Renu is Director of Digital Media at Vovia and is responsible for the complete execution of digital campaigns, which includes strategy, planning, execution, and optimization. When she is not working on the plans you can find her exploring the city and watching Bollywood movies.

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Google Customer Match: How to Use Email Databases for AdWords Targeting

Great New Feature!

Google is always coming up with new and exciting ways of reaching your customers across various channels and their newest innovation goes by the name of’ Customer Match’. Google developed Customer Match so that you can leverage all of your great first party data (Online and Offline) within Search, YouTube, and Gmail. This new retargeting method is not dependent on past online actions or cookie data, which users can delete or block. Instead, this feature connects a user’s email address to AdWords, enabling the advertiser to bid and customize ads as per the audiences in their email list(s).

Google Customer Match

As this is a brand new feature, I wanted to take a moment to explain some of the finer points of implementation and execution as Customer Match does behave a bit differently than your typical retargeting platforms.

Implementation Must-Knows

Here’s my personal implementation and limitation checklist! You’ll definitely want to keep the following in mind if you’re planning on leveraging Customer Match:

  • List Size – You’ll need a minimum of 1000 targetable customers before creating your list. This is done with the goal of keeping anonymity for both advertisers and customers.
  • First Party Data – Advertisers can only use the first party data — the email addresses which people/customers have submitted directly to the advertiser. Bought email lists or addresses not only are offside in Google’s eyes, the lack of consent could get you in trouble with CASL.
  • Gmail Only – The email addresses of the users you are trying to reach must be connected into their Google account. Namely, Gmail.
  • Unsubscribe Function – You must include a link to a dedicated “unsubscribe” page on your website where the customer can manage their email preferences.
  • Limited Networks – Customer Match is only available for Google Search, YouTube and Gmail sponsored promotions.

Now that you understand the limitations and nuances, it’s time to learn how it actually works!

How Customer Match Works

Executing Customer Match is actually quite simple once your list size is good to go:

  1. Upload first party data in Adwords as an audience list.
  2. Adwords matches email addresses to signed in users on Google.
  3. Target or Exclude new audience lists across devices and channels to improve the reach of your campaigns.
  4. Adwords generates ‘Similar Audience’ lists from the original email list (when available) to expand your reach even further! Please note, this is still is only available for Gmail and YouTube.

How Can We Use It?

This all sounds fine and good, but how do we use Customer Match strategically? Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • Bring Back Previous Customers: You can target the users who have purchased from your website in past, but have not visited your website recently. This will work great if you can pair it with a ‘win back’ offer of some sort. Also, if your product or service gets renewed or purchased in a recurring manner, you can reach out to the existing customers at the exact right time with the help of this feature.
  • Exclude Existing Customers: For products like mortgage or insurance, you can exclude the email list of existing customers so that you can focus your efforts on acquiring new customers instead of showing your ads to your existing customers.
  • Cross Sell Existing Customers: Customer Match helps advertisers to expand their services to their existing customer base by showing them ads for supplementary or complementary products. For example, a home insurance ad can be shown to a customer who already has auto insurance with your company.
  • Create Similar Audiences: Customer match can create an audience similar to your top tier, most profitable and most loyal customers. This is only available on YouTube and Gmail at present, but is a great way to expand your reach.
  • Promote Offers: If you have a new offer or deal and want to draw extra attention towards it, customer match can be a good fit.
  • Retrieving Offline Customers: With customer match, you can leverage the offline customer data in online campaigns. This is the best way to unite your offline efforts with Google advertising.
  • Reach Customers Across Devices: Cross device targeting has always been a limitation for remarketing as the tracking pixels and cookies are unique to the individual devices. With customer match, cross device remarketing is now both possible and accurate as long as the user is signed in with the same Google account across their different devices.
  • Get more personal: Advertisers can create various segments with their available email addresses and each of the segments can be served different creative and ad copy. This is a great way to execute more personalized and effective messaging for each segment.

How NOT to Use Customer Match

It is (currently) impossible for Google to determine whether uploaded email lists have been obtained legally, and though Google has not yet stated the penalties for violation of the terms, you can bet that they won’t take transgressions lightly. Do yourself a favour and avoid the following practices:

  • Marketing to an Unsubscribed Customer: Even if the user has unsubscribed for your email list, they can still be served ads via Customer Match. This can definitely be annoying to the user who thought that they cut ties with the advertiser. Make sure you are doing regular list maintenance so that you don’t run into this problem.
  • Using Purchased Email Lists: Even though it is against Googles Ts & Cs, advertisers could purchase an email list from third party sources and serve ads to the users via this method. I would strongly advise against this as Google will likely penalize accounts found to be performing this practice.
  • Targeting Employees at Organizations: You can guess the email addresses ( of employees in certain companies and can show ads to them. Google has yet to state whether or not paid Gmail services will be exempt from Customer Match, which is the case for Google Sponsored Promotions.
  • LinkedIn Addresses: It’s also possible to download email addresses of all your contacts on LinkedIn and present those addresses as first party data. Again, this is a frowned upon practice and obtaining proper consent truly is the righteous path.

To conclude, if you have a great email list and internal customer data, Customer Match is an great way to get even more value out of each customer! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started today!