It’s a common question: What’s the difference between a homepage and a landing page? And it’s obvious to see why. Can there really be a big difference between the two? It all comes down to purpose. What are they designed to do?
It’s why landing pages are so effective for sign-ups, conversions and downloads. Homepages, comparatively, are far more powerful for storytelling and exploring the full site. A landing page is more appropriate for one specific action or campaign - i.e. download an eBook. Simply put, landing pages are designed for conversion. Homepages are not.
That makes landing pages integral to your website. Using them incorrectly will mean ineffective marketing efforts and low conversion rates. So optimizing them should be a fundamental pillar of sales and marketing strategies.
A landing page typically focuses on these elements:
Homepages, on the other hand, are meant to provide a more holistic approach to a website, including general information, more navigation options, a variety of content and more. The idea is to click from the homepage through to other pages. It serves as the primary gateway of your website, and presents an introduction to browsers.
Being the first impression, it’s vital you get it right as it could be the difference between your website and competitors. Websites with poor homepages typically have high bounce rates and poor traffic levels.
A homepage usually speaks to a broader audience as well, catered for both people who know the brand and those who don’t. You’ll expect to see multiple call to actions, links, features and graphics.
Obviously, landing pages should be in sync with your homepage. Branding, tone of voice, messaging and so on should all be aligned.
Conversion is the primary goal of a landing page. The more optimized and customized the page is for the user experience, the more powerful it is. But what gives landing pages such conversion power:
A landing page is designed to get visitors to do something - fill in a form, click a link, read some content, sign up to an event, buy something. You want each landing page to be specific to each action. In contrast, a homepage has multiple call to action buttons and links, so traffic can be diverted elsewhere. High performing landing pages focus on one conversion goal, directing visitors to one specific location.
Landing pages are designed to convert, so you’ll usually find the form or required action as the first thing you see on the screen - or, above the fold. Additional information would then be included below, providing more insight into why someone should convert and answer any other questions and what it is the visitor will actually get in return. The difference here between a landing page and homepage is the landing page leads with the action, rather than the information.
As mentioned, the components of a homepage are vastly different to a landing page. Homepage content is distracting because it needs to be far more all-encompassing. On a homepage, you’ll find plenty of links, a website navigation menu, and plenty of information. All of that serves a purpose, but detracts the visitor from doing one single action. The multitude of information, instead, encourages exploration across the website. For a landing page, the fewer distractions the better. You don’t want to chance it that the visitor may click elsewhere. Landing pages often have no navigation menu and are designed to be clutter-free.
Homepage content is rarely customized. Landing page content, however, is often very customized depending on the visitor. That customization can come from where the visitor has found the page from, for example, an email, ad or social post, or whether they are known in your database already. You want the landing page to match the content they originally saw for consistency, and align the messaging as well. Nobody wants to click an ad that has interested them to find the landing page doesn’t actually offer what they thought. Be transparent and give visitors what they want. That adds up to a much better customer experience. The more relevant your landing page, the higher your conversion rate will be.
The fact that a landing page is more customized means it is also more targeted. Landing pages for specific campaigns can be used for A/B testing for different audiences, cloned and amended for certain targets, and persona-based. The aim is to show the most relevant information to the visitor. A lot of that comes down to how much information you know about the visitor - where they are from, who they work for, what industry they work in, what their job title is, what their buying history is, what their browsing history is on your site, previous conversions on your site, and so on. A good example is for selling products. You could sell clothing, you can build different landing pages for men’s and women’s clothing, and even go more targeted by the style of clothing and so on. Similarly to customization, the more targeted, the more relevant the landing page is for your visitor.
Deciding which works best for you comes down to what the goal of the page is. On a homepage, it’s almost impossible to predict as some traffic may be returning fans, some might be unknown people, and some might want to go straight to features shop or pricing. That’s why there is a wide variety of links and content to cater for all. If you want someone to do one specific thing, a landing page is far more appropriate as everything on the page can be optimized to encourage that action.
The ‘paradox of choice’, which essentially means the more options you have, the harder it is to decide, is a critical difference between the two page types. Landing pages keep it simple and make it hard for anything to distract a visitor. Landing pages focus on persuading the visitor, while a homepage focuses more on educating, empowering and informing a visitor.
A landing page and homepage, while often interchangeably used are starkly different and serve different functions.
A homepage is, as the name suggests, the home of your website. It gives you an overall impression and makes it easy for you to navigate the website. In contrast, a landing page is designed to get a visitor to take action, has specific and limited information, and few links, as to not distract visitors.
Both are vital and both serve important functions for a brand. If you already have a website and want to start building landing pages that convert, check out landing page builder.
Rukham is the Content Lead at Mailmunch. He believes trust should be the basis for all marketing communications.