Google Ads Customer Match Lists: What Are They and How Do I Use Them?

You’ve been collecting your customers’ emails for some time now but haven’t been putting them to good use. As long as you meet Google’s Customer Match requirements — a history of policy compliance, good payment history, 90 days of history in Google Ads, and more than $50,000 USD in total lifetime spend — it’s time to capitalize on them in your Google Ads account using ‘Customer Match’ lists.

Google Ads allows for client-collected data to be used as audiences in their Google accounts.  Maybe that’s a list of long-time buyers, people who have signed up for a newsletter, or another collected list of client data. This allows you to create curated lists to use as a layer of targeting within Search campaigns, or they can be used as a retargeting list or even to create a “Similar To…” or Lookalike audience list for prospecting purposes.

With the shift to a cookie-less Google Ads experience, loading your company’s customer and prospects lists will be as good as gold. That may be a stretch, but they will help you expand your reach.

You can upload email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, or mobile device IDs via CSV, through Zapier’s Customer Match integration, or the Google Ads API.

Two very important things to keep in mind:

  1. How You Collected the List: You must have acquired the list yourself, whether from a form on your site or when someone orders from you, etc. You may not purchase a list from a third party and load it to your site. Read more about Google’s first-party and third-party policies here.
  2. Your Audience List Size: You can slice and dice emails into as many segments that make sense for your business, but if there are not enough email addresses on that list, Google will not allow you to target that audience. You need to have a least 1,000 members within the last 30 days to use the list. 

To meet that threshold of 1,000 members, you’ll need at least 3,000 to 5,000 emails before you upload the list. Google takes the uploaded list and matches the data provided to a Google user. Because not every email address is attached to a Google user, you should expect at least 50 to 60 percent of your list to disappear. You can read more about how Google uses and handles the Customer Match data here.

Types of Email Lists to Load

 Popular email lists we like to see are:

  • All Emails
  • All Purchasers: could be for the last 12 months or all time; great for targeting for new products and sales, etc
  • Top Clients (VIPs)
  • Repeat Purchasers
  • Lapsed Users: those who have not ordered in X amount of days, months, years

While not applicable to all businesses, many of these are a great place to start. Make sure you update your email lists regularly – monthly is a good place to start, but depending on how fast your list grows, you might want to do it more frequently.

Real World Use Case for an eCommerce Client

Father’s Day is right around the corner, so this will be a very relevant example. Let’s say last year you killed it for Father’s Day with tons of orders coming in. Great – we now have a goldmine of emails waiting for us this year. Grab those users who ordered two to three weeks before Father’s Day, upload this list, and name it “Father’s Day 2020 Orders.”

Once the list has been loaded, layer it into your current search and shopping campaigns. Be sure to add a positive bid adjustment to these users as they have shown interest in the past to order, so you can make sure to be more competitive if they are searching.

I would also recommend creating remarketing Display and Discovery campaigns (if those do not already exist) and create an ad group to re-target just these users with a curated Father’s Day 2021 ad.

If you want to prospect and reach users who do not know your brand already, create prospecting Display and Discovery campaigns to target the Similar to audience that’s automatically created based on the Father’s Day 2020 Orders list.

What I am getting at here is there is a lot that you can do with just your Customer Match lists. You have the data on your end of top users, etc. Pairing this in conjunction with the millions of data points Google has can help boost your Google Ads campaigns.

If customer lists are not something you are already leveraging, try doing your first upload today. Layer it into existing campaigns in Observation mode, and see how it impacts your campaign performance. Then, take the best performing audience lists, and create Display and Discovery campaigns. Take your time, test, and grow.

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