Google Customer Match: How To Use And Easy Guideline

Google Customer Match

Customer Match was introduced some time ago by Google. The objective is to allow advertisers to use their CRM data for Search, YouTube and Gmail campaigns. In this post, you will find all what you need to know about Google Customer Match. Also, i’m sharing with you a guide to how to activate it in your Google Ads campaigns.

Google Customer Match, what is it?

In a nutshell, Customer Match allows advertisers to create and target (or exclude) their own user lists simply by uploading prospect email addresses. You can then apply these lists to Search, Gmail or YouTube campaigns and thus create personalised experiences based on user attributes / stages in the buying process.

How Customer Match works ?

Technically, Google will identify users who are in the advertiser’s email list and assign them a cookie. This cookie will allow to recognise then when they are searching on Google. 

Suppose you are selling decoration items. The keyword “Lamp” is probably too expensive to buy because it is broad and the competition is stiff. 

With Customer Match, you can show ads only to people who have already made a purchase and are now looking for a “lamp”. 

Of course, keyword CPC will still high, but the interest of targeting these users will probably be higher.

Returning visitors are often also better converting customers. Customers who have already made a purchase are more likely to make a purchase from the same store.

How to use Google Customer Match?

Customer Match is similar to RLSA, with the difference that you can target based on email addresses and not just previous visits to your website. 

How to use Google Customer Match?
How to use Google Customer Match?

Here are some ideas for a proper use of your email database with Google Customer Match :

1 – Lead Conversion

Do you have prospects who downloaded a white paper or subscribed to your newsletter? You can then display specific ads for this group as they expressed an interest for your product / servicePersuade non-engaged users : Are you offering a product trial for 30 days? With Google Customer Match, you can consider targeting users who have completed their trial period.

2 – Recover your old customers

This is useful especially for restaurants, spas, cinema… to find back their customers looking for a new place to dine, relax… You can push a customised ad for this users with a special price offer. 

3 – Keep returning customers 

If your product or service is purchased on a recurring basis, you can reach out to existing customers at the right time. Suppose you have a school supply store. You can reach everyone who made a purchase last school year, on competitive keywords that normally are not profitable.

4 –Offer Similar Products / Cross-selling 

You can offer products or services that are complementary to yours when your existing customers start looking for them. I.e: A travel agency can target people who have booked a trip and start searching for “car rental” in Google.

5 –Target employees of certain organisations

You can connect with these people after having retrieved their addresses in a legal manner. Exp: You run a nursery and you want to target hundreds of employees of a company next to you. 

6 – Excluding Existing Customers

You can also choose to not show ads to existing customers. For example, if a user has already booked a summer vacation, you don’t need to show him summer ads.

Customer Match – Terms of use

Google Customer Match is an interesting tool. But before using this feature, you must respect these main rules:

  • Collecting email addresses must come from a legal source: customers, subscription to a newsletter, download guide, applications, stores, etc.
  • Tell your users – and in some cases ask for their consent – that you will share their information with third parties for advertising purposes. 
  • Comply with all   applicable laws and regulations  for serving ads on Google Ads .

Shadow zone

Despite the above rules, there still is a gray area when it comes to implementing Customer Match. Indeed, it is impossible for Google to determine whether addresses were collected in a legal manner. 

The following questions thus seem legitimate to ask:

  • Target customers who have already unsubscribed
  • Use purchased mailing lists
  • Target customers / prospects who have not given their consent
  • Display personalised ads for your targets after scraping their email addresses from LinkedIn

Customer Match Vs Remarketing

A Customer Match campaign is very similar to a remarketing campaign… with the big difference that remarketing / RLSA is based on the behavior of an audience on the website (website visit, particular action on the website…) – While –  Customer Match is based on the advertiser’s marketing / or business data (customers, age, gender, geolocation, etc.).

Audience relevance 

In terms of relevance, we can say that audiences linked to Customer Match are more qualified and closer to customer objectives because they include data that the RLSA does not support such as the degree of loyalty, purchase habits …

Limits of Customer Match Vs RLSA

The two main limits of Customer Match are:

  • customer database quality
  • low volume compared to RLSA lists

Audience volume

For both Customer Match and RLSA, the audience volume in the list must contain at least 1000 users to be explored.


Unlike other targeting techniques, Customer Match makes it possible to continue targeting the user if he changes browser. 

In case of RLSA and other remarketing techniques, if the user starts on a browser A and switches to another B to continue his journey, he will not be recognised by Google Ads as having already visited the advertiser website. 

Whereas, in the case of Customer Match, the cookie is placed on the user’s browser each time he connects to his Google account via a browser.

How to set up Google Customer Match

Below are the steps to follow to set up a customer correspondence list.

  • Go to your shared library. From there, select the Show option in the Audiences section.
Go to Audience manager in Google Ads
  • Click on the + and choose Customers list
Create customer list in Google Ads
  • Let’s go to create this list
    • Audience name: Remember to use a descriptive title to name your list, based on prospect attributes. 
    • Select the first option and upload your file. Google will encrypt emails in your file directly on your computer using SHA256 algorithm – which is the industry standard for one-way hashing. If you don’t know the file format to import, here are all the instructions for formatting the Customer Match file   – but also the template for download.
    • An option lets you download encrypted email addresses upstream – if you don’t want Google to emails details. You can use a Customer Match SHA2.
Create a new audience - step 3

Keep in mind that the email addresses you import don’t have to be Google will try to match non-Gmail addresses to specific users. According to several sources, the correspondence rates are rather excellent – We are talking about 50% !

  • Check the box certifying that the information in your file complies with Google’s Customer Match policies.
Customer match import emails
  • Optionally, you can specify the period for which users on this list can be targeted. The maximum is 180 days. If you prefer a shorter period, you can also choose 30 or 90 days. This decision depends on the relevance of keep offering something to users after 90 days. Your service or product may no longer be relevant.
  • Describe your list a little more. (Optional)
  • Finish by clicking on “Import and Create List”. 
  • Depending on the number of your contacts, be aware that the import can take up to 12 hours. 
  • Once the import is complete, a summary screen will appear. 
Customer match import process done
  • You are then redirected to the Audience page, containing a table that displays your imported list. “Running” –  indicates that your list is going through the compliance and reconciliations process. Please be patient, this process may take a while.

At this point, the process of creating and importing a customer list is complete. Don’t forget to add Customer Match to your campaign! 

You just have to go to your campaign> Audience, then click on the Edit button. You can choose to apply your new audience of imported emails either to the entire campaign or to a specific ad group. 

Customer Match add audience to campaign

In summary

Google Customer Match offers new possibilities for Search advertisers to target prospects and customers without having them visited your website or even searched for your product / service.

If you are having success with Google Customer Match, feel free to share your experience below!

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