While the nation went football mad during the recent FIFA World Cup, the Receptional office worked extra time to score some serious bonus points on a new campaign.
www.SupportEngland.co.uk, a brand-new microsite, was launched in June 2018 specifically to promote the St. George’s cross in time for the World Cup kick off. In essence, a microsite is a page or set of pages on a new domain or subdomain. Unlike a landing page, which is hosted on a primary domain, this campaign pointed traffic to a new microsite.
Why use a microsite to drive traffic and help with SEO?
Microsites are not suited to every campaign. Later, we look at the questions businesses need to ask before considering a choosing a microsite for their campaign over a standard landing page on your domain.
The benefit of a microsite is that you can drive traffic and engagement to your product or service, and widen your audience to a host of new users/potential customers who perhaps would not usually visit your site, as opposed to your loyal following who are already integrated within your brand.
You can also use microsites to harness particular keywords. Your original domain may rank for a separate set of unrelated terms and a new domain would be easier to rank on non-brand terms. We cover this later in the examples at the end of this article.
Our own microsite: www.supportengland.co.uk
Despite the World Cup being just weeks away we had noticed the distinct lack of patriotic support in our local neighbourhoods. It appears that fewer people were inclined to display the iconic St. George’s Cross on their cars or houses this year compared to previous tournaments.
Was this a result of Brexit? Was it because of the perceived racism that is attached to the St. George’s Cross as a symbol? Or was it simply because the nation had lost faith in the national football team?
We conducted a survey to see who would be publicly displaying flags in time for the World Cup, after all England qualified and could do with the support!
The poll, which was created using a free online poll maker, was shared socially and the results were surprising, with 79% of so-called football fans admitting to not displaying the flag this year.
Once we had the results from the poll, we began the campaign. Here are the steps we took to get 54 links and 1.2k social shares.
Although the results had showed that fewer people would be displaying the flag, we wanted to create a more positive vibe.
Welcome www.SupportEngland.co.uk, a one-page microsite where visitors could upload an image of the St. George’s Cross being flown with pride and by doing so they’d be in the running to win an England football shirt.
To launch the site a press release was written. It included expert comment from Graham Bartram, Chief Vexillologist at the Flag Institute and expert on worldwide flags, along with the survey results and with mention of the competition on the site. The release was then sent to national news outlets.
The release appeared to be favoured amongst the northern publications in areas like Yorkshire, Manchester and Newcastle in particular. Upon further investigation these locations seemed more inclined to display the St. George Cross with pride in public, especially in the local pubs. The poll was posted on the Newcastle Chronicle social media page and, over the course of two days, received 12k likes. It was mentioned in collaboration with a well-known, local watering hole, The Robin, in Jarrow, which decorated its exterior in time for the world cup.
This sparked our second stage release, tailored specifically to the publications in the north. We asked the publications if the north was more supportive of the St. George’s Cross than those in the south. This debate sparked further interest and a wave of new editorial coverage for the campaign.
We kept the poll live as we continued to outreach to the press. When England beat Tunisia on the 18th June we noticed an increase in the number of people displaying the St. George’s Cross: the poll then jumped up again when they beat Panama. It appeared that the better we did in the World Cup the more supporters the team had and the more willing people were to show their support.
This made for the third stage release which coincided with the video of the 300 flags covering the Kerby Estate in London going viral.
We were able to contact Dave Arnold, the original source of the famous Kerby Estate video which received over 1.7 million views online via Lad Bible. Dave provided a quote and we teamed this with the revelation on the poll, and we asked ‘Is the country getting more patriotic with every win?’
With each release the traffic to the landing page and submission of images was increasing.
Offline talk of the national flag was taking over the airwaves. We were invited to feature on 5Live to give our opinion on displaying the St. George’s Cross. After an interview on the Emma Barnett show on Radio 5 LIVE we were invited to be interviewed on BBC Three Counties Radio, BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire, and BBC Hereford and Worcester.
Those confident to only show the cross when England were winning sparked a flurry of die-hard loyal fans to call the new fans ‘glory supporters’. This sparked the fourth stage of the campaign which targeted dedicated football sites that are serious about the game and the followers. Asking them to debate this very topic.
