Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) are an incredibly effective way to reach users while they check their emails.
GSP allow you to steal your competitors’ clients by targeting people who get their emails, up-sell to existing customers, and generate more leads.
Today we’re going to cover 12 Effective Strategies for improving your Gmail Sponsored Promotions, how to set them up, and also how to track your progress with reports.
What are Gmail Sponsored Promotions?
Here’s an example of Gmail Sponsored Promotions being shown within the Gmail interface, used by Aviva.
Once users have clicked on one of these adverts, they will see the expanded version of Aviva’s advert with a call-to-action directing them to their website.
There are 5 different formats for expanded text ads that will be discussed later on in this article.
12 Winning Strategies for Gmail Sponsored Promotions
To get the most out of GSP you need the right strategy.
Here are 12 winning strategies for improving the performance of your Gmail Sponsored Promotions, which you or your PPC Agency can implement.
1. Targeting existing customers
On average, it costs 6 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to up-sell to an existing one, so why not use Gmail Sponsored promotions to promote offers to existing customers alongside your email campaigns?
This targeting option works using Google’s customer match, where you upload a CSV file of your existing customer list and then Google matches the list to users using Gmail.
You can target existing customers by adding a new ‘Interests and remarketing’ target, and then selecting ‘Customer email lists’.
2. Targeting your competitors’ domains
An effective way to obtain new clients is to bid on your competitors’ keywords within Google Search Campaigns. This also works great for Gmail Sponsored Promotions.
This works by Google first seeing who sent the email, and if it’s from one of your competitors, your Gmail Sponsored Promotion will appear, allowing you to piggyback off your competitors’ success.
You can do this by simply going to the Keyword tab in the Display Network Targeting Options, and then adding (competitorname).com as a broad match keyword.
3. Use HTML-form adverts to boost enquires
Google lets you create custom HTML adverts which can include contact forms, enabling users to enquire about your service directly from Gmail.
This can be an effective way to increase conversion rates by cutting out the additional step of users having to visit your website to make an enquiry.
To learn how to add a form to your Gmail Ads, you’ll want to read this article on which fields and which languages are supported for your custom HTML adverts.
4. Segment campaigns by device
Not only do Gmail Sponsored Promotions perform differently on desktop vs mobile, but they also provide very different Gmail experiences.
One thing that you need to consider: you will not want a user on a mobile device to click on a desktop advert and get the desktop experience.
To create a mobile-specific Gmail campaign, you’ll need to duplicate your current campaigns and then add bid modifiers of -100% to both tablet and desktop devices.
5. Overlap targeting to reach the most relevant audience
To reach the most relevant audience, you may want to consider Overlap Targeting.
This is where you use more than one targeting method at once.
Here’s an example of how this would work:
We recently worked with a mortgage broker that was advertising reverse mortgages, or as they’re known in the UK, equity release, that are aimed at people over the age of 65.
To target the most relevant users, we used the following 3 Overlapping Targeting methods:
- Demographic targeting (65 and over)
- Display Keyword targeting (keywords related to reverse mortgages)
- Gmail placement
6. Use exclusions to reduce wasted spend
Exclusions are not just for Display Network Campaigns, they’re for GSP too – better still, they can help you to reduce wasted spend.
If your GSP campaign is not using topic, domain, and keyword exclusions, you’re wasting ad spend.
To find these options, click the red ‘+ Targeting’ button, then under ‘Campaign exclusions’, select the ‘Add campaign exclusions’ drop-down menu.
‘Site category options’ are also a good area of your account to review. In particular, you may want to consider turning off ‘Parked domains’, ‘Error pages’, and ‘Gambling’.
7. Target based on email content
One of the more controversial targeting options allows you to target users based on the content of the last 100 non-spam emails in their inbox.
Although it has caused some public outrage over privacy issues, it’s a very effective way to target your adverts.
This can be done using ‘Contextual keyword targeting’.
So if, for example, you target the keyword “ppc management”, your adverts would be shown to anyone who has an email containing the words ‘PPC management’ within their latest 100 non-spam emails.
8) Use video within your ads
A great way to improve engagement is to include YouTube videos within your Gmail ads.
You can add video in the following 3 gmail templates:
- Single Promotion template
- Multiple Product Catalogue template
- HTML template
Research also shows that using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%, and clickthrough rates by 65%.
Here’s an example of a GSP-utilising video.
9) Target your own domain
If you want to amplify your email marketing, you can target your Gmail Sponsored Promotions at your own domain.
You can use this to engage top-of-funnel leads and move them through the sales cycle, to up-sell to existing customers, and to promote your best-performing content.
You can even create a new GSP for each email that you send out to increase the chances that it will be seen.
10 ) Split-Test your ads to increase your CTR and reduce your cost-per-leads
WordStream recently published a case study which shows the cost-per-click against the CTR for Gmail ads.
You’ll see that there are significant reductions in CPC for high CTR ads.
To maximise your CTR, you will want to test two things:
- Different ad creatives
- Different targeting methods
When you split test, you need to make sure that you have at least two adverts running at any one time.
You also need to make sure that you have enough data to conclude your split tests. You can use this calculator to calculate this for you.
11 ) Use Frequency Capping to avoid “ad fatigue”
Unless you are running Gmail Sponsored Promotions for brand awareness, you might want to consider using frequency capping.
This limits the number of times per day that your adverts will be shown to the same person.
When Microsoft ran a case study on frequency capping, they found that after the 8th impression, the conversion rate fell below the average conversion rate for that campaign.
You may therefore want to cap impressions at 1-2 conversions per day to prevent ‘campaign fatigue’.
