Updated: April 14, 2019

Ding! You’ve got mail.

As you fire up your inbox, your heart is racing with excitement.

“It’s my Coachella ticket delivery confirmation, I just know it!!!,” you scream to yourself.

But wait. The headline reads…

“Calling all marketers. The Answer to EVERY Gmail Ad Question You’ll Ever Have.”

You’ve got mail.

Hold up. Gmail Ads? You’re intrigued.

Why should you read on? We attempt to answer every question that a marketer can ever think of when it comes to Gmail Ads. Whether you have one question or a million, read on to find out everything you’ll ever want to know!

We are adding new questions and answers all the time, so subscribe to get updates to this article to your inbox or browser.

Gmail Ads: EVERY Question and Answer (Updated August 16, 2018)

Q: Why should I care about Gmail Ads?

A: First of all, nearly 205 billion emails are sent per day throughout the world.

Dude.

That’s a lot of emails in your inbox. This equates to plenty of impressions.

However, not a lot of marketers view Gmail Ads as a profitable channel.

Gmail ads are often neglected because it is poorly understood.

Don’t worry – once you read on, you’ll be able to master Gmail Ads and get this cheap and efficient channel working for you.

Q: What are Gmail ads?

A: Gmail ads are a sub-type of display ads on Google AdWords.

Unlike AdWords, it focuses on audience and customer lists over keywords.

When targeting users for Gmail ads, it’s not about what you’re looking for – it’s who you are.

When a user is searching up a keyword on Google, they are looking for a specific solution to a problem.

Let’s say you search “plumber.” You are specifically looking for a plumber to fix a leak because your toilet exploded and is leaking an ominous brown liquid everywhere.

Now let’s see the other side of the equation: when targeting a user through an audience list, it is based on who they are and how they behave.

This means your goal is to capture their attention to interact with your ad, even if they weren’t searching for it.

For example, an audience list of high income earners might react well to an ad selling top of the line bathroom fixtures (such as as a golden toilet, which actually exists).

Q: Do Gmail Ads really work?

A: You’re jaded. We get it.

Everyone is trying to sell inventory of low quality display ads that don’t drive results.

Gmail ads have the power to drive results: marketers need to do the below steps:

    • Have a strong testing plan in place. It may take you 18 tries to crack profitability, so it takes perseverance.
    • Create a plethora of targeted audience lists to test
  • Create multiple ad creatives specifically targeted to each audience

Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) ads have the potential to be better than traditional display ads.

They are housed in the “Promotions” folder, so users who are looking there are likely already in the mood to be looking for something that interests them.

Example of a Gmail Sponsored Ad.

Gmail Ads have a slick visual presentation – they closely mimic the native look of emails and allow for flexible graphical and HTML based ad units.

Also, you don’t have to worry about a banner popping and irritating the hell out of the user as they are a rare combination of appearing top of the fold while remaining low key.

Q: Who do I target for Gmail Ads?

A: Gmail ads are all about audience targeting with customer lists.

You’ll get better results when you strategically segment your audiences vs. letting Gmail Ads target large, unfocused audiences

How do you this? Follow the below steps:

    • Create audiences from existing customers
    • Create audiences from people who have not converted yet but who have heard of your brand
  • Identify and create specific personas based on audience and affinity interest research

Here’s an example.

If you’re selling cosmetic brushes, one of your best customers might be “Jane.”

Create customers like Jane

Who is Jane? She is age 25, works as a social media manager, highly interested in cosmetics, and her favorite stores include Sephora and Ulta.

Your Gmail ad should be shown to the audience list Jane belongs to:

Utilize tools to find data for audience lists.

Q: What tools can I use for Gmail Ad audience research?

A: While building out audience lists can be difficult, there are tools to help make things easier.

One of our favorite, free tools is to utilize Facebook’s Audience Insights tool: its algorithm can really simplify the process.

Facebook will create audience lists based on their interests, shopping habits, and others.

Useful, right?

You can find the useful tool in Facebook’s Business Manager.

