Landing Page Message Match: Why It Doesn’t
Always Work

Holly Winn

Landing page message match refers to how well your landing page intent, copy, design and overall messaging matches that of content on channels (such as PPC), which are used to drive traffic to that landing page.
The common thought is that message match across any campaign is a major contributor to increased conversion rate optimization, because it provides a better overall user experience across multiple platforms and touchpoints, providing them with the necessary assurance and guidance to take a desired action.
However, good message match doesn’t always result in more conversions. Not to say there isn’t value in considering landing page message match (such as potentially increasing AdWords quality score) -- but I am about to cover some cases where your assumptions about its impact on conversions may be debunked.
So let’s get to it...

Why is Landing Page Message Match Important?

A media usage study by Media Dynamics, Inc., shows adult’s daily media consumption is currently at 9.8 hours daily with the average number of advertisement and brand exposures per day per person at 5,000 plus. Holy cow, that’s a lot.
Keep in mind that 5,000 is number of opportunities to view an ad, not the actual number that is actually viewed. Still, with people having such short attention spans, to say that we aren’t bombarded with messages is an understatement.
Because of this, one can’t expect those who take an action to remember that action weeks after, or what the result was to be of that action. I can’t tell you how many times I sign up to download an e-book and weeks later, question why I am getting emails from the e-book provider.

I just can’t.
I just can’t. - image source

But what helps me recall is message consistency and visual continuity every time I am exposed to the brand.
So, message match is not only important for an initial micro-conversion, but for an advertiser who might want me to progress beyond that e-book download.
It might seem surprising to some that it’s common for messages in an ad to not match the offer on a landing page visited as a result of that ad click. If you do a quick Google search, you will see a number of well-known sources showing examples of how not taking landing page message match into account can impact results.
Why is it a problem?
There are three reasons that jump out at us...

  1. The expectations set by the ad is what drives viewers to click, so you want to follow through with providing that offer or content which was advertised. Otherwise, prospects could quickly lose trust in the credibility of your brand.
  1. You could be wasting money on clicks, because there are higher bounce rates and lower conversions afterward.
  1. There could be higher costs to acquisition, because you end up having to target via other channels to reinforce your message and secure those visitors who did not convert via your ads.

Quality score is an estimate of quality of ads, keywords, and landing pages associated. If a user has a positive experience and continues on to take action after clicking through, you could increase this score. In turn, this may lead to lower bidding costs and better ad positions.

To sum it up, you want to consider landing page message match, because it saves you time and money. If you get increased conversions, this is an added bonus -- but not a guarantee.

Where Do Advertisers Fall Short with Message Matching?

You may ask: Isn’t it as simple as matching your headline in the ad to the one on my landing page?
The short answer is no.
There are actually a lot of factors that go into having a good ads-to-landing page message match.
Advertisers may fall short with message match in the following ways:

  1. Directing people to just your homepage. You can test your homepage against a landing page, but a landing page is designed to appeal to a particular audience interested in a specific offer that your ad presented -- so being more targeted could lead to better conversions.

In fact, by sending a visitor to your homepage, you run the risk of:

    1. Convoluting the message, giving the visitor too many options for actions that might take him or her away from the initial desired call to action.
  1. Tracking may be difficult, because there are many channels for which one can get to your website aside from just your ad -- and if you have several ads going to your homepage, that is even trickier without proper tracking parameters in place.
  1. Thinking the bait & switch works. Perhaps, one intentionally presents an out-of-this-world offer just to hook a visitor into clicking through to the landing page -- thinking once the person is there, that click is enough of a commitment for the visitor to continue engaging.
Give your audience some credit...That’s too easy.
Give your audience some credit...That’s too easy. - image source

But here is why that doesn’t always work out as planned:

