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The Complete Guide to Gmail Ads

November 27, 2018

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The Complete Guide to Gmail Ads

Nothing tugs on my heartstrings quite like a handwritten letter, especially one written by someone I love. Try as they might, brands can’t quite match that feeling with their emails and other digital offerings. Occasionally, I’ll receive a nifty deal from Amazon, but the buzz of getting a coupon isn’t quite the same.

As a digital marketer, I’m aware that the internet is awash with cold emails and awful ads. So much junk email lands in my inbox that I actually enjoy when I receive a brilliant Gmail ad. 

That’s why we decided to write this ultimate guide to Gmail ads. If you want to succeed with Google’s 1.2 billion Gmail users, this guide will explain everything you need to know!

1. Gmail Ads: What are they?

Gmail ads are interactive adverts that land at the top of your Gmail inbox. They have a little yellow square containing the word ‘Ad’ to let you know they aren’t actual emails.

Some Gmail ads are expandable and will go to full-screen when clicked. They can include images, videos, and other embedded forms. These options offer advertisers a huge range of ways to customize their ads and I’ll explain that in more detail later.

2. Targeting: How does it work?

With over 1.2 billion active Gmail users, Google needs to know which users would be most interested in which ads. This process is known as ‘targeting’ and it helps Gmail users as much as it helps advertisers.

Targeting reduces the chances of users receiving Gmail ads that they have no interest in. It also helps advertisers get the most bang for their marketing buck by only sending their emails to users who may be interested in what they are offering.

Google has now stopped scanning emails for keywords and currently uses a range of data from Chrome, Apps, YouTube, and other services to target customers. This data covers people’s habits and interests and we’ll discuss targeting options later in this guide.

3. Why are Gmail ads effective?

Google Search lets advertisers target buyers who have high purchase intent by using long-tail keywords. Let’s suppose that you want to sell a hardware wallet for storing cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, XRP, and Credo. Instead of just targeting keywords such as ‘bitcoin’, ‘credo’, or ‘wallet’, you could target potential customers with long-tail keywords such as ‘Where to store bitcoin’, or ‘Where to store Credo’. This approach would help you find customers who have done their research and are ready to buy a hardware wallet.    

4. How to start a new ad campaign in AdWords

To get started, open Google AdWords and log in with your Google Account.

From your homepage, click on the ‘Campaigns’ tab at the top and then click the ‘+’ button. This will let you start a new campaign.

Next, select a goal for your new ad campaign: sales, leads or website traffic. You can also choose a campaign goal after you create a campaign.

To run Gmail Ads, select the ‘Display’ ad type from the next screen.

Lastly, select ‘Gmail Campaign’.

Now it’s time to start building!

5. How to upload images for your ads

To grab people’s attention, you’ll need to upload images – or ‘creatives’ – for your Gmail ads. There are three ways to do this:

  • Use Google’s stock images found in AdWords.
  • Have AdWords scan your website to find relevant content.
  • Upload your own images in accordance with Google’s Ad Specs shown below:

For a Collapsed Ad, each item has the following character limits and dimensions:

  • Logo: 144×144 px; 150 KB, 1:1 ratio (square).
  • Business Name: 20 characters max.
  • Headline: 25 characters max.
  • Description: 90 characters max.
  • Display URL: 255 characters max.

For an Expanded Ad, each item has the following character limits and dimensions:

  • Headline: 25 characters max.
  • Description: 90 characters max.
  • Business name: 20 characters max.
  • Call to Action Button: 15 characters max.
  • Logo Image: 144×144 px to 1200 x 1200; 1:1 ratio; 150 KB,
  • Marketing Image: Landscape (1.91:1): 1200×628 (600x314px min), Square: 1200×1200 (300x300px min).
  • Header Image: 600x200px min; 1200x400px max

6. How to create custom ads

Gmail ads are like landing pages onto which you can put multiple images, videos, buttons, and call-to-actions (CTAs).

When creating custom HTML ads, there are some limitations:

  • Maximum 100 total files.
  • Maximum file size 500KM.
  • Files must be compressed into a ZIP folder that is smaller than 1.25 MB.

7. Gmail Targeting: What’s your best option?

There are three ways of targeting potential customers with Gmail ads.

  1. Affinity and Custom Affinity: Based on people’s habits and interests.
  2. In-Market and Custom Intent: Based on people’s planning and research.
  3. Remarketing and Similar Audiences: Based on how people have interacted with your business in the past.

I’ll explain each targeting option separately to help you decide which your best option might be.

8. How to target customers based on their habits and interests

The first option – Affinity and Custom Affinity – is best if you want to target people whose interests align with your ads. For example, if you are selling a beauty product, you might want to target people who have shown an interest in beauty and wellness.

Your potential customers may have:

  • searched for a keyword related to your business.
  • shown an interest in your targeted location.
  • visited websites relevant to your company or product.
  • downloaded apps that target people with your custom affinity.