Utilize the data shown on the “demographics”  page:

This allows you to create powerful audiences with data from people who have interacted with your page.

Dive deeper with the tool and you can retrieve extremely useful information.

Another tool is our trusty friend, Google Analytics.

You can’t go wrong with digging up critical information like demographics of your customers and what SKUs are hot.

Handy data from Google Analytics would be demographics and interests to help build customer lists.

Demographics and interests can be found under the Audience tab.

Demographics found on Google Analytics.
Interests found on Google Analytics.

Q: What are some ideas for building out audiences?

A: Another method to build more audience lists is creating your own.

One tip is to think of your user’s motives.

For example, if you’re creating a retargeting audience, you should collect demographics and psychographics of users who have purchased before. This can be a male, age 20-35, located in Southern California, who shops at Nike and Adidas.

Another example can be building out retargeting audiences.

These are consumers who are one push away from purchasing.

Based on data, you can discover users who have made it to your website and almost converted.

Use this to develop an exact audience list for your Gmail ad to give them that final push.

After building out your effective audience lists, start testing with various GSP ad types.

Q: How do I know which GSP ad type works best?

A: Good question. Only one way to find out – test them all!

After testing all ad types, you can analyze the stats to find what works best.

Your product offering is another way to determine ad type.

Think about what are you selling, how many SKUs you have, what is the product offering, etc.

Each ad type can cater to different purposes.

For example, a company with 5-10 different SKUs would select the single product promotion ad type as they don’t have a wide variety of products.

Q: How do I know if my ad is working efficiently?

A: A crucial step for GSP ads is to A/B test each ad.

This allows you to see which subject line and description is hitting the jackpot.

You want the winning combo of ad type, copy, and creative.

You can monitor the success of all combinations through “gmail clicks to website” column in AdWords.

The first metric you’ll need to look at is your “open rate.” This is shown as the CTR % in the Adwords interface. You’ll want open rates that are comparable to high quality emails (10%+). If this is low, then you’ll want to continually A/B test the subject lines and make sure they cater to your target audience.

Secondly, you’ll want to examine your actual creative “CTR %.” You can monitor the success of this via the “Gmail clicks to website” column in AdWords. Here’s a screenshot of where you can add it:

Add “Gmail Clicks to Website” column like this

You’ll then want to figure out the CTR % of your ad creative w/ the following formula: “Gmail Clicks to Website / Clicks.” This will inform you about how effective your ad creative is. If this is not at least 1% (as a baseline), you’ll need to make your ads stronger either in presentation, copy or design.

Lastly, once those metrics are healthy you’ll want to optimize for your ultimate goal whether it be CPA or ROAS.

Q: What is Gmail Ads “clicks to website” and why does it matter?

A: Gmail “clicks to website” indicates how many times users expanded the ad.

There is conversion rate and also “true” conversion rate.

“True” conversion rate is the key to finding your A+ ads.

To find your true conv. Rate, you need to divide gmail “clicks to website” by regular clicks (collapsed ad/subject line).

This informs you of the actual traffic landing on your website.

Q: What copy is needed for great Gmail Ads?

A: Gmail ads are made of two parts for copy.

Subject line and Description.

All Gmail ads appear in “collapsed” format on the top of user’s inbox.

The subject line needs to hit hard being the first thing users see.

After convincing the user to click the email, it will launch the “expanded” format.

“Expanded” format displays the entire ad including graphics and strong description copy.

Q: How should the copy sound when writing Gmail text?

A: Gmail ads copy should be parallel to AdWords ads.

Put value propositions in the beginning, again A/B testing to see which works best.

One tip is to use value props like shipping and price for better results.

Don’t forget good ad copy skills like emotional triggers, strong hooks, etc.

Also, always add a call to action button at the end.

If you’re looking for more help on how to write killer ad copy, check out this guide: 

http://jetfuel.agency/how-to-write-google-adwords-ads/

You should mix up different tones and emotions to see which work better with your audience.

