10 min

Following the lead of Facebook and Twitter, Google now allows you to use your mailing lists contacts (that are opt-in of course!) to run targeted campaigns on Adwords. How? With their new feature called Customer Match, which was introduced in early October.

In the past we’ve covered how to integrate your email marketing with Facebook, such as by using the MailUp app to acquire email new subscribers on Facebook (more ideas on using email marketing and Facebook in this article by our friends at AdEspresso). Today,  we’ll show you how to leverage your email marketing activities with Google Adwords and Customer Match.

How does Customer Match work?

It’s pretty simple.

  1. You upload your list of email addresses on the Adwords platform
  2. The system checks if there is a match between those email addresses and any Google users (the email addresses are deleted 7 days after that check occurs).
  3. You can now target that audience with specific Adwords campaigns.
  4. When those Google users are logged into their Google accounts and use Gmail, YouTube or Google search, they will see those targeted ads.

It’s a powerful marketing feature: it’s not only advanced remarketing, but also an effective cross-device and cross-channel tool, since Adwords campaign can be shown to Google users regardless of whether they are using a desktop or mobile device.

Practically speaking, how do I start?

Don’t worry! It’s pretty easy to activate Customer Match. In your Adwords account, go to your Shared Library and then view your Audiences. That’s where all your remarketing lists are.

Click to add a new remarketing list and – in the dropdown – select Customer emails:


You will be taken to the page shown below. This is where you upload your list of email addresses. It’s best to upload a CSV text file, and keep in mind that the file shouldn’t exceed 17 MB.


It’s always a must to adhere to permission marketing best practices and have the consent from your subscribers. By providing an opt-out link, you can allow those that see these targeted ads to opt-out of your email communication, and therefore also from the list that you uploaded and from the targeted ads.


Once you upload the file, Adwords checks that your list of email addresses are Google users. A few seconds and voilà! The system shows you the number of email addresses that you can effectively use for your remarketing list and use in an Adwords campaign thereafter.

Why should I use it? Pros and cons

Let’s think of a brand that wants to promote a certain product. Very often brands choose display advertising that target a broad, not well-defined audience. As a result their campaigns don’t perform well and costs are high. With Customer Match, the same brand could focus the campaign on a custom audience that has already purchased its products and/or signed up to receive regular email communications. The audience is more receptive, the message is more targeted, and the campaign is likely to yield better results.

This type of custom targeting becomes especially useful for brands in e-commerce. For example, a retailer can create more than one remarketing list based on the email list membership duration, such as 3o, 60, and 90 days. Depending on the duration (how long that contact has been an email subscriber), our retailer can provide very relevant and targeted promotions and discounts: the idea here is that a recent subscriber is looking for a certain type of promotion – say an incentive to make a first purchase – while a subscriber who has been in the list for longer may be looking at different offers, such as a free shipping discount.

One limitation to keep in mind is that these Adwords campaign will be shown to email subscribers only when they are on a Google property – be it Gmail, Youtube, or search. By running some tests you could target specific channels and see whether a campaign performs better on Gmail vs. YouTube vs. search.

We’re using it!

We’re currently using Customer Match in our own Adwords campaigns. We wanted to try it out and provide a targeted message to our subscribers who requested a MailUp free trial, but haven’t yet purchased. Our objective is to increase the conversion rate of prospect to customer on both search (merging our top performing keywords to our free trial mailing list contacts) and on Gmail.

If you’re using Similar Audiences – from Google and Facebook – you can leverage it further with Customer Match. You can in fact target “similar audiences” of your list of email addresses from Customer Match; this means that you’ll be able to target Google users that have similar interests and behaviors as your list of contacts (and in our case, Google users who are interested in email marketing platforms).

We’ll keep you updated on our Adwords campaigns using Customer Match, and let you know our results of our first tests in a few weeks’ time.

We’d love to hear your experience: have you tried Customer Match or are looking at testing it? Let us know your thoughts and comments below.

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