If You’re Not Using This Gmail Ad Targeting Tactic, You’re Missing Out

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You already know that you can use the Adwords Content Network to target Gmail users. The ability to advertise to Gmail users through Adwords has been around for years. But outside of the occasional privacy complaint, you don’t hear much about this ad option.

Well, I’m going to show you an awesome tactic to use when running Gmail ads that gives you a unique opportunity to target your audience. Then I’m going to show you exactly how I set up a targeted Gmail Adwords campaign that converts.

So why bother targeting Gmail separately?

I mean, who needs another campaign to manage, right?

You want to create separate Gmail campaigns specifically because you are going to use it in a different way than you’d use the regular Content Network. With this tactic, we are going to target very specific keywords that exist in email headlines of your target audience.

Let’s use an example to show you what I mean.

Say you’re an Adwords expert (and you must be if you’re reading PPC Hero) and you want to target other Adwords users who are having trouble managing their own accounts and might be interested in your services.

So what kind of email might a person struggling with Adwords receive?

How about the dreaded “Your AdWords Ads Aren’t Running; Action Required” alert email Adwords sends out to notify users of issues with their account.

By targeting the exact match phrase [Your AdWords Ads Aren’t Running; Action Required] you can have a set of ads that only run when people receive this message. Here is an ad I created to target this opportunity:

PPC Ad

Let’s use another example, because everyone loves examples. Each month, I get my cell phone bill via email. The email headline is always the same – “Your TELUS Mobility e.bill is ready?.” A savvy competitor could use the exact match phrase [Your TELUS Mobility e.bill is ready] to serve me ads about switching to their service.

PPC Ad Bills

Your only limits here are your imagination.

Sounds great, how do I set this up?

For best results, create a separate campaign for your Gmail ads. In your new campaign select the Display Network and “Show ads only on pages that match all selected targeting methods”

AdWords Settings

Then select the following placements:

  • mail.google.com
  • mail.google.com::Inbox,Top center

Gmail PPC Targeting

Note: it’s not gmail.com, its mail.google.com

The mail.google.com::Inbox,Top center placement targets the Funbox, which will display your ads at the top of Gmail:

Gmail PPC Ads

Now you need to write your ads in a way that captures people attention and interest. Tie your headline and offer directly into the email they are reading.

Also, remember that the ads in the Funbox show up in one line, not two like regular Adwords text ads, so keep that in mind when formatting the ads.

Once my ads were written, I created some landing pages in Unbounce that tie into the message and offer from the ad. Here is an example of one of the landing pages:

PPC Landing Page

Results

Granted, the campaign is still new, but I’ve generated 3 solid leads in 10 days from this tactic for under $100. The CPC on the campaign is much lower than then what I was paying in the Search Network for similar traffic, and the conversion rate has been better.

AdWords Conversion Rate

Need ideas on how you can use this tactic? Comb through your inbox. You’ll start seeing ways you can target keyword phrases you see in email headlines that give you opportunities to market to your audience in creative ways your competitors never dreamed of.

This post is from Andrew Breen of Outshine Online Marketing, which offers Halifax online marketing services including conversion optimization and Adwords management.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/noahjbrooks Noah J. Brooks

    I have been seeing a lot of success with Gmail campaigns lately too!  Having a cpl 50% lower than average and a pretty solid conv. rate as well.

    • Guest

      I’m also interested to know whether Adwords scans the whole email or just subject before deciding on the advertisers that gain the impression…

  • http://www.facebook.com/dmboyd David Boyd

    Awecome insight here..

  • http://twitter.com/Johnnyjetfan John Lavin

    So just put the keywords that I want to target in where the keywords would be for a normal search campaign then?

    • http://www.outshineonline.ca Andrew Breen

      Right, but the point of this post is to show you how to think in email headlines you can target, instead of traditional keyword targeting. Let me know if you have any more questions.

    • http://www.outshineonline.ca Andrew Breen

      Right, but the point of this post is to show you how to think in email headlines you can target, instead of traditional keyword targeting. Let me know if you have any more questions.

    • http://www.outshineonline.ca Andrew Breen

      Right, but the point of this post is to show you how to think in email headlines you can target, instead of traditional keyword targeting. Let me know if you have any more questions.

    • http://www.outshineonline.ca Andrew Breen

      Right, but the point of this post is to show you how to think in email headlines you can target, instead of traditional keyword targeting. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  • http://twitter.com/clickworksppc Clickworks Marketing

    Great post!

    I’m a fellow Canadian PPC marketer and I understand the pain of a “big Telus bill” ;)

    I’ve also seen your ads in my inbox.

    Be prepared for a little friendly competion.

    Cheers.

    • http://www.outshineonline.ca Andrew Breen

      Awesome, glad to help a fellow Canadian. Let’s connect on Twitter.

    • http://www.outshineonline.ca Andrew Breen

      Awesome, glad to help a fellow Canadian. Let’s connect on Twitter.