9. How to target customers based on their intent

The second option – In-Market and Custom Intent – is best if you want to target an audience that your business can help. Google’s primary advantage is that it can predict the likelihood of someone making a purchase.

Here’s how to get started:

In-Market Audiences
Google can identify potential customers based on people who are actively searching for products or services. For instance, if you are in the travel industry and want to target people looking to book tickets for specific destinations, Google’s ‘In-Market Audience’ for those destinations are usually people who are ramping up to make a purchase.

Custom Intent
Google can also use people’s Chrome history, app installation data and YouTube signals to create custom intent audiences for all display ads. AdWords does this automatically for all display ads, but you can do further research to find out which audience will make the biggest impact on your ad campaign.

Life Events
Whether you’re getting married, having kids or buying a new home, each of us experience ‘life events’ that have a profound and dramatic impact. Google can help identify people who:

  • are about to marry, or recently got married.
  • are about to graduate, or recently graduated.
  • are about to move, or recently moved.

10. How to target customers who have interacted with you before

Your third option – Remarketing and Similar Audiences lets you target people who have interacted with your website, content or business before. They could be visitors to your YouTube channel, website visitors, App users (if you have an app), or simply on your customer list.

The following illustration shows how the process works. A website visitor receives a cookie and then sees your ad while browsing other websites later.

If you’d like to explore this area in further details, check out this comprehensive guide to setting up remarketing in six easy steps.

There are two further ways to target customers using the Remarketing and Similar Audiences option:

Target Similar Audiences

If you already have a high-converting customer base, Google can help you find more potential customers who are similar to your current audience. To do this, Google analyses the browsing habits or your existing customers and then finds people with similar profiles.

Demographic Targeting

Traditional advertisers commonly target by demographics – gender, age, education, occupation – to find customers. This is one of the best routes if your customer base is well known and clearly defined. For instance, if you are marketing a cryptocurrency exchange, you’re more likely to target people under the age of 30 who your research indicates are more receptive to the idea of using peer-to-peer forms of digital cash.

11. What are the best keywords for audiences?

Google is pretty big on automation and the New AdWords will choose keywords for you. However, it also lets you specify which keywords you want to use. You can use ‘purchase intent targeting’ to reach new customers. Here’s how to find the best keywords for your audience:

  • Select your campaign.
  • Select the ‘Keywords’ tab.
  • Delete the audience keywords.
  • Add keywords you’d like to target in the Audience keyword targeting section.

12. Automated targeting: What to watch out for

If you’re a beginner advertiser, you may benefit from the default setting – ‘conservative automation’ – when creating a Display Ad. This option definitely helps newcomers get the most out of their Gmail ads campaigns.

However, it’s better to identify your own audience and turn this default setting off after you have run a few ad campaigns. Conduct your own research, find your best potential audience and target them instead.

13. Tips and Best Practices

Here are five tips for getting the most out of Gmail Ads:

  1. Always add multiple images and/or videos to compare how they perform and find the best ones.
  2. Always use the ‘Gmail Clicks to Website’ metric as the primary way of evaluating the effectiveness of your ads. The total number of ‘clicks’ can be misleading as they include people who clicked and then never visited your website.
  3. Google doesn’t show you the quality score for your Gmail ads so look at your email click-through-rates for an indication of how well your ad is doing.
  4. Rotate your ads for three months or choose the ‘optimize’ ad rotation option. After three months, you’ll have enough data to optimize your ads further.
  5. You’ll likely use automated targeting and bidding options when you’re starting out. Always triple-check everything and then move away from automation as soon as you have sufficient data.

14. Run email campaigns with BitBounce Ads

According to data from Statista, unsolicited email currently accounts for 48.16 percent of e-mail traffic worldwide, down from over 70 percent in 2014. As you can see, the numbers are falling fast, but why?

One of the reasons for this decline is that more people than ever are using spam-email blocking solutions, such as our own BitBounce service. We’re only in our second year of operation and we already have millions of happy users with spam-free Gmail inboxes.

You could have the best-designed ad in the world with the greatest keywords and targeting approach but if your ads are captured as spam, your campaign won’t work.

BitBounce users set a paywall (usually between $0.05-$0.20) to have promotional emails sent to their inbox. That’s why we created BitBounce Ads to help connect select marketers with our users.

When you set up a BitBounce Ad campaign, the majority of your ad spend goes directly to our users, meaning they are far more engaged with your content.

BitBounce Ads helps create a favorable impression of your brand with our users and gives your campaign far higher conversion metrics and levels of engagement than standard Gmail Ads campaigns.

So, if you’re tired of spending money on email marketing campaigns that don’t convert, contact us today to see how we can help!

15. Questions?

Love our guide? Have more questions? Sound off in the comments below or chat with us over on Twitter, Facebook, and Telegram. We always respond within 24 hours!