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Landing Pages vs Microsites: Which One is Right for You?

Landing Pages vs Microsites: Which One is Right for You?

So your website is on point and up to date, but because your company is always growing, and you are always expanding into new corners of greatness…you’ve got another digital initiative brewing in your thinkbox.  We get it. You’re a dreamer, a mover, and a shaker, and ideas keep you up at night and drive the direction of your team. But your ideas need to be put into place in a practical way, and that is where your digital agency comes in.  

We insist that collaboration is key, and we mean it.  Complex ideas require complex solutions, and we have found that both building a microsite or a landing page are great solutions to ideas that require lots of nuts and bolts to accomplish.  But more often than not, when microsite and landing pages comes up in a meeting, undoubtedly a necessary, longer conversation about the differences of these two solutions ensues.

To assist,  we’d like to lay it all out on the table, so you can have a framework for the great ideas you’ve already got forming in your head, or just impress your agency with your knowledge of the two methods and simultaneously collaborate in the creative process.  

We’ve put together a little cheat sheet about the differences between a landing page and microsite that we hope will be beneficial to your digital strategy.

Landing Page vs Microsites: Definition

To begin, let’s define a few terms:

Landing page:  A landing page is a standalone web page that is created specifically for the purposes of a marketing or advertising campaign.  It is where a user “lands” after clicking a specific link from an Adwords campaign or email link.
Microsite: A microsite is an individual website or cluster of smaller websites that act as a separate entity for a brand.  Typically, a microsite lives on it’s own domain, although some can exist on a subdomain.

We know these two sound very similar, but the primary difference in these definitions is determined by what these pages have to do with a brand.  Landing pages are connected in look and feel to a brand’s strategies and purposes whereas microsites can be different entities, ideas and branding in and of themselves.  Because of their independence, microsites tend to be more complex, set up as mini-websites, whereas a landing page is simply one page. (Note: there are multi-step landing pages that have multiple pages, but for the purposes of this blog, we are sticking with the basics.)

shutterstock 327359792 Landing Pages vs Microsites: Which One is Right for You?

Landing Page vs Microsites: Complexity of the Campaign or Product

Deciding between a landing page or microsite will be dependent largely on the complexity of the campaign you are driving or product you are offering.  If the new product or campaign is an extension of your existing strategy and doesn’t require a robust explanation, then a landing page is probably your best bet. Some examples are these simple appeals: driving your clients to sign up for email updates about a new product that is being launched, or simply creating awareness for an event that you are putting together.  

On the other hand, a microsite is ideal for a very complex idea or product in which the information can’t all be housed in one page.  For example, what if the product you are creating is not simply an extension of your brand, but upon further reflection you’ve wondered, could be it’s very own brand?  This would require a branding strategy, website, marketing, and pages of content…but because it’s new and still forming, you aren’t sure if a brand new website is the right route.  In this scenario, microsites would be your best choice.

Landing Page vs. Microsite: The Call to Action

The guidelines outlined above as you consider the complexity of the solution can seem a bit blurry, so for further clarification, take into account your call to action.  What are you trying to get your user to do on this new page or site of yours? Call to Actions (CTAs) are invitations to your loyal or first time customers to trust you by agreeing to participate in whatever it is you are offering.  When users are faced with a CTA, a certain level of knowledge has to be reached before they will commit and say “yes.”

A landing page, because it contains less content and information, is a great place to house a CTA that is simple and doesn’t require lots of knowledge before the user can say “yes.”  For example, perhaps they want to sign up and opt-in to receive free coupons from your product? That specific call to action or “ask” does not require pages of information before the user can say “yes.”   

On the other hand, perhaps you are asking the user to buy into a new product that needs a robust explanation before a commitment is plausible.  If your internal strategy requires new branding, marketing, and an abundant content explanation of the product or campaign, then a microsite is reasonably the better direction.  

Landing Page vs Microsite: Define Your Target Audience

Knowing your target audience and their behaviors will also significantly influence your choice between a Landing Page and Microsite.  Some demographics and target audiences know what they need and how to get it, while others need help during the buying cycle. Many factors contribute to this: age, gender, geographic location, purchase history, and specifically the product being offered.   In addition, the way you setup your content on the landing page or microsite will play a big role in the behavior of your target audience.

Here are a few good checklist items when determining which scenario defines what is best for your audience:

  • Does your audience need to be in control of their purchasing behavior (landing page) or do they need some assistance during the buying cycle (microsite)?
  • Do they need all the facts and figures before they make a decision (microsite) or will simply an ask with good product images and marketing suffice (landing page)?
  • Do they have (or does their buying history assume) time or patience to take multiple steps before committing to a decision (microsite) or are they quick to say “yes” or “no” (landing page)?

When in Doubt, Put it to the Test

While the steps listed above will certainly guide you in the decision making process of determining the suitability of either a landing page or microsite, you will know what’s best only when you put your choice to the test!  We understand that budget and time can be a factor, so if you are on the fence, yet are confident that a change needs to be made, starting with a landing page may help ease the cost. On the other hand, if budget is not an issue, setting up both a landing page and a microsite followed up with some A and B testing on both solutions will reveal which solution is bringing in the highest ROI.  

Our digital team thrives in creating custom, integrated solutions for our clients.  We also believe that collaboration is key, so we look forward to working with you to evaluate what solutions will fit your biggest dreams and most complex ideas.  Give us a call today to see how we can help you get where you want to go!

Randy TaylorLanding Pages vs Microsites: Which One is Right for You?