What’s the difference between a landing page and a homepage?
That’s the topic of this guide — we’ll discuss some key differences, when to use each, and how to make these marketing assets as effective as possible.
Let’s start with some definitions.
What’s the Difference Between a Landing Page and a Homepage?
Here are 4 of the most common differences between a homepage and a landing page:
Landing pages have no navigation — Homepages do.
Landing page traffic comes from ads — Homepage traffic comes from many sources.
Landing pages are separate from a business’ website — Homepages are the front page of a business’ website.
Landing pages have a single goal — Homepages promote website browsing.
To give you a visual idea of these differences, look at the Carrot homepage — a SaaS company for real estate investors and agents…
And now look at one of Carrot’s landing pages, promoting one of their free webinars…
As you can see, the overarching difference between landing pages and homepages is that a landing page is action-oriented, and a homepage is browser-friendly.
Said a different way, landing pages try to accomplish a single goal — getting the visitor’s email address, selling a product or service, getting registrants for an online event, etc. — to the exclusion of all else. On the other hand, homepages focus on creating a browser-friendly experience (easy website navigation, lots of content, products, services options, etc.).
At first glance, those differences might not seem like they need to be mutually exclusive.
So let’s take a moment to dive into a little more detail about the goal, traffic, and navigation differences between landing pages and homepages.
3 Key Differences Between Landing Pages and Homepages
When the rubber hits the road, there are three key differences between landing pages and homepages.
Those differences have to do with the pages’ goal, the traffic being driven to them, and the on-page navigation options available to visitors.
Landing pages and homepages (should) always start with a goal — but those goals are very different from each other.
The primary goals of a homepage — like a brochure — should be to A) explain the brand, B) build trust with the brand and C) promote engagement with the brand.
HubSpot’s homepage explains its services, shows its expertise, and gently promotes a “Get HubSpot free” CTA.
On the other hand, a landing page has a single-minded focus. Rather than promoting the brand in general (like a homepage), a landing page promotes a single offer.
Here, for example, is one of HubSpot’s landing pages…
Notice how the only goal of this page is to get visitors signed up for a demo?
That single-minded focus is a key quality of landing pages — it results in higher conversion rates and, therefore, a better return on ad spend (ROAS).
This brings us to our next key difference: traffic.
If we do a Google search for “CRM,” we’ll see quite a few ads at the top of the results.
Since each of those businesses is paying for that advertising space, it’s wiser to drive clicks to a landing page, rather than a homepage.
And sure enough, that’s what all of them do (except for KPMG).
The point is, you should almost always drive advertising traffic to a single-minded landing page with a clear-cut conversion goal — that results in a better ROAS (Return On Ad Spend).
That goes for Facebook ads, Google ads, and any other paid traffic you might be driving to your website.
Conversely, you should probably darn-near never drive paid traffic to your homepage. Your homepage’s traffic will come from other unpaid sources — direct traffic as you build brand awareness, organic Google searches, content shares on social media, etc.
The final key difference between landing pages and homepages is all about on-page navigation.
Have you noticed something different about all the landing page screenshots in comparison to the homepage screenshots?
They don’t have a bar at the top that allows visitors to navigate elsewhere!
Where a homepage is browser-friendly and allows people to visit many different pages on your website, a landing page’s die-hard focus on a single goal means no top-bar navigation.
And according to ConversionXL, HubSpot saw a consistent boost in conversion rates when they removed navigation from various landing pages.
So when you’re creating your next landing page, ditch the navigation (or test it for yourself). On your homepage, however, navigation is necessary for creating a browser-friendly experience.
When to Use a Landing Page & When to Use a Homepage
Make no mistake; landing pages and homepages are both important digital marketing assets.
Since landing pages have a higher conversion rate than homepages, you might be wondering why you need a homepage at all.
But homepages serve an important purpose: they allow visitors to experience your brand in a way that landing pages don’t.
People can gain an understanding of your business on the homepage. For instance, they can navigate to other pages — your blog, “About” page, products and services, etc. To summarize, home pages let users get to know your brand in a free-form manner.
For brand awareness (which is sometimes underrated by business owners), the homepage is critical.
In fact, if you have a website, you should also have a homepage that acts as the storefront for your business.
You need a landing page (or landing pages), on the other hand, if you’re trying to accomplish a more focused goal… and especially if you’re running advertisements. Landing pages are almost always better at generating leads and making sales than homepages (it’s one reason Linear creates twin ads and landing pages for our clients).
