Google announced the release of its Customer Match ad system in September of 2015.
It has a catchy name, and it definitely sounds good, but what’s it actually do?
That’s what we wanted to know. Here’s what we found.
What is Customer Match?
Google Customer Match lets you reach potential customers when they’re at critical sales moments.
To use it, you just upload an email list to Google AdWords. Then, Google looks at that list to see which email addresses are associated with Google products like Google search, YouTube, and Gmail. You can use this information to create custom audiences and create ad campaigns specifically for those audiences.
Basically, it’s highly-specific retargeting some of Google’s most popular properties.
Why all the hype?
Google reps have talked about Customer Match for a while now, but nobody fully realized how extensive — or accurate — it would really be.
First of all, this is by far Google’s most impressive implementation of identity-based targeting. Thanks to Google+, YouTube, and all the personal information people submit, Google has a pretty solid idea about its individual users.
On top of that, Larry Kim determined Customer Match has roughly a 50.4% match rate. That’s slightly higher than Facebook, and significantly higher than Twitter.
That means Google performs exceptionally well at matching up email addresses that you submit with people using Google properties.
So if you run email campaigns for your business — which you should — you can target the users who’ve subscribed through Google properties, too. That lets you reach one customer base in four different ways!
The hype is real.
As I mentioned earlier, Customer Match includes custom audiences. So the part of AdWords that gives you the most powerful targeting options is right there.
But Customer Match has other cool features too, like its ability to find and market to “similar audiences.”
Using the Similar Audience feature means you can expand your ad reach beyond your original email list as Google looks at other users who share similar interest to your audience.
So all of that data that Google’s collected over the past several years? It’s finally coming in handy for marketers.
What Customer Match means for companies
There are a couple big implications of Google Customer Match.
Messages get to your audience — not their spam boxes
First, once you start using Customer Match, you have the potential to get ads and messages to your audience without going through their Gmail inboxes.
That means no misfiling in the spam folder, no auto-trashing, none of that. You get your message to each individual on your mailing list, provided they’re still subscribed to your communications.
So, based on someone’s email address, you could reach out to them even if they haven’t used their Gmail for six months or more.
Advertising reaches people on multiple properties
One of the best parts about Customer Match is that it’s not email-exclusive.
You can still show up on Google search and YouTube, and all you need is an email address.
So even if someone doesn’t use their Gmail that often, or they maintain an old account, they could still see your ads in search or when they’re looking up videos.
A much bigger audience and many more opportunities
Of course, with that kind of reach, Customer Match means you have a lot of opportunities to get new customers for your business.
One of those opportunities occurs every time someone looks something up on Google or looks for a video on YouTube.
Think about how frequently you do that each day — and now apply that to everyone on your email list.
That’s hundreds, thousands, or even millions of additional interactions that you have with your audience.
Will all of them convert? No. But, like PPC, you won’t need that many conversions to make Customer Match well worth your time.
It’s even easier to overdo it
There’s only one drawback to Customer Match, and it comes from your audience’s perspective.
The Internet is jam-packed with ads everywhere. It’s really hard to find a site that doesn’t have them, and if you do, it’s probably trying to sell you something.
In that regard, consumers are constantly seeing ads everywhere, especially online.
You don’t want to be the agency that’s constantly in someone’s face when they don’t want to hear from you. But at the same time, you can’t predict when someone’s sick of you.
And considering you can keep in contact with people who have inactive Gmail accounts — meaning they probably don’t remember signing up for your newsletters or even your company — Customer Match could make you look like spam.
After all, if it’s been a while since they subscribed, they might think they’re seeing ads for a random company. That’s where you’ll have to create a battle plan for your Customer Match marketing.
You could easily just send ads to them anyway. Who knows? Maybe they’ll become a customer.
You could also prune your email list to remove inactive emails. If someone’s not using their Gmail, how likely is it that they’re using YouTube or Google search while logged into the same account?
You could also set up a protocol for when you delete emails from your email list and stop serving ads to them through Customer Match.
For example, if someone hasn’t clicked your Customer Match ads for two years, you could probably cut them from your list so you can focus on more qualified ad recipients.
All in all, Customer Match is an incredible opportunity for marketers. You just have to make sure you’re not going too far.
Are you benefiting from Google Customer Match?
Are you using Customer Match? Or do you plan to use it in the future? Let us know in the comments below!