Want an easy way to expand your email marketing?
Why not combine it with the power of PPC?
Google’s Gmail Ads let you do just that: send your PPC ads straight to user’s inboxes.
In this article, I’ll go over a few tips and strategies to make your Gmail ads as effective as possible.
What are Gmail Ads?
Gmail ads are ads sent through email.
Standard stuff, right?
Not exactly. These sneaky ads disguise themselves as regular emails, appearing in user’s “Social” and “Promotions” tabs, with only a small Ad stamp to give themselves away.
Like your regular email, the teaser for the ad will appear in the subject line.
When clicked on, the user will see an expanded version of your ad, customized using Google’s ad templates.
In the ads, you can feature videos, forms, links, and phone numbers.
The best part? These Gmail ads appear at the very top of the inbox.
Once it’s there, a user can interact with it in the following ways:
- Click-through to a landing page for a (potential) conversion
- Saving the ad to their inbox (by clicking the star icon at the top of the email, or the “Save To Inbox” button at the bottom of the email)
- Forwarding the ad to someone else (by clicking the blue “Forward” button at the bottom of the email)
Keep in mind, these operate on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning an advertiser only pays when a user clicks to expand the ad.
Major Benefits of Gmail Ads
Gmail ads are considered part of the Display Network family, and as such perform similarly to Display ads.
For advertisers, that means a few things.
First, look for Gmail ads under Display settings when you’re creating.
And second, take user experience into careful consideration when deciding to use these ads.
See, users aren’t necessarily seeking or searching Google for your product or service; instead, your ad targets them as they go about their usual business – whether it’s browsing the web or checking their inbox.
The biggest advantage to Gmail ads is that they reach prospects where they hang out the most.
Because here’s the thing: Gmail reaches over 1 billion users globally.
That’s a huge audience to potentially push your ads to.
And another thing: one of marketers’ biggest hurdles when it comes to email is the actual collection of emails.
That usually includes carefully crafted pop-up forms and opt-in strategies.
But with Gmail ads, you can reach that huge audience without having individual emails on hand.
I know what you’re thinking: appearing uninvited in someone’s inbox may come off as pushy and unwelcome, right?
With Gmail ads, that’s not the case.
Businesses have a seen major success with this ad model.
Take it from World First. Their initial experiment with Gmail ads saw the following results:
- Visitors spent 41% more time on site.
- Visitors were 24% more likely to be new users to site.
- Visitors viewed 29% more pages per session.
- Visitors had a 39% lower bounce rate.
- Overall, World First saw a 181% increase in registration conversion rate
Want results like that?
Then take a look at the strategies below.
Gmail Ad Strategies for Success
1. Reach the Most Targeted Users as Possible
Remember how I said Gmail ads are in-line with Display Network advertising?
Well, one of the biggest challenges faced by advertisers on either channel is that users aren’t actively searching for your service, which makes it difficult to know if your ad is hitting them at the right time.
That doesn’t mean they can’t be effective, it just means we have to put some careful thought into who you’re targeting.
Luckily, Gmail Ads come with almost all the same targeting options as regular Display Ads.
Here’s the full list, straight from Google:
- Affinity audiences: Select from these audiences to reach potential customers and make them aware of your business. For example, a sports apparel advertiser could select relevant topics like “Fitness” and “Sporting Goods” or reach people in the “Health & Fitness Buffs” or “Running Enthusiasts” affinity audiences.
- Audience keywords: Enter words or phrases related to your product or services so that your ads may appear to customers interested in those terms. Note: Google doesn’t recommend using website URLs.
- Automated targeting: Helps automatically optimize your targeting across Gmail, letting you reach people your targeting wouldn’t otherwise reach at around the same cost per person
- Customer Match: Lets you show ads to customers based on data about those customers that you share with Google
- Demographics: Lets you reach people who are associated with certain demographic categories like gender, age range, or household income.
- In-market Audiences: These audiences help you find who are in the market, meaning that they’re actively researching products and actively considering buying a product or service like yours.
- Life Events: Reach customers in key life moments like moving, marriage, or college graduation
- Remarketing: Reach people who have already engaged with your company’s products and services, including past visitors to your website, app, videos.
You’re certainly not limited here, and as always, the targeting you choose should align with your goals.
As you’ll see, Gmail ads are ideal (but not limited to) top-of-the-funnel goals.
The strategies below will give you a better understanding of the specific targeting that will help you reach your objectives.
2. Treat Your Ad Like a Landing Page
The expanded section of your ad is essentially your ad’s landing page.
The teaser subject line is what a user clicks (the ad part), which brings them to the expansion (landing page).
And as you know, the landing page is where the magic happens.
Its primary job is to expand on the offer or value promised in the text of the ad or teaser.
The copy should clearly match the teaser, and go further to highlight the benefits and value proposition of whatever it is you’re promoting.
Your creative should break up the text, relate closely to what you’re advertising, and remain in-line with your brand. Your CTA should be prominent and entice users to click.
Gmail offers a few options when it comes to design.
Most will benefit from Google’s pre-designed templates:
- The carousel template is best used for promoting multiple products or offers
- The image template is best for quick creation with existing creatives
- The single promotion template is best for showcasing one video or product with a CTA
The templates come mobile-optimized, but if you want full creative control over your ad you can use a custom HTML template.
But all of the above are landing page basics.
