I’ve addressed this question three times in the past week, so it finally registered on my blog-worthy radar. Microsites and landing pages are certainly related. Close cousins, yes. Siblings, no.
Let’s start with the landing page. Landing pages are typically one-page creations. They focus on one particular offer, and specifically on getting the visitor to take advantage of that particular offer. Sometimes called lead capture vehicles, landing pages are used primarily for direct marketing programs – pay per click search engine marketing, direct mail, print advertising, etc. Well-designed landing pages are critical to the success of these campaigns, and the savviest of marketers use and test hundreds of different landing pages in order to optimize conversion rates.
For visual reference, here is an example of a Gold’s Gym landing page touting their 7-day free membership:
Microsites, sometimes called minisites or sitelets, typically consist of a cluster of web pages and are used for a variety of purposes:
- Large consumer goods companies may use microsites to independently market a new product, because the primary company website may leave the product underexposed.
- A newspaper may use a microsite to cover a time-sensitive and popular event, such as the upcoming presidential election or the Olympics.
- A business-to-business software company may use a microsite to provide prospects with deep information on a product, information that cannot be handled via a landing page.
In many cases microsites, like landing pages, are designed to convert the site visitor into a lead, but that lead capture is handled through a more content-heavy approach. An additional benefit to building a microsite is enhanced search engine optimization opportunities. Microsites are typically housed on a domain separate from the primary company website and contain sometimes dozens of pages of topic-specific content, setting the stage for high organic search rankings.
Here is just one example of a well-designed microsite from Black & Decker:
How Do I Choose Between Microsite or Landing Page?
First of all, you don’t have to choose. Most sophisticated marketers will have a need to use both microsites and landing pages somewhere along the way. If you’re trying to choose for a particular project or campaign, your decision factors should include:
- Marketing campaign objectives
The examples above should help you identify whether a microsite or landing page is the best fit for your needs. If you’re still left scratching your head, go ahead and drop me a line and I’ll offer my viewpoint.