Landing Page or Microsite – How to Decide which is Right

Landing Page or Microsite – How to Decide which is Right

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As a business owner, you may have heard of landing pages and microsites as they relate to digital marketing campaigns. But now you’re faced with the need to promote an event or campaign for which people need to register online. What’s the difference between the two, and how can you determine which is the better choice for your specific marketing goal?

Fortunately, there are straightforward answers to these questions. However, once you’ve made your choice, you need to make sure that whichever you’ve chosen is designed and optimized to deliver the maximum number of conversions for your campaign to succeed. Our humble blog post is here to help!

A Landing Page in a Nutshell

As the knowledgeable Indeed Editorial Team states it, “A landing page is a company webpage that is independent of a business’s main site. They are usually the first place a potential customer arrives at after clicking a link in an online advertisement, social media post, marketing email or SMS message. The primary goal of a landing page is to encourage the customer to take a single action, which may include creating an account, making a purchase or signing up for marketing and promotional materials.”

So how is a landing page different from not only a microsite, but from a typical website page? One of the main features of a landing page is that it doesn’t contain links to any other pages of the website, aside from the call-to-action (CTA). It exists solely so that those who land on it will perform the action that they are called upon to take.

As Indeed notes, “The two primary types of landing pages are click-through landing pages and lead generation landing pages. Click-through landing pages usually ask customers to make a purchase or sign up for a subscription and often take them directly to the checkout process. Lead generation landing pages focus on collecting information that businesses can use to convert visitors into paying customers. They often collect email addresses, names and information on customer interests.”

A Microsite in a Nutshell

As its name implies, a microsite is a small website – the purpose of which is typically to focus on one specific aspect of your business’s operations. A microsite may be permanent – as in the case of major corporations that want to build and establish a specific market for one of its brands or initiatives. For small businesses, it’s more likely temporary – used as a means to inform and register participants for a trade event, professional conference or other such gathering.

While landing pages are always a single page, a microsite can have as many pages as necessary to achieve its goal. Another big difference from a landing page is that a microsite has a separate domain or subdomain from the main website.

According to Mailchimp, purposes for a microsite can include the following:

Event promotion – “For example, suppose you’re sponsoring an event for charity. In that case, you might build a microsite to help visitors understand what the event is for, information about the charity, and what they can expect.”

Showcase new products or services – “One of the most common uses of microsites is to promote new products and services with fewer distractions than a corporate website. For example, if a pet products company introduces a new line of dog treats with specialized ingredients, they may create a microsite dedicated to the new product line.”

Target a specific audience – “Separating audiences can increase conversion by allowing you to target one specific group of people with each microsite. For example, suppose a medical supply company starts a new line of consumer-based products that don’t require a prescription. In that case, they can create a microsite separate from their corporate site to separate their 2 audiences.”

Now it’s decision time! If you have a campaign, special promotion, one-time event, white paper, newsletter, etc., that you want prospective – or even existing –customers to sign up for, a landing page is the most effective way to do so. If you have a special event – such as a professional conference with an agenda, list of topics to cover, guest speakers, meals, etc. – that you want people to register for, a microsite will more effectively serve your purpose. Likewise for the other two examples listed just before this paragraph.

However, setting up your landing page or microsite for success is another matter! Here are the basic elements each one needs.

Elements of a Successful Landing Page

Limited navigation – Your landing page should have the branding and overall appearance of your website, but without the navigation links. Again, the purpose of a landing page is to get your prospect to take the desired action of clicking on the CTA button. Studies have shown that people who are able to click around to other pages of your site from the landing page are unlikely to return there.

Headline and sub-headline – In her article for SeedProd, digital content expert Stacey Corrin sums up their role and importance. “Your landing page headline is the first thing people see, so it should describe what people can get from the page. Additionally, your message should grab people’s attention right away and be strong enough to keep them around long enough to keep reading. So keep your headline short, and use active words like “get, achieve, accomplish” to help users visualize your offer’s benefits.

“Similarly, you can follow your headline up with a supporting sub-heading to convince users to keep reading.”

Unique selling proposition (USP) – State what sets your offer apart from similar offers by other businesses, and how your business is uniquely positioned to deliver something that your prospects will find beneficial.

Hero image (photo or video) – A photo or video of your product or service in action will help get and keep prospects engaged and more motivated to click to accept your offer.

Product or service benefits – Tell prospects what they have to gain by accepting your offer. If it’s for a whitepaper or webinar, what will they learn that can give them a competitive advantage in their own business?

Social proof – If possible, feature a quote from a satisfied customer – as well as credible proof that the testimonial is from a real person.

Closing argument – This is a few short sentences that recap the benefits of your offer and the value (monetary or otherwise) it provides. Keep it brief.

Call-to-action (CTA) – On a landing page, the CTA itself is a graphic – typically a rectangle – with text that tells the reader what to do. As our blog post – “How to Make a CTA That is Irresistible” – explains, text should be direct, and use action words, such as Start, Join, Build, Learn and Discover. However, avoid such hard-sell words as Order and Buy. Your prospect is more likely to be in the discovery stage of the customer journey at this point.

Elements of a Successful Microsite

A successful microsite results from good planning. Mailchimp recommends starting by setting goals and defining your audience.

“Before beginning your website design, you must set goals and define your audience. Remember, microsites are created with a singular purpose in mind. Whether you’re trying to target a specific audience or promote a particular product line, it’s best to set a few goals to inform the design.

“You can determine your audience based on market research and customer personas to help you understand who will use the microsite. Once you’ve clearly defined your audience, you can set SMART goals. For example, you can create objectives to increase engagement, sales, or conversions.”

Other important elements include the following:

Good content – Once you know who you want to reach and why, writing content that’s informative and engaging will keep visitors on your microsite and encourage them to take the desired action. Quality graphics – such as photos, illustrations or maps – will hold their interest.

Good design – As with any website, the same principles of good design apply to a microsite. An uncluttered appearance that uses white space to create “breathing room,” and a classic typeface in an easy-to-read point size are the fundamentals.

A strong CTA – A microsite without a strong CTA is similar to being in your office at the top story of a tall building, asking an employee on the first floor to come see you, then forgetting why you asked that person to come. Even if your microsite consists of only five pages, visitors have waded through a lot of information to get to the last page. What should they do next? Make it clear, or they’ll feel they’ve wasted their time! And you will have wasted your time, resources and money on a microsite that failed to increase your business’s engagement, sales, or conversions.

The Take-Home Message and Our Blatant Self-Promotion

Be it a landing page or microsite, no type of website project is too small to require anything less than the best design, content and audience targeting. This is not a DIY job. An experienced team of website developers, designers, content writers and content marketers is needed to help ensure you reach your business’s marketing goal.

Our team at Virtual Stacks Systems welcomes the opportunity to help you meet your marketing objectives and succeed. Every small business is unique, and so are our solutions! We offer experienced website design and redesign, SEO marketing,  social media marketing,  PPC advertising  and much more!

Contact us today to get started!

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