    1. Think of your interactions with those in your audience as a mutual agreement where one takes an action and you reciprocate by providing something of value. If a visitor is feeling cheated or mislead, that commitment (and thus the “contract”) may become null and void in their mind.
  1. Repeat customers and clients can often bring more business either by becoming repeat purchasers themselves or referring others -- so think more long-term rather than just a one-time win. If someone does stay on the landing page to complete an action, you can’t bank on them clicking the next time he or she sees any new ads you run, especially if their previous experience was not the best.
  1. Assuming interpretations are similar. Words, colors, and offers resonate and/or are processed differently by various individuals. A visitor might think, “I already read that in the ad...why you wasting my time stating it again.” With 59% of customers say that personalization influences their shopping decision, this is actually a case for not going overboard with landing page message match.

But before you start thinking of variations to implement, here are two points to consider:

    1. You can drive home main points and desired action if you keep consistency of copy and imagery. Don’t let visitors second guess what you wish to convey.
  1. You can creatively enhance messaging by adding more copy or imagery rather than replacing current copy and imagery. People may need more clarification beyond what is provided in the ad and you’re able to conserve the original copy and/or design from the ad.
  1. Focusing only on a few elements. How one determines what is included under the umbrella of messaging is crucial to the success of a campaign. In our opinion, messaging is not just copy or just design; it’s really both. Additionally, consistency of messaging should be considered both per conversion and for the campaign as a whole.

Being able to look from both a granular and more holistic view of messaging is important, so you don’t misdiagnose a problem.

Here are some ways marketers might misdiagnose:

    1. Marketers might look at landing page bounce rates and think it’s due to a misalignment between ad and landing page messaging as opposed to a need for more love on the landing page itself. For instance, perhaps, adding social proof to a landing page is that extra reassurance someone needs to convert.
    1. You can have a really good message match between ad and landing page, but not between campaign and audience.

Let’s say you have the same copy in your ad as you do on your landing page. Keep in mind, you only get so much space for ad copy and design, so it’s important to use that space wisely.
I might feel an ad offer is in line with my needs and interests -- but after further clarification and info. provided on the landing page, realize it isn’t quite right for me right now.

But they did show interest initially, so it’s not a total loss.
But they did show interest initially, so it’s not a total loss. - image source

In this case, however, the issue isn’t that the message doesn’t match so much as the wrong key points of the message--or not enough key points--were displayed in the ad. Thus, leading to inaccurate expectations.
For this reason, it might be good to look at the ad a standalone piece for conveying the message, and then tackle the landing page afterward.
Conversely, there are some situations where not putting all the information upfront is beneficial to getting the click. You can give teaser text or ask a questions to peek interest. Just remember the endgame is the conversion, not the click.

    1. A journey of a visitor to a lead to a customer doesn’t usually stop at one conversion. It might be important for your visitor to feel connected by a larger message, knowing their commitments are tied and feeling more invested in a larger initiative, giving him or her that motivation to complete a macro-conversion. So, it may be okay to build upon a message rather than repeat it.

Conversely, a visitor thinking too broad can deter him or her from the immediate desired action and cause delay of movement through the funnel -- so we aren’t saying it’s always a good idea, but it’s something to be aware of.

There’s a lot that goes into determining if message match will be successful from what elements you change and how much you change them to if you should even be focused on message match at all for your underlying goals.

12 Message Match Tips to Get You Back on Track

Now that you appreciate the benefits and are aware of the dangers, here are 12 ways you can use PPC to control your landing page message match.

KlientBoost to the rescue with great tips.
KlientBoost to the rescue with great tips. - image source

Tip #1: Replace with Dynamic Text

We used to be bogged down in a world where you had to create a unique landing page for every keyword that you’re bidding on. This can be quite the daunting chore if you need a ton of variations, and can require heavy design and development efforts.
Dynamic text replacement allows you to create one landing page for each of your ad groups. This helps you personalize and scale your campaigns by encompassing multiple keyword variations.
For example, if someone is looking for a hiking backpack vs a trekking backpack, you can tailor not only your PPC ad copy to the individual search, but you can also insert dynamic keywords into your landing pages like this:

You can specify hiking backpack
You can specify hiking backpack - image source


You can specify trekking backpack
You can specify trekking backpack - image source

Without having to create a separate landing page for each ad group, dynamic text replacement can automatically take care of your message match for you. Use the same dynamic keywords in both your PPC ads and landing pages.

