For years, microsites were the de facto standard when it came to highlighting a new product or idea. Launch a new drug? Create a separate product site and invest significant budget to drive traffic to it. Highlight a new research concept? A microsite will do the trick.

The downsides of microsites

But this fixation on microsites, sitting on a separate domain and detached from a company’s existing online resources, is crumbling. One marketing commentator outright makes the claim that microsites suck. But why this adversity? A look at some of the drawbacks of microsites makes it clear:

  • Extensive money and effort is required to build a completely new microsite for each new product or topic
  • Microsites often get shut down or left unmaintained, killing SEO value and leaving dead or outdated links in their wake
  • Microsites hardly leverage the authority of already existing websites, like the main corporate site
  • Effort to drive traffic to the site via SEO, social media, bought media etc. needs to start from scratch
  • Microsites can encourage silo thinking – there is a risk that different stakeholders within the same organisation each want their own microsite, competing with each other rather than working together

A viable alternative

But with microsites falling out of favour, who’s the new star on the horizon? If you have read the headline, you already know the answer: the content hub. As the name implies, a content hub serves as one centralised content repository. If you think about the benefits this has over the microsite approach, you’ll understand why shifting to content hubs is a big trend in online marketing:

  • Leverages existing online resources, especially when the main corporate website serves as the content hub
  • Less effort, less spending, more synergies
  • Better search ranking, as one unified content hub has much more SEO juice than various unconnected microsites and because newly added content benefits from the already existing site authority
  • One central website is easier to manage than many
  • Encourages internal collaboration

Best practice examples of content hubs in pharma

One company that’s doing the hub approach well is Boehringer Ingelheim in respiratory. A page sitting on the corporate website acts as a point of entry to different respiratory content, much of which sits on the root domain of the corporate website. Thus, this content benefits from the very high Moz Domain Authority of Boehringer Ingelheim’s corporate website.

A good example of incorporating interactive content often found on microsites is Quintiles’ corporate website. Rather than dispersing this content among various microsites sitting on different root domains, Quintiles hosts content such as white papers, fact sheets, case studies and podcasts right on its corporate website.

There are many reasons for considering a content hub over a microsite approach. It’s no crime to integrate interactive content like videos or infographics – commonly found on microsites – into an existing corporate website. And the benefits of higher site authority often outweigh the potential downside of less creative flexibility.