You’ve probably come across the terms “microsite” and “landing page” a lot, especially if you’ve spent any time considering how to expand your web presence. In the world of marketing, both microsites and landing pages are used for service campaigns and individual product campaigns. The real issue arises when people begin to confuse the two.
Though they have a few similarities, landing pages and microsites serve different functions. To help you make a decision about which is better for your business, we’ve decided to discuss the difference between microsites and landing pages.
Trying to define a microsite is like trying to define a landing page. Everyone has an idea of what it is, but everyone describes it a little bit differently.
Descriptions can range from one line, like this from Contently’s Melissa Lafsky:
“A microsite is a branded content site that lives outside of the company homepage and/or brand URL.”
They can also be whole paragraphs, like this one from Top Rank’s Nicolette Beard:
“For our purposes, microsites refer to a site that is associated with an organization, but is on a separate domain or subdomain and has its own navigation, design and content… It is generally a one- to the three-page site but is not mutually exclusive of a company’s main website. It may be around a specific event or marketing campaign, but a microsite exists to cater to a very specific context, or to very specific ads or keywords where it makes sense to tailor your information to that specific user experience and need.”
From these descriptions, we can gather a few things about microsites:
They are smaller than conventional websites;
They are intended for a particular reason or campaign.
They’re often temporary,
They are mostly published separately (but not always) from the branded site of the parent company
It sounds like a marketing tactic that we already know, doesn’t it?
A landing page is a hyper-focused page explicitly designed to get users to take action, whether it’s downloading, signing up, purchasing, or some other call-to-action. It’s not attached to the navigation of your website, nor does it have connections that could drive your prospects off the page.
Since landing pages can be hosted on their parent site’s same domain, they are relatively fast and simple to build and are usually appropriate for any budget. There are many ways to build a landing page, but using a plugin is probably the most common and simplest way to do it.
In addition, a landing page’s conversion rate is higher compared to that of a normal web page. That being said, there are some shortcomings with landing pages. They can’t function as an alternative to an actual website as they only cater to a small audience interested in a particular deal.
They often provide only a small amount of knowledge, which may not be appropriate for many users, about a certain product or service.
It is very simple and relatively inexpensive to create landing pages.
They can be easily and quickly deployed.
Additional domain names need not be bought.
Heavy maintenance is not needed.
They are outstanding conversion tools.
They don’t usually need large budgets.
You can easily determine the ROI by using UTM tags and short link services.
You can easily recognize and track when visitors perform required actions on your landing page when the information is sent to your analytics tool.
They present sparse data that does not satisfy many users.
They’re just not as engaging.
They can not be used as an alternative for an actual website.
It is important that you tell your story in a way that your ideal buyer persona would find appealing and convincing, and you must be very succinct and transparent.
In cases where you want to advertise a new product or service that should draw a target audience that differs from the main webpage, microsites come in handy.
Certainly, a part of their appeal is their short form. What’s also nice about them is that they are descriptive enough to get the viewer to click and familiarize themselves with the product on any additional pages. In addition to all that, microsites will help to carry more organic traffic to your website.
Compared to landing pages, some of the drawbacks of microsites are that they can be very expensive to manage. This is because, in order to make one, you have to buy extra domain names. In addition, they take more time and effort, in general, to set up.
They are great brand recognition and brand loyalty tools.
They are informative, fun and engaging.
They allow users to click to access more pages on the website, increasing the time spent engaging with the brand. This can reduce the bounce rate in the long run.
A specific microsite URL means that it can be used more effectively in offline ads such as television, print, or radio.
A URL unique to a campaign is typically simpler to remember and will attract more traffic.
It’s an excellent way to bring more organic traffic to your pages.
Generally, they are very costly to set up.
Compared with landing pages, you need more time to build and deploy a microsite.
Additional domain names are required.
They need more time and effort to maintain.
For microsites, calls to action are more difficult to make.
It is difficult to calculate the ROI of microsites.
It takes you a long time to bring it all together.
There is a risk that a campaign-specific URL will confuse the parent brand/loyal website’s customers.
While both landing pages and microsites can have a positive effect on your brand and your marketing initiatives, it’s important to note that they are both intended for different purposes.
A landing page can help you get conversions, but it’s not going to do much for the credibility of your company, and it’s unlikely to give you a detailed insight into your audience.
A microsite, on the other hand, will provide a lot of useful data and give you new ways to reach your clients, but it probably won’t give you as many conversions as a highly oriented landing page might.
Most companies find that they don’t have to decide whether to use a microsite or a landing page when they develop their online presence. Instead, they would use a combination of different assets to build a larger and more extensive campaign for their company. You could have both the microsites and landing pages in your toolkit that you use for various techniques during the year.
Spotify’s Year in Music is an extremely well-produced microsite that serves a very specific purpose and does it extremely stylishly.
Celebrating the music that has carried us through the year, the interactive microsite is personalized for each user, based on their listening habits.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, the tool makes it easy for you to construct a customized recap that includes information such as your first song played, top artists by season, and how much time you spent listening to all of it. The experience is exclusive to the user, making it enjoyable for them to share and compare their synopsis with friends.
And when it comes to sharing, the microsite makes it so simple. Any stat that the site pulls for you can be posted on social media with a handy button at the bottom right of the page.
The landing page layout has it all. It is visually attractive and engaging, provides scannable yet descriptive headers on Muck Rack’s services, and uses comments from industry professionals as social proof. Plus, it’s intuitive and easy to access the website.
The cool part of this landing page is that it will cater to all Muck Rack audiences. The top of the page is divided into two, featuring their two respective services side by side. Once a visitor moves his or her mouse over either the “find journalists” or the “build free portfolio” CTAs, a very simple form appears—and this is critical so as not to distract the user from the task at hand.
A microsite and a landing page also have essentially different functions, despite certain similarities. Which is best for your business will depend on what you’re using them for.
Landing pages, particularly if you use sticky anchor navigation to scroll people up and down to various page parts, can get very long, which is totally fine. There are occasions, however, when having a tiny multi-page site, referred to as a microsite (or mini-site), can provide considerable benefits.
This is not a debate about your website: we’re still talking about building dedicated marketing campaign-specific interactions (which is strictly organic traffic).
If the landing page is a single page with six sections, the microsite will have a homepage and 5 or 6 child pages, each with persistent global navigation to connect the pages.
They are both “landing experiences,” just differently architected. We have found that many landing experiences in higher education are four-page microsites. For any new product campaign, especially those powered by TV advertising, the pharmaceutical industry tends to build microsites.
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