Tip #2: Use Target Personas

Think personalization. You can do general keyword research, but that isn’t going to tell you what words/phrases resonate most with your specific target audience.
Before you start crafting ads and landing pages, you want to outline your target personas. What are their needs, interests, and what does your ideal customer look like. You can have more than one target persona.
Laying out these details can help you decide how many variations of ads and landing pages you need. Perhaps, one ad serves multiple target personas, but you’ll need 4 landing page variations. The ratio doesn’t always need to be 1:1.
Being more granular isn’t always best. You can get too granular too quick. It may only take one wrong message to turn a visitor away. So, maybe start a little broader with your personas and as you get more data from your campaigns, make edits to ads and landing pages.

Tip #3: Consider User’s Intent

You may have two different prospects with very different intents. For instance, one may be looking to buy a new vacuum cleaner while the other wants to hire someone to fix their vacuum cleaner. Perhaps, you offer all vacuum related services, but the way you are going to attract the prospects is different.

Keep in mind what funnel stage your prospects are in.
Keep in mind what funnel stage your prospects are in.

You can take the temperature of your audience to see if they are actively seeking your product/service, or perhaps they haven’t even realized they have a need for it yet.
Don’t start out with an ad that offers free information and jump right into asking for a proposal on the landing page. Even if the proposal is related to the informational topic, your prospect may not be ready to commit on that level.

Tip #4: Keep Copy Localized

You can use specific area code-based phone numbers in both your PPC campaigns and your landing page messaging.
In the same way that a specific area code brings relevancy to your visitors, by mentioning the city that your visitor is in, you can appear to be local and familiar to your audience.

You get me.
You get me. - image source

If I saw a 949 area code on an ad and then saw a 408 one on a landing page, I might question if it was a typo or if this was a legit business. Which one should I call? It may not even be worth my time to try to figure it out.
Since you have already defined your buyer personas, you probably have a few core geographic regions for which you would like to start out. Knowing this, saves you time in securing a number for every area code in existence.

Tip #5: Match Scent & Design

Matching scent means matching the look, feel, tone and personality of your PPC ad to your landing page message. Use connected images and color schemes to achieve this.
Here is an example of a campaign we have showcasing one of our case studies:

Here’s our Facebook ad for the AutoPilot case study
Here’s our Facebook ad for the AutoPilot case study
Our campaign landing page has scent match with our ad
Our campaign landing page has scent match with our ad

And despite what you might think, a landing page doesn’t always have to look pretty in it’s design and imagery to convert -- so really give some thought to the message you are trying to convey with both, and let that guide your decisions.

Tip #6: Match the Copy

Phrasing, primary ad copy, secondary ad copy, word choice are all things you can match. Go a step further and match your subheaders.
Your secondary information can be the part of your PPC ad that drew in your audience to click, but just be sure to capture that same verbiage on your landing page too -- to assure visitors they’re in the right location.
You can then add supplemental information that the visitor might need to move to a point of conversion. Find tips for high-converting copy on landing pages in this “Landing Page Copywriting Blueprint.”

Tip #7: Match the Keywords

I previously mentioned how user intent should guide the message and this includes keyword selection. Choose high-intent keywords to highlight and match to start. Once you get a handle on it, you can consider the multi-intent keywords.
Note: A lot of keyword research tools show search overall rather than for your specific audience -- so for the right audience, a keyword may really pay off where it doesn’t for the general public.