If the ad is not getting the results you want, switch up the product you’re testing.

Some products might do better than others.

Consistently test your ads to find the best combo with strong results.

Q: How do I write good headlines for Gmail Ads?

A: Avoid extreme and out of proportion headlines.

You don’t want your user to expand the ad expecting an outrageous offer and not find it.

This will lead to disappointment.

For example, if the headline reads “70% Off Boots, Shop Now,” the user will expect a huge discount.

If the ad is not mirroring the headline offer, the user will have a negative experience and exit.

When something like this occurs, it will ruin your ROAS as Gmail Ads are technically charged by impressions.

This is because the moment they click to expand your ad, your account is charged.

Be wise with what you say and don’t throw away money with useless impressions.

Q: What are Gmail ad examples of strong ad copy?

A: Instead of a headline like “70% Off Boots,” a better ad would be “$50 boots, now $15.”

This allows the user to understand that the boots are on sale for a specific price. Clear and exact, it avoids disappointment and false hope.

Here’s a different example:

Example of strong ad copy.

The headline specifically reads “$50 Offer,” which gives the exact promotion offer. A Gmail Ad setup like this ensures that the user will not be led into confusion or false promotion after expanding the GSP ad.

Q: How do I keep track of all my Gmail ad performance?

A: Quite simple, document everything!

Keep all the results tidy and documented.

Track all ad builds including ad types, copy, creatives, etc.

This will allow you to analyze each result based on conversion rate and “true” conversion rate.

Use this documentation to understand how well each test is performing and compare results of each round.

Every piece of data matters when finding your successful ad combos.

Use this template to efficiently organize your results: Gmail Results Template

Q: How can I improve Gmail ad performance?

A: Never stop refining.

You’ll see improvement in ad performance by consistently maintaining your ads.

Be on track of trends that are evolving.

You want to stay relevant with your audience.

Your target audiences can change so you need to constantly check who you’re targeting.

Don’t lose momentum by sending irrelevant ads.

Be adaptive and remain present.

Q: What is Target CPA and how/when would you use it?

A: Target CPA is the desired CPA you set so Google does everything it can to reach it.

This can be used in the method of target CPA bidding if needed.

I would suggest utilizing target CPA to make incremental gains and test out Google’s algorithm once you have a decent volume of conversions.

You can then make custom improvements from those target CPA biddings to reach your desired results.

Q: How do you make money on Gmail Ads??

A: Make your Gmail ads spectacular with the backing of superb analytics.

Take what you learned from all the questions asked above and put them into action.

Practice makes perfect.

Start with building out strong audience lists, devise killer ad copy, test, test, test, analyze results, and do a celebratory dance for reaching your target ROAS!

Make bank with Gmail Ads!

Q: Okay, great! How do I set up a Gmail Sponsored Ad in Google AdWords?

A: Head on over to Google AdWords.

    1. Click on campaigns and press the “+” button to create a new campaign.
Add new campaign.
  1. Click “New Campaign” and choose “Sales.”
Select “sales” as the goal.
  • Then choose “Display” for campaign type and “Gmail campaign” for sub-type.
  • Select campaign type and subtype.
  • Now that you have a campaign set up for Gmail ads, you can create a gmail ad.
  • Click on “Ads & Extensions” on the left column.
  • Click on the “+” button to create a new add and choose “Gmail Ad.”
  • Create Gmail ad in campaign.
  • Fill in these boxes and you have successfully set up a Gmail Ad!

  • You are preparing for the biggest meeting of your life.

    Your boss is demanding ad copy.

    Not just any ad copy.

    It needs to amaze. Inspire. SELL!

    Suddenly, sweat drips down your face.

    You’re slamming your keyboard now, desperately searching for help online.

    You are suddenly feeling very small.

    Don’t worry.

    We got your back.

    We’re here to help (no sweat).

    So why is ad copy such a vital part of online marketing?

    Google is a blood strewn battleground of competitors –  you’ll need the right strategies to make it on top.

