What is a Landing Page?... Why so much confusion

Image of stressed woman surrounded by various names for landing pages

What we'll cover

Confused about the term "landing page"?

We'll finally answer those seemingly simple questions that are clouded by conflicting and contrasting opinions across the internet:

  • What is a landing page?
  • Other names for landing pages
  • Is there a difference between a landing page and a post-click landing page?
  • Doesn't Google Analytics show a "landing page" as the first page a user starts a session on my site?
  • Why is a homepage a bad landing page? / How is it different from my website?
  • Can you have a landing page without a website?
  • Can I build a landing page with my website builder?

Introduction - Why so much confusion

As a business owner, there are few things more frustrating than trying to solve a problem as critical as engaging and converting online traffic to be faced with a torrent of jargon, gimmicks, products, services and confusion as you attempt to dip your toe into the world of marketing and get sucked down a wonderlandian-style rabbit hole of information!

The challenge is that by its very nature, everything in the marketing world is trying to influence you, bring you into their world and eventually have you buy their product. Is that a bad thing? No actually, it means everywhere you go you can see good and bad examples of marketing so you do not have to re-invent the wheel to get serious traction in your business.

Why is that relevant to this guide? Because that is a key factor for all the confusion that brought you here. Questions like "What is a landing page?" and "Is there a difference between a landing page and a post-click landing page?" are simply side effects of marketers and software companies using words and language to create niches for themselves within the increasingly crowded marketing universe.

In short... landing pages, funnels & websites share many things in common which make them easy to confuse, but quick to understand with a little education (I'm guessing that's why you're here)

It's the intended purpose that really differentiates them, and that's what we'll explore next.

​​What is a Landing Page?

A landing page is a single-page website with a clear singular purpose, tailored to speak to the pains and/or problems of a specific type of person and offer a specific resolution to that situation.

For example, a roofing company might serve many counties and offer a variety of different services.

However, they really focus down and drive high conversions by building a landing page designed with images and written content targeted to speak only to homeowners looking to save money and live greener but without obvious and ugly solar panels (keep in mind that these things may not be true about typical panels, but it's the perceptions and fears of the prospect that THEY care about and need to be addressed).

So the landing page would talk about replacing their current ceramic tiled roof with integrated solar tiles that are more aesthetically pleasing than standard external panels.

Pretty specific right?

They may have 10 other landing pages for their 10 other offerings, but each one talks about one product, they address people looking to solve a specific problem, and they have one ask.. enter your details to get a quote.

This level of intentional focus is what differentiates a landing page from a website that provides information about all a companies products and services, all their contact information, introductions to their team members, and 3-4 ways to contact them.

It's this clarity and focus that makes landing pages so powerful when done right.

​​Other names for landing pages

  • Lander
  • Lead capture page
  • Opt-In page
  • Sales page
  • Single Page Website
  • Splash Page
  • Squeeze page

What's the difference between them?

Each has slight variations in its design and layout and are therefore simply sub-categories of landing pages.

​​Is there a difference between a landing page and a post-click landing page?

No. The term post-click is typically used when a landing page is a destination for paid traffic.

Then isn't all traffic post-click because they had to click a link to get to the page?

Come on now... let's not get too nerdy and technical about this!

Simply put, landing pages aren't typically linked to websites or ranked in search engines so unless you know their web URL it's likely the only way you'll land on one is after clicking on an ad.

​​Doesn't Google Analytics show a "landing page" as the first page a user starts a session on my site?

Yes. There are lots of people who say that a landing page is simply the first page or destination on which a person "lands" on your business online. There's a valid argument for this, but that would mean any page on your website is a landing page if a person can find it, and that's not accurate.

We're talking here more about intent.

Remember the intent is to provide a clear singular purpose, tailored to solve the pain or problem of a specific type of person.

So while technically if the first place a person lands on happens to be your privacy policy, Google Analytics could report that as a landing page if you have it configured a certain way, but thinking in terms of landing pages as an engagement and acquisition asset for your business... your privacy policy just doesn't cut it!

​​Why is a homepage a bad landing page? / How is it different from my website?

Ever tried to fill a leaky bucket with water? This is essentially the problem with a homepage. Your pore people in and they escape through holes disguised as links.

Websites often contain lots of information about the company, links to other pages, assets and "useful information" that don't speak in a tone that prompts action for potential customers. They have lots and lots of ways for your ideal customer to get distracted and not take the action you want them to.

A landing page does the opposite. No distractions, no alternate routes, just one focus, one path, one ask.

A common objection to this is: "Well, what if the person wants more information or I have a different product they may have wanted that's not shown on this specific page?".

Great point... but this is typically not a landing page problem, it's a traffic problem.

If you're sending the right people to the right pages this shouldn't be much of an issue. Now don't bite my head off.. this is obviously an idealistic view and there are exceptions to everything, but the point is that you may have a deeper strategic problem you need to look for if you ask this question.

Many companies have 20+, 40+ and even 40+ landing pages. The magic is in having the strategy and the know-how to move people around while still providing focus at each stage.

​​Can you have a landing page without a website?

Definitely. It's not necessary for a landing page to be connected to a website.

In fact, in a situation where a business sells only one product to a specific audience of people, there landing essentially IS their website.. hence the term one-page website.

When starting a new business or testing a new product or minimum viable offer it's quicker and easier to put together a simple landing page than a website and therefore there are many situations where it's pragmatic to build a landing page before a website.

​​Can I build a landing page with my website builder?

Yes.. but there are many reasons why you shouldn't.

First, let's cover the 2 main reasons people want to do this.

  1. They don't want the additional expense of another software to build their landing pages.
  2. They simply don't want more software. It's another thing to learn and manage and having more moving parts than they feel is necessary that need to be tied together is more opportunity for things to break that require time they think isn't necessary if they just build in what they have currently.

Obviously, these are both very valid, especially for newer businesses with budgetary constraints and a non-technical person on the team.

So why shouldn't you use your website builder to create your landing pages?

  1. Website builders are generally much slower on load time than specialist landing page building tools. When running paid traffic, slower load speeds cause traffic loss, which you still have to pay for.

    The faster the better, and unless you're a technical conversion rate whiz, most website builders don't compete on speed for landing page builders.

    An extra $80-$200 a month on a landing page builder may seem a lot but if you're spending even low 4-figures a month on paid traffic you'll save this in traffic you're not losing from a slow page.

  2. Testing! A key component of trying to optimise results from your traffic is the ability to test variations to find changes on your pages that improve opt-in rates, conversions, sales.. whatever your goal is for your visitors.

    Websites generally don't offer split testing features.

    What does this mean?

    Let's say you wanted to test whether changing a headline on a product page improved sales, using a website builder you would have to duplicate the page then change the headline on the duplicate.

    Well, that parts easy enough right?!

    Ok.. well now you have 2 pages, 2 URLs, and 2 sets of analytics data. To run a simple test is hard this way. To test a post on Facebook or an ad campaign you'd need 2 posts, or a link re-director to split the traffic. Even doing this you can't control how much traffic goes to each.

    Unless you love unnecessary hard work, lengthy tracking spreadsheets and number crunching this is not a working solution for most businesses. Just the working hours alone cost more than paying for a specialist landing page software to handle this for you.

    Why?

    A landing page builder handles this easily. You find the page you want to test, and in most builders, you press a button to create a duplicate that has the same URL. Make your change, post your link, and the software splits the traffic for you and then shows you a comparison of the results in one dashboard making it easy to see the winning variation. Press a button and bingo, the loser is turned off.. on with the next A/B split test.

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