Successful ad campaigns contain a string of variables.
From your ad text to your images, channel settings to audience targeting, there’s a plethora of options to get right (or screw up). And that alignment of variables ultimately determines if a campaign will survive and thrive or flounder and fail.
‘Message match’ gets you one step closer, aligning the Holy Trinity of Audience + Advertisement + Landing page.
Getting that right, exponentially increases the chances of improving your Relevancy scores, which then trickles down to lowering costs and converting more leads and customers.
Here’s how it works and why it’s important.
Why the AdWords Quality Score is Important
Back in the old days, AdWords was a straight auction.
Meaning: Your ad rank (or where you showed up on the search result pages) was the result of multiplying your Click Through Rate (CTR) against your Cost Per Click (CPC).
Relevance wasn’t taken into account, and therefore you could get away with expensive bids that would lift irrelevant ads or pages over others (regardless of quality).
In 2005, Google introduced the Quality Score as a way to tighten things up a bit.
It’s not a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) per se, but more a tool to help give you, the advertiser, feedback on how well your campaigns are organized (instead of being used in live auctions). So it’s more like a ‘check Engine’ light, alerting you to possible problems or providing the A-OK to forge ahead.
This aggregate score takes a few things into consideration, primally including your:
- Click Through Rate
- Ad Relevance
- Landing Page Relevance (Experience)
And because it’s been around longer (than Facebook ads), there’s (generally) more data available behind how it works.
For example, the higher the Quality Score, the better your CTR will be and the lower your CPC and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). This has been backed up in two separate studies of multi-million dollar ad spend accounts.
First, Larry Kim from Wordstream analyzed client accounts with a combined $100 million in annual spend. The correlation he found, was that a single Quality Score point difference in either direction resulted in a 16% cost change (or swing).
That means your CPA could rise or fall by 16% depending on how high (or low) your Quality Score was.
A few years later, Jacob from Disruptive Advertising audited 2,000 AdWords accounts worth hundreds of millions in ad spend too, coming up with strikingly similar findings.
This included a too-close-to-be-coincidental 13% correlation between Quality Score and CPC or CPA changes.
Your AdWords Quality Score is heavily correlated to higher (or lower) Cost Per Clicks you pay, and thus higher (or lower) Cost Per Acquisition (of leads) too.
Just like the relatively new Facebook Relevance Score.
How the Facebook Relevance Score Works
A little over a year and a half ago, Facebook introduced a Relevance Score to your ads (visible in the lower-right hand corner of an Ad Set, across from each ad).
Back in March 2015, shortly after being introduced, AdEspresso tested this new metric over a hundred thousand ads to determine what (if any) correlation it had with determining how much you have to pay.
Turns out, there was a clearly discernable link between the Relevance Score, the Cost Per Click you were paying, and your Click Through Rate. So the higher your Relevance Score, the higher your CTR and lower your CPC. Also, vice versa.
To experiment, they ran a split test between two campaigns: one with a specific custom audience and the other was randomly chosen. They used the same ad design and conditions to rule out other variables.
The #winning campaign resulted in 4 times more clicks, with a CPC of just $0.03 (compared with the ‘loser’ who had a CPC of $0.142 – or a ~79% CPA reduction).
And the Relevance Scores? One had an 8. The other a 2.9.
The Relevance Score then isn’t concerned with ad design, but more specifically with the audience relevance that you’re trying to reach.
So an ad that’s laser targeted to a specific audience segment will have a higher Relevance Score (and thus, lower CPC’s and CPA’s) than even the most brilliantly designed ad with breathtaking copy.
And both of these metrics so far – the AdWords Quality Score and Facebook’s Relevance Score – are driven largely by a single key ingredient: ‘message match’.
How to Improve Your Facebook Ad Message Match
‘Message match’ refers to “how well your landing page copy matches the phrasing of the ad or link that brought the visitor there”.
In AdWords, this becomes relatively explicit because people are typing in the exact words they’re looking for. You only have to consider the (obvious) intent behind that phrasing.
On Facebook though, it’s a bit trickier because people aren’t typing anything in necessarily. They’re instead finding things serendipitously, which means they didn’t even know they wanted it in the first place.
That’s a key distinction because it’s going to influence not only how you create new ad campaigns, but also organize multiple ones that work together.
The initial step in creating any Facebook ad campaign is determining your primary objective.
These next few words are the stupidest things ever written, but you should start by making sure this campaign will actually deliver on its selected objective.
Trite? Maybe. But here’s why that’s important…
Trying to nurture new leads? Go full-stop for engagement.
Want more website traffic and clicks instead? Employ clickbait where appropriate.
Every single tiny detail, from your copy to your CTA selection, should be setup to accomplish that one primary objective.
Which, when you think about the ramifications of this obvious yet important first step, means that you’re probably going to need several distinct campaigns executing on these different objectives to eventually transform strangers into buyers.
