What’s the Difference Between a Landing Page and a Homepage?

It all comes down to what they’re designed for. The key difference between a homepage and a landing page is focus. And the proven lift in conversions— sales, signups, leads, or whatever action you want visitors to take—that results.

Focus is why landing pages are so effective for marketing. As opposed to homepages and websites, which are designed for exploration, landing pages are customized to a specific campaign or offer and guide visitors towards a single call to action. In short, landing pages are designed for conversion.

That’s because a landing page’s focus applies to several elements of a visitor’s experience:

  1. One goal, or call to action
  2. Minimal distractions on the page
  3. Messaging and design matched precisely to a campaign or ad
  4. Audience targeting

What a Homepage is For

Homepages are great for what they do, which is provide general information and encourage visitors to explore.

As the main gateway to a website, a homepage acts as an introduction to that business’s brand, product, services, values, who and what it’s for, who to contact, you name it. It’s meant to set a “first impression,” encompass all that a company has to offer, and direct visitors to learn more throughout different sections of the site.

Being tasked with that high-level introduction means a homepage must speak to the broadest audience—including those who may have never even heard of the company, let alone know what it does, and why it’s valuable. All of this makes for relatively generic messaging, multiple page goals, and a whole lotta links, buttons, and navigation for visitors to take various actions.

While that’s perfectly aligned with a homepage’s goal of exploration (go homepage!), ummm not so much for effective marketing.

Exploration = distraction. When it comes to marketing, that distraction erodes your campaign’s focus with diluted messaging, competing links, and options to stray away from a specific conversion goal. In other words, if that PPC ad for 15% off hamster bowties sends people to your homepage, the chances they’ll end up on the About Us page instead of making a purchase (and wasting ad spend) are a lot higher.

Simply put, homepages can’t do it all. Let them focus on informing and directing traffic—and landing pages focus on turning traffic into conversions.

Why Landing Pages Convert More Traffic

We’ve talked about focus being the key factor in the difference between a homepage and a landing page. But let’s go over why that focus is so important for turning traffic into sales, leads, and customers.

On average, a great headline or cool page design isn’t what makes a visitor click that “Buy Now” button. It’s the overall experience from that very first ad, email, or social media click. The more customized and, yep—focused—that experience, the more compelling it is.

Let’s go back to the hamster bowtie example (if only for the mental image). If you get an email promoting 15% off hamster bowties, your expectations are aligned with that offer. Clicking through to a landing page dedicated to that exact promotion, with a gallery of bowtie designs, and call to action to buy before the sale ends, not only meets those expectations but guides you directly to the offer you’ve already expressed interest in by clicking through in the first place. Whereas if you’re sent to the Clothe Ur Rodent homepage, that customized, streamlined experience is instantly broken and puts it on you to locate the offer amongst all of the other information, links, and calls to action. That interrupted momentum and lack of focus makes it way more likely you’ll abandon the offer out of confusion, frustration, or simple distraction.

Again, there are several elements of focus that give landing pages their conversion power.

A single goal, or call to action.

Think of a web page as a bucket and the traffic you’re sending to it as water. A landing page bucket has one hole drilled into the bottom, so the stream of water naturally flows through that specific hole (call to action) and can be directed to a spot you’ve chosen. A homepage bucket has multiple holes in the bottom and around the sides. You can choose which tap that water is sourced from—Instagram, email, a Google Ad—but once it enters the bucket, you can’t choose which hole it’ll flow through or where it will land.

Those extra holes are conversion “leaks.” Landing pages zero in on one chosen conversion goal, giving you more control over where traffic flows, and ultimately, where your marketing efforts and ad dollars go.

Minimal distractions.

As discussed above, what’s necessary for a homepage is inherently distracting in the context of a marketing campaign. Website navigation, extra links, information unrelated to your offer, and multiple different calls to action to encourage exploration compete for attention and draw it away from your conversion goal.

You don’t want to leave it up to chance that visitors will take a specific action despite all of the other options they’re given. You want to guide them directly to your offer with a clutter-free page dedicated to that offer alone.

A customized experience.

One of the biggest differences between a homepage and a landing page is the ability to completely customize a visitor’s experience from ad, to click-through, to conversion. So you can apply that necessary focus on a really granular level, down to the very last pixel.

Sending people to a landing page customized to match the ad, email, or social media post—with targeted messaging, cohesive design, tailored information, and that single call to action—harnesses the interest they’ve already expressed and gives them the exact experience, or better, they subconsciously expect from that initial click.

That focused, flowing experience leaves less room for pause, fewer chances for distraction, creates more opportunity to showcase your offer, and shows visitors that you respect their time and attention by giving them exactly what they want. Which adds up to a far more compelling experience overall. And bonus—the more customized and relevant your landing page is to your ad, the more Google will reward you through Quality Score and cost-per-click.

Audience targeting.

That customized experience lends itself to more precise audience targeting, too. One landing page can be duplicated, tweaked, and even A/B tested to speak to different members of your audience and hone in on what’s relevant to them.

For example, if you’ve created an ecommerce landing page promoting a sale on running shoes, that offer can be further dissected by audience segment with different landing pages for women’s, men’s, or children’s shoes, type of running shoe, brand, or whatever your audience may be searching for. (Dynamic Text Replacement is specifically designed to match a landing page’s copy to a visitor’s search query, while Smart Traffic uses AI to send people to the page that’s most relevant to them based on individual attributes.)

The bottom line? The difference between a homepage and a landing page comes down to focus. And that focus is what will turn more of your traffic into sales, leads, and customers.

Get More Conversions Using Landing Pages

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