Thursday, December 13, 2012

Websites, Microsites, and Landing Pages, Oh, My!

Every business has a website. Or so it seems. Today, it's a necessity if you want to stay in business and attract customers. But, to tell you the truth, I've run across a few businesses that don't have a website. They are usually in the medical fields. I suppose customers have to go to doctors and dentists eventually, and so having a website isn't such a big deal. But, I doubt it.

Well, while I've been thinking about this phenomenon, I wanted to deal with a subset of websites called microsites and landing pages — and how do these fit into the online mix. If understood and used properly, they each have powerful strengths.

First off, what's the difference?

If you think about microsites and landing pages, they are like family members of a company's main website. Except these branches may not live in the direct family of the main website. What I mean is that these items may or may not exist within one's website, but be autonomous cousins. They exist to do a specific job function the website really can't do alone.

Microsites and landing pages are like regular websites in that they are online, share the company's brand (to a degree in most cases), have links that may lead to the main website, and are meant to engage the visitor. However, that's where the similarities end.

For instance, a company website is meant to educate and inform the visitor about the company, it's offerings, or cause. But a microsite and landing page is meant to focus a visitor on one particular product or cause, and on one particular action.

The difference between a microsite and landing page, however, is that a landing page usually works in concert with an email or print promotion. These promotions are designed to interest the viewer and get them to visit the landing page where they will purchase or sign up for something. The landing page itself is just one page, and everything is centered around a specific call to action like a sale or request for further information.

The microsite is similar in that it has a very focused purpose, but it is more robust than a landing page. It can be around 3-5 pages, with more detail than a landing page, and it is designed to get a prospect — who needs a bit more information — to become more familiar or take the next step in the sales cycle.

The best use of a microsite is to draw unfamiliar prospects to a specific product or cause, and inform them so that they will sign up for more engagement. The best use of a landing page is to be a destination for your promotion to make a sale or provide a way to request more information.

Here's some examples of microsites
Proctor and Gamble's Charmin site
Inside Colby College
NBC 2012 Olympics
St. Louis University
Virginia Tech Day of Remembrance
Experience Whitman College

Here's some examples of landing pages
Gold's Gym
Advertise on Twitter
Flowerly App
Mail Chimp

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