Quick and Actionable Guide to Mastering Gmail Ads in 2020

Gmail ads guide 2020 | Reportz

Exactly 4 years ago, in September 2015, Google rolled out Gmail Ads, a long-awaited Google AdWords (now Google Ads) integration that would help digital marketers and advertisers reach their target audiences via email in a much more elegant way compared to cold emails. Now, with 2019 slowly melting away, many marketers are still arguing that email remains among the strongest digital marketing mediums that can be used to boost your lead generation and user acquisition efforts. 

However, unless you have a hefty list of emails containing thousands upon thousands of email addresses belonging to potential customers, your email marketing endeavors will likely be rendered futile and somewhat transient in nature. 

This is where Gmail Ads comes into play – to help you get into as many targeted inboxes as possible. 

To put these claims and numbers in perspective, Gmail has recently broke 1.2 billion active users, which makes it one of the largest digital platforms across the web, harboring immense growth potential, regardless of your sub-niche. 

According to a recent consumer email survey conducted by Adobe, a great majority of users spend 3.1 hours per weekday on average checking their work mail, while they also spend 2.5 hours checking their personal email (and this is just time spent checking the inbox, writing/reading emails is not included). The research also revealed that users check their personal email while:

  • Watching TV: 60%
  • Using the bathroom: 40%
  • Having a conversation on the phone: 35%
  • Exercising: 16%
  • Driving: 14%

This data makes Gmail ads a potent marketing brand build tool that can help you drive clicks your way and – ultimately – boost conversions for your business.

But before we delve right into the actionable step-by-step guide to creating a potent Gmail Ads campaign, let’s get a:

Brief Overview of Gmail Ads and How It Works

Gmail Ads is a platform used for sending ads to your potential clients in the form of an email. In a nutshell (and from the user’s standpoint), it works like this: 

1. A Gmail user receives a sponsored message (also known as Gmail Sponsored Promotion or GSP) in their inbox.

2. The Gmail ad is portrayed as a regular unread email message, but it features a little green “Ad” tag, as shown below.

Gmail ad inbox look | Reportz

3. When the user clicks on the message, the ad is presented either as a new image or in HTML 5 within the Gmail interface, and typically features a CTA button.

Opened Gmail ad | Reportz

How to Create Your Gmail Ads Campaign in Google Ads

Setting up your Gmail Ads in Google Ads is a rather simple process that can be done in 7 easy steps. However, certain aspects of it including audience targeting, ad specs, setting up metrics and reporting require a bit deeper delving into details, and are covered in the subsequent sections below. 

To set up your Gmail ads campaign, you need to:

  1. Open Google Ads
  2. Click on Campaigns
  3. Click the ‘ + ‘ button

Add Gmail ads campaign | Reportz

4. Choose your campaign goal.

Gmail campaign goals | Reportz

Note: You can also do this step after you create a campaign. 

5. Select Display as campaign type. 

display campaign | Reportz

6. Select Gmail Campaign as your campaign sub-type. 

gmail campaign | Reportz

7. Be creative yet methodical!

Ok, I know what you are thinking: being creative yet methodical is easier said than done. And you are correct. In order to achieve this, you must first have a firm grasp of the following Gmail Ads campaign aspects:

  • Audience targeting  
  • Mastering ad specs
  • Setting up proper campaign metrics
  • Leveraging reporting for further insights 

Metrics, data. insights paradigm | Reportz

With that in mind, let’s tap into these. 

Gmail Ads Audience Targeting and How to Do It Right  

Gleaning valuable targeting data on over 1.2 billion users is not an easy task, even for Google, which is why they initially deployed a somewhat controversial method – scanning people’s emails for keywords. 

Luckily, they soon realized this practice wasn’t too successful, necessary or exactly ethical, which is why Google moved to a different Gmail Ads targeting model that includes: 

  • Affinity and Custom Affinity – targeting by user interests and habits 
  • In-Market and Custom Intent – examining what users are actively researching or planning
  • Remarketing and Similar Audiences – looking at how users are interacting with your business

How to Target the Right Audience

Any type of display-based marketing campaign should rely on targeting the right personas according to an effective keyword targeting strategy. Otherwise, you can end up having very little traction even though you have an effective and well-designed Gmail ad on paper. 

Below are 3 potent ways to make sure your ad reaches the right people: 

1. Competition-based Keyword Targeting

This method allows you to directly target potential customers based on their interest and according to the branded keywords your competition uses, which can be especially effective if your niche features some very successful brands. 

Pro Tip: Those who opt for this strategy should pay close attention to the headline of their ads as it should be compelling enough to pique your audience’s interest so they would click on your ad instead of simply sticking with your competition. You can, for example, offer a better deal for the same product/service; explain why they should switch to your business by giving them enticing aspects of your product, etc. 

2. Remarketing and Similar Audience Targeting

Another great way to reach the right people is to expand the audience base you have already built through remarketing. This method provides you with additional Gmail ads settings and reports tailored specifically for targeting your previous users and visitors. 

