A Page and its Purpose: When to Use Landing Pages and When to Use Themes

Update

Thrive Content Builder and Thrive Landing pages have been replaced by Thrive Architect, which now has 270 pre-designed page templates and you can preview them all in our landing pages gallery.

With our new Landing Pages feature, it's easier than ever to create conversion optimized pages... which might lead to the question: do you even need a theme anymore (especially considering that we'll continue adding new page templates for different purposes)?

In this post, you'll discover the difference between landing pages and theme pages, so you'll know exactly when to use which, for the best results.

More...

The Isolated Page

The crucial point about a landing page is that it is an isolated, single-purpose page. A typical landing page has only one conversion goal and one purpose. A landing page is an island unto itself, since it exists almost completely independently from any other pages.

This is true even when a landing page is part of a set or funnel, like in this lead generation example:

The set consists of 3 pages: the first one is where the email lead is captured. The second page explains the email confirmation process and its purpose is to send the visitor to their inbox, to confirm the subscription. Finally, the third page delivers free product the new subscriber signed up for.

While these 3 pages clearly belong together in this set, each page is still an isolated page and they can be navigated through in only one very specific way.

For example, if there was a link directly to the download page from the opt-in page, that would make no sense.​

In fact, any link on a landing page to any other page on your website will instantly reduce the landing page's effectiveness. The landing page must stand on its own to be truly effective.

A landing page must stand on its own to be truly effective.

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Embedded in a Network

If there is such a thing as the opposite of a landing page, it would be the blog post. A good blog post is deeply embedded in your website and interlinked with other posts and important pages:

A blog post can stand on its own, but it makes more sense in the context of posts that came before it. Posts interlink between each other and link to other important pages on your website.

This is the crucial difference between landing pages and theme pages: a landing page is isolated while a theme page or post is part of and interlinked with other pages on your site.​

2 Setups for Selling

For a marketing website, there are two basic ways you can set up your pages. The first is a linear setup, where ​the pages on your site can only be navigated through in one particular order. For example:

  1. Sales page.
  2. Upsell page.
  3. Second upsell page.
  4. Product/membership page.​

In this case, using landing pages makes a lot of sense.

The second setup is one that encourages more browsing. Pages on your site might include:

  • ​Main product page.
  • Feature tour page.
  • Customer testimonials & case studies.
  • Plans & pricing page.
  • A blog with informative posts.
  • Etc.

In this case, using a theme is the right choice. On a marketing website like this, you give your prospects a chance to have a look around and collect the information that's most important to them. You'd also be collecting leads, so you can take a longer term approach to converting visitors into customers.

​As a rule of thumb, the linear setup tends to work better for simple, straight-forward products while the networked setup is better for more complex products.

However, there's no hard and fast rule about this and the only way to really find out which approach works best is to test both setups against each other.​

Conclusion​

Both landing pages and themes have their own specific purposes and in many cases, you'll want to use them side by side.

We will continue to develop our Thrive Themes products with this in mind, so that you have all the flexibility you need and are never limited by software. Whether you want to set up a simple, linear funnel (Thrive Landing Pages), a complete, content rich website (Thrive Themes & Content Builder) or anything in between (Landing Pages within a theme), we're here to provide you the tools to do it.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it and help us spread the word! If you have any questions or thoughts to share, please leave a comment below.​

Shane

Author: Shane Melaugh

Shane Melaugh is a co-founder and the CEO of Thrive Themes. When he isn't plotting new ways to create awesome WordPress themes & plugins, he likes to geek out about camera equipment and medieval swords. He also writes about startups and marketing here.

  • Herman says:

    Hi Shane..I agree about not distracting visitors with extra links on your landing page however if used for Google AdWords campaigns you don’t have a choice if you want it to be compliant.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      That’s a good point, Herman! With our themes, you can create a fairly “clean” page that still has the basic navigation elements, so that’s probably the best current solution for AdWords. We will also consider creating some landing page templates that would be conversion optimized and AdWords compliant at the same time.

