Google Customer Match: What is it? How does it work? 4 Strategies for Success

- Robert Davis
Google Customer Match

What is GCM?

Google’s Customer Match (GCM) allows advertisers to get closer to customers in the moments that matter. With Customer Match, you can build specific groups of customers which then form the basis of a Remarketing Audience List. GCM can be used in a more controlled way than traditional Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), as RLSA is limited to an understanding of actions on a website, whilst GCM audiences are based on actual customers, of which more information is known.

In this article, we’re going to explain how to set up GCM lists, and we’ll detail our top approaches for creating extra value by using GCM, we’ll cover the ways you can use groups of existing customers and how to tailor bids and messaging to fit the audience profile. These strategies vary in focus, and maximise the potential for engagement. You will learn how to apply these initiatives to your own campaigns, and will hopefully provide you with inspiration to discover new strategies to use yourself!

How Does GCM Work?

Note – This article builds on the basics of RLSA strategies. If you’d like to learn more about RLSA and remarketing in general, please read our blog articles HERE and HERE, our experts explain how remarketing works in more detail and cover best practices from basic to advanced levels.

GCM is a powerful tool to create segments or groups of users which you think may behave differently from others. Based on the expected behaviour, you can adapt your marketing strategy through paid search to fit their level of intent (or lack of intent, as the case may be). It is the ability to define groups of users based on purchase behaviour or CRM data that gives GCM the advantage over vanilla RLSA.

Once a group of users is created, for example let’s say a list is built for ‘anyone who converted in the last 2 years’, the emails are hashed for anonymity and then uploaded into Google AdWords. Google will process the email addresses and match any that it recognises from its own database of Google Account owners. Clearly, customers with Gmail addresses are likely to get matched easily, but even if the address is not Gmail, it is possible to be linked to a Google Account, and therefore matched correctly. When searching on Google whilst logged in, Google recognises that the user is in the audience and can act accordingly, based on advertiser instructions. In this example, perhaps you want to increase bids to ensure that ads appear in top positions for your existing customers. From here on, the audience works the same as any other RLSA list.

A quick note on match rates for GCM, as this is the amount of emails which are recognised. Importantly, the match rate varies by market. In countries where Gmail adoption is higher, we also see better match rates and therefore more accurate list building. If you are finding that the match rate of your GCM lists is small, then you can split out the emails into non-Gmail addresses and Gmail addresses and use only Gmail for accurate matching.

In order to find the match rate, you need to know your total email volume before uploading, then check the list size after a few hours to see the amount which have been matched. You can work out the percentage from these two numbers.

Now that you know what GCM is and how to implement it, let’s discuss strategy next.

Top Strategies for using GCM

The sky’s the limit when splicing and dicing your email database into groups, but here we’ll focus on a few of our favourites, categorised by strategy:


  • Define tiers of customers with low return or cancellation rates and target specifically through a separate campaign.
  • Reduce bids for existing customers who have a low average basket value, these customers don’t drive profit as well as others. By investing less through PPC for those segments, you’ll increase overall profitability.
  • Depending on your profitability calculations, create 3 tiers across the range, gold, silver and bronze. Push bids appropriately, aiming for more exposure across generic keywords for the gold tier.


  • Use Similar Audiences across both text ad campaigns and shopping campaigns to target additional prospective customers. These similar audiences have a high chance of being new customers, increasing reach and acquisition.
  • When performing tests or experiments in your accounts, use GCM for split testing different audiences or use GCM as a tool to help manage exposure within the test. Taking the results and applying the benefits to other areas of the account can help increase performance and reach.


  • When subscriptions come around for renewal, or the average purchase frequency time has passed, target these users with higher bid adjustments. If potential customers are back on the market, it’s important to appear in the SERP when they are researching.
  • Create an audience of customers who have gone cold and promote a special offer to these as an incentive for re-engagement.


  • Use complimentary product information to upsell to customers who have already bought. For example, use ad text or sitelinks to promote travel insurance after they bought a holiday package, or a handbag that typically goes well with that pair of shoes.
  • By creating gender based lists, landing pages and ads can be more tailored for non-gender specific queries. Women who search for ‘clothing’ could be better directed to the women’s section, rather than the department page.

If you have any other great strategies which worked in your own campaigns, be sure to let us know in the comments!


Robert Davis is a teamlead of ten PPC experts at crealytics. A PPC veteran with over 8 years working in the PPC industry, Robert has driven successful projects across multiple industry verticals. Specialised in the latest and greatest ecommerce search and Shopping strategies, he pushes the envelope when delivering performance.


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