Landing page vs. website — what’s the difference?
A landing page is a single web page that is designed to serve a single specific objective. While the objective itself may vary (sign up for a free trial of a service, register for a webinar, download a free e-book), the overarching purpose is typically to acquire leads for your sales/conversion funnel.
A website is different in that it is not so limited in scope, purpose, or content. A website should serve as a comprehensive hub for all your digital marketing efforts. Even those increasingly-popular single-page scrolling websites, where all the content is displayed on one page, would not generally be considered true landing pages if they lack a singular end goal.
From a website, you may want to view products, learn about the company, review pricing plans, etc. You have elements like page navigation, image sliders, search bars, and blog posts — each to take you to different areas of the site.
From a landing page, you can perform one action and one action only. You have a very focused design with few elements, designed to lead the visitor to a single end goal.
The elements of a landing page
Now that we know how a landing page is different from a website, let’s look at the components of a landing page.
- A headline that is concise and catchy, and states the purpose or a benefit.
- A brief description of the offer that outlines the benefits, gives a summary, or sets the stage for the ask.
- A call to action. What do you want people to do? Is it to download your white paper or start a free trial?
- A lead capture form to collect your visitor’s information (name, email, phone, etc.) in your database.
When do you need a landing page?
Use landing pages in conjunction with online ads.
When you are running online ads on Google AdWords or Facebook, for example, you will want to link your ad to a specific landing page — never to your website’s home page. A landing page is intentionally designed to help optimize your conversions and allow you to gather data that you can use to continually improve your sales. If you link the ad to your home page instead, the viewer will have far too many options to click on and other information to distract them, and you are losing your potential ROI when they never actually follow through with your desired action.
Use a landing page for one-time or short-term events.
If you want to drive registrations or ticket purchases, create a page to direct people to where the only action they can take is the one you want (Register for Friday’s webinar!, Reserve your spot now!, Pre-order your tickets today!).
Use a landing page in your direct mail strategy
Because you cannot track ‘opens’ and ‘clicks’ on a postcard you send out, the best way to get an idea of how many people are responding to your mailing is to have a link to a specific landing page on the piece. By doing this, you know the only way that page will be accessed is if somebody follows the link displayed on the mail they received.
Tips for successful landing pages
Put important information above the fold.
While the finer points of ‘the fold’ are up for debate, you always want your most compelling content to be the first thing people see. They need to know immediately why they are on this page: what is the purpose, what is the benefit of them spending any more time here.
Take the time to customize and personalize the landing page.
Don’t use a single generic landing page for all of your campaigns. Tailor each page to fit the purpose of the marketing campaign, and if you are running a Facebook ad, tailor it to an audience that you know will be coming only from Facebook. These little details help to endear the visitor, make your effort more persuasive, and allow you to craft a more powerful and intentional message.
Make sure your landing page is mobile-friendly.
Even when companies have taken the step to make sure their main website is mobile-friendly, they sometimes forget that there are other things that need to be responsive as well. Every aspect of your online presence, including landing pages and email newsletters, should be optimized for both mobile and desktop viewing. Don’t neglect them.
As always…test, test, test!
Every element of your landing page can and should be tested. Should your call-to-action button be orange or green? Should you use Headline A or Headline B? Should you show an informational video or a testimonial? When you have at least two versions running at the same time, you can perform A/B split testing and determine what elements are more successful.
How to get a landing page
You can hire a designer/developer to create customized landing pages for you.
You can use online services that specialize in landing page creation. Some popular ones are Optimizely and Unbounce.
In many cases, you will do a combination of both. Use online services to create the structure, manage your pages, and run the campaigns; at times you’ll want to hire a designer to create customized assets for your pages to use.
Use landing pages wisely!
Any time you have a specific offer, event, or campaign, landing pages should be a part of the equation. It’s not enough to have a website. You need a focused effort to guide your visitors into your sales funnel. We all know how distracting the internet already is (darn cat gifs!) — so make it easy for people to complete your offer by using landing pages intelligently.