That refers to a fleshed out Facebook Sales Funnel that has individual campaigns with their own audience targeting and creative techniques to present offers and information to people that is as relevant as possible.
Here’s how this works in practice.
Step #1. Attracting Visitors
The most difficult first step involves attracting the right people to your site who might, one day, eventually, become a lead.
Trouble is, you’re not always sure who they or what they look like (demographically speaking, of course).
Simple content promotion can help you figure this out, promoting different content pieces to specific audience segments to (a) begin to figure out what messaging works best while (b) getting a decent volume of potential prospects to your site as inexpensively as possible.
In this instance, clickbait can work beautifully by tying together effective techniques like pattern interruption with common problems and issues plaguing readers.
Here, Minq appeals to those procrastinators who’re in need of time-sensitive costume ideas, tying in other interests like using clever makeup ideas to fix or prevent missing out.
You might have to experiment a bit at top of the funnel to reach brand new visitors who haven’t heard of you just yet. It’s a balancing act where you want to target a specific buyer persona or customer segment, yet keep it broad enough (like 1-2 million users) to make sure there’s enough demand for meaningful results.
One excellent tip from Massimo is to use ‘interests intersection’, where you’re targeting people that are interested in more than one broad category (e.g. Gluten Free AND Vegetarian recipes).
For example, people who recently ran a Rock and Roll marathon (which has raised over $300 million for different charities) and also likes St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital would be a decent match for an interactive cancer quiz ad.
Moving further down the ‘sales funnel’ makes audience targeting super simple, because you can continue to refine and build custom audiences along the way using manual customer files (which we’ll come back to in a second), website traffic, app activity and engagement on Facebook.
Starting again at the top, anyone who’s been to your website or engaged with you on Facebook are excellent starting points for your first content promotion campaigns.
You can also try to create lookalike audiences from current website visitors and blog readers if you’re stuck searching for new segments, because you know these demographics are a pretty good fit.
Step #2. Lead Generation
Audience targeting from here on out takes care of itself if you’ve got the right infrastructure in place – meaning you’re tracking visitors (and their actions) back to whatever it is that drove them there in the first place.
Ideally you can account for these subtle details and target recent visitors over the past 60 days to see which subsets convert best (along with which individual ads and value props).
You should also be split testing as many ad variations as possible here, where different ad elements like your images and headlines can help you figure out which variables work (and score) best.
Start with basic segmentation based on someone’s location, or their specific role or customer segment.
For example, you might sell one product to multiple segments like attorneys and dentists. After clicking on the appropriately relevant ad, they should see a specific landing page that includes the same value prop, the same headline, and the same image (more or less).
So here’s what one would look like:
My company creates these new custom page templates on WordPress websites using Advanced Custom Fields + Flexible Content to create customizable templates we can change on the fly with just a few simple edits.
For example, you can upload images quickly and toggle between radio buttons to switch out hero images.
Or you can copy and paste different titles so you don’t have to worry about messing with commonly frustrating WYSIWYG formatting errors slowing you down.
That means you can create TONS of page variations like this for all those ads you’re testing, with message match as specific as possible by with just a few keystrokes on each page.
Step #3. Convert Customers
Assuming you’ve done the dirty work of generating attention with specific buyer personas or segments, and then generated quality leads from those groups, the rest should be easy.
They give you a dynamic way to show a specific ad for a specific product that someone was just viewing on your site. Perfect message match in action, updated and switched out on the fly programmatically.
For lead-gen businesses, you should also be creating new custom audiences based on your specific leads lists as well, which can be manually uploaded the old fashioned, time consuming way…
This way any new leads generated from Facebook can be imported directly into HubSpot workflows for example, kicking off other powerful techniques like SMS or marketing automation or even direct mail – making the highly touted multi-channel marketing a living, breathing thing for all SMBs.
You can even segment people further, going to extreme lengths, based on if someone has visited the original landing page BUT NOT the thank you confirmation page they would have seen (had they successfully converted).
These visitors are different from others who’ve visited the homepage BUT NOT the pricing page. Or those that have already viewed three case studies and been to your pricing page fives times over the past thirty days. The possibilities are only limited based on the number of hours you sleep.
One final tip though. Stick to Desktop placement when driving leads or sales, and optimize based on Cost Per Lead (which will be driven down as we’ve seen as that Relevance Score improves).
‘Message match’ is notoriously difficult to get right within Facebook advertising because there are so many variables to each campaign.
It gets even more complex and tricky when you have to layer together different campaigns for all of the possible sales funnel objectives like generating attention, new leads, or sales.
The reason it matters though, is that the most beautifully designed ad – hitting every single best practice imaginable – can still underperform an ad with mediocre design and average copy if their audience targeting is weak.
How well your ads and pages target specific users will dictate your Relevance Score.
Which determines where you show up, what you’re gonna pay, and what your ROI looks like at the end of the day.