The terms microsite and landing page are frequently used terms in the vocabulary of online marketers. However just like many things in online marketing, their definitions can vary based on whoever you talk to. In this blog post we won’t try to create a definitive definition but help you understand in which scenario you should use a microsite or landing page. Before we dive into the deep end let’s establish the terminology.
What is a Microsite?
A definition of a microsite could be boiled down to: “A small cluster of pages which are meant to function as a discrete entity within an existing website or to complement an offline activity. The microsite can have its own domain name or subdomain.”
Key characteristics of a microsite compared to corporate websites
- Smaller sitemap
- Has a mini-navigation or at least different sections
- Design can vary to corporate website
- Has a tactical nature
- A smaller target audience than a corporate website
A microsite is often used for…
- Product information
- Other special topics
On are related note: Before starting a fundamental debate about the legitimacy of microsites and the question of SEO and microsites. I want to nip this debate in the bud by saying that in the right context, they are appropriate. More on that topic can be found in this excellent blog post by Paul Boag who shares this view.
What is a Landing Page?
Trying to describe a landing page could lead to a definition as follows: “A landing page is a single web page that appears in response to clicking on a search engine optimized search result or an online advertisement. The general goal of a landing page is to convert site visitors into sales or leads.”
Key characteristics of a lading page compared to a microsite
- Often consist of just one page
- Offers as little distraction as possible
- Conversion driven (single purpose)
- Has a clear customer journey
A landing page is often used for…
- Sale of a specific product or service
- Lead generation
- Registration / Sign Up
When should I use what?
Not sure which to use for your next project? Then the scoring chart below might help you to find the appropriate medium. The following five questions you should give you an indication if you should do more research, use a landing page or build a microsite.
- How focused is you target audience? Which persona?
- What’s the goal of the site?
- In which context is this site used?
- How much content will be presented?
- Does a sophisticated look and feel aid my goal?
Each answer will give you one point for either landing pages or microsites and give you a final score which indicates the appropriate solution. So what if the result of answering these questions is the opposite of your gut feeling and you are adamant that the other is the correct one? Admittedly the borders between both medium can be somewhat fluid. Does this mean that landing pages and microsites are mutual exclusives? I guess a firm “no” is the right answer to this questions. You can launch microsites and landing pages individually but also use them to complement each other. Knowing when to use which one is the key. In large organizations and enterprises this will undoubtedly lead to somebody raising the “G”-word.
Imagine being an enterprise with regional offices who are allowed to launch campaigns in their own market on their own. It’s only a question of time until your agile marketers will create a mess of epic proportions. While governance often gives the impression of being cumbersome and ridged however having one in place will help avoiding uncontrolled launching and misuse of the medium. Further, it will challenge you do the right thing. We will expand on this topic in future blog post.
To sum up this post here are the takeaways.
- Used rightly a microsite or landing page is good option in a marketer’s toolkit
- To identify the right one a few questions have to be answered before starting
- Be prepared to think about governance in the beginning to avoid firefighting in the long-term
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