Building a landing page or a website can seem overwhelming to entrepreneurs. How do you choose between the two? How can you build a website or landing page that will help you achieve your business goals? When should you build both?
Knowing the key differences between landing pages and websites will help you decide when to build each one and how to create something to achieve your business goals.
What is a landing page?
Landing pages are standalone web pages built to accomplish a single goal. This goal might be selling a product or service, getting the visitor’s email address, obtaining sign-ups for a newsletter, or getting registrants for an online event.
Landing pages are designed to convert visitors. For that reason, they have unique characteristics that help users complete the action.
Here’s an example of a landing page from Shopify built to get visitors to sign up for a free trial:
Landing pages should limit distractions that could take visitors away from the page and give them all the details and information they need to take the action the business wants.
A landing page can be used as a product sales page, a single-page website, or a coming soon website. In some cases, it could also be a stand-alone website with multiple sections pointing to one clear call to action.
What is a website?
A website is a group of different landing pages, web pages, and sections to provide visitors with the information about your business they’re looking for.
Usually, a business website will include multiple sections like an about page, a contact us page, a blog page, products, and services pages.
Websites usually have separate pages for different features.
Here’s an example website from Typeform. You can see all the different pages on the site on the top navigation menu:
What’s the difference between a landing page and a website?
Knowing the key differences between landing pages and websites will help you choose what’s right for your business.
1. Landing page vs website: Objective
A landing page is designed with one specific goal in mind: to convert visitors; whereas a website usually has multiple purposes.
Instead of generally sharing information or promoting the business, a landing page showcases a single offer.
Here’s a landing page built to get visitors to start a free trial from social media scheduler Loomly:
The main purpose of a website should be to explain the business, build consumer trust with the business, and encourage engagement with your brand.
Customer service platform Zendesk has a clear homepage explaining the business’s aims. The website also has several navigation options, that are not just on the navigation menu but also on the different sections of the page itself:
Although landing pages and websites are different in structure, landing pages can sometimes be part of a website but a website is often more than just a single landing page.
2. Landing page vs website: Navigation
Landing pages don’t have a navigation bar at the top to enable visitors to navigate to other parts of the site—unless they’re part of a website.
Below is an example of an ultra-clear and streamlined landing page from Pipedrive:
A website is navigation friendly and actively encourages people to visit multiple different pages on your site. But because of a landing page’s top focus on just one goal, it’s best to leave out the top bar or sidebar navigation menus.
Calendly uses a top navigation bar so visitors can quickly find what they’re looking for:
Of course, you can include a navigation bar on your landing page. But in order to encourage your visitors to convert, it’s best to eliminate distractions and keep them on the landing page.
3. Landing page vs website: Traffic sources
If you’re spending money on Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or any other kind of paid ad, you should always send traffic to a purpose-built landing page with a clear conversion goal. This ultimately should result in a higher ROAS (return on ad spend).
True, a single-purpose page might drive some people off if their needs are different from what your landing page addresses. But it’s best for paid traffic as it enables you to measure ROI and effectiveness and make tweaks based on your metrics.
You shouldn’t drive paid traffic to your website’s homepage or any other page on your site. It’s best if general website traffic comes from unpaid sources like content shares, organic Google searches, and social media posts.
When do you need a landing page?
You need a landing page when you’re trying to achieve a focused goal and if you’re running paid ad campaigns. Landing pages are nearly always best for generating leads and closing sales because they have a clear CTA and provide the next steps for prospective customers.
Creating a great landing page boils down to including these three elements.
1. Clear aim
Before you build your landing page, make sure you have a clear answer to the question—what do we want to achieve with this landing page?
Knowing your aim will help you create something easy for visitors to navigate and take action from. For example, a Shopify landing page for an ecommerce store is very different from a lead capture landing page for a marketing agency.
2. Compelling CTA
A clear and engaging CTA that stands out on your landing page will help visitors understand what action you want them to take.
Use high contrast colors for your CTA buttons to make the copy stand out. Include imperative action words like “Sign up!” or “Get your freebie!” so visitors know what to do.
SurveyMonkey uses contrasting CTA buttons with imperatives to encourage visitors to click through:
3. Engaging copy
Writing engaging copy that speaks directly to your target audience has the potential to make or break your landing page.
To identify what kind of sales copy you should use on your page, you need to first know your page’s aim and your target audience.
Do you want to get more newsletter sign-ups? Are you selling tickets to an upcoming event? Are you giving away a free ebook?
If you’re selling tickets you’ll need a different approach than if you’re asking visitors to download an ebook.
Consider how your audience communicates and how you can best get your message across.
Keep your copy concise and start by opening your page with a hook to get their attention.
CopyHackers write attention-grabbing copy that’s in keeping with its brand voice:
When do you need a website?
Websites enable your visitors to experience and understand your business in a way that landing pages can’t.
Your prospective customers visit your site to get a complete understanding of your business. They can read your About page, view your blog, and look at the different products or services you sell.
For building brand awareness, trust, and authority in your industry space, a well-designed and comprehensive website is essential.
Building an effective website means thinking about the following three elements.
1. Consistent branding
When people look through different elements of your website, they should know it belongs to your brand. Whether your brand voice is fun or formal, stick to that voice throughout your website.
The same goes for color schemes and logos. Once you’ve decided on the look and feel of your brand, you need to replicate it throughout your website.
Monday.com has clear and consistent branding throughout its website, making it obvious to visitors whose website they’re on:
2. Solid overview of your business
Visitors arrive on your website looking for more information about your business, so make sure your site gives people a clear overview of what your business is and does.
Your website should answer all the basic questions a new visitor might have about your business on the homepage. For instance, who you are, what you do, and why it should matter to them.
Next, think about how you can divide your site up into logical sections that make it easy for people to find out more details. If you sell just one product you might choose to have a separate web page for each of its different features. Or you might choose to build out a blog with multiple posts detailing its use cases.
The important thing is to structure your website in a way that makes sense to your business.
3. Intuitive navigation
Your website layout should make it easy to navigate around the rest of your site. It should be simple for visitors to find what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds.
Remember that if visitors can’t find what they’re looking for quickly, you run the risk of them bouncing to another competing website.
Build a clear top menu bar that allows visitors to see all the different main pages they can click on. Here are a few navigation ideas you should include:
- About page
- Contact details
The navigation options you choose to include will depend on the type of business you have. The key is that visitors can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
Mailchimp has a simple navigation bar at the top enabling visitors to quickly find products, resources, inspiration, or pricing:
Should you choose a landing page or website?
Both landing pages and websites are essential components of any business’s marketing campaigns. Knowing when and how to use each one will help you engage with more visitors and convert more customers.
The trick is to know their key differences and strengths so you can leverage each to your advantage. Then it’s just a case of creating pages, sending traffic, performing tests, and evaluating results.
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