When I talk about marketing-oriented microsites being micro, that suggestions a basic definitional question: what is micro, really, in the context of microsites? How small does small go?

Why microsites and not nanosites?

Well, while I had never heard the phrase “nanosites” before–until I just invented it now (and I’m not going to Google it to see if someone used it before because I want to pretend that I’m the first one ever to use that awesome phrase)–I would define it as one of those one-page sites. A Parallax site. If your whole site is just one page where you, say, skip down and up and down and up to different sections: that’s a nanosite.

Said differently, a nanosite is effectively a landing page, albeit it could be one that is much better designed.

A full-fledged, non-micro site, on the other hand is, well, a “real” site. Lots of sections. Lots of content. Lots of pages. You want details on this process, that product, that other situation, and so forth–it’s all on there somewhere. Real sites tend to have hundreds of pages of content (including products/SKUs/etc). As a rule of thumb, “real” sites have at least 65 unique pages. Of course, that’s not a hard and fast law, just a general pattern.

Guess what how big the microsite is?

There are three answers, and one of the first one is: In-between those two extremes.

A microsite is much more fleshed out and than a nanosite, but not up to the standards of a real site. It rarely includes SKUs or ecommerce. Just content deep enough to be real, but not especially deep.

This brings us to the second answer to the question: it has the smallest amount of content to be a real site. If you see a one page site you think it’s not serious, but the thousand page site usually is. So the amount of content and detail is just enough to show you’re serious, but not much more. So the strategic question is, what is the absolute minimum number of content you need to be considered serious?

A third way to answer it is this: every situation is different, but a rule of thumb is about 10 to 20 pages. That range is much greater than the nano-trivial site, but not quite approaching the real site size. Of course, every situation being so different, for your niche need, the answer may be 66 pages, so treat the rule of thumb as such, just a rule of thumb.

Conclusion? Every microsite marketing strategy is different, so approach yours with the TLC/Tender Love & Care it deserves. But there are definite patterns & rules of thumb to keep in mind while doing so.