    Your job as a marketer is to crush those competitors.

    How do you knock your competitors out of the way, you might ask?

    You’ll need to be equipped with the right techniques to devise eye-catching ad copy that will stand out from the rest.

    You’re not simply going to write great copy – you need to get into the shoes of your customers and understand everything that motivates them, drives them, and ultimately triggers them to make a purchase.

    Let’s take a look at these steps that will act as your ad copy bible.

    STEP ONE: Find and target your user’s objectives for Google Adwords ads.

    Understand your user inside and out.

    There are multiple types of people, or personas. Let’s go into detail here.

    How do you figure out your user personas?

    1. Do some market research.

    You can gauge details of your user by using tools like surveys, interviews, and polls on social media channels.

    Another way to find out details of your user is scoping out your competitors. How are they talking and interacting with their consumers?

    2. Check your website’s analytics.

    There is valuable data inside your site’s analytics. It reveals essential information for creating your personas like search terms that led them to your ad and what device they are used to get there.

    Now that you found some pieces to your persona puzzle, lets build them out.

    P.I.P.: Persona Identification Process. Let’s engrave this process into your head, so whenever you need to understand your audience, the P.I.P. will easily guide you through it. The P.I.P. will include these components:

    Name your persona

    This will help you differentiate your multiple personas and build unique ad copy to fit each one.

    Occupation

      • What is their job title?
    • What is their company like? (size, industry, etc.)

    Demographics

      • Age
      • Gender
      • Income
      • Location
      • Level of Education
    • Family Size

    Psychographics

      • Primary and secondary goals
      • How will you help them reach their goals
      • Problems
      • How will you solve these problems
      • Interests
    • Dislikes

    Here’s an example persona for someone searching for “sell car.”

    P.I.P. Template

    Name: Drew

    Occupation: Assistant Project Manager at a mid-size apparel company.

    Demographics:

      • 35 years old
      • Male
      • $65,000 Annual Income
      • Southern California, Suburban Region
      • Bachelor’s Degree
    • Married, Two young children

    Psychographics:

      • Goals: Sell car in most effective and profitable way
      • Problems: Find easiest and quickest way to sell car for cash
    • How can we help: Give instant estimate, Pick up the car, Give cash quick.

    Now that you have this template for creating your personas, it will be much easier for your ad copy to cater to their exact needs.

    Moving forward, let’s think of the five W’s (who, what, where, when, why) when analyzing this person.

    “Who”- Who is this person? Think of their possible occupation, interests, dislikes, and so on. Drew is a 35-year-old man with hair quickly turning white due to his chaotic days with two young children. He’s a full-time worker and a full-time family man, facing various situations day to day. His new big problem, sell his car.

    “What” – What is their goal? Tap into what they are trying to achieve in the end.

    Drew’s day usually includes work, taking care of the children, and spending time with the family, with no time to waste. His goal is to sell his car in the most immediate and profitable way.

    “Where and When” – What device are they using when searching and where are they geographically located?

    For Drew, he is searching for solutions mainly through his mobile device since he is always on the go, whether he’s at his son’s soccer practice or out for lunch with his co-workers. His geographic location is California, USA. You can now modify your ad copy to appeal to these aspects.

    “Why” – This can be parallel to their goal, but let’s pinpoint why they are looking for a solution.

    In Drew’s case, he is unfamiliar with the car selling process and doesn’t know which service is the best. Therefore, he is searching for trustworthy guidance and a helpful hand (you.)

    With the solid knowledge of your personas, let’s process that information into personable ad copy.

    Here’s an example of ad copy for “sell car.”

    Examples of effective ad copy for specific personas.

    These two ads give the user easy-to-follow solutions to their problem of selling a car. The first ad gives concise answers like “Get An Instant Estimate, Pick Up Your Car, Get A Check.”

    Then guide the user into understanding how each persona has different 5x Ws and the ad copy should reflect that.

    It simply tells the user that their company’s services will bring them to the end goal (get a check/money.)