…vs. the 30% conversion rate of this ClickFunnel’s landing page…
Point is, use landing pages when you’re trying to accomplish a very specific goal and use a homepage when creating the front page of your website.
3 Qualities of a Great Homepage
Now that you understand the differences between a homepage and a landing page let’s talk about 3 qualities that make each effective.
First, the homepage.
1. Clear-Cut Brand Overview
The first thing a homepage should deliver is a clear understanding of what your brand is and does.
This should start with a brief above-the-fold description…
…that then expands into more detail as visitors scroll down the page…
Your homepage should answer some of the most basic questions a new visitor — someone who’s only just learned of your business’ existence — will have about your brand.
Who are you?
What do you do?
Why should I care?
You can answer the first two questions with simple descriptions.
For the 3rd question, though, you might consider enlisting some social proof (testimonials, credibility badges, ratings, service stats, publication features, etc.) as an answer.
Here’s a snippet example of what that looks like from Keap’s website…
Whatever you decide, answer those three questions on your homepage, and you should set new visitors off on the right foot.
2. Modern Design
When people visit your website, you want to make a good impression — you want people to feel that they’ve stumbled across a business that takes itself and its customers seriously (in terms of design quality, not necessarily in terms of voice).
The fact is, consumer expectations have advanced almost as quickly as technology.
It’s not just about the words on your homepage. It’s also about the feel.
After all, you’d probably leave a site like this just as quickly as you arrived…
That’s an extreme example, of course, but the point is this: design matters.
If your website gives off the vibe that your brand or business is underdeveloped, then people are less likely to stick around and see what you have to offer.
So spend a little extra money, take a little extra time — do what you have to do to make your website feel like it’s promoting a brand that’s worth the visitor’s time.
3. Easy Navigation
We’ve already talked about this, so I won’t belabor the point — but your homepage should make navigating around the rest of your website quick and easy.
Look, for example, at the navigation options on our own website…
Here are a few navigation options that you should consider, including:
The navigation elements you include will largely depend on the type of business you’re operating — but make sure that visitors can easily go wherever they want to go.
3 Qualities of a Great Landing Page
Now let’s talk about 3 qualities that make landing pages effective.
1. Singular Focus
This is the heart of a landing page.
With a singular focus — and a die-hard discipline of saying no to navigation options — landing pages drive higher conversion rates and better results for businesses running ads.
So before you create a landing page, you should have a clear answer to the following question: why are we building this landing page, and what is the ONE GOAL that it’s going to accomplish?
2. Compelling Copy
To a large degree, a landing page lives or dies based on how compelling its sales copy is.
Design matters, too — but it’s the words that sell.
To understand what type of sales copy you should use, you must understand your landing page’s goal.
Are you trying to sell a high-ticket service? Giving away a free resource to grow your email list? Hosting an upcoming webinar? Wanting to get people on the phone?
This makes a huge difference.
If you’re giving away a free resource, then dead-simple sales copy like this might do the trick…
But if you’re selling a high-ticket service, then you’re probably going to need a lot more copy — you’ll need room to explain your offer, add social proof and risk reversal, and create urgency or scarcity.
In my time as a copywriter, I’ve found the following format to be very effective for longer sales pages…
Optinmonster’s blog makes the argument that this is because of color contrast — CTAs that get lost on the page because of too little contrast (like the green button above) are easier for visitors to ignore and click on less.
*Typically high contrast CTAs will convert better than low contrast ones*
Of course, you don’t want to go overboard and make your CTA look ridiculous for the sake of “catching the visitor’s attention.”
But it is a good idea to make sure the CTA stands out on the page and catches the eye as people peruse.
A Quick Note About Improving Conversion Rate
Some common ways to improve conversion rate are increasing load speed and adding social proof, scarcity, urgency, or risk reversal.
But ultimately, the best way to find out what increases your homepage and landing page conversion rates is to run your own split tests.
Every business is different, and every offer is unique — so it’ll be up to you and your marketing team to determine which of the above strategies work and which ones fall flat.
You should now have a clear understanding of the difference between landing pages and homepages, when to use each, and how to engineer them so that they effectively serve their different purposes.
From here, it’s just a matter of building pages, driving traffic, running tests, and measuring results — the typical marketing go-around.
Along the way, you’ll learn more specifically what works for your business. Of course, we can help.
And that’s when things get exciting.
Director of Content
Ariana prides herself on always learning everything there is to know about pay-per-click advertising and conversion rate optimization, which is why she can create such excellent content. When she’s not writing fantastic content, you can find her hiking, swimming, or baking bread.