Update: Within the ever evolving landscape of AdWords, Customer Match has had an upgrade.

Currently Customer Match only allows you to target people within Google search, YouTube & Gmail, however this is about to change.

Google are running a beta test for Customer Match for Shopping, which enables you to apply a custom email list to shopping campaigns. This is really exciting for ecommerce campaigns, as it will enable you to really push products in front of people who are already brand advocates.

Customer Match for Shopping will also be good for pushing new lines of products or a more streamlined option for increasing sales through the gifting periods without having to sacrifice ROI.

As we know, Google Shopping produces much better ROI than traditional search campaigns and, with the addition of email lists, this is bound to continue.

As you’ll have seen, Google have released a product called Customer Match to enable marketers to create specific audiences based on email addresses. The concept isn’t new – Twitter and Facebook have allowed email-based custom audiences for a while now – but Google’s Customer Match is certainly going to make life more interesting.

First, we’ll take a look at some of the ways Customer Match is going to improve marketing, and then we’ll examine a couple of the risks it may bring with it.

Better remarketing audiences on Google’s Ad Networks

Remarketing is now a must-have for every digital marketer, but until now it has been largely based on cookies and, as we know, cookies have their limitations – for example, they don’t cross-device and they can be deleted or blocked.

Remarketing based on an email address is a much stronger signal that you are talking to the person you think you’re talking to, and because of Google’s “One Account For All” strategy you can be confident that your remarketing will accurately move between Google Search, the Display Network, Gmail-sponsored promotions and YouTube.

Better customer engagement by building Ad audiences based on CRM data

Customer engagement and the building of relationships is where marketing is/should be heading. It’s the one true competitive advantage: if you compete based on price, someone will find a way to be cheaper; if you compete on product features, someone will find a way to copy; if you compete with a cool brand, someone will find a way to be cooler. Having a meaningful relationship with a customer is something that can’t be copied or mimicked.

It goes without saying that a CRM platform, and probably a marketing automation platform depending on your business’s size, is a prerequisite.

I think that the ability to use this CRM (or marketing automation) data with Customer Match is the most exciting benefit it brings. By syncing your customer data with Customer Match’s audiences, you can build or nurture the customer relationship in your advertising messages.

Marketing automation tools, like Marketo, allow you to create ‘smart lists’ of customers based on where they are in the buyer journey. Now that you can push the email addresses in these smart lists to your Customer Match campaigns, you can talk to your customers in a much more intelligent way.

You can also adapt your communications based on CRM data. Let’s say you sell products with a renewal date or a finite lifespan – satnavs, for example, have map updates every year that customers can purchase. You could therefore use your CRM data to create a custom audience to reach the people who have not purchased a map update in the last two years and create a special offer just for them.

The possibilities are endless!

Real cross-channel audiences unified by email address

We’ve talked about Ads and Search, but the impact could be felt in every marketing discipline.

As we’ve previously mentioned, the email address is a reliable signal that you are indeed talking to the person you think you are.

And because the email address can identify a user across search, social, email and events, you start thinking about truly integrated campaigns where your customers receive consistent messaging when they search, when they tweet and when they open their emails.

Channels need to be more collaborative

As custom audiences enable cross-channel integrated marketing with common messaging, it will mean that marketers need to collaborate.

(Good) integrated marketing puts the customer at the centre and this means that marketers of all disciplines need to put aside their different KPIs and work together.

An example of this could be the typical landing page content debate. The goal for the landing page could be very different, depending on what type of marketer you talk to.

  • Social – “We want the landing page to be focused on generating likes and shares.”
  • Email – “The landing page must concentrate on getting users to subscribe to our newsletter.”
  • Search – “The landing page needs to attract high quality links.”

In this new ‘Customer Matching’ world where the email address is so valuable, it could mean that marketers of all disciplines need to focus on lead generation first and foremost.

What risks does it come with?

By now, you’re probably thinking “I NEED CUSTOMER MATCH IN MY LIFE!” While it sounds great and the possibilities are astounding, there are some things that may not immediately jump to mind that need to be considered first.

The cost of advertising could go up

First, there is the direct cost of advertising. Google are almost certainly going to recommend that you increase your bids when using Customer Match. Of course, you’re reaching an audience that’s more likely to respond, but this increased bid could mean your advertising budget doesn’t stretch as far.

In addition to the increased media cost, you’ve got to factor in the additional work that’s required to analyse and segment your audience and then create Ads and landing pages that are relevant to those audiences. Even if you have ample internal creative resources, all the extra collateral that needs producing has a cost attached.

Privacy policies

The line between being relevant and being invasive is a fine one. Marketers will have to be very conscious that Customer Match should be used to enhance Ad performance, not to scare customers with stalker tactics.

There is also a legal consideration to ensure that, when collecting email addresses, your privacy policy allows the use of email to target advertising.

Logged-in users only

As with other platforms such as Twitter, Google’s Customer Match will only be able to target users that are logged into their Google account.

This could reduce the size of the audience you reach and certainly means you need to think carefully about your fall-back options.

How does this change digital marketers?

So, in this new customer-centric, integrated, data-driven marketing world, what does technology like Google’s Customer Match mean for the marketers?

The Marketing Director’s perspective

The three things that will have to change in the Marketing Director’s world revolve around three main topics:

  • Team design
  • Budget allocation
  • Goal & KPI setting

Teams will have to be collaborative, integrated and measured on the same objectives (ultimately customer experience translating into revenue).

Budget planning is going to need to be flexible and ideally allow for experimentation. The emergence of new exciting tactics like Google Customer Match can tempt immediate, heavy investment. We’d always recommend allocating a small “prospecting” budget to experiment and learn about new tactics before they become part of the everyday mix.

Goal and KPI setting will also change. As teams work towards a common objective of customer engagement and revenue, they need to be measured in a way that allows this. For example, if Social is measured on ‘shares’ and Biddable measured on conversions, you’re never going to get them to collaborate effectively.

The SEO Manager’s perspective

The SEO Manager’s role in simple terms is to ensure a website is visible in relevant search results by creating a technically sound platform and developing high-value inbound links.

Customer Match’s potential means that the SEO Manager needs to think bigger. The role is now focused around generating relevant leads identified by email addresses. This could mean the focus shifts away from content that creates links to content that creates leads. Of course, you can see how this may shift attention and focus away from one-time linkbait articles, to more thorough, evergreen, informational articles.

The Biddable Media Executive’s perspective

Any Biddable Media Executive worth their salt should already be thinking about audience segmentation, but Customer Match means that these audiences just got much more granular. As long as the audience contains more than a couple of hundred individuals, the possible combinations of behavioural and CRM-based demographic signals are infinitesimal.

Of course, with an almost infinite number of choices, biddable media strategy becomes more about prioritisation in order to ensure budget is allocated in the most effective way possible.

How do you get started with Customer Match?

It’s available to advertisers now, but as you can tell, there’s a degree of thinking and planning needed before you get started.

If you’d like some help, we have been using custom audiences in biddable media extensively and have a methodology that’s been tried and tested a million times. Give us a call  on 01293 265 370 or email us at enquiries@rocketmill.co.uk and we’ll happily talk you through your options.