Gmail, the free email platform brought to you by internet search giant Google, now boasts over 1 billion users per month: That's roughly one in every seven people on the planet today using Gmail, including small business owners like you. With Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP), you have the potential to reach a large, yet targeted audience, thanks to Google’s rich targeting system.
So, what is GSP? The service quietly launched three years ago, with Google soft-selling the ads rather than going full-out to promote them. Now, however, word has spread among advertisers that the ads are effective, and more people want “in.”
In order to achieve your own marketing goals on GSP, you need a plan. Here’s how to get started on the system and drive marketing results using Gmail Sponsored Promotions:
About Gmail-sponsored promotions
Gmail Sponsored Promotions are advertisements that appear on users' Gmail account in their inbox and above their email. Once users click on an email, it expands into an ad, complete with images. Ads appear only on free Gmail accounts; business accounts, which are a paid service, are advertising free.
Gmail’s new tab-sorting method places its own advertisements into the “Promotions” tab on the Gmail system. Since the Gmail system is notorious for misclassifying emails into the wrong categories, a lot of legitimate and necessary email gets dumped into the Promotions tab, too. As a result, users are still likely to look through their Promotions folder from time to time.
How much does GSP cost?
The system runs on the typical cost-per-click (CPC) methodology you’re probably familiar with from running Google AdWords or other digital campaigns. You set your own budget by establishing an account and bidding on the CPC by keyword.
However, GSP counts any interaction with the ad as a click and dings your account balance accordingly. Even if your cost-per-click doesn't bring a user to your website, the cost to open the email is still deducted from your advertising balance."
Driving marketing results with GSP
There are three ways in which GSP excels at helping marketers achieve their goals:
1. Targeting competitors
GSP offers an intriguing advantage over other forms of CPC advertising, in that Google crawls users' Gmail accounts anonymously and compiles information that’s beneficial for advertisers. This information can be used strategically to target your competitors' customers via GSP advertising.
By building GSP campaigns around competitors’ keywords, you can target customers who are seeking information on your competitors’ products and services. Instead of seeing advertisements from them, they’ll see your ads in the GSP box.
2. Building awareness
GSP doesn’t work like a simple direct-response digital ad, since users must click twice, rather than once, for the ad to bring them to your website. Although you can still build a direct-response component into your advertising (see number 3, below), it’s not the most cost-effective direct response mechanism out there.
Instead, think of GSP as an awareness-building campaign. You’re getting your products and services directly in front of customers while their attention is focused on the screen. As occurs with any awareness-building method of advertising, the more exposures to the ad, the better. The longer you can run campaigns, the more benefit you’ll derive from an awareness and exposure ad campaign.
3. Increasing email acquisitions
Here’s where GSP can be used as a direct-response tool. Use the ads to boost your email list and acquire names, ethically and legally. Because GSP is a two-click response, you will have gotten past the first hurdle by getting customers to open the email.
It may be difficult to get them to click on a product and buy it just from the ad in the email, but it’s a lot easier to get them to enter their email address, check an opt-in box and ask to be included in your email list for a promotional discount, a free download or some other gift.
At that point, if you’ve set up your opt-in correctly, you will have acquired a new address for your email list, and that can be worth its weight in marketing gold if you’ve got a strong autoresponder going. Cultivate that lead along the pipeline from awareness to sale -- and your GSP ad campaign will have just paid for itself.
Exact targeting with Google’s powerful analytics
LIke its cousin Google AdWords, Gmail Sponsored Promotions uses Google’s data to help advertisers target customers better. This includes selecting audiences based on display keyword, advertiser customer match, locations, languages spoken and demographics.
Also similar to what happens with AdWords are the industries which are excluded from the ad campaigns. Advertisements for weight-loss products, funeral services, gambling and so on cannot be displayed. GSP follows the AdWords restriction guidelines, so if you follow those, you’ll be set on GSP, too.
If you haven’t tried Gmail Sponsored Promotions yet, know this: They’re a good way to drive marketing results, if the results you wish to achieve fall into the "awareness" or "certain acquisition" categories. Ultimately, they're another way to collect data on your ad campaigns, monitor keyword effectiveness and add to your email list.
Test GSP now, before the busy holiday sales season begins, to get the hang of it and to build your list.