    These companies have a clear image of their user.

    They are utilizing specific benefits like “Get An Instant Estimate Now,”Sell Car Quick,” and “Highest Payout.”

    Each benefit is fitting the mold to the persona who wants to sell their car fast, hassle-free, and for good money.

    STEP TWO: Nail the Headline.

    Now let’s get into the greeter of our ad copy; the headline.

    More people simply read the headline more than the body.

    It is the first thing people see – make it memorable!

    Example of different hook words.

    Hooks– Snatch the user’s attention with enticing hooks.

      • What exactly is a hook? It’s something that grabs someone’s attention.
      • The hook should explain the value of your offer, to make the user read on.
    • Use grabbers like “Who else wants…” (implies an already existing desire) or “The secret of…” (instills that you are sharing insider knowledge)

    Statistics & Numbers– Integrate this into your headline to differentiate yourself from other ads.

      • This acts as strong, factual motivators to help your user believe what you’re selling.
      • Numbers and statistics make users believe that your service is better than the competitors. Check this example out.
    • A user is searching “photo prints” and multiple companies include stats in their headline.
    Examples of utilizing statistics and numbers in headline to increase engagement.

    Snapfish strategically inserts “Up to 70% Off” to trigger the user to feel like they are getting a big discount.

    Walgreens’ ad also states “40% Off Photo Prints,” implying that there is a special sale.

    Majority of users comparing these four different services would easily pick Snapfish and Walgreens over the other two because of the simple inserts of percentages.

    Wouldn’t you go for the ad with a sale going on?

    Keywords– Incorporate your top keywords.

      • Utilize your top performing keywords in the headline so it appears in the searches.
    • Be cautious and don’t spam the ad with these keywords.

    Two words: Scent. Trail.

      • What is this? When we use search engines, there’s typically a specific direction we’re looking to go. Users then tend to engage most with ads that easily take you on the right path.
    • You want the headline to smoothly lead them to your description. Then the description should be the final push to have them click through.

    Let me guide you through this example:

    Example of showcasing scent trail gone wrong.

    When you first look at the headline “Enter to win a trip to Scotland from Cox!,” you expect the body to be about how you can win a trip to Scotland, right?

    Well… Clearly, there is no correlation in the body content with the headline.

    This has no clear scent trail.

    At this point, your user is confused and will immediately disengage.

    Now let’s look at an ad with good scent trail.

    Example utilizing effective scent trail to enhance user’s experience.

    Here’s an ad for “makeup brush.” The headline clearly states what we are looking for, “makeup brushes & cosmetic brushes.” Now the user will want to continue reading.

    This description is spot on with the topic and provides the user with information they want, leading them to click through and continue shopping.

    Learn more about the scent trail concept here: https://www.practicalecommerce.com/conversion-rate-optimization-scent-trail-or-primrose-path

    STEP THREE: Wow them with your description/body.

    Now that the headline is settled, let’s focus on the meat of the ad copy; the description.

    A quick way to vamp up the first description line is ending with a punctuation mark.

      • This grants the ad extra pulling power.
    • If you use punctuation, it can elongate your headline when your ad places in top three spots.

    Next, promote readability.

    • Utilize easy to comprehend, short, and broken sentences.

    Check this out, what ad is easier on the eyes?

    Example of ad with easy to read copy.

    OR

    Example of ad with clustered text.

    The first ad has short, simple sentences like “Price Guarantee. No Cancellation Fee.”

    It’s quick to read and straight to the point.

    The second ad looks a little more clustered and makes it harder on the eyes since it looks like a big chunk of text.

    With that said, try to stay away from chunking up your text.

    Next, focus on your benefits.

    Steps to increase performance in ad copy.

    Tell them how your brand/product will improve their lives.

      • The user only cares about how you can make their lives easier.
      • Again, apply stats and #s when possible.
    • Be specific on how you will help them, don’t be too vague.