This ad is for someone looking for more information.
This ad is for someone looking for more information.
Get a Free Proposal with KlientBoost Ad
"Get a free proposal" with KlientBoost ad
These last two ads are for someone looking to buy right now.
These last two ads are for someone looking to buy right now.

In the example above, you can see when we retarget someone for our blog posts, we ask them if they want a case study rather than dive right in to see if they want a proposal. In many cases, brands might have an e-book, whitepaper, checklist or other lead magnet offer before they have a case study. But KlientBoost actually gets a lot of our clients from blog posts alone, so we found that we were able to skip a step in the funnel and jump to offering a case study.
Either way, if I am reading a blog post, I am probably looking for information on a topic (or proof that KlientBoost is actually successful at what they preach on the blog) and not necessarily ready to convert.
You want to make sure to start off with more low threat requests rather than scare people off by asking for too much upfront.
That being said, there are exceptions to the rule. If your prospect is searching “buy red shoes,” the keyword “buy” itself hints at an intent to do just that. We then have more justification for an ad that says: “Buy Red Shoes at XX” with “Buy Red Shoes” being a keyword phrase that incorporates the intent of the potential viewer.
But as you can see, we have the keyword "proposal" noted on our ads and on the landing page. Although a broad keyword, we're retargeting -- so the way we view keywords is slightly different than if we were reaching out to someone unfamiliar with our brand.

Proposal pop-up on landing page
Proposal pop-up on landing page

Tip #8: Match the CTA

As previously mentioned, if you give your prospects too many options, you might find they’re spread too thin on results rather than a prospect being focused on one key action you really want them to take. If you tell me that I am going to get a case study in the ad, I would expect to land on a landing page that confirms I will get exactly that.
Having the CTA match offers an additional benefit of easy navigation to the next action area, so visitors can receive whatever was promised in the ad. It would be a poor user experience to get to a landing page and have to scroll and scan around for awhile to find out where I get my case study.
If you are curious what CTA copy to test with ads and landing pages, read “37 Proven Ways to Create the Strongest Call to Action Copy.”

Tip #9: Match Number of Variations

Find the magic number for specific dedicated landing pages for ad variations. Less can be more.
KlientBoost A/B tested a series of ads across AdWords and Facebook for its case studies landing page. It saw a 23% conversion rate on the landing page (under Tip #5).

We tested all these ads for one landing page
We tested all these ads for one landing page

It goes both ways: you might want multiple landing page variations for one ad. For instance, two people might be drawn to click by the same ad, but require different information on the landing page to move them to conversion.
If I am interested in hiring a marketing specialist, I might be more concerned with their years of experience whereas someone might be more cost conscious.
This is an example where some variation on the landing page may be warranted. That being said, you do have more real estate to work with on a lander as opposed to an ad, which means you can still include variations in additional elements without changing elements that are already in play for message match.

Tip #10: Keep It Simple

You don’t have to go all out from the get-go. In fact, when you’re testing, you want to change one element at a time to make sure that you can attribute results to a specific change.
Keep your message clear and concise. People don’t have much time to read.
This doesn’t mean you have to go-in for a direct ask right away. For instance, you can ask a question without an answer, and still draw people in. But think about how your target audience will read into a message -- take our jargon or any additional words that aren’t necessary.

This should not be your visitors.
This should not be your visitors. - image source

They should be able to quickly get the message from both your ad and landing page. Imagery can help with conveying a message without having to write a big block of text. Include it where you can (like KlientBoost does with GIFs pasted image 0). I’m sure your visitors will appreciate it.
Keeping your landing page more simple and minimalistic is a landing page trend, too. Your ads should probably follow suit.