      • Gael B says:

        nothing stops you to add all the links required for compliance in the footage of a landing page using adwords. I would recommend it any day over a theme page if you’re buying traffic.

        Gael

    • David says:

      Herman surprisingly this is not always true. In the last few months we have been experimenting with a landing pages sequence for local businesses like plumbers, accountants etc. etc.

      The first landing pages sequences that went up without any other links at all, not even privacy policy, terms of service…. nothing. The mistake was not noticed for a few weeks.

      However AdWords never cause any problems! We send plenty of traffic to them with no issues to date. Odd I know and maybe that requires a manual review but the point is Google does send traffic a bare landing page at times.

      My feeling is that these accounts have been running for quite some time, that they were always sending traffic to specific pages of a full website so Google trusts them. In that case they allow some leeway with a naked landing page.

  • Keith S says:

    Great post, Shane. I really appreciate your style… clearly breaking down important concepts, (whether basic or complex) making them simple, but without sounding condescending to a beginner. Just like your products ;->

    A little side note… I recently bought another WP landing page builder plugin, launched around the time of your release of the landing-page edition of content builder. After using both, I requested a refund on the other product. They had more templates, but your plugin is so much easier to use, Im just going to stick with it!

    Thanks for a great product in Content Builder.

    Keith

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you very much, Keith! I think I know which competing product you mean. As usual, we launched the Landing Pages feature early, so we can continue building it along with customer feedback and suggestions. I can promise you that we’ll quickly close the gap concerning the number of templates in our plugin. :)

  • Kendrick M says:

    I’m in a similar situation as Keith (probably the same ‘other’ plugin), and while i haven’t refunded that one, I came here after buying it and am very encouraged by your comment that you’ll “quickly close the gap concerning the number of templates”. In fact, I’m probably going to go ahead and take advantage of your themes offer too (I’m assuming those will continue to grow as well?)

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Yes, we’re also continually adding new themes. :)

  • Juan C says:

    I too found myself having to request a refund for other product. Great timing of adding the landing page feature to TCB. It’s less complicated and seems to be lighter in weight for speed purposes.

    I own almost all your products and you never disappoint. Thanks for building awesome products.

    Jcolome

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Juan!

      Yes, keeping things as light and fast as possible is a high priority for us. This is where I’ve seen a few other editors that just don’t care and add a shocking amount of code and scripts to every page you use them on…

  • Detlev says:

    Yeah, I think I too know which one Keith means, and I was tempted by number of templates and features like stats etc.
    But in the end I din’t bother even trying it. I like your products and the way you continuously keep improving them. Who knows what you guys will come up with in the near future :))
    So, thumbs up for the Content Builder and Thrive Themes!!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Detlev! We’ll catch up to the number of templates fairly quickly. :)

  • Sekhon says:

    Hi Shane, your Thrive content builder with the new template feature is top notch. If I may suggest a feature, a Facebook connect button. It’ll allow a visitors details to be auto filled in if that visitor is logged into his Facebook account in a seperate tab.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for the suggestion. This might be quite a “heavy” feature to add. We have another product that does something like this (Hybrid Connect), but we’ve found that the effectiveness of Facebook connect has gone down quite a bit in the last years, so I’m not sure if this is worth doing.

  • Jule Fuller says:

    Thank you so much for this post you are the first person that I have come across who has taken the time to explain what landing pages are and how to use them. Most blog posts talk about the benefits without explaining how and when to use them. Not very empowering or useful. I just love your posts and products and I am a raving fan. Keep up the great work.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, Jule! I’m glad to know that this post shed some useful light on the topic, for you.

      • Craig burleigh says:

        Hi Shane,
        This was a great post – the explantations of the marketing techniques and the ways to setup different sites / pages – this is what is often missing – would love more posts along these lines. Thanks for all the awesome work!

      • Shane Melaugh says:

        Thank you for your reply, Craig! I’ve been thinking about updating this post or expanding on the contents of it.

