Gmail Ads – How You Can Use Them to Remarket Leads

May 21, 2018

Online marketing through emails is always a challenge because a large percentage of people don’t open their emails at all! Only a very small amount will open your message and an even smaller amount will click through. Not very effective, right?

We’re bombarded with emails every day, so you need to make yours stand out above the rest.

Customers see ads everywhere and have gotten good at ignoring them too!

Gmail Ads is a way to remarket yourself to your leads after they’ve interacted with your business; whether they’ve used your app or visited your website.

For example:

Reminding your customers of your services or products keeps you in their minds for when they need similar things in the future.

Let’s look at how Gmail Ads can help you reconnect with your leads.

What is Remarketing?

Basically, remarketing (or retargeting) is the creation of ad campaigns that target people who have previously visited your website or used your app.

When you remarket to those who already know of you and your products or services, you’re increasing your chances of conversion.

Personalising the ads to what they’ve looked at previously, you’re more likely to stick in the lead’s mind and encourage them to continue with the purchase or activity.

Putting your Adwords campaigns into leads’ Gmail inboxes is a great way to reach more people and therefore increase your chances of conversion.

Gmail Advertising – A brief history

While email advertising certainly isn’t new and you probably have your email marketing plan set up already, you’re only reaching subscribers instead of getting new leads.

Last year, 86% of B2C marketers said they’ve used email advertising as a way to distribute their content; so it can work, but there’s a way to make it much more effective!

As mentioned above, Gmail Ads lets you put your Adwords campaigns into your customers’ Gmail inboxes.

It’s similar to Adwords in that you can choose specific keywords, audiences and other classifications for your campaigns so that the people you want to see your ads will see them.

Ads will look similar to other emails, have an ‘Ad’ tag and will usually appear in the ‘Social’ or ‘Promotions’ tabs.

This is so the readers know the ads are sponsored, as it’s important to be transparent about it.

When someone clicks on one of these ads, it will open up a message with advertising content, like videos and images.

Gmail Ads do not let you use keyword or domain targeting anymore, but you can still participate in remarketing and dynamic remarketing.

Dynamic remarketing goes a step further than remarketing by showing your previous site visitors ads that contain things they viewed on your site.

Being able to get your Gmail Ads in the inboxes of those who’ve already interacted with your content, messages or website, is a great way to remarket yourself to your leads.

Basic Guide to Creating a Gmail Ad

Firstly, you need an account with AdWords, so if you don’t have one already then please set one up and log in before continuing on.

If you’ve used Adwords before, you’ll find it quite easy to make a Gmail remarketing campaign.

1. Creating your new AdWords campaign

Start on the main dashboard of AdWords.

A Gmail remarketing campaign means you need to use the new interface.

If you’re still on the old version, hit ‘settings’, then select the ‘try new AdWords interface’ option.

Your screen will reload with the new design.

Then, you need to go to the ‘campaigns’ page.

Start a new campaign by clicking the ‘new campaign’ button on the bottom of the screen.

Or you can click the big blue circle.

Both ways will prompt you to create a new campaign or load previous campaign settings, which will let you make a new campaign with the past campaign information.

For now, let’s just create a new campaign.

The next page will ask you to choose a campaign type, so choose ‘display’, then it’s on to setting your goals.

When you set a goal you’ll get recommendations from AdWords about settings or features to use in your campaign, but you don’t need to do this.

Just choose ‘create a campaign without a goal’.

You can’t choose ‘product and brand consideration’ or ‘brand awareness and reach’ goals when you’re creating a Gmail campaign, so keep that in mind.

Select ‘no goal’ for this new campaign.

You’ll then be asked to choose your campaign subtype, which is where you say that you’re creating a Gmail campaign.

Hit ‘continue’ when you’re done.

This has set up the basics of your new campaign.

2. Audience specifications

Now that the basics are set up, you have the foundation for your new campaign.

This next step is all about specifying the audience you want to target.

The next page will ask you to name your campaign, set its location and language, and pick a bid budget and strategy.

This is the same as setting up a usual AdWords campaign.

When you get to the ‘audiences’ section you need to select the group you’re wanting to remarket.

This is done by pressing ‘how they have interacted with your business’, which then prompts you to edit your target audience.

You’ll see your list of saved audiences if you’ve previously used AdWords for campaigns, so you can either select one list or combine some of them.

To make a new list select ‘settings’ at the top of the screen, then ‘audience manager’.

This brings you to your lists dashboard.

Press the blue circle to make a new audience list.

The pop-up that appears will ask you to choose what audience members you’d like.

You can pick from app users or customers or a combination.

Select ‘website visitors’, which gives you a variety of ways to break up your list.

Select the list of members; then from the drop-down, you’ll see many options.

When you click different types of visitors it will show your specifications to help narrow your audience down.

You may want to make a list of people who have visited specific pages of your website, so you can put in rules about URLs, referring URLs, and specify how you want the user to relate to the rule.

Put in your credentials then press ‘create audience’.

Go back to your campaign and you’ll see that a new column has appeared, saying ‘website visitors’.

This has the new audience group you just made.

AdWords will also show an estimate of the reach of this audience.

It’s best to target the right people, not just a lot of people.

3. Getting more specific

Gmail Ads are like any digital marketing; it’s about getting the correct message in front of the correct audience, at the correct time.