    Be personal; use “you”

      • You are talking directly to the user.
    • This gives off a friendly and intimate attitude.
    • Make them feel like they have a relationship with you and can trust you.

    Include converting keywords in text

      • Just like in the headline, target those high performing keywords and integrate them in the text.
    • Again, be aware of spamming the text with keywords.

    The order of the text matters as well.

    • The most important information should be at the front and the least important should be at the end.
    Example of ad with efficiently structured text.
      • In the example above, this ad description is structured well since the first sentence captures the user’s attention with clear information about makeup brushes they offer.
    • The next sentence is a call to action which should be at the end.

    STEP FOUR: Utilize emotional triggers

    Emotions are vital components to making strong ad copy.

    Use anger, disgust, excitement, fear, etc. to get a powerful response.

    Different emotions used in ad copy.

    We have to understand that most consumers are driven by emotion, not just logic.

      • The use of emotions like belonging should make them feel like they are part of something bigger.
    • The emotional trigger of fear should instill a sense of danger if they do not take action.

    Overall, make the user feel something, allowing them to connect with you.

    Triggers- Research what triggers your targeted user.

      • Think about the specific details of your personas.
      • Envision what emotions will work best with them, based on their personalities.
      • Considering what service or product you’re offering, you can choose emotions based on that as well.
      • Remember what you include in your ad can trigger them to feel a specific way.
    • The trigger will lead to them to have an emotional reaction and click through.

    Here’s an example: These two ads are both for “Hydroflask.”

    Examples of ineffective and effective ad copy regarding emotional effects.

     

    The first ad copy is extremely bland and no emotional connection, whatsoever.

    However, the second copy uses strong emotions with punch words like “tough as hell” and keeps it personal by using “your.” The ad leaves a lasting impression unlike the other.

    This makes the ad copy highly compelling.

    An important emotional trigger you need to know: FOMO

    Example of FOMO is online sale countdown.

    FOMO = fear of missing out

    This emotion causes a sense of feeling left out or missing out on something important.

    The result of this emotion is the act of them engaging in your ad.

    • This is a type of loss aversion to persuade users to convert

    Simple way to implement FOMO is a countdown timer; run in real time.

      • The timer provides a sense of panic and time running out.
    • By instilling time limits, the user thinks they will lose out if they don’t act now.

    Other tactics include copy like: “Sale is almost ending, only one hour left”

      • Creates fear of missing out on opportunity
    • Adding text like “low on stock” or “almost sold out” relays powerful emotional reactions.

    STEP FIVE: Importance of display URLs

    You want unique, keyword-rich display urls.

    What are display URLs?

    • The display URL is what the URL shown in your ad.

    This URL obviously shows the user that they will be sent to a landing page on hotels.

    The display URL can be different from the destination URL.

    When utilized correctly, it can improve click through rates.

    Display URLs serve two purposes: Be something more related to the ad copy subject AND contain your top keywords.

    You can include top keywords in display URLs even if it’s not included in your destination URL.

    If the URL is specific to the user’s desire, it will make them believe the landing page will take them to what they’re looking for.

    It also adds a sense of organization and assurance.

    Example of good URL structure.

    Here’s an example of a display URL: www.doglovers.com/dog-food/beef

    This tells the user they will be directly led to a landing page for dog food categorized under beef.

    You made it.

    We reached the end of the learning process, but you’re not done yet.

    What should you do now?

    The best way to engrave these killer steps would be through practice.

    After practice, we need to TEST, TEST, TEST!

    The most important thing to do now is test your ads. You’re now ready to write compelling and strategic ad copy, but now we need to figure out which is working.

      • Ad copy takes multiple tries to get it right and the only way to hit the jackpot is by testing them.
      • Take this to the A/B testing stage.
    • A/B testing various ads will allow you to determine which tactics are successfully working for you campaign.

    Now, the next time you’re asked to take on an ad copy task, relax and tap into your brain. Use these valuable steps to help navigate your way and you’ll be deemed as the next ad copy king/queen.

    Now go make some fire ad copy!

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