To truly optimize a landing page (or in this case, Gmail ad), you should keep the following in mind:
- Always think mobile-responsive. With the majority of emails now being opened on mobile devices, this one’s a no-brainer.
- Size matters – especially when it comes to your CTA button. If you’re building your own HTML template, make sure your button is large, colorful, and commands attention.
- Page load time is a big deal, especially on mobile. If you’re using a Google template you won’t have to worry about this as much, but if uploading your own be conscious of this. That means keeping your page simple and an eye on file and font sizes.
- With HTML templates you have the option to include an embedded form. While this is great for lead generation, keep these very simple for your mobile users. Just a name or email address will do.
Take a look at this example from Bank of Montreal (BMO):
It’s highlights the major benefits of the bank, keeps the color and creative consistent with the brand, and features an obvious CTA.
3. Focus on Top-of-the-Funnel Offers in Your Gmail Ads
The people seeing your ads pop up in Gmail are more than likely circling the top of the sales funnel.
Remember, these people aren’t seeking your services out and probably have relatively low purchase intent.
Unless you’re using remarketing (which you should also do), most of these users may not have much familiarity with your brand.
So focusing on objectives like brand awareness will be your best bet.
For that, you’ll want to focus on specific demographics and keyword targeting to cast a relatively wide (but still audience-specific) net.
You could also build an Affinity audience based on keywords, URLs, etc., to target.
Your strategy then should be to promote free or gated content, promote educational webinars or whitepapers, and collect lead information to eventually lead them through the funnel.
Another cool idea is to include a video.
It could be a general overview of your company or, even better, your take on a hot industry topic or news roundup.
And according to Wordstream, research shows that marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than those who don’t.
Well worth a try, I’d say.
4. Use In-Market Audiences to Target Higher Purchase Intent
So, we know that those getting your Gmail ads may not have the highest purchase intent, per say.
But there is a way to capture the attention of those most likely to have at least expressed real interest in your product or service.
In-market audiences use Google’s algorithms to identify people ready to make specific purchases based on the kinds of emails they’ve been receiving.
These are people who have been actively searching and are considering buying a product like yours (as always, Google’s exact evaluation methods here aren’t fully disclosed).
But the point is, using an In-Market Audience is likely your best bet at finding customers most likely to convert.
This is the audience you want to be sending special promotions or offers to.
And keep in mind, this is likely a highly competitive audience as well. Meaning, if you’re targeting them, you can be your competition is as well.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to make sure your everything about your ad – from the subject line and creative to the CTA and landing page – are as compelling as possible.
Not entirely sure how to do that?
I have you covered.
I have some great examples and tips on how to make in-market audiences work for you in this article (these rules still apply to Gmail ads.)
Pro-tip: Avoid layering this with other targeting options; doing so likely won’t get you significant traffic.
5. Use Existing Email Data to Create Your Gmail Ads
As I’ve said, Gmail ads are awesome because they combine the powers of email and PPC advertising.
So it makes sense that you’d leverage all data available through each channel to create the best ad possible for your audience.
In terms of email, that means taking a look at the data you’ve collected for any past or existing email campaigns.
Launch whatever email software you’ve been using and go into your analytics section.
Then, sort by open and click-through rate to see which of your emails have performed the best.
What kind of content is in them? Free content, demos, videos? What about their subject line? CTA?
It’s a good bet that emails that have performed well in their natural form will translate well to Gmail ads as well, so make note of any features or tactics that could be repurposed into your ad campaigns.
6. Use Similar Audiences Targeting in Your Gmail Ads
Up until recently, remarketing wasn’t even an option for Gmail ads.
Thankfully, Google has since changed its stance.
It’s a big deal because Gmail, like the Display Network, is ideal for remarketing.
Though once again, your email audience isn’t necessarily actively searching for your service right now, it doesn’t mean they haven’t searched for or visited your website before.
And when that’s the case, sending them remarketing ads containing products or pages they’ve visited is absolutely the way to go.
The one downside of remarketing is that it often leads to a rather limited audience.
But there’s a way to use that remarketing list to advertise to an audience two or three times its size.
It’s called Similar Audiences, and if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know I’m a big fan.
Similar Audiences let you target a group of users with similar interests and characteristics as those on your remarketing list.
So why is this great for Gmail ads?
Because it’s targeting a pre-qualified group of people.
And, because Gmail ads by nature can be tricky to target, any tip in the right direction is extremely beneficial.
You can also base these audiences off of existing customers, which can be an effective lead generation tactic if you have a high-converting customer base.
7. Leverage Audience Insights Data
Another way to make the most of your remarketing lists is to leverage the Audience Insights Report to further refine and understand your ads, bids, and settings.
In the report, you can find information to help further define specific audience segments by locations, interests, etc.
For example, if you run a clothing boutique and have a list of those who have converted, the report could tell you that the people who convert on your site are generally female, aged 25-44, interested in fashion and in the market for dresses.
Then, you could take that data and run another Gmail ad targeting that specific audience.
It’s a pretty great way to get a read on who your most active audience is, and build an ad that speaks directly to them.
You can access the report under Tools > Shared Library > Audience Manager > Audience Insights.
Wrapping Up Gmail Ads
Gmail ads represent a powerful way to connect with a potentially huge audience.
Make sure you’re taking the time properly target and craft them to your audience by using the tips above.