How To Use Email Addresses For Ad Targeting On Google, Facebook & Twitter

By Greg Finn

Targeting the inbox has been a fixture in the marketing mix for the past decade. However, thanks to new targeting enhancements, emails addresses can now be used for even more marketing goodness. Email address can now be used to target previous customers and (opted in) contacts through the use of ads and custom audiences. This adds additional levels of reach and frequency for advertisers who are trying to target a set audience of emails. In an age of dropping deliverability rates and low click-through rates paying to reach these customers via ads has evolved into a go-to option for many marketers.

To help you navigate the seas of targeting ads by email addresses, we made a comprehensive guide on how you can use Google AdWords's Customer Match, Facebook's Custom Audiences and Twitter's Tailored Audiences to target outside of the inbox.

All of these networks allow for the use of a .csv file (some support the use of .txt files). Seeing that .CSVs are universially used, it is big help to create your lists as .CSVs with descriptive filenames. This will allow you to fly though this process with ease and clarity.

Now let's get to it!



Last September Google launched an innovative new targeting method to AdWords called Customer Match targeting. This gives marketers the ability to create a new audience created from email addresses. The biggest benefit of using Google AdWords is the massive desktop and mobile reach thanks to their AdSense & AdMob networks. With 13+ million websites and 650,000+ apps the reach that Google offers is fantastic.

Once created, you'll be able to use the standard Google ad types and sizes. So let's begin!

First, head over to your Google AdWords account and make your way over to the "Shared library" by way of the link in the bottom left.



Next, we'll want to make a new audience that we'll target. In order to do this click on the "view" link underneath the Audiences text.01-Audience-Google

We'll want to set up a new remarketing list, but instead of targeting the standard user types, we will target "customer emails".02-Customer-Emails

Next, it is time to load in the email addresses. Before you begin, make sure that all emails comply with Google's Customer Match Email Address Policy. Everything look good? Great. Give your audience a name, select email upload, add your .csv list (can use secure hash SHA256 as well). Then accept the policy, add a duration for the members and tack on a description. If everything looks good, upload and save the list.


With Google, the list may take up to three hours to fully upload so hang tight. you can head to the audiences page at any time to see the progress.04-Lists-In-Process

Once the audiences have been successfully imported, it is time to make our new campaign. Set up your AdWords campaign in the fashion that you prefer: 05-Google-Campaign-Setup

When setting up your first Ad Group proceed as usual, but choose "Interests & Remarketing" for the targeting. You'll then select the In-market audiences drop down and choose "Customer email lists":


That's it! Continue on to create all ads and additional ad groups and enjoy the additional reach across Google's network.



Of the major networks, Facebook was the first to offer this targeting through Custom Audiences. When looking at Facebook's email targeting, it is important to remember that you are targeting the email address used on the account. This can make it a bit tricky when it comes to B2B targeting as most users opt to join the network with personal accounts.

The reach that is offered on Facebook may be more than you'd think. Advertisers can target those not only on Facebook, but also Instagram and the growing Audience Network. Before you begin, double check that all of your lists comply with Facebook's Custom Audiences Terms and Conditions.

First, hop into Ads Manager and create a new campaign.


Next we'll want to create a custom audience (you can jump to this part first, and should if you have multiple lists to load).  Click on the Create New Custom Audience list.02-Create-Custom-Audience

Now we'll want to create a customer list.03-Customer-List

Here we'll wnat to upload a file (.txt or .csv) that will consist of our email addresses.04-Customer-List-Options

Upload the file and choose "emails" from the dropdown:


Once created, give the list a name and add a description to the file.


Then tack on your ads and any additional targeting and you are all set!08-Advertising-Success


Last, but not least is Twitter Ads. With the addition of Tailored Audiences audiences can target Twitter users off of username, phone numbers and of course email addresses. Of course you'll need to make sure that your list complies with Twitter's Tailored Audience T&C's before moving ahead. All goo? Great, let's get going.

To get started click on Audience Manager from the "Tools" dropdown. Once loaded we'll want to create a new audience. Click on "Create new audience" and choose "upload your own list" from the dropdown. Name this audience, then select the email addresses button and upload the .csv. If the list uses secure hash (SHA256) click that box and choose and create the list.

01-Audience-Manager 03-Audience-Creation

Once the list as been approved, you can then create a new campaign. 04-Create-Campaign05-Tailored-Audience

And that's it! You have now officially taken the reach of those emails outside the inbox!

Still have questions? Leave a comment for us. Think this is too big of a lift for your company, well, we can help!

Still want more? Don't miss last month's Ultimate Retargeting Playbook for even more user targeting goodness.


By Greg Finn


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Meet the Author

Head of Performance & Innovation / Partner

Greg Finn

Greg is the Head of Performance and Innovation for Cypress North's digital marketing team and one of the founders of our agency. In 2010, he and Matt Mombrea started Cypress North in Buffalo. Greg oversaw the opening of our second office in 2022, located in his hometown of Rochester.

As Head of Performance and Innovation, Greg co-manages our digital marketing department and works closely with our team to ensure all our clients achieve the best possible results. He is always looking for ways to test new digital marketing techniques and technology, and oversees all teaching and training efforts to ensure our agency stays ahead of the curve.

Greg is also a co-host of our weekly Marketing O'Clock podcast, where he and the team provide updates, insights, and hot takes on the latest SEO, PPC, and social media marketing news. In addition to weekly news shows, Greg hosts our Marketing O'Torial digital marketing tutorials and often co-hosts bonus Marketing O'Talk episodes that bring together panels of digital marketing experts.

With nearly two decades of experience, Greg is a known and trusted voice in the digital marketing community. He’s a contributor for Search Engine Land, a member of the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) programming team, and has been a featured speaker at some of the largest search engine conferences, including SMX, eSummit, and Pubcon. 

When he’s not working or staying updated on the latest trends, Greg enjoys watching his kids play sports and coaching their soccer team. He’s been named the runner-up “Greg of the Year” on Marketing O’Clock’s annual Clockscars Awards four years in a row. While the coveted award has evaded him for many years, Keanu Reeves has not. Greg once saw him at Gabriel's Gate tavern in Buffalo (and noted he was very tall.)