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The Importance of Message Match: Landing Pages 101

So, you’ve heard about this “message match” thing, and you’re wondering how it’s relevant to your educational marketing needs. It’s actually a pretty simple concept. Let’s take an example of a PPC campaign. You want to run a set of Search or display ads to help increase attendees to your upcoming open house. The goal would be to get signups for the upcoming session. The page’s sole reason for existing is to get a form completion. In order to do that, you need to take message match into consideration.

What is message match? #CarnegieConf speaker Oli Gardner defines it as "a measure of how well your landing page copy matches the phrasing of the ad or link that brought the visitor there. For PPC marketers, this means matching your ad copy to your landing page headline. Strong message match increases conversions because it reassures people they’ve come to the right place."

The conversion marketing glossary thanks to Unbounce.com

By matching the copy of your ads with your landing page, you increase the chances that your visitors continue with your call to action and don't exit your page. There was a reason why they clicked on the ad with that specific copy in the first place. You already have a completed micro conversion—why would you want to stop there? Keep the momentum with a consistent message. Reinforce your message and help your visitors get what they want. Going back to our open house campaign example, if you are running an ad for the event and drop your user on your homepage or a specific program page instead of a “sign up for the open house here” page, you are not giving the user what they are looking for. People don’t like that. Too many options, and users could get distracted. Match the ad’s copy visually and textually to the landing page. In a perfect world, you would actually design a dedicated landing page for each different ad.

But message match doesn’t stop at the copy of the ad and your landing page. You also need to have design elements in common. Keeping the same image or the same people from your ad on your landing page is extremely important.

Another important reason to make sure you have a good message match is 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 prices and better ad positions. 

Take this example from outside higher ed. This is great message match. I clicked this ad to get 10% off at Lowe’s and what do I see as a headline once I reach the landing page? My 10% off coupon on www.lowesmoving.com. This particular landing page has some issues we can cover later, but as far as message match is concerned, it is spot on.

Lowe's 10% OFF Ad

Lowe's landing page example

Seton Hall University provides this excellent higher ed example. 

Seton Hall University Open House Ad

Seton Hall University Landing Page example

Seton Hall is building some great momentum here. The user knows this is exactly where they want to be, and they can easily complete the conversion.

In summary, you want to make sure you match your ad copy to your landing page headline. Not only will it increase your conversions, but it could increase your quality score. By focusing on message match, you will increase the ROI on your PPC campaigns. Stay tuned for the next installment of Landing Pages 101 where we take a look at attention ratio.

More in our Landing Pages 101 series:

Do you have any questions or examples you want to share? Let us know in the comments. You can also follow me on Twitter @seo_george.

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