Tip #11: Match with Email

There are many articles out there that reference ads to landing page message match, but what about after someone completes an initial conversion?
I mentioned previously how sometimes it benefits to look at the bigger picture of a customer journey. For instance, after I have entered my email to receive that e-book download, that provider can now send me follow up emails (as long as I approved them to do so, based on CAN-SPAM laws).
More brands are hitting prospects with a multi- or omni- channel approach in mind, which means they get targeted on multiple channels throughout their journey--so don’t fall behind your competition by not considering the same approach.
Here’s an example of how we engage landing page to email message match…
Let’s say someone starts out on our blog, here is what they will find:

  1. Featured images have the same blue overlay
  2. Featured images all have an icon if a previous post
  3. The title is always formatted in title case and on two lines.
KlientBoost blog shows consistency in imagery in formatting
KlientBoost blog shows consistency in imagery in formatting

Does it really matter to keep this consistency? People can subconsciously feel something is “off” without knowing why. These subtleties can make a difference in comfort level of visitors and building their trust in the information we provide on our blog.
Think about it: why would someone put in all this effort to present crappy information? If a brand puts this much care into formatting and consistency, it hopefully speaks to the care they give to the content they provide.
Moving on, if someone then subscribes to our email list on the blog, they’re added to a list where they receive updates when future blog posts get published.

Blog subscriber email blast
Blog subscriber email blast

I don’t know about you, but I receive a lot of emails -- and if it isn’t clear where an email is coming from or why I am receiving it, I am probably going to unsubscribe.
Luckily, there are a few things about this blast that match:

  1. It utilizes the same images that are on the actual blog post pages.
  2. The copy has the same casual style that you can find in blog posts

Additionally, because we include 2 prior posts--if someone is a new subscriber--there is a chance the reader will have read one of the previous posts and remember wanting to join our email list.
With these emails, we are helping warm up our prospects and, hopefully, move them further down the funnel. Perhaps, a visitor didn’t get enough information from the first blog they read to justify him or her making a conversion. By sending this email, I am providing additional free information to assist with educating and showcasing expertise of the team at KlientBoost.

Tip #12: Declare the Benefits

Declaring the benefits is what helps separate your message from similar ones your viewers might be digesting. It isn’t about you; it is about them.

What your viewer is thinking.
What your viewer is thinking. - image source

Instantly cover what you offer and the value provided, so it’s clear why someone should care about your ad or offering. Give it serious thought: is it really just about cost and who offers more features, or is there a more intrinsic need that can be met. If you can tap into that core need, you’re golden.
Whether it’s one element match or the combination of them, that is something you will have to test yourself (as performance varies based on several factors: industry, target audience, etc.). Just make sure that the benefit and value the prospect receives is never lost in translation as they carry on in the journey.

How to Resolve the Conundrum of Poor Message Match?

Food for thought: Should we really be thinking about resolving the problem of poor message match or is it about resolving the problem of low conversions? Landing message match is just a factor to consider in the mix.
As you start testing, the analytics will help guide your decisions, so you can decide whether poor landing page message match could be the cause of not meeting your goals. Start with evaluating your current landing page message match with corresponding ads -- and make sure to include some other creative options into your tests, so that you are misdiagnosing.

Now I got you thinking
Now I got you thinking - image source

Consistency is great for a lot of reasons previously mentioned -- but keep in mind the full experience you want your potential customers to have. What will you need initially to entice them to click and what will you need after to make them feel it is worthwhile to convert (and continuously as may be desired). Maybe variation of text or design works better at a given stage  for the particular journey you want to take them on.
Also, keep in mind when you are testing, creating a specific landing page for each variation of your ads isn’t always warranted. Evaluate granularity of changes vs time and money spent on the effort.
There are definitely benefits to having all campaign materials (ads, landing page, emails) be consistent in offering and audience target -- but if you’re A/B testing a small change or element on the ad or landing page, it may not be substantial enough for you to create an entirely new campaign piece to align.

Over to’s time to start putting the pieces together to find the right match.
Discover more tips and insight about message match in another one of our KlientBoost blog posts -- and as always, we welcome your comments/questions below. We would love to hear about any times you have seen success or not with landing page message match.

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