The Complete Guide to Gmail Ads (How We Got $.10 CPCs & Leads As Low As $7)

gmail ads

What if I said you could still find targeted clicks for under $0.15 in AdWords today?

Clicks that converted at a low cost per acquisition?

With click-through rates up to 20%?

Sounds pretty unbelievable right? Take a look at this:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

This is Google’s Gmail Sponsored Promotions. They brought it back recently and our team has been testing it out with AWESOME results.

Here’s an example of what it looks like inside of Gmail:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

As you can see in the table above, the CPA numbers we’re getting are as low as $6.52! Our target cost per acquisition (CPA) is around $80, so that’s up to a 87.74% decrease in CPA!

Some of you are probably thinking, “Well, the numbers look good but the conversion volume and conversion rates seem low.”

Let’s talk about conversion rates first:

The image above shows conversion rates (CVR) of 0.25% and 1.27%—not super sexy numbers but it’s important to know that display ads don’t typically convert as well as targeted ads. You’re in a good spot as long as you have low cost per click (CPC) and high click volume.

Now let’s talk about conversion volume:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Display Impression Share’ means the number of impressions you’ve received out of the total estimated number of impressions you are eligible to receive. For these targets, it looks like there’s still room to grow. The best thing about Gmail promoted ads? There’s an abundance of targeting options to help scale your campaign.

In this post, you’re going to learn how to set up Gmail Sponsored Promotions for long-term success.

1. How To Create A Gmail Promoted Ad

First, log into your AdWords account and go into any Campaign that you have. Then select the ‘Ads’ tab, click on ‘+Ad,’ and select ‘Ad Gallery’:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

After that, select ‘Gmail Ads’:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

From there, you have four different ad options to choose from. For the sake of simplicity, let’s go with the ‘Gmail single promotion template’:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

To show you just how easy it is, here’s an example of an ad I just created:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Expanded form:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

2. How To Create the Ad

There are three sections to fill out to get rolling—but don’t worry, it’s easy!

In the first section, you’ll fill out the following:

  • Ad name – What you want to call your ad. This is for internal use only. An example would be ‘Single Grain Enterprise Marketing Ad 1/1/2018′.
  • Display URL – The URL that will be shown to the viewer (not necessarily the final URL).
  • Landing Page – The final URL that will be shown to the viewer. As a reminder, don’t forget to add UTM tags for tracking purposes here.

Here’s what it looks like:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

In the second section, you’ll fill out the following:

  • Logo – This is the logo viewers will see in the collapsed (smaller) ad. The recommended size is a 144px x 144px square image. Don’t have a logo? You can use Canva or Pablo to make a nice image quickly.
  • Advertiser – The name of your company (or you if you’re advertising your own brand).
  • Subject – This is your headline. Make sure you write a magnetic headline to get people to click!
  • Description – A short description of your offer.

Here’s what it looks like:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

In the third section, you’ll fill out the following:

  • Image – A larger image to be used in your expanded (larger) ad. Upload a 300px x (200-500px) file.
  • Headline – Same as above – make sure you write a magnetic headline!
  • Content – Your enticing offer.
  • Call-to-action button – Your final opportunity to get people to click on your ad. Make it count. If you need ideas, here are some great CTA examples from HubSpot.
  • Call-to-action button URL – The final URL that the user will land on.
  • Header (optional) – Add a header image that spans across your ad (630px x 50-200px).

When you’re satisfied, click on the ‘Select an ad group’ button right next to the ‘Save’ button at the top to pick the ad group in which you want the ad to be placed.

3. Important Settings

Here are the initial settings I like to go with when starting a Gmail advertising campaign. Keep in mind that your mileage will vary.

First, click on ‘Settings > All Settings’.

The key settings:

  • Type – This is the type of campaign you have running. I go with ‘Display Network only – Drive action’ because I want the campaign to be focused and I care about driving specific results.
  • Delivery method (advanced) – This is a section that you’ll need to click on to expand. When I’m first starting out, I like going with ‘Accelerated’ so I can collect as much data as quickly as possible. If your budget is limited, go with ‘Standard’.
  • Frequency capping – Generally I like to limit the amount of times I show my ads to a viewer, but in this case I have no cap because my engagement has held the same.
  • Ad rotation – I start with ‘Rotate evenly: Show ads more evenly for at least 90 days, then optimize’ so I that I can give one of my two competing ads a real chance to stand out against the other.

 4. How To Break Up Your Ad Groups

One of the most effective ways to maximize your AdWords campaign is to break your ad groups up into single keyword ad groups. What does that mean exactly? Unbounce wrote a great guide on ‘how to do AdWords right’ that I highly recommend checking out before proceeding further.

In a nutshell, each of your ad groups will have only ONE target to go after.

For example, if you were Adidas and wanted to go after people opening up e-mails from Nike, you would target in one ad group and customize the ad towards e-mail viewers.

To set up targeting, click on ‘Display Network’ and go to ‘Display Keywords’:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Then for each ad group, enter in one website you’d like to target. It could be a competitor, an organization, a blog or whatever your imagination comes up with. For example, if I wanted to run Adidas ads, here are a few different categories I could go after:

  • Direct competitors – Nike, Puma, Sketchers, Under Armour
  • Organizations – Yoga groups, hiking groups, running groups
  • Popular magazines/websites –,
  • Indirect competitors – Lululemon, Gaiam

5. How To Find Targeting Ideas

Google Display Planner – This is a free tool that you can use to find placement ideas for popular websites, apps, videos, keywords, and more. Simply log into your AdWords account and click on ‘Tools > Display Planner’ and you’ll have access.

In the example below, I typed in as my landing page and clicked on the ‘Placements’ tab to find ideas for popular sites that I’ve never even heard of:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Jump in there and play around, and you’re sure to find a gold nugget or two!

Facebook Audience Insights – This is another free tool that you can find in your Facebook account. You can parlay the data that you got from Google Display Planner to glean more insight. Chances are if the properties are popular on both Google and Facebook, it’s golden.

Go to your Facebook advertising account and click on ‘Tools > Audience Insights’.

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

In the following image, I take a look at people who are interested in Copyblogger, Moz, and Unbounce. In particular, I’m interested in finding pages that are relevant to those three interests. I can then place them into separate Gmail Ad Groups.

Here’s how to get started with Audience Insights:

Similar Web – Similar Web displays such insights as audience breakdown, traffic trends and engagement, related mobile apps and similar sites. For the sake of this post, we’re interested more in similar sites and mobile apps. All you need to do is go to Similar Web and type in the site you’d like to analyze:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Take a look at:

  • Similar Sites
  • Similar Mobile Apps
  • The entire category that you’re looking at

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

The aforementioned three free methods should be more than enough to get you started.

Bonus: Using Gmail Ads for Content Promotion

More content marketers have been using Facebook advertising to supercharge their content marketing efforts.

Gmail ads are another way to add on to your content marketing efforts. Your mileage may vary, but at $0.10 a click, it’s definitely worth testing if you’re already putting significant effort into content marketing.

If you’re doing content marketing and haven’t been using paid advertising to help amplify your efforts, you’re missing out. For an intro on this, Digital Marketer has a great write-up here.


Now’s the time to give Gmail Ads a shot if you haven’t tried it yet. It might just be the next great growth channel for your business!

Have you had any success with Gmail Ads? Let us know in the comments below!

More From This Category

Join 14,000+ Marketers and Founders

Enter your email to get free instant access