This increased coverage and with it brought more links and more traffic to the microsite.
We had not yet exhausted all avenues and, with more people than ever displaying the flag, we were aware that we could take more entries on the site for the grand draw. By this stage Toffs, manufacturers of vintage style sports apparel, had offered us runner up prizes due to the number of entries we had received.
The last stage was to get the campaign mentioned on competition sites as a final push for entries.
What made it a success?
The site gained 54 natural links from publications nationwide. It included some national newspapers and localised media. It even made local front page news and received hundreds of entries -some good, some bad and some cheeky!
Traffic to the site rose by over 2000% and the campaign was creating a buzz on social media with over 1.2k likes on one mention alone in the Newcastle Chronicle Facebook page.
The site URL began ranking in Google with the number of high quality links to the site. With little initial spend the campaign reached a wide audience with great success.
Here you can see the traffic peaks after each stage with the penultimate traffic visiting after the radio interviews and newspaper coverage.
The main reasons we believe it worked so well were:
- The concept: it was not one dimensional. The data spurred on more research and in turn we could develop a number of spins on the content. The north and south divide; the dedicated football fans and the new supporters; competition fans and academics trying to look into why our perception of the flag has changed.
- It was led from content provided by the public from the get-go – the survey was consumer led and the site and content followed suit. People like to be heard and to demonstrate what they can and have done. What better way than with a platform just for them to do so?
- Timing – this worked in two ways. Firstly, the build up to the event and the number of publications reporting around the World Cup frenzy. Secondly our unpredicted success meant a change in poll results and a great uptake of support leading to another press release push.
Should I be using microsites?
Microsites are not a suitable means of gaining traction on all campaigns. For some sites, campaigns or content ideas, or a defined URL and optimised landing page may be a better option.
The main things to consider are:
- How complex do you need the site to be?
The Support England campaign consisted of one page. Somewhere to upload images and some content. The more pages you require, or functions the site needs, the more complex and time-consuming it becomes. It is also worth considering the content on the site. Is this a user-fed site like SupportEngland.co.uk or something you will need to constantly update?
Bolthouse Farms, the culinary creators behind a selection of healthy smoothies, dressings and sauces, launched a microsite under the domain urwhatyoupost.com.
The microsite is user content led and feeds in posts from Twitter that use the hashtag #UrWhatUPost as well as certain food terms. The page displays community tagged photos posted to the social channel which then pits them against each other. The result is a display of healthy foods versus unhealthy, carrots competing with cake for example.
The site brought awareness of the Bolthouse Farm brand to an audience who were totally unaware of its existence. As a new brand this was a great integrated PR campaign that drove traffic to the site.
- Would it be better suited to your current site?
A URL on an established site will rank higher than a brand new domain. Check if there is a suitable place the page could go and if your original site ranks for any of the terms you want that landing page to index for? If your keywords are appearing on your original site the new landing page may be better suited to that domain.
- Have you planned how you intend to increase awareness of your site?
Without sufficient traffic and quality links to the new site your efforts may be wasted. You will require a campaign idea that drives traffic to the site and really gets your target audience talking.
Elf YourSelf is a Christmas office favourite. Again, content is user led. The visitor simply uploads an image of themselves/co-workers/family members/friends/enemies and it creates an animation that you can send as an electronic Christmas greeting. It is easy to use, hilarious and highly shareable, making it a fantastic marketing tool.
Elf YourSelf creators, Office Max, used the site to covertly market their brand to users. You can see the branding on site but only subtly. It changes the perception of the boring, corporate brand into a humanised, and even festive, feel. It is a great example of a seemingly unrelated site driving traffic and links to a brand.
- Will you be able to get a suitable domain?
Just like your original site the new landing page needs to be branded and on an accessible domain. Consider what domain name you would like and see if it is available.
- Are you duplicating content?
Are you re-purposing content on your primary site? If so this will be classed as duplicate content by Google and could have a negative impact for your primary website.
Do you need to raise the profile of your brand through a digital PR campaign? If so, get in touch with our award winning team today using the form below.