Message Match: Ad To Page Consistency For The Win

Johnathan Dane
Johnathan Dane

Message match is no joke when it comes to PPC…Have you ever played around on an online dating site?
Christian Mingle?
How about the ones that are a little more, risqué…
Plenty of Fish?
The Big and The Beautiful?

I’ll be the first to admit — between my friends and me, I’ve definitely had my hand in a few.
And let me tell you…
They all have one, very sketchy, thing in common with each other — message matching.
Excuse me, poor message matching.

poor message match
What everyone wants to hear… – image source

Let me clarify this with terms that can relate to pay-per-click (PPC) and conversion rate optimization (CRO):
If you’re online dating (google searching)…
You spend your time browsing through profile teasers (PPC ads), looking for something that’s relevant to what you want (your search criteria), only to discover that once you make a click, the profile that appears (the landing page) is no longer relevant to anything you read in the teaser — that thing that convinced you to click in the first place.
It’s the classic “bait and switch.”
The joke of “false advertising.”
So, what do you do?
You end up bouncing around, from profile-to-profile (landing page-to-landing page), looking for someone that presents themselves in their teaser (their PPC ad) the same as they do on their profile (their landing page), until you find a real and relevant match.

good message match
If the eyes don’t get you, the earmuffs and vest will – Image source

In other words…
Message match is taking whatever is promised by your PPC ad copy, and carrying it over to your landing page copy — predominately your headline — to ensure your visitor that they’re at the right place, confirming that you’re exactly what they want.
We know what a poor message match can do in the dating world but, how exactly does it have its effects on your PPC ad campaigns and CRO success?
And, what does a good message match even look like?
Let’s get our hands dirty with the details…

The Effects of Message Match

Message match affects two things: your pay-per-click campaigns and your conversion rate optimization success.
The easiest way to explain this, is to picture your PPC and CRO holding hands, working in a circle.
Whatever happens to one, alters the success of the other.
If you want to find other landing page tips to help with conversion rate optimization…

[thrive_2step id=’14510′]

So, what does that look like when there’s a poor message match involved?

Let’s start off by looking at the benefits of having a “great” message match, to understand.
On the PPC ad side of the circle, a great message match increases this thing called your “quality score.”
Google defines quality score as an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing page.
Higher-quality ads can lead to lower cost per clicks and better ad positions.
But wait, how does the CRO side of the circle play into that?
CRO is how well your landing page can convince your visitors (via design and copy) to stay and convert, doing what it is that you want them to do.
So, if your landing page copy matches the PPC ad message, delivering on its promise, you’ll have better conversion rate results.
This adds credibility to your PPC ad, making it look better to Google, and potentially giving you stronger ad positions on the search results page.
The better your PPC ad looks to Google, the higher you’ll rank, and the more traffic you’ll see visiting your landing page — thus, driving up conversions and continuing the circle cycle.
Do you see how a poor message match might affect all of that?
It would be a downward spiral.
With a poor message match, you’ll lose out on a higher PPC quality score, higher conversion rates and, not to mention, you’ll lose out with an all-around, low ROI (return on investment) — aka, you could be spending more than you receive.
Just a lose, lose, lose of a situation.

The Message Match Breakdown

As we’ve discussed, it takes two to make a message match.
The message starts in your pay-per-click ad copy, and the match happens through your landing page copy.
Look at your message, your PPC ad copy, like a promise that you’re making to searchers.
The searchers read your PPC ad, your promise, and decide to click if it seems fitting for what they need.
The promise that you make, which causes them to click, needs to then be reflected into your landing page copy — the headline and subhead — if you want them to know that they’ve made a good choice and have come to the right place.

This is the basis of a good message match.
If you want a great message match, however, then your promise needs to appear in your headline copy, and subhead copy, exactly as it appears in your PPC ad copy.
Why the headline and subhead?
When a visitor lands on your designed landing page, their eye immediately searches for something to identify with, telling them that they’ve come to the right place.
Since your headline is the “big intro” to your landing page, that’s where their eye is drawn to first, and, by default, is where the match and recognition will happen, getting them to exhale and stay.

