What’s the difference between landing pages vs. websites?

What’s the difference between landing pages vs. websites?


So what is the difference between landing pages vs. websites? What about your homepage? Where you send a visitor coming from an ad can make a huge difference to your business. But which one is most effective? This is a common confusion for entrepreneurs who may have not had much online marketing experience.

What is a landing page?

A landing page is a standalone page that you can build to send people after they click on an ad, a search result, an email link, or a social post. They are designed specifically to convert a visitor into a customer or lead.

Landing pages are stripped down, and narrowly focused.  Navigation is removed to eliminate distractions and only presenting the most important call to action for a business. So this could be a button to buy, sign up, contact you, etc. 

Content is focused, ideally with consistent messaging and offer from the ad the visitor clicked on. This will let the person know they are at the right place, and not cause confusion. 

Here’s an example of a targeted landing page:


As you can see, this has only one call to action: enter your zip and request a quote. There’s no navigation. The messaging is explicitly about switching from GEICO to save money. So this ad was targeted to people trying to compare rates between GEICO and Esurance. Relevant and direct.

What is a website?

A website is a collection of pages to let a person learn more about your company, products or services, and team. It’s a generic overview that should resonate with as wide an audience as possible.

Quite often, many small business owners will just drive visitors from their ads to a page on their website. Most commonly, this is the homepage. This is actually very expensive, as fewer people convert when they land on a broadly messaged page without any offer.  

Please don’t do this.  Seriously.

How can I tell the difference between landing pages vs. websites?

Here’s an example.  If you’re looking to see how competitors or other businesses have theirs, the easiest way is to search for them.

Let’s do a search for “home refinance”:


Typically paid ads from larger companies drive to landing pages. These businesses spend thousands of dollars a day, if not more, to advertise. So to maximize their return, they use landing pages everywhere.

This is the landing page this ad drives people to:


As you can see on this page, the headline and dropdown are for refinancing, so the content is consistent with the ad. There’s no navigation and the only other call to actions on the page are different ways to contact them.

Compare this to their standard homepage:


This is a fairly typical corporate homepage, with an extensive navigation, lots of links, and a seasonal message that isn’t specifically targeted.

A website is useful for someone early in the purchase cycle and is just doing research.  For someone who is actively looking for refinance options, and is ready to apply, a landing page will be more effective.

What should I do if I’m just getting online for the first time?

Instead of putting time and money into building out a multi-page website, consider building a mini-site with a longer landing page. It’s much cheaper, and maybe even free depending on your host. Plus with landing page tools today, it’s easy enough that you can build the page yourself in an hour or less. 

A mini-site is a single page website that’s essentially an extended landing page, with different sections covering the important details. Start with a hero image and a strong value proposition, then information on your product/service, testimonials, company info, an offer, and call to actions.

This will probably convert better than a full website as well, since the page tells a story and has prominent call to actions. Plus it doesn’t require that a visitor click around multiple pages.

Here’s an example of a landing page that’s functioning as a mini-site:



How do I make the landing page effective?

If the ad is specifically targeted to a prospect segment, then the corresponding landing page they’re being sent to should have the same messaging, imagery and offer as the ad.

See how to make effective ads

Ideally because of this required consistency, if you’re running many ads, you should have many landing pages to match. One landing page for each ad campaign would perform significantly better than multiple ad campaigns driving to just one landing page.

Check out this post on the top 5 ways to build a killer landing page.

When should I use my landing page vs. my website when advertising?

When you have a specific action you want a visitor to take, especially if it’s incentivized with a limited offer and targeted to a specific segment of your customers, then use a landing page. 

Studies have shown that ad-specific landing pages outperform generic website pages by 115%. That can save you some serious bucks on advertising. Or if you spend the same, get many more customers out of it.

If you don’t have a landing page, a product page on your website would be next best since it can be more relevant to a visitor. Your homepage would be the last page to send advertising traffic to.

As a last resort, if you do have to send to your homepage, make sure the call to actions are clear, so that you maximize the opportunity of a purchase or lead conversion. 

How do I create landing pages?

Our advice is to use one of the simple solutions on the market today such as Unbounce, Instapage or Leadpages. These are all very inexpensive, and you can try some of these for free.  They are easy to use and you can have a page live in a matter of minutes. 


If you have any questions, let us know in the comments below, or contact us and we’re happy to help you decide between landing pages vs. websites for your business.


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