You may need to go deeper than just segmenting your list by audience, which AdWords allows you to do.

Once you’ve chosen your audience, you can pick specific demographics and use dynamic ads when remarketing leads.

Dynamic ads show visitors that have gone to your site information about what they viewed while browsing your site.

You can adjust your ads to be specific to their viewing habits, to reach your audience in a better way.

Hot tip: Under automated targeting: Make sure you select “No automated targeting” to ensure only the people who have been to your site get targeted.

4. Creating your ad

The last basic step is to design your ad which is made easy by the campaign builder.

When you select ‘new ad’  you’ll see places to add your business name, a headline, description, and the URL and you get a preview to see just how your ads will appear in Gmail.

If you want to customise the ad further you can choose colour options, add in a call to action or a customer teaser, which will all help leave an impression on your audience and make them more likely to click through.

Making Effective Gmail Ads

Choosing your audience and designing the foundation of your campaign is the first part of making your Gmail Ad campaign.

Just because your ads are showing up in the correct inboxes doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll actually be noticed.

Here’s how to make your Gmail ads more effective:

1. Look at the collapsed ad first

It’s important that your Gmail ads are enticing even when collapsed.

They need to stand out from the regular emails in your inbox to increase the chances of being opened since your image or video content isn’t seen yet.

You have your subject line and description as the chance to grab your client’s attention; CoSchedule says 35% of marketing emails are opened based on subject line alone.

Your collapsed ad can use a logo of up to 20 characters for a business name, an up to 25 character headline and a description up to 90 characters.

On a mobile the collapsed ad will only show 40-45 characters on the screen, so you only have a small opportunity to make your subject line and description stand out and entice the user will open it.

Don’t be too clever or creative! It’s best to get straight to the point while creating a sense of urgency if possible to increase the chances of the email being opened.

2. Don’t forget mobiles

Half of your target audience uses mobiles, so if you don’t design your ad to be appealing to mobile users you’re missing out big time.

AdWords makes it simple to design Gmail ads that are mobile-friendly which will increase your leads.

If your messages aren’t appealing to the mobile crowd you’re pushing away half of your target audience.

If we go back to the campaign builder in AdWords for a minute, you’ll see that at the end it provides a full preview of how your Gmail ad will appear on a mobile.

This handy tool will ensure your email suits a mobile screen exactly.

With your headline and description concise, your leads should be able to gather the context of your message.

Being direct ensures your mobile users can easily understand what your message is about.

It’s not just about the headline and description though, you need to ensure that the experiences within your ad are mobile-friendly as well.

Having one image, a succinct and direct call to action is the perfect kind of simplicity for mobiles.

3. Pick the right template

Expanded ads can be made stronger depending on the template chosen.

The single image ad is the most basic template where you can upload a high-quality image (that fits certain sizes and pixel requirements) to the ad builder.

Tools like Desygner and Canva are great to make your own images, although if you would prefer not to make your own, AdWord’s single promotion ad will gather information from the internet (or use your own content you’ve uploaded) which AdWords then generates into an ad.

These ads still get the job done, even if you are lacking skill or creativity to make your own.

New ads within AdWords have a limit of 15 characters for your call-to-action button and should include a logo, header, or marketing image.

There’s also a 90-character description to use utilise.

Multi-product ads let you show more than one product or area and you can use up to 15 images in this template.

It’s the same as a single promotion ad in that you upload your desired content and AdWords generates the ad for you.

If you have HTML skills, you can use these to create your own ad as well.

If you don’t know what you’re doing however, don’t attempt an HTML ad as it’s very complicated.

If you’re lucky enough to be skilled in HTML though, you can create a really unique ad.

4. Split testing and tracking your results

You can have the nicest looking ad, but that means nothing without results!

Even little changes can have a big effect, so you want to ensure you play around with your Gmail ads to find the best ways to connect with your audience; which content or words really work in regards to content they want to click.

Split testing or A/B testing lets you measure the changes and see their influence on clicks, conversions and opens.

Through A/B testing, or split testing, you can measure these small shifts to see how they influence opens, clicks and conversions.

Just about anything in your Gmail ad can be A/B tested; try changing your description or header or use your own images rather than stock photos to see how it influences your results.

You shouldn’t just focus on one strategy with your split testing though; you will benefit from following each tests’ results and seeing how they branch into something different to ensure you don’t miss out on alternatives and new ideas.

It’s important to keep testing and trying new things and seeing how your audience reacts.

Every time you develop a new Gmail ad each visitor gets something different, which makes them more likely to click-through and give you a conversion.


Remarketing through Gmail Ads is a vital marketing tool for businesses to keep your brand in front of mind and boost sales and leads.

This will also help convert more traffic from all other marketing efforts, including your SEO traffic, facebook traffic & direct traffic.

Making strong ads will reintroduce your brand and your products or services to your desired audience more than traditional email marketing.

Remember that the appearance of your collapsed ad is imperative to getting users to open your email and stop it from disappearing down their inbox.

Don’t forget to optimise your mobile user’s experiences as they make up such a large part of your audience.

With the right template make sure you experiment with testing your ad and keeping track of the results. Using Gmail Ads effectively will help you convert more leads when you remarket.

If you don’t have the time to set up this up yourself and would prefer one of our Certified AdWords professionals to do this for you, please feel free to get in touch!

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