A common problem Internet advertisers experience is what I call match deficit where they include a message in their ads that doesn’t match with something the user expects. This problem simply crushes conversion rates and leaves the advertiser basically just throwing money at Google/Facebook without ever seeing a return on ad spend.

When a user sees your paid ad and clicks on it, it is because something was triggered in their brain that made them want to act. When you start to change-up your messaging and colors this messes with their heads, confuses them and causes them to leave your page without ever converting. A common symptom of match deficit is a high click through rate (because you have great ads) and low conversion rate (because the user is confused and disappointed when they are taken to your page).

Match deficit can come in a variety of forms, but I will dig into the three main ones:

  1. Message Doesn’t Match the Medium

Marshall Mcluhan once said, “The medium is the message” and he was right. The medium that your ad appears on changes the context and makes a dramatic difference in user expectations. It is important to meet (or match) those expectations.

By medium, I mean the device (desktop, mobile or tablet) as well as the network your potential customers are on. Users on Facebook expect different things from that medium than users on Google, just as users on their mobile phones are looking for something different than users on desktop devices.

You need to think about the medium that your user is on and match your message to the medium.

For example, I was using my laptop, typed in the phrase personal injury lawyer and was shown the following ad:

How am I supposed to call?

How am I supposed to call?

The message does not match the medium at all – how am I supposed to call when I am on a desktop? There is no phone number!

If I were on my trusty iPhone where the medium is a mobile device (and the advertiser had enabled call extensions or even phone number extensions), then this text ad would have matched the medium.

As a user, I find this lack of match to my medium to be frustrating and confusing. I would click on another ad that allows me to get information online.

Take time when crafting your ads to make sure that what you are offering makes sense to the context that the user views your ads.

  1. Match the Design

One thing that throws users is when they click on an ad and then are taken to a landing page that looks nothing like the ad. The design is completely different, the colors are different, and users assume they were taken to the wrong page.

For example, take a look at the following example (provided by WordStream).  It is the display ad for insightly as well as the landing page.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 11.34.16 AM

The landing page looks nothing like the ad at all.

If you clicked on this ad would you continue on in the sales funnel or would you leave because you thought you were on the wrong page? I am willing to bet you would leave.

When creating your ads and landing pages try to keep the colors and design consistent and congruent.

  1. Match the Call to Action

The call to action is what you tell the user you want them to do.

It is usually framed in a benefit statement like Get Your Free Quote Now or Sign up for 15% off. A call to action is a way to entice users to click on your ad and convert. However, sometimes the call to action on the ad doesn’t match the call to action on the landing page – and ….you know what is coming – the user gets confused,  frustrated and leaves without providing their information.

Here is an example:

I performed a search for life insurance and saw the following ad:

Life Insurance

I was intrigued and per their call to action I was ready to schedule a call for a quote. However, when I clicked on their ad I was taken to this landing page:


Life Wiazrd

Where is there anything about scheduling a quote?

I would call them to express my anger about being promised something and then them not delivering….but there is no way to contact them!

You can see that match deficit can crush your Internet advertising campaign and should be avoided at all costs.

What is the worst message match you have seen in paid search advertising?

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