What Google's New AdWords Phone Number and Address Targeting Mean for Marketers
Google AdWords now allows businesses to use their customers’ addresses and phone numbers to target them with ad campaigns. Previously, this perk of the AdWords Customer Match system only worked with email addresses. Now, businesses with years' worth of customer information not including emails can get far more mileage from the AdWords platform.
You might be wondering, "Who doesn't collect email addresses from customers?" While collecting email addresses seems like common sense nowadays, it wasn't a big deal for businesses that focused on newspaper, radio and local TV advertising.
Additionally, brick-and-mortar businesses generally don't collect email addresses as thoroughly as online retailers. It has become second nature for online shoppers to offer up their email addresses to get email coupons or complete online checkouts. People who routinely give their email addresses online might react differently when asked for their emails in person.
This change to Google's Customer Match system helps level the playing field. Business owners who have loads of customer data, but not email addresses, can now launch remarketing campaigns that are often cheaper and more effective than standard pay-per-click ads.
What Is Remarketing?
Remarketing is one of the most powerful tools in the AdWords toolbox. Simply put, remarketing is when you target an advertisement at people who've already shown interest in your business. A remarketing audience could include people who've visited certain pages of your website (you'd compile these lists using HTML code snippets or with Google Analytics). Remarketing audiences could also include people who've placed items in virtual shopping cards or completed online purchases.
Why does remarketing matter? For starters, it allows you to personalize your campaigns toward certain groups of customers. You can pitch sales to shoppers who showed interest in specific goods and services, or you can rekindle interest in people who browsed your website. You can also use remarketing to reconnect with customers who've gone several months without contact. There are too many possibilities to list here.
More importantly, remarketing campaigns typically convert at a much higher rate than standard AdWords campaigns. Customers who see remarketing ads become less likely to click with each viewing; however, those who do click are twice as likely to convert! That's according to Wordstream, a marketing software company that published its finding in spring 2017.
Thanks to the changes to the Customer Match system, small business owners don't need to collect digital data from customers to reap the benefits of remarketing.
Are These Customer Match Changes Too Personal?
You don't need to worry about Google using your customers' information for its own money-making purposes. How Google uses this data is strictly laid out on its website.
For starters, only customers who've entered their names, phone numbers and addresses into Google accounts (such as Gmail) can be targeted with the Customer Match system. They won't see your remarketing campaigns if they haven't already willingly given their personal data to Google.
Also, marketers can't just go through the phone book and enter in lists of street addresses for their campaigns. When using the new address Customer Match functionality, marketers make hashed lists of names, countries and zip codes, which Google uses to make special keys for each customer. These keys are compared against similar keys generated by names and addresses found in Google accounts. People are targeted only when their keys match.
Hashed customer data must be uploaded through AdWords or the AdWords API. Both options use Transport Layer Security, which is industry standard for transferring online files safely.
Google doesn't share your customer data with any third parties, including other companies that advertise on Google. Internally, your data files also aren't shared with other Google teams that aren't involved in either campaign creation or compliance. The match process can take up to 48 hours, after which time Google deletes any data that you've uploaded. All customer data is stored as encrypted until it is deleted.
Remarketing is a powerful form of advertising that used to be off-limits for businesses that didn't collect digital data. Collecting emails is the most basic form of digital data collection, but this wasn't a normal business practice until somewhat recently — especially when considering businesses that opened decades ago. Using Google Analytics is a more robust form of data collection that greatly expands the potential of remarketing, but business that don't have email lists aren't likely to be entrenched in analytics, either.
Now, the doors are thrown open for businesses to target their offline customers with online ads. This is a huge opportunity that business owners shouldn't hesitate to seize. AdWords campaigns were already beneficial, offering top-page placements in as little time as it takes for your ads to be approved. (Compare that with spending weeks, months or years earning a top-ranked organic listing that is displayed lower on the search results page.) Remarketing campaigns are cheaper, more engaging and more likely to convert, negating some common concerns of investing in online advertising.
That said, it's never too late to start collecting email addresses — if you aren't already, get started today - but these changes are a boon for businesses with lists of traditional customer information.
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Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.