It’s not just Santa who will be checking lists twice this time of year. Every retailer in the world is readying their email lists for a holiday email marketing push. As a marketer, the challenge is helping your promotions stand out from the crowd. Gmail Ads, released by Google earlier this year, are a great way to distinguish yourself from other holiday promotions.

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Looking to add a few more names to your list? Photo via Pixabay/CC BY

Google released Gmail Ads (formerly known as Gmail Sponsored Promotions) from beta in the summer of 2015. These ads display in the promotions tab of personal Gmail inboxes. They do not show in Google business email inboxes. The ad itself mimics a normal email, with two creative elements: a teaser ad similar to an email subject line, and an expanded ad unit that displays when a reader clicks the teaser.

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These images, from Google’s Inside AdWords blog, show the Gmail Ad teaser, on the left, and the expanded ad, on the right.

Gmail Ads offer advertisers two major advantages:

Show Ahead of “Organic” Email Promotions

Gmail Ads show at the top of the inbox, so there is no risk of your ad getting pushed down by more recent emails. Additionally, your promotions are highlighted, helping them stand out from additional emails in the inbox.

Target New Potential Customers Similar to Existing Customer Base

The holidays are a great time to bring new potential customers to your site at a time when they are most likely to purchase. Traditional email marketing only allows you to target your existing email list, but Gmail Ads allow you to reach new qualified customers. Gmail Ads have several targeting options to display your ads to new potential customers:

Domain Targeting: You can target users already receiving emails from specific domains. In particular, you can show ads to Gmail users who are already signed up for your competitors’ email lists.

Keyword Contextual Targeting: You can target Gmail users who are actively receiving emails pertaining to a certain subject, targeted by keywords much like on the Google Display Network.

What Will Be Under the Tree?

Gmail Ads are a display advertising effort to a highly targeted and educated audience. You will reach consumers who have already signed up to receive emails about a certain product or service, a solid indicator that they are close to purchasing or likely to purchase again. This audience is more targeted than consumers doing general searches on Google or browsing websites with your display ads.

Once a user clicks your teaser, the expanded ad unit grabs the user’s full attention by taking up the entire page, giving you the opportunity to display a large image ad and plenty of text. Unlike a display ad competing for attention on a busy website, you can be absolutely sure that users saw and interacted with your ad.

You pay when a user clicks on and “opens” the ad (vs when the user clicks to visit your website). It’s best to bid fairly low for those initial “open” clicks. While your CPCs for website visits might be slightly higher than other channels, this is a well-targeted audience where you achieve 100% Share of Voice. That’s powerful.

With the busiest buying season right around the corner, don’t count on Santa to pop down the chimney and bring you new customers. Gmail Ads are a great way to reach a big new audience at a reasonable price.

For more information on setting up Gmail Ads, you can reference this article.