      • http://twitter.com/clickworksppc Clickworks Marketing

        Andrew, definitely. I’m @clickworksppc and @mwilliams20

    • http://www.outshineonline.ca Andrew Breen

      Awesome, glad to help a fellow Canadian. Let’s connect on Twitter.

    • http://www.outshineonline.ca Andrew Breen

      Awesome, glad to help a fellow Canadian. Let’s connect on Twitter.

  • Joedo

    Great blog post, I wouldn’t mind giving Gmail targetting a try!

    I find when I use unbounce I receive a crappy quality score. Do you run into this problem?? Unbounce links are redirections so you can’t link to relevent external links??

  • http://www.usainternetmarketing.com/ppc-management.php ppc advertising

    E-mail marketing is good way of getting traffic. but i want to say some thing about,  PPC advertising is the best thing which we use for improving web traffic. we can get also conversion of using this. we can use on e-mail….! Thnak’s

  • http://www.zco.com/video-production.aspx Daniel Wood

    Brilliant post Andrew. i was really missing this tactic.  It is that we have to watch closely the inbox mail then find the suitable keyword for our site and target it. It sounds great.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome tactic, very clever.

    Within an hour of reading this post, I was preparing campaigns targeting competitor brands and employee names. And the results so far? Awesome.

    Question if I may: would you recommend frequency capping?

    Thanks for this post.

    • http://www.outshineonline.ca Andrew Breen

      Hi Chris,

      Never tried frequency capping (getting too few impressions is typically my concern over getting too many), but would be interested to see the results. 

  • Anonymous

    @breenandrew:disqus …..??n`t b?l?iv?…..?? ?unt is m??ing $ 69 ??r h?ur ?n h?r ??m?ut?r. ?ft?r b?ing l?id ?ff 9 m?nths ?g?, sh? n?w ??rns m?r? th?n $5000 ? m?nth. ?ll fr?m h?r?……http://alturl.com/rdiai

  • Brian Broadbent

    I have tried this tactic in the past on many different levels.  We have tried competitor headlines on emails, unique phrases inside of emails, and competitor addresses. (Plus combinations of all three). Could never get any traffic.

    I am surprised you are getting traffic.

    It seems likes you really have to use phrases that have search volume behind them. I think shorter phrases would be more effective “Tellus Bill”, “Ads not showing”. People will search for those phrases in some capacity.

    In fact, you may be getting traffic if those phrases, even on broad match, get some search volume.

    • http://www.outshineonline.ca Andrew Breen

      Hi Brian,

      Excellent point! Thanks for mentioning this.

      Some phrases I thought would be home-runs got no impressions, despite the fact I KNEW they were in emails people were reading. 

      Frankly I have no explanation for this – perhaps my landing page relevancy was too low for my ads to trigger (even though they were highly targeted) or I was bidding too low. Like you say, you typically have to play around with phrases until you hit something that works, Sometimes you get volume right off the bat, but don’t give up if you don’t. 

  • http://twitter.com/DominickFrasso Dominick Frasso

    Excellent post Andrew. I see great success already in Gmail, but haven’t tried this tactic yet. I look forward to testing this out.

  • http://a.trendyname.org Chris

    Great tactic. For the keyword, does Gmail just scan the entire contents of the email (subject title and body) or just the subject title? If I did the same with an exact match that occurs in the body of the email, would it work?

  • Shyam Prakash Pal

    Thanks PPC Hero,
    I want target users of Canada. would you please suggest me what should be use mail.google.ca  or mail.google.com?

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  • ppcseo

    I am no longer receiving any impressions from gmail. I am still targeting it, but there appears to be a change to the display network for this target site. My impressions are down across the board. Anyone else seeing this issue?

  • ppcseo

    Alex good point. I have the same question.

  • http://twitter.com/alirouse Alison Rouse

    With your Telus example…isn’t it against Google’s trademark policy to include another company’s trademark in your ad? You can have it as a keyword, but not in the ad itself?

    • Pep Dekker

      In the US it is. Notice the display URL ‘.ca’ and Telus is a Canadian company. Canada and the UK (EU) don’t fall under the same rules as we do here when it comes to trademarks and copyright.

  • David Wolf

    Great stuff. Gmail targeting tactics can work for any customer. Thank you for getting so detailed.

  • Grant Perry

    In theory that is meant to be true. But I’ve found stats next to exact and phrase match types. They’ve just removed the 50 keyword limit from GDN and I’ve heard they are going to officially recognise match types on the GDN now too.

  • Deepak HM

    Hi PPC Hero,

    This article is Very helpful. But i would like to know how Google ads will get displayed on Gmail? like on what basis it will select the ads to show on particular persons gmail?

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com PPC Hero

      Hi Deepak,

      You can tell Google which ads to display by choosing contextual keywords for your display campaigns. If they have a message in their inbox with your keywords in it, your ad will be eligible to show for them.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Deepak HM

        Hi PPC Hero,

        Thanks a lot for sharing the information. We will try running our ads on Gmail soon and will get back to you with the results.