For some time now, Facebook has had a great feature for us advertisers called Facebook Custom Audiences.
Facebook Custom Audiences allow you to upload your existing customer email list to Facebook to see which of your existing clients’ emails are liked to profiles on the site. If it finds a match, then you are able to target Facebook ads directly to your email list.
It created great excitement in the Paid Search world last month when Google announced – Customer Match.
Some Paid Traffic illuminati have described this as the most exciting update in the history of AdWords. Well that might be a slight overreaction but Customer Match does throw up some interesting opportunities.
So what does it involve?
This is all about taking those prospect and client email addresses that you’ve been gathering for ages (you have haven’t you?) and uploading them to your AdWords account. Straight away you have
two types of email address – those of existing customers and those who have enquired or in some way interacted with you, but have not become customers.
Customer Match allows you to upload each of those lists to the AdWords platform for subsequent marketing.
If it’s your existing customer list, then you can target them via AdWords or YouTube with exclusive customer offers. On the other hand, you can use that same list as an exclusion list so that you don’t show a specific message to existing customers.
It strikes me that this is perfect for banks who seem to offer prospective customers a better deal than existing customers…or is it just me who thinks that?
You can also take your prospect email list, upload it and then market to people who have shown an interest in your products and services but have not taken that final step to becoming a customer
– an enticing, time limited offer perhaps? Once they do become customers it’s easy to switch them to your customer list and then upload to AdWords.
Of course, Google being Google it means that there are a lot of rules and regulations with Customer Match which Google refers to as “policy documentation”. For example, you can only upload
email addresses which you have obtained in what Google refers to as “first party context”. In plain talk this means email addresses that you have obtained through website forms, apps, in-store data collection, exhibitions & shows.
Basically the email address must belong to someone who has actually expressed an interest in your product or service – so no purchased cold lists.
Oh, and the other thing that needs to be done in order to comply with Google policy is you must (the set up process won’t continue unless you do) provide an email opt-out page. This is a page that a visitor will be taken to if they click on Google’s “Why This Ad” pop-up. This allows the visitor to manage their email preferences directly from the ad. A bit of a pain for us advertisers, but it’s Google’s ball and if we want to play in their game…
One other point, and it’s not just with Customer Match, Google will slap you hard, very hard, if you either wittingly or unwittingly attempt to collect personally identifiable information.
So how do you go about setting up Customer Match…?
The first thing to do is to prepare your list data.
First off, the file needs to be in a .csv format. Google recommends that your list is hashed (a technical term for scrambling the email address for data integrity and security). You can do this using the SHA256 algorithm, an industry standard for one-way hashing.
Surprisingly, Google will accept a non-hashed .csv file – so it really depends upon how you view your own customer data and to what extent you want to protect it from misuse. The file must be no larger than 17Mb, which, according to Google should be around 500 email addresses.
By the way, Google destroys your customer data 7 days after the file has been up loaded.
Once you’ve prepared the list in the correct format you then go to the Shared Library in your AdWords account and, under Audiences, click <View>. You’ll then see a red +REMARKETING LIST box – click this and, in the drop-down, select <Customer Emails>.
You’re then given the opportunity to provide a name for this audience. It’s not a bad plan to give this audience a name that will mean something to you a few weeks down the line. List #1 is never ever going to be a good name!!
Then you have to provide your opt-out link address; if you don’t you won’t get past this stage. You then set how long you want this list to last – the default, and max is 180 days – and I see no reason to change that. It comes as no surprise that Gmail addresses match best but Google will attempt to match non-Gmail addresses as well.
Then you can upload your list. This might take some time depending on the size of the list. During this time Google will show “In Progress” and then “Successful” once the list has been uploaded.
In the early tests done by Larry Kim’s team at Wordstream, Google Customer Match just outperformed Facebook Custom Audiences in terms of actual matching of email addresses. Twitter’s Tailored Audience was amongst the also-rans.
You then need to select the keywords you want to target, then, there’s one other choice – whether to show ads exclusively to your new uploaded list or to others who also fit the targeting criteria.
Have a great Christmas.