*Note: not all landing pages will have, or will need to have, the subhead copy — aka, a supporting line to the headline copy.

**If the subhead copy is present, it’s important that it adds value and is looked at as a partner to the headline copy, carrying through and strengthening the same message for an even better message match.

To more effectively iterate what I’m talking about, let’s jump right into it with some examples.

The Difference Between Good, and Great, Message Matching

A great message match always proves itself to be a lot, hold on… A LOT harder to find than a poor message match, or even a good message match.
Poor message match examples are living and breeding by the truck-fulls.
It literally takes no effort, and no searching, to find one.
Great message match examples, on the other hand, you really have to hunt for them.
What does this say about the companies currently using PPC ad campaigns and landing pages?
It means that few are doing it right and many are throwing away money — that low ROI we talked about.
With that said, and after a bit of hunting, here are a couple examples to follow (or learn from), that’ll help you understand what a message match is (or isn’t), and the direction you’ll want to go in (or try to avoid).

A “Good” Message Match…

A little easier to come by than a “great” message match, but sadly, still hard to find, is a “good” message match.
Even though a good message match can get the job done-ish, it still doesn’t get the job done well.
So, don’t sell yourself short thinking a good message match is “good enough.”
Because, it’s not.
“Good enough” could be costing you some serious money — there’s that ROI again.
Let’s take a look at the “good” message match example, starting with this ad…

adwords message match
Not a bad ad. I think I’ll click on it…

And then the landing page…

landing page message match
Pretty close right?

Take a look at the PPC ad headline: “Task Management Tool –”
Now take a look at the landing page headline copy: “Task Management Tracking Software”
Since the headline of both the ad and the landing page share a similar message, I can assume that I have, in fact, landed in the right place.
I can also read the rest of the ad copy, and compare it with the copy that is supporting the headline, and see that both convey similar messages, as well.
Being able to recognize that the landing page is relevant to the promise made by the ad copy, makes this a “good” message match.
But, wait.
What makes this a “good” message match, and not a “great” message match?
Since the match isn’t exact, it forces me to hunt and around and read a little bit to make sure I’m actually getting what I clicked for.
Whereas, a “great” message match would’ve let me know immediately, without a doubt, that I was in the right place upon arrival, without any further looking or reading.
If you have a “good” message match, wonderful, but not good enough…
Take “good” to the next level, make it “great.”

A “Great” Message Match…

Looking only at the message match (and not the landing page design itself), here is an excellent Facebook PPC ad (thanks to Oli Gardner) that does a “great” job, an exact job, matching their ad copy with their landing page copy.
Take a look at the “great” message match example, starting with the ad…

facebook message match
Remember the red outlines from the ad – Image source

And the landing page…

message match landing page
Hats off to RBC Royal Bank – Image source

Their ad copy and visuals carries over, and is an exact match to the copy and visuals on their landing page.
And, not only did they nail the headline match, but they also reinforced with an exact subhead match and an exact design match.

*Note: If your SEM ad has any kind of graphical component, it speaks a message and makes a promise just the same as any copy does. Since your viewers are identifying you with that visual, it’s very important to carry it through to your landing page, too.

With my expectations met and their promises kept, there’s no confusion here.
So, what makes a message match “great”?
The exact match between your Adword ad copy (the headline and supporting copy) and your landing page copy (the headline and subhead copy).

The Wrap…

Whether you’re trying to get a date or trying to advertise, you’ll definitely want to look for, and market yourself with, a “good” message match.
Oops, I mean…
A “great” message match.
Anything less than, and you’re already in line for some really poor results.
So, don’t sell yourself short and settle for “good.”
Shoot high, aim for “great.”
And, remember:
A “great” message match will be an exact message match — a perfect transfer of the PPC ad copy promise (the message), to your landing page headline and subhead (the match).
Do this, and your PPC ad and conversion rate circle will be stronger, giving you a “greater” ROI in return — and some killer dates.
P.S. If you took home something new, or just enjoyed the read, make sure to share.

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