Here’s a handy tutorial on how to leverage remarketing with Gmail ads

You can also go with your existing users email list and track down similar audiences in order to get your hands on more potential leads. 

3. Demographic-based Targeting

This method can help you narrow down the demographic window of your ideal target audience. Yes, people who use certain keywords/phrases and those who have visited your website are indeed users who might convert, but to find that sweet spot target audience (primarily concerning age and gender) with whom your ad will resonate the most, you should incorporate demographic targeting as well. 

Luckily, figuring out your ideal converters is done simply in Google Analytics:

Google Analytics under Audience > Demographics > Overview > All Users > Converters

Target audience | Reportz

To find out more about keyword targeting options and how to set it up for best performance, visit this Google Support page

Handling Gmail Ad Specs

Uploading creatives for your Gmail Ads campaign can be done in 3 different ways:

  1. Using stock images that you can access via Google Ads
  2. Having Google Ads go through your website and fetch content that can be used for your ads
  3. Uploading your own creatives from scratch 

The specs for option 3 are shown below.

Collapsed Ad (Character Limit, File Size, and/or Dimensions)

  • Logo: 144×144 px; 150KB; 1:1 ratio (square)
  • Business Name: 20 characters max
  • Headline: 25 characters max
  • Description: 90 characters max
  • Display URL: 255 characters max
  • Final or Destination URL: None

Expanded Ad (Character Limit, File Size, and/or 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 (optional): 600x200px min; 1200x400px max

Setting Up the Metrics and Tackling Gmail Ads Reporting

Choosing the right metrics can often make or break your Gmail ads campaign. This process can be a bit tricky as this type of advertising requires two actions from the user: 

  1. clicking on the “email” message containing the ad
  2. clicking on the CTA within the actual ad

The metrics available for the first action include the standard ones: 

  • Impressions
  • Clicks / Interactions
  • CTR / Interaction rate
  • Average CPC

However, these metrics are not giving you the right data as the first click doesn’t take the user directly to your landing page. Instead, it only presents him/her with an actual ad located within the email-like message. As this is not enough an insight for you as a Gmail Ads campaign creator, the team behind the tool introduced 3 additional metrics:

  • Gmail Saves – shows the number of times a user has saved your Gmail ad to their inbox 
  • Gmail Clicks – refers to the number of clicks to the landing page
  • Gmail Forwards – indicates the number of times the ad was forwarded to someone else as a message

Here’s how to set them up:

Additional Gmail ads metrics | Reportz

How Reportz Fixed Gmail Ads Reporting

Though all the metrics mentioned above do provide you with some valuable data about the performance of your Gmail ads campaign, there’s still one rather big oversight that reduces the strength of your reports and circumscribes the insight one can get out of this type of advertising. 

Namely, Google Ads’ CPC metric refers only to the first click coming from the user, which is not the actual click leading to the website. The case is similar with the real Click Through Rate as CTR/Interaction rate doesn’t provide you with the “Click to Website” CTR, which is the CTR for the actual ad. To make matters worse, the Google Ads system doesn’t allow you to create Custom Column – custom metrics using “Gmail Click to Website”.

All these contribute substantially to the overall performance of your ad campaign, likely rendering it less successful than it can actually be due to the lack of actionable data-driven insight you as a campaign leader should be provided. 

Luckily, there’s a remedy. 

How to Solve the Gmail Ads Metrics/Reporting Problem 

Those who use Reportz, our client reporting and data tracking tool, are provided with additional metrics that resolve the Gmail Ads issue mentioned above. The main issue our team tackled is making our tool capable of giving you data on how much your clicks cost, as well as how big your CTRs are.

We did this by creating our own set of custom-made calculated metrics:

  • Default CTR: clicks/impressions
  • CTR 2: Clicks to Website/Clicks
  • CTR 2.1: Clicks to Website/Impressions
  • Default CPC: Cost/Clicks
  • CPC 2: Cost/Clicks to Website

Default metrics refer to those taken from Google Ads, while CTR 2, CTR 2.1, and CPC 2 are the new custom ones:

  • CTR 2 shows the ratio between the number of clicks to website your ad has generated – divided by the number of clicks to your ad.
  • CTR 2.1 shows the ratio between the number of clicks to website your ad has generated – divided by the total amount of impressions.
  • The average CPC is calculated by the total amount of clicks to website your ad has generated – divided by the total ad spend.

What is important to mention here is that Google Ads Impression metric displays the number of times the ad is shown, while our CTR shows the data (percentage) about the number of time the ad-containing email has been actually opened

Another advantage of using Reportz for your Gmail Ads endeavors (and other digital marketing related ones for that matter) is that our software is a highly customizable performance marketing dashboard-based tool and is therefore quite suitable for agencies operating in niches like e-commerce, SEO reporting, PPC, social media marketing; and can provide you with a myriad of additional practical features and custom metrics including Google Ads custom/calculated metrics and Facebook Ads custom/calculated metrics

Here you can check out Gmail Ads Templates in Reportz and get a tangible glimpse into what your Gmail Ads tracking and reporting may look like with our additional custom metrics:

Gmail Ads Custom metrics | Reportz