Email marketing is an extremely powerful way of engaging your target audience and building relationships with customers, making email lists a valuable asset for any business. But you don’t need to own a mailing list to land in inboxes—and we’re not talking about buying one either. Google’s email app Gmail, not only functions as an organic email platform but allows you to reach your target audience in a similar way to search and display advertising.

Email matters

Gmail is by far the top email provider in Australia—in both desktop and mobile environments. This is partly due to the increasing prevalence of businesses moving their applications into the cloud and Gmail offering an accessible and easily integrable platform.

With more than 1.2 billion active users across the globe, Gmail has a clear advantage in the email market. Email has become a part of our everyday with almost half of sent emails opened on mobile devices and nearly the same portion opened in Gmail.

In a bid to reach people where they spend serious amounts of time, Google offers Gmail Ads— an effective way to build brand awareness and potentially drive clicks and conversions.

What are Gmail ads?

Gmail ads are interactive ads that display at the top of the Promotions and Social tabs of a Gmail inbox. In a similar fashion to paid search results, Gmail ads feature an ‘Ad’ icon next to the subject line when it appears in an email inbox.

When clicked on, these ads open similarly to a regular email and can include text, images, video or embedded forms. More often than not they will have a very clear call to action and a summary of the ad will appear on the right hand side of the page. Like other types of pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns offered by Google Ads, advertisers are only charged for the first click that expands the ad.

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Go native with Gmail

Most of us check our email several times a day. Given that only a few promoted ads will be displayed at once and Google’s greatest competitive advantage is its ability to target people with high purchase intent, there’s a considerably high likelihood that your ad will get seen—and opened. Gmail ads present a number of opportunities to reach an audience and turn clicks into conversions.

Here’s some of the things you should consider if running a Gmail ad campaign.

An email subject line should be punchy and straight to the point—people want to know exactly what they’re getting into before they open. Gmail ads only allow 25 characters for the headline and 90 for the description so you’ll need to think carefully about the message you’re putting out. Use the characters wisely to provide incentive to open the email but be mindful of the channel—it should still read like an email.

There are three main ways to target your audience in Gmail ads.

Keyword targeting allows you to target people based on their interest in specific words or phrases. An effective way of using this option is to target your competitor’s branded keywords—particularly if you are in an industry with big-name brands. Though your email will land in the right inboxes, your headline must quickly and concisely explain why your email deserves to be opened over a competitor’s. If you’re selling the same product it may be something as simple as a discount.

Audience targeting essentially targets an established audience, the most obvious use of this being remarketing to those who have already interacted with your business.

Demographic targeting lets you target based on location, age, gender, household income and parental status and match this with who is converting on your website.
Interest and habit targeting reaches people whose interests align with your ads. For example, you can target people who are interested in travel, beauty & wellness or news consumers. If the preset selections aren’t specific enough, custom affinity audience can target people who have:

  • Searched a keyword related to your custom affinity
  • Downloaded apps that target people with your custom affinity
  • Shown interest in your targeted location
  • Visited websites that fall into your affinity category.

Intent to purchase targeting draws on Google’s unique ability to predict the likelihood of purchase or conversion.

  • In-Market audiences are incredibly valuable as they are usually ready to purchase. Target people who are actively looking to purchase your products or services.
  • Custom intent uses data beyond search and clicks to include Chrome history, YouTube signals and app install data.
  • Life events are pivotal moments that can change our lives forever, such as a wedding, new job or moving house. Businesses can take advantage of these momentous occasions by capturing the right people at the right time.

Simple but effective, emojis are widely used on mobile devices to convey a range of feelings and emotions. Market research has shown that email subject lines containing emojis can increase open rates by 66% and with almost half of emails now opened on mobile devices, they could be the key to getting the clicks you need to convert. Consider your industry and message in regards to the relevance of using emojis. If you’re running a super hot sale why not use 🔥 or if you’re selling pizza don’t hesitate to include 🍕.

In the words of Google, design your expanded ad like a landing page. An expanded Gmail ad should reflect the look and feel of a native landing page and be used to expand on the offer or value proposition outlined the teaser in an effort to encourage conversions. A few things to consider:

  • Copy: Be concise and get to the point so users know exactly what they’ll gain when they click on your ad. Ensure that the teaser copy from the collapsed ad is featured prominently in the expanded version.
  • Call to action (CTA): Your CTA must stand out and be persuasive enough to convert. For example, instead of ‘Sign Up’ choose wording that reflects your value proposition such as, ‘Send me a free download’. Also carefully consider the colour of your CTA button to ensure it contrasts the ad in an aesthetically pleasing way.
  • Imagery and video: Only use relevant and clear images, and keep videos short—no longer than one minute.

The ins and outs

Gmail ads come with a host of unique and flexible benefits, both for the advertiser and the audience.

  • Delivered straight to an email account, there is little competition from other ads.
  • Can be easily saved to an inbox or forwarded to a friend.
  • Expanded emails can feature a range of different content including text, images, video and embedded forms.
  • Automatically optimised for mobile to ensure they are aesthetically pleasing no matter where they are viewed: on desktop, mobile or in the Gmail app.
  • Call to action can also include a click-to-call or app download action if delivered on mobile.

We’re here to help

Gmail ads can present a unique and valuable opportunity to reach potential customers where they spend a lot of time: in their email inbox—even if they’ve never interacted with your business before. With less competition for their attention and granular targeting options, Gmail ads are an effective way to turn clicks into sales when set up right.

If you haven’t given Gmail ads a try, or you’re not sure they’re right for your business, then contact our team of digital experts and our leading display advertising agency, to discuss your digital advertising strategy and how to make the most of your budget.

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