12) Use urgency to generate 22% more opens
It’s no secret that creating urgency increases engagement.
Studies have shown that subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can result in a 22% higher open rate.
Within the subject line of your Gmail Sponsored Promotion, you will want to use deadlines wherever you can.
Here are a couple of examples:
- ‘Sale ends in 24 hours’
- ‘Open this before midnight’
- ‘Black Friday sale ends tonight’
How to set up Gmail Sponsored Promotions
Gmail Sponsored Promotions are part of the Google Display Network, so you will need to have a campaign set up to target Display.
We would suggest that you create a separate campaign for Gmail Sponsored Promotions to make it easier to track ROI and allocate budgets effectively.
There are two main steps to creating Gmail Sponsored Promotions:
- Creating Gmail Sponsored Promotions creatives
- Selecting who you want to target
1) Creating Gmail Sponsored Promotions creatives
STEP 1. Within your new campaign, click on the red ‘+ Ad’ button, and then select ‘Ad gallery’ from the drop-down menu as shown below.
STEP 2. Select Gmail ads.
STEP 3. You now need to select one of the 4 different templates based on what type of advert you want to create.
Here are your 5 different choices:
- Gmail Image template
- Gmail Single Promotion template
- Gmail Multi-Product template
- Gmail Catalogue template
- Custom HTML upload (Advanced)
The Gmail image template
This is effectively a large banner advert that you can use to target a single landing page.
You can choose the email subject line and change the banner image that will click through to your website.
The Gmail Single Promotion template
This is very similar to the Gmail Image template, however it allows you to add a call-to-action to direct users to the most relevant landing page.
They can be set up in the same was a Display Network Advert, and you are able to edit the headline, description, call-to-action (and button colours), and the image or video that will be shown within your ad.
Gmail Multi-Product template
The Gmail Multi-Product template is aimed at e-commerce users, and allows you to display multiple products within your Gmail advert creative.
Here’s an example of how this advert format looks within Gmail:
You can have a maximum of 6 products per advert, and you are able to customise product images, call-to-actions, email subject line, and description.
Gmail Catalogue template
This is similar to the Multi-Product template, however in this case, you have a featured product or video and up to 3 items displayed underneath it.
Unlike the Multi-Product template, you are unable to specify the name of the product, however you are still able to specify the call-to-action and the call-to-action button colour.
Custom HTML Upload template (Advanced)
For maximum control of your Gmail adverts, you will want to use custom HTML.
These ads can include:
- Embedded forms
- Phone numbers
- Multiple calls-to-action
To create Gmail ads with your own customised layout, upload your own custom HTML files into AdWords. Google provides guidance for developers on creating their own HTML Gmail adverts.
Here’s an example of an advertiser using custom HTML upload templates to create a custom feel.
2) Selecting who you want to target with Gmail Sponsored Promotion targeting options
Depending on your targeting strategy, you will want to use different combinations of targeting options.
For example, you may want to target people who are using Gmail and are also on your existing customer list.
You first need to add Gmail as a placement.
STEP 1. Go to the ‘Display Network’ tab and then select the red ‘+ Targeting’ button.
STEP 2. Click ‘Add targeting’, and then from the drop-down menu select ‘Placements’.
STEP 3. Within the search box (shown below), enter “gmail”, and then select the result by clicking the two little >> arrows next to it to move it over to the right-hand side.
Once you’ve done this, select ‘Target and bid’ below, and then close.
Once you’ve done this, you’re now targeting everyone that owns a Gmail account.
STEP 4. Adding a second audience
You will however want to cut down who you are targeting using the other Adwords targeting methods.
There are several different ways that you can target users with Gmail Sponsored Promotions:
- Display Keywords (based on broad-match content in the user’s last 300 received emails, including their inbox and archived emails)
- AdWords Customer Match (you can upload a list of email addresses)
- Locations (GPS can only target one location per campaign)
- Topics (based on the user’s active inbox)
- Demographics (age / gender / parental status)
Here’s an example of how you target users who are on your existing customer list.
To do this, you need to go to ‘Add targeting’ again, and then select a second audience.
Google will then only show your adverts to people who are both using Gmail and match the criteria of your second audience.
For example, if I wanted to target people who were using Gmail and were also on my email list, I would select ‘Add targeting’ and then go to ‘Interests & remarketing’.
STEP 5. From the drop-down menu, select ‘Customer email lists’. (Note: to use this feature, you must have uploaded a customer email list to AdWords.)
Step 6. Add the customer email list as a target option, and then select ‘Target and bid’ and close the window.
Once you’ve done this, you can go on to adding a third audience to narrow your targeting further.
Gmail Sponsored Promotions Reporting
There are three metrics that you can see with AdWords that relate specifically to Gmail Sponsored Promotions:
- Gmail saves
- Clicks to the website
If you’re looking to drive direct conversions from your ads, then ‘clicks to the website’ will be the most important metric for you.
The cost-per-click that you see within the normal reporting table is the cost-per-click to expand your ad, as opposed to the cost-per-click to your website.
This is why it is often very low – so don’t be fooled by this, as this is only the cost to expand the text ads.
To view these metrics, select ‘Columns’, then ‘Modify columns’ as shown below.
Then select your three Gmail metrics. These should now be seen within your reports.
Gmail Sponsored Promotions are an effective way to reach users whilst they’re reading their emails.
This article has covered 12 of the most effective strategies for maximising the performance of your Gmail Sponsored Promotions.
Now you have everything you need to create a winning Gmail campaign – so don’t hesitate to get started.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will get back to you.
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