You’re not alone if you’re confused about the growing number of page types in the content marketing world. Although all of them have their own set of use cases, choosing the right one for your marketing needs can be difficult. “There are so many different types of pages, and people have different definitions for them and probably don’t realize it,” says Anna Hrach, a strategist at Convince and Convert and host of the Social Pros podcast.
But knowing the difference between a landing page, a microsite, a pillar page, and a content hub can help you achieve your goals throughout the marketing funnel, which might include:
- driving top of funnel traffic
- converting site visitors on a piece of gated content
- encouraging existing customers to renew their subscription
- promoting a sweepstakes or corporate partnership
To determine what type of page would serve you best, you first need to decide on the short- and longer-term marketing goals you’re looking to achieve. Then (and only then), choose which page type will most effectively help you reach those goals.
No matter your goal, there’s a page type for you. “Marketing is a diagnostic discipline,” says Brandon Jones, general manager at digital agency Salted Stone. “It may feel like there are an infinite amount of right answers, but once you’ve determined your goals, there are only one or two pathways to go down.”
Choosing the right path is the first step toward determining the best page type to suit your needs. Once you’ve established your use case, you’ll need to understand the design, page structure, and SEO considerations that are important for adequately developing each page.
Trying to drive lead conversion? Then pick a landing page.
Perhaps none has as clear a purpose as the traditional landing page of all the marketing content types. Focus is the goal of these often short, content-light pages. “The way I like to think about it is that a landing page covers a single topic and is very convergent,” says Hrach.
In that sense, the page drives users toward one specific call to action. Typically, landing pages are tied directly to a paid media campaign. For example, a marketer may be pushing a free download or trial, a special offer, or another type of campaign. So first, they create display or social ads or put their spending toward a Google AdWords campaign. Then they direct traffic to a specific campaign landing page designed to convert as many visitors as possible to leads through a short and simple form.
The landing page serves as the functional top of the marketing funnel. “You’re not informing. It’s not about creating SEO traction or building trust,” says Jones. “It’s hit or miss. Show up and convert—or not. It’s very transactional,” he says.
Many marketers make the mistake of sending users to their homepage or a product page. However, creating a landing page unique to a campaign makes the goal straightforward and the conversion path intentional. It’s a better outcome than sending someone to a website page that may be an excellent next step but not the best next step, says Hrach. Looking for a real-world example? The Zendesk CRM free trial landing page demonstrates a smart and straightforward SEM landing page with customer logos, a clear value prop, and a simple call to action.
Promoting a campaign or product launch? Then pick a microsite.
Where landing pages are the marketing equivalent of a one-track mind, microsites are more like deep subject matter experts. For instance, a microsite might be appropriate for a big brand with a wide variety of offerings that are looking to launch a differentiated product. “You don’t want the thing you’re promoting to get lost in a massive site map,” explains Jones.
Yes, there are potential conversion opportunities on a microsite, but converting visitors isn’t its sole purpose. In many ways, microsites are just mini-websites—informational resources related to a brand that may not fit the main corporate website. One possible reason: a company with an established brand may simply “want to riff a bit,” Jones says. A microsite offers a low-risk venue to do that without confusing customers and other visitors.
Another reason to keep a microsite off the main site domain is that it may be tied to a temporary campaign. “That way, it’s easier to detach and fold when the campaign is over,” Hrach says. Other use cases include campaigns, giveaways, sweepstakes, and more. For example, brands like Patagonia develop microsites like Blue Heart to create awareness about the environmental impacts of hydroelectric dams. Though it lives off the main site, it links back to patagonia.com while retaining a clear and crisp focus on the subject at hand.
Looking to demonstrate expertise and drive SEO? Then pick a pillar page.
Microsites can help establish expertise in a given field or subject area. Still, they’re not always designed for longevity like campaign landing pages. For example, suppose a marketer has time and is willing to wait longer for results. In that case, Jones says he recommends a pillar page as a proven component of an organic search strategy.
Where a landing page covers a single topic narrowly, pillar pages cover a broader topic much more comprehensively. They often offer a comprehensive guide to an entire subject. “It’s a topical page where you’re covering everything that might be related to a given topic,” says Jones.
Take tires, for example. You might dedicate pillar page real estate to discussing types of tires, materials in tires, use cases for tires depending on weather conditions and types of vehicles, and more. A pillar page would cover the entire topic from top to bottom, linking to deeper content called clusters to delve deeper into those more granular topics.
Linking strategy is an essential consideration for pillar pages—they’re not sitemaps or just a list of links. There is no hard and fast rule for how much content should live on the pillar page before linking out to internal and external sources, but it’s crucial to offer meaningful content on the page itself. “You’re acting as a curator as much as a curator of your own content,” says Jones, who adds that providing that extra value is worth the risk of visitors leaving your site on an external link.
Besides their SEO benefits, the fundamental purpose of a pillar page is to build trust. “I really like pillar pages because you can give people a very clear entry point and a set of different next steps,” explains Hrach, who says these steps can help them answer their questions or solve their problems. “And they’re long—think very, very, very long blog post for the length,” she adds.
For example, on this pillar page about content hubs, SEO agency Terakeet offers profound and comprehensive content about the topic, providing value on-page while inviting visitors to click to go deeper.
Trying to serve customers and support sales? Then pick a content hub.
Where a pillar page can link externally to help the reader, a content hub is expressly designed to keep visitors local. Its mission is to serve up a brand’s most helpful content in the most user-friendly way possible.
A content hub can showcase a brand’s content, combining blog articles with other content types, like white papers, infographics, reports, etc. But it needn’t house all of a brand’s content. Instead, a brand may opt to create individual content hubs to showcase content around an industry, a business segment, or a typical problem customers are trying to solve. For instance, Salesforce maintains a central hub to showcase all relevant customer content, breaking that down by focus area, like service.
Content hubs are less prescriptive than some other page types from a design perspective, and they can help marketers achieve a host of goals. Content hubs are also brand- and relationship-builders extraordinaire, from audience engagement to lead generation to a great user experience that creates consumer trust. Since B2B buyers complete nearly 80 percent of their product research before reaching out to sales, these hubs are the face of the brand. A well-constructed hub can dramatically improve brand perception and make customers more likely to buy.
For instance, Adobe’s Magento resource library epitomizes a strong content hub by offering the brand’s best digital offerings in an easily sortable and customizable interface that builds credibility and trust.
The bottom line
As marketers continue to identify new use cases for the ever-evolving world of content marketing and demand generation, they’ll undoubtedly continue to create new page types. But understanding the current tools in the content marketing tool belt is key to delivering on your brand’s marketing goals across the entire funnel.