    it shows up near the top of the search results as follows:
    2007 Tahoe at Courtesy Chevrolet- The all new 2007 tahoe! Phoenix ...
    2007 Tahoe by Chevy. Come and fall in love with the all new 2007 tahoe from Chevrolet. Courtesy Chevrolet
    in Phoenix offers the best pricing and financing ... - 20k - Cached - Similar pages

    You should click on the photo galleries and specifications pages within each of the above listed microsites to
    truly understand what differentiates a microsite from a landing page.  I have never seen a landing page by
    itself generate any significant organic site ranking.
By Ralph Paglia
Director – Digital Marketing / ADP Dealer Services
    What's the difference between a landing page, a microsite and a dealer’s website?

    I get asked this question all the time, so it must be fairly relevant to many people… First off, let me say that for
    all practical purposes every web site contains potential landing pages, but not all landing pages are part of a
    microsite or what I would call a full featured web site, some are just plain old single page “Landing Pages”.  A
    Landing Page is whatever web page that a sponsored link, display ad, click-to-play video ad or any other type
    of online promotion points to… Single purpose Landing Pages can be a distinctly separate tactic used in
    addition to a dealer’s primary full featured web sites and microsites.  Although a dealer’s primary web site
    typically has sections devoted to each dealership department, as well as access to the dealer’s full vehicle
    inventory, a microsite typically displays a limited number of pages primarily focused on a very specific and
    limited topic, such as a specific model of vehicle or a component of the vehicle buying process… Think of the
    traditional 4-square dealership worksheet and imagine a web site dedicated to each of the sections within that
    4-Square.  Each of them would be a microsite.

    Now, I’ll describe microsites in terms that would be relevant to today’s sales management
    professional at a dealership engaged in Digital Marketing activities:

  • A microsite index page is attached to a unique URL that is as descriptive of the microsite’s subject matter as
    possible and available to the dealership.
  • The index page within a microsite that is accessed by the root domain of the URL can also be used as a campaign
    landing page because it is where the consumer “lands” when they click on an advertisement, text based sponsored
    link or search engine listing of that unique URL.  
  • In addition to the index page, which we call a home page when applied to a dealership’s full featured primary
    web site, a microsite has 1 or more daughter pages that are accessible from linked text or images shown on
    the index page (the microsite’s home page).  
  • A microsite’s daughter pages must be created within the same root domain structure as the index page’s URL.  
    This is far different than the use of web pages hosted within another root domain structure, as when using links
    to a different web site’s sections, forms or pages.
  • Each daughter page within a microsite will contain additional content relevant to the index page’s primary
    subject matter and is what qualifies the site as a “microsite” instead of a simple “landing page”.  

    Obviously, from the first part of my answer you already know that a landing page is a single web page
    connected to a unique URL, but without any additional pages of relevant content connected to it that are
    hosted within the same root domain structure.  A good example, and the epitome of a “Microsite” (it’s even
    small in size), including rich media presentations and specific vehicle component sections along with
    daughter pages containing vehicle information, photographs and specifications can be seen at

    Conversely, a good example of a true “Landing Page” devoid of any other content within
    the same root domain structure is:  Please note
    that both landing pages and microsites typically feature multiple links to other web pages
    that are part of separate and distinct URL domain structures, usually within
    the dealer’s primary web site, also known as “Deep Links”.  

    The bottom line is that every microsite contains a landing page, along with one or more additional content
    pages, while the term landing page is also used to describe a single web page, usually with a form that is
    linked to advertisements and text based sponsored links and is distinctly separate from any other web site.  
    Technically, any web page connected to outside links, such as banners and other forms of display advertisements
    shown within published web sites, as well as text based sponsored links and URL listings in
    SEM campaigns are “Landing Pages” because it is where the consumer lands when they click on the
    advertisement or listing… However, within the car business today, the most common use of the term landing
    page is to describe a single web page specially created for a specific advertisement, designed to convert
    visitors into electronic leads.  Alternatively, Microsites require more content to set up properly than solo landing
    pages, which typically require a limited amount of text and an online form for customers to complete and submit.
Ralph has held positions such as OEM Partnership
Executive for Reynolds and Reynolds, CRM/eBusiness
Director, New Car Sales Manager, Used Car Manager,
F&I Director, General Sales Manager and General
Manager. He led the development and design of
nationally implemented CRM and eBusiness programs
for Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and other car
companies. He also designed Ford’s BDC program
Mercedes-Benz StarLeads CRM system and the
Mercedes-Benz BDC.