Everyone seems to have a website nowadays. However, fewer businesses create a well-designed landing page and only 17% of businesses run A/B tests. (HubSpot).
That’s a pity, because a landing page can bring more conversions than a website – with an average conversion-rate of 9.7% across all industries according to Unbounce.
In this article we’ll dive into the differences between a website and a landing page and we’ll see when to use one or the other.
A landing page is a single standalone page created with the purpose of converting visitors into leads or customers.
A landing page usually focuses on one thing – selling a product or getting contact information – to maximize the chances (9.7% on average) to achieve this specific goal.
The “Drive with Lyft” page is an example of a great landing page:
The goal of this landing page is clear: Getting more people to sign up as drivers.
It’s straightforward, you can apply to become a driver right away or get some more information by using the calculator, learn more about Lyft, and further down get through a list of doubt-clearing FAQs.
All on the same page.
A website is a group of web pages (at least five, including About, Contact, Mission, Terms, Privacy) created to spread the word and share information about a brand/business or an idea.
Every page of a website is focused on at least one thing, but they usually cover more than one.
As an example, look at freelance writer Carol Tice’s website:
This site includes an About page and pages related to Tice’s work (Books, Blogs, Business writing, etc.).
Finally, the difference between a landing page and a website lies in purpose and focus.
Below are two guiding questions to decide whether to use a landing page or a website:
Once you know each pros and cons, you can make an informed decision.
Let’s take a look at the main characteristics of a website and a landing page.
As we mentioned earlier, a website must have at least 5 pages to be considered as one. Usually these pages comprise:
These pages are the absolute must-haves to describe a business or an idea (e.g. nonprofit initiative, a personal website) and cover the legal part of a website.
With a website, you can cover all the information a visitor should know about a business or an idea, from project team members to corporate events.
For example, if you are a freelance designer, having a portfolio of previous works and a list of client testimonials will respond to the need of your visitors for proof.
A website is built for people who are interested in a specific business or industry.
For example, an art supplies website will cater to every need of an artist, and a gardening website will list all products that a gardening hobbyist or professional will need.
A website visitor can access all pages at any time, with no particular restrictions (unless there are members-only pages).
This is especially useful if your website has a well-thought hierarchy of internal links and each page links heavily to other pages.
A landing page consists of only one web page.
There might be a few navigational elements, but the message of a landing page is all on one page.
A landing page focuses on one product or service, giving visitors all the information they should know about it.
For example, this page about Purism’s Librem 14 provides visitors with all they need to know about this laptop and make an informed decision.
A landing page is a message for a super specific audience: all people interested in a specific offer, for example a premium membership.
The audience of a landing page is laser targeted – for example, all people interested in a premium membership. A landing page aims at conversions – not merely at sharing information about a product or service.
A visit that doesn't convert is a missed opportunity and might be a signal that the copy is poorly written (see Neil Patel on the 4 reasons your conversion rate may be low).
Unlike a website, a landing page doesn't have a lot of navigational elements. Only the bare minimum to achieve the goal, like the transaction page, a thank-you page, terms and the homepage.
For example, this sales landing page from Copyblogger only has links to Copyblogger’s contact, policies, terms and the login link for the member area.
After diving deep into each web format’s characteristics, let’s see when it’s better to use a landing page or a website.
If your goal is collecting leads, for example with a webinar, an ebook or a newsletter, landing pages are an optimal solution, because they are thought to convert visitors into leads.
The one-page format makes it easy for users to focus on your call-to-action without further “noise”.
We just talked about converting visitors into leads, right?
Well, a landing page works like a charm with generating sales, too -- especially if you make the copy longer!
According to Marketing Experiments (2018), longer landing pages generate 220% more conversions than above the fold call to actions (call-to-actions that display on a site without requiring visitors to scroll). The reason is that the long-form copy builds trust before visitors take action.
Landing pages work incredibly well with product-specific storytelling that includes a call-to-action (e.g. an offer, a discount, etc.)
As an example, this page uses both visual and textual storytelling to promote the Honda CR-V car.
When you create a download page, you want it to focus on your download and instructions for the user.
Look at this landing page by Straight North for their free whitepaper download.
Testing new ideas, messages, content may require a page that's not as integrated in a website as a regular web page.
Using a landing page is optimal for testing purposes, as this page will remain standalone and you can easily change or delete it as needed.
When you have multiple products to describe and display to visitors as groups, a website is the perfect choice because it gives you the opportunity to present multiple items to users.
A website is a great choice if you want to talk about your brand inside out, tell stories and report about brand culture.
You can do this on the About page, the Mission page, the Vision page and other types of pages like Events or Initiatives.
Below is an example of how Salesforce organized their What is Salesforce? page for brand storytelling:
You can have a blog on your website where you can create blog posts. You can optimize these posts and make them rank in Google, thus growing your organic search traffic and your customer base.
If you think about that SEO drives 1000%+ more traffic than organic social media (BrightEdge, 2019), it’s quite worth the effort.
While a website allows you to describe your product/service using more than one page, the one-page format and the conversion optimized copy of a landing page make it the best choice for selling a product or service.
As we mentioned earlier, sales pages are particularly effective if they are long-form and can generate up to 220% more leads than above the fold CTAs. Even more if you use reviews and testimonials.
Last but not least, if you opt for a landing page to sell your product or service, using videos can help you to increase conversions by 86% (according to EyeView Digital).
As you can see, there are good reasons to use a landing page vs. a website, and vice versa.
Depending on your goals, one can help you more than the other to achieve your goals.
To sum it up: