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Customer Match Strategies to Find Your Most Valuable Audiences in Google Shopping

Phil Turicik

It costs at least five times as much to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. That’s why winning back familiar customers and engaging high-intent shoppers is always a top priority for e-commerce marketers.

Now that Google AdWords’ remarketing tool Customer Match is available in Shopping campaigns globally, the time is right to think about the many ways to segment your audience, create more targeted campaigns, and find untapped loyalty opportunities hiding in your database.

Read on to learn how to layer advanced segmentation onto your Customer Match audiences and take your relationships to the next level.

A Refresher on Customer Match

Customer Match for Google Shopping is a remarketing tool that lets you create audiences using email addresses from your database and adjust bids to target your customers with Google Shopping ads.

Customer Match is like a lasso you can toss around existing customers who are searching for your products.

I like to think of Customer Match as a lasso you can toss around your existing customers who are searching for products you carry and pull those customers back to your site.

You can create audience lists for past purchasers and subscribers to your email newsletter or promotions. Because these audiences are already engaged with your business, remarketing to them can help you retain potentially high lifetime value customers.

Among a sample of Sidecar customer campaigns, we found that using Customer Match and RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) increased conversions by an average of 70%.

Remarketing Boosts Avg Conversion Rate

If you’re familiar with RLSA, it can be helpful to think of Customer Match as an extension of RLSA capabilities. Rather than the on-site behavior RLSA uses to re-target shoppers, Customer Match uses email addresses to re-activate dormant shoppers. You can leverage purchase history of the associated customers to segment and target your audiences with more granularity.

Convert Past Purchasers into Loyal Customers

One of the best predictors of future buying is past purchasing behavior. Customers who purchase twice from your site are nine times more likely to convert than a one-time shopper.

Using Customer Match, you can spot opportunities to foster loyalty by creating and valuing audiences based on the number of times customers purchased.

As a starting point, you could segment your customers into these audience buckets: one-time purchasers, customers who have purchased 2-5 times, and those who have purchased 5 or more times.

Spot opportunities to foster loyalty by creating and valuing audiences based on the number of times customers purchased.

The more frequently a customer purchases from your site, the more you should invest in bringing them back. The conversion rate is typically higher for past purchasers — so they are worth higher bids and CPC. Keep in mind that the higher the purchase number gets, the smaller the audience list. That smaller list should counteract the slightly higher cost.

When setting up your past purchaser audiences, remember there is no magic number of purchases that makes a shopper an officially loyal customer — it will vary depending on your business.

For example, you might find that customers who purchase 2-5 times still come to your site through Google Shopping. At 5 or more purchases, customers might come to your site directly, without the help of ads.

It will take some experimentation to accurately value each audience bucket and focus your remarketing efforts on the customers who need that extra nudge. Monitor traffic and follow-up conversions through Customer Match, and adjust accordingly.

Re-Activate Seasonal Shoppers

If a customer purchased a winter coat or rain boots in the fall, that same shopper could be looking for a light jacket and a pair of sandals in the spring or summer. This is your chance to invite that shopper who’s been dormant over the winter back to your site.

As an example strategy for the holiday season, you can segment your past purchaser list by shoppers who made a purchase between Thanksgiving and Christmas in the past year. Then, you can add a positive bid adjustment preceding and during that stretch, starting in the fourth quarter of the current year.

Another strategy is to target holiday season customers during other occasions throughout the year — Valentine’s Day, graduation, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, back-to-school — you get the idea.

Capitalize on Sky High Customer Loyalty

Customers who own your rewards card have proven their commitment to your store. Think about it — they like you enough to carry your card in their wallet and in some cases, pay your bill each month.

Any retailer with a shopper rewards program can benefit from remarketing to members.

Don’t take this level of loyalty lightly, capitalize on it! Create an audience specifically for these customers and bid up aggressively.

Any retailer with a shopper rewards program can benefit from this tactic, but it works especially well for large product catalogs and seasonal offerings.

For example, apparel retailers can promote new styles as they arrive and the seasons change. Department retailers carry a wide variety of products that can suit shoppers’ needs for different occasions throughout the year, so they also make a great fit for this tactic.

Manage Your Audience Lists

To manage these new Customer Match audience lists, you can break them out into separate campaigns. Separate campaigns make it easiest to view performance and search query data in each audience bucket.

If you prefer to keep campaign structure as is, you can simply add a bid modifier on each of these lists.

You’ll also want to keep your lists current. Google recommends refreshing your audience lists monthly. If you can keep up that refresh schedule, stick to it. If you have more than one site and multiple lists, a quarterly list refresh may be more realistic.

A Word About Security

If these Customer Match capabilities sound enticing, but you’re hesitant about sharing customer email addresses outside of your company, it’s helpful to understand how Google handles this data.

Google uses the data files you submit only to build Customer Match audience lists.

Google uses the data files you submit only to build Customer Match audience lists. Google doesn’t use those data files to build or enhance profiles of your customers. And it doesn’t share the files with any third party, or even with other teams at Google.

Google AdWords uses an algorithm to hash customer emails before matching them and encrypts the data files it stores until matching is completed. You can hash the emails yourself before you submit the files, or allow AdWords to hash them for you. Either way, once the emails addresses have been matched, Google promptly deletes the files.

For more information on how Google uses Customer Match data, see AdWords Help.

A Word About Setup

If you’re not using Customer Match but are ready to start, you’ll need to be sure you have at least 1,000 valid email addresses in your database, as Google requires this as a minimum. Your Shopping campaigns also must be whitelisted for the program by Google.

First thing, fill out the interest form to sign up for access. For more details on how to get started on Customer Match, check out our Ultimate Guide to Customer Match & RLSA for Google Shopping.

Look to both Customer Match and RLSA to re-ignite the flame with shoppers in all phases of your relationship. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to remarketing audiences, so try one or all of these audience segmentation ideas and iterate from there. The more you experiment, the more opportunities to foster loyalty with your best customers you’ll uncover.

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