  • David Hajes says:

    Simply explained what I have been confused by others :-D

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Glad I could help, David. :)

  • daniel g says:

    Thanks Shane for shedding some light on the importance of these two areas. With the tools provided from Thrive we can really set ourselves apart by creating custom made landing pages so we don’t look like the masses. Looking forward to the upcoming updates because Thrive Landing Pages is a force in this niche.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      I’m looking forward to announcing the new templates as well. We’ve got some really cool pages coming up that I can’t wait to release. :)

  • Simon says:

    Great article Shane, thanks for clarifying the difference loving the software great job love it freedom to create what you want and looks great kind regards Simon

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, Simon!

  • David F says:

    I have noted this phenomenon a lot: programmers cannot explain things well at all. Well, my hat is truly off to you, Shane, as you have created a very helpful set of tutorials. I would like to note also this: what a good set of tutorials does is to relieve the user from having to remember ALL of the features and benefits – there being a real brain-full-of-stuff problem. SEO is like this: w-a-y too much to remember.

    So, returning again and again as needed to the tutorials relieves me of remembering it all and each time I return I get another “OH! It does that too!”

    You have done something rare and unique: paid attention to helping users to use your software. Good on you!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, David!

      It’s very encouraging to know that tutorials like these actually make a difference for people and it motivates me to do more. :)

  • Scott B says:

    Any possibility of adding the newer two-step type of optin where the viewer clicks a call to action button and a lightbox pops up requesting their name, email and whatever other info you want to collect?

    They are supposedly increasing optin rates quite dramatically.

    Thank you,

    Scott

    • Paul S says:

      Hey Scott

      That is possible now using the events trigger and the lightbox feature.

      It works really well too!

      • Scott B says:

        Sweet, thank you Paul! I’ll look for it.

  • Joan B says:

    Thank you for the really great information on what a Landing Page is. I have not used one yet because I was uncertain about how to use them. I am a beginner and it answered a lot of questions I had.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Excellent! Glad to know that this video answered your questions. If you have anything else you’re unsure about, please don’t hesitate to ask in our forums. :)

  • Daria says:

    I, too, would like to express my sincere appreciation for the quality of your services and products, for constant improvements and useful info. After I’ve been using WordPress themes from the same company for ages – and have no complaints whatsoever, I am becoming more and more tempted to also switch to your themes. My gut feeling is telling me they are at least one step superior to my current ones. And that reminds me that I actually have a question. How time consuming would it be to add a store to the WP site, integrated with Paypal, for my own art products in one of your themes? Thanks again, for everything!! :)

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for this comment, Daria!

      To answer your question about the store: it would be no more or less time consuming than with a different theme. We currently don’t have any specific features for e-commerce, but you could use an e-commerce plugin.

  • Sarah says:

    I’m ready to buy but… any news on whether or not it’s compatible with WPMU? Otherwise I have to first change that…
    Thank you.

    • Paul McCarthy says:

      We haven’t done any WPMU specific testing yet so I can’t give you any assurances with this, unfortunately.

  • Dan says:

    Hi there Thrive team.

    This an excellent introduction to the concept of Landing Pages.

    I reckon it might be worthwile adding a link to this, or something similar, in the Thrive Content Builder Tutorials : Landing Pages section…

    i.e. One of the first things people might get value from after they have purchased Thrive Landing Pages is a little reminder about best-practice usage, such as what you have described here in this post.

    Thanks once again for sharing this content, I’m really glad that I discovered Thrive!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your suggestion, Dan!

  • Mike C says:

    Hi Shane,
    As I continue to build out my funnel, I am turing my attention to Thank-you/Upsell pages. I was surprised how little mention they get on the Thrive Blog to date. There is no Upsell tag in Thrive Landing Pages (yet) and currently only one template (in the Template cloud).

    I’d love for you to do a blog on how to craft these and would super love some more templates when the team can get around to it. Your IM>Impact 6 Figure/6 Week eBook makes a strong argument for how valuable these will be.

    Many thanks
    Mike

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