But first, let’s set the stage.

Message Match, the Long Tail, and Segmentation

We believe that message match is the foundation of great post-click marketing. Message match means that when someone clicks on one of your ads—one that sets expectations for them, explicitly or implicitly—the landing page they receive fulfills those expectations. This is also called clickthrough continuity.

For example, if you search for “discount Vermont vacations” and you click on an ad that talks about family-friendly getaways, then you expect the landing page you arrive at to present you with discounted family vacation content. That’s message match. If the page you land on is geared towards luxury romantic holidays instead, no discounts in sight, you feel cheated or confused—and move on to the next advertiser. That disconnect is message mismatch, and when it happens, it wastes your ad dollars, wastes your audience’s time, and damages your brand. Unfortunately, message mismatch happens a lot, especially in search marketing.

We’re also advocates of long tail strategies in online marketing: the more specific your message is to particular target audiences, the more effectively you will convert them. Instead of trying to optimize a generic one-size-fits-all message, embrace the diversity of your market with tailored, authentic conversations to each niche.

Finally, we believe that audience segmentation—often even among people responding to the same ad—is the lens by which most everything in post-click marketing should be framed.

Essentially this boils down to three things:

  • place specific, intentional ads
  • fulfill those expectations with specific, intentional landing pages
  • understand the audience segments responding to them and disambiguate when necessary

So, how do you organize your online marketing to achieve this? This is where a message map can help.

Message Match Message Map

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image of Scott Brinker

Scott Brinker is co-founder and CTO of ion interactive, a provider of landing-page management software and conversion-optimization services. He also writes a blog on marketing technology called Chief Marketing Technologist.

Twitter: @chiefmartec.