You see them almost every time you do a Google search: those ads that border the top, bottom and sides of the search results.  But how many of those ads are really walking the talk that their landing pages are making?  And how are those big, bold promises in the ad affecting visitors when they click through?  It’s a problematic area when it comes to landing pages, and today, we’re going to tackle it head-on.

Your prospect is examining a door.  But it’s not just any door, but rather something from yesteryear.  The heavy, thick wood has aged exquisitely.  It’s superbly crafted and set with rectangular carvings.  Dark, burnished metal inlays adorn the finish, and two iron knockers hang heavily to finish the design.

It might look a bit like this…

Your ad as a door

Impressed by the masterpiece before them, your prospect pulls open the creaking door and eagerly steps through to.  Images of renaissance art and spectacular architecture – an antechamber befitting such an impressive entrance – swirl through their head as they enter.

What they think is inside

But what they actually find is something – somewhat different.

What they find inside your ad

It’s interesting, and nonetheless historic, but the exact opposite to what they were expecting.  Within a few seconds, their assumptions shattered, they slip back out the door muttering something about “not as advertised”.

That finely-crafted door is your ad.  In other words, the entrance to your landing page and site.

People can (and do) judge a house by the door.  And exteriors – including doors – have people making assumptions that the inside will be just like the outside.

So when they click through the ad, they’re responding to something that’s pricked their interest.  And that’s the purpose of great ad copy: not just to draw eyeballs, but clicks as well.  

But with great attention comes great expectation.

And the second or two after they’ve clicked on the ad determines whether those expectations are met – or not.

Whether they’ll stay.  Or close the tab.

Meeting those expectations created by your ad on your landing page is critical if you want visitors hanging around longer than 10 – 15 seconds.  That means addressing them quickly: in the top 10% of the page if possible.  That’s going to get the most eyeballs, and you don’t want people having to search for those expectation-matchers – because most of the time they won’t bother.

Matching Expectations = Winning

You’ll get people to stay on the page longer.  You’ll get them to read the rest of your copy (where you’ve done a stellar job in convincing people to move towards the page goal.  You do know what the page goal is, right?  If not, read about it here…)

Aside: by the way, when it comes to Adwords, Google does a bunch of checks to see if your ad and landing page have similar or matching terms.  So if you do this, you’re increasing your ad’s “Quality Score”, which has extra benefits like paying less per click.

As I mentioned at the outset – this could be a big advantage if you do this right, as not a lot of businesses appear to be doing this well. I had to trawl through dozens of ads to find a match for more than 1 term from ad to landing page.  So get your message matching right and give yourself a competitive advantage.

Not Matching Expectations = 🙁

Well, it’s easy to be lazy and just point your ad to any old landing page – or even worse, your home page.  But those prospects that cost you $4.59 (or more) with a single mouse click are gone before you know it.  Your conversion rate drops, which in turn costs you more money to get a single sale, opt-in or whatever goal you’re chasing.

But let’s have a look at two examples to better illustrate the point.

Great Page Goal, Not-So-Great Matching

Here’s an ad for SugarCRM software:

SugarCRM ad

The ad’s headline is a bit of a mixed theme.  It’s apparently a top rated CRM, as well as one for mavericks – which seems a little contradictory*, but let’s move on.  Its page goal is clearly stated in the subtext – watch a demo – which is a positive.  Visitors are told what will happen on the other side of the click-through: a demo will be watched.

Here’s the landing page you’re taken to on clicking:

sugarcrm landing page
SugarCRM Landing Page circa June 2017

It’s short, sweet and on-point.  SugarCRM have nailed their page goal: demonstrate their product to visitors via demo and collecting contact details for follow-up.  The page has clearly been built as a custom landing page, and that’s a big tick.

But how well does the ad message match with the landing page copy?  Let’s score the main blocks from their ad.

  1. “Top Rated CRM Software” – Nothing about the software being No. 1 or top-rated on their landing page, so this promising claim lies untapped.  No marks.
  2. “The CRM for Mavericks” – Again, this theme of being unconventional or great for mavericks isn’t followed up on the landing page at all.
  3. “The Entire Customer Journey, Right At Your Fingertips” – Solving “real business problems” doesn’t really translate to a customer journey, nor does “creating extraordinary customer relationships”.
  4. “Watch The Demo Now” – As the page clearly shows, this one is a perfect match.  1 mark.

Even the features below the main ad copy (“Forecasting”, “Project Management” etc) aren’t mentioned on the landing page.

So, it’s a somewhat dismal 1 out of 4 for this deliciously-sounding software’s message matching.

With a landing page that’s short, sweet and on-point, they’ve avoided the cardinal (and all too common) sin of directing their ads straight to a non-tailored home or product page.

But.

Almost all the ad phrases aren’t reflected anywhere on the landing page.  The ad is talking one language and the landing page another.  Neither is making much of a connection with the other.

It’s a crime that’s committed far too often.  But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Hitting The G Spot

When it comes to productivity tools, Google has a lot of them.

Here’s an ad for one of their suites:

pasted image 0

When clicked upon, it whisks visitors to this landing page:

G Suite Landing Page
G Suite Landing Page circa June 2017

At a quick glance, things look a lot more promising.  But let’s get to the nitty gritty and see how Google’s message matching stacks up.

  1. “Get Email, Calendar, Docs & More For Your Business” – All are mentioned in the headline.  Can’t get much more obvious than that.  1 mark.
  2. “Try it Free” – With “Start Free Trial” buttons in the top-right corner and under the page headline, this one’s another winner.  1 mark.
  3. “99.9% Guaranteed Uptime” – Nice benefit, but not repeated anywhere on the landing page.
  4. “Cloud Based Productivity” – two mentions of the cloud near the top of the page, but it’s not the first thing you notice.  Half a mark.
  5. “24/7 Support” – Listed in the Gmail section as well as a separate benefit, this one’s clearly reiterated.  1 mark.
  6. “Flexible & Scalable” – Nothing mentioned, nothing scored.

In the interests of avoiding repetition, I’ll leave the services alone.  (Side note: they were a bit hit-and-miss).

The main body of their ad scored 3.5 from 6.  It doesn’t seem like a fantastic score either, but it outperformed dozens of other ads I reviewed.  It’s interesting to note even Google (i.e. the very people who control this ad medium!) don’t always get their own ads in sync with their landing page.  It just goes to show that while it’s rewarding, message matching is challenging.

Make It Shine

There are no 3 steps or magic formulas to ensure your message matching is on point.  It’s a simple (but not easy) task to ensure that what’s in your ad copy – and this applies for any other ad medium, like Facebook ads – is brightly reflected on your landing page.  That copy is what’s in their heads as they click: make sure it’s shining as their eyes take their first trip across your page.

Get this right and you’ll have a huge edge over your competition.  People will step through your cathedral door and be instantly wowed by the glorious chamber their minds had pictured.  More importantly, they’ll find exactly what they were expecting, and if they don’t thank you face-to-face, the extra attention and higher page conversion might be all the appreciation you need.

* I mean, if a maverick means unorthodox or unconventional (according to dictionary.com), then how can this be a top-rated CRM?  Wouldn’t that make it the conventional tool to use?