Gmail Ad Campaigns: Non-Competitive Yet Essential

If your car dealership uses Gmail, you’ve likely noticed the “Social” and “Promotions” tabs in the top menu. Within these tabs, you’ll find everything from email notifications about activity on your social profiles to promotional newsletters from online retail brands or companies you follow. You’ll also discover sponsored Gmail ads.

These advertisements are a subtle and very effective way for your car dealership to promote new deals, announce the latest car models, and introduce your business to qualified buyers.

Brands often overlook this low-competition advertising channel, but your dealership can take advantage of it!

What Is a Gmail Ad?

As defined by Google, Gmail ads are “interactive ads that show in the Promotions and Social tabs of your inbox.” Once clicked, some of these ads can expand into a format that resembles a typical email message featuring interactive elements such as a form, a video, or other media. The content can also direct users to a specific landing page as part of a larger marketing campaign.

Sponsored messages in Gmail contain a green “Ad” label next to them, so the user understands it is a promotional message.

Advertisers are charged every time a user clicks to expand the promotional message, similar to how PPC ads function on search engines.

5 Reasons to Leverage Gmail Ads

Gmail ads are the underdog of online marketing. They lurk subtly in the background while SEO, PPC, social media ads, and email marketing soak up the spotlight. Yet, this marketing avenue provides excellent rewards for car dealerships who execute their campaigns properly.

Five of the top reasons to use Gmail ads include:

1. Advanced Targeting Features

Much like other online advertising platforms, Gmail ads allow advertisers to pinpoint the audience they want to attract through advanced targeting features.

Using these targeting capabilities, you can tailor your ad messaging to the right audience at the right time and increase your overall chances of success. These targeting features include:

  • DMS List:Your previous customers inside your DMS are the best asset you have to reach customers online. Uploading data from your DMS, you can send specific messaging. You can utilize this data and include or exclude various groups, depending on the audience you want to reach – such as new leads or existing customers. 
  • Demographics: Target Gmail users by location, age, gender, income level, and other demographic characteristics.
  • Interests: Pinpoint users interested in cars, specific car brands and models, or automotive interests as a whole.
  • Automatic targeting: Let Google find audiences for you with its algorithm.
  • Intent: Target audiences based on their search intent and online behaviors analyzed by Google’s algorithm.
  • Custom audiences: Use keywords, URLs, apps, and other content to target users actively searching for your products or interacting with specific content.
  • In-market audiences: Target potential customers who are researching your products online and are ready to make a purchase decision.
  • Remarketing: Send Gmail ads to users who have previously interacted with your website, product content, or prior campaigns to re-engage them.

Use Gmail’s targeting features to speak directly to audiences who are interested in your inventory, parts or service and are ready to visit your dealership’s showroom or service drive.

2. Seamless Format

From pop-up ads to display remarketing, certain types of online advertising are intrusive and obnoxious. With Gmail’s organic ad appearance in the “Social” and “Promotions” tabs, users have the option to open your ad or bypass it.

Combined with an eye-catching headline, the organic format of these ads increases the chance of a user clicking on your promotion.

3. Reach Customers Through a Global Email Leader

There’s no denying that Google is a powerhouse. The Gmail email platform holds 20% of the global email market and boasted approximately 1.2 billion monthly active users in 2018.

With a majority of your customers already using Gmail, you’ll be sending them qualified promotions on the application they use most. After all, 99% of consumers check their email every day!

4. Rewarding ROI

One of the major benefits associated with Gmail ads is a higher-than-average ROI. With such low competition on the platform, your car dealership can produce campaigns that reel the audience in and result in more sales for the front end and back end.

In an early test by Wordstream, marketers found that they could receive clicks that led to successful conversions for an average of $0.10 per click.

Of course, the overall outcome of your campaign depends on your budget, content, subject lines, and other factors. But the low entry barrier to the platform is a huge win for car dealerships looking to drive sales through affordable advertising tactics.

5. Mobile-First Layout

We all know how annoying it is to receive an email that isn’t formatted properly. We delete it within seconds. Thankfully, Gmail ads are formatted to be mobile-first, which means that your audience will be able to interact with your ads properly without scrolling, pinching, or clicking on dead links!

As stated by Google“Google Ads optimizes ads to help make sure they look great wherever they’re shown — be it on a computer, mobile device, or the Gmail app. Your ad’s layout automatically optimizes for the mobile experience.”

Quick Tips for Launching a Successful Gmail Ads Campaign

When you’re ready to invest in Gmail ads, it’s tempting to jump right in and send your first sponsored email message. However, like all marketing platforms, a Gmail ad campaign takes time and effort to brainstorm, create, and test for the best results.

Keep these easy tips in mind when you’re formulating your Gmail ads strategy:

Understand the Formatting Options

While Gmail is a mobile-first platform and will adjust to the user’s screen, you still need to know how to format your promotional message for Gmail’s parameters.

Gmail ads design and copy specs change depending on if you’re sending a collapsed ad or expandable ad.

Collapsed ads must be designed within these restrictions:

  • Logo: 144px x 144px, maximum size: 150KB, aspect ratio 1:1
  • Business name: up to 25 characters
  • Description: up to 90 characters
  • Display URL: up to 255 characters
  • Destination URL: no limit

Expandable ads have the following restrictions:

  • Uploaded Gmail ad:
    • Image (upload): [300px to 650px] x [300px to 1000px]
    • Accepted image formats: JPEG, JPG, PNG, GIF (non-animated)
    • Maximum image size: 1MB
    • Custom HTML may also be used
  • Ads created within Google:
    • Headline: up to 25 characters
    • Description: up to 90 characters
    • Business name: up to 20 characters
    • Call-to-action button: up to 15 characters
    • Logo: Square: 1200×1200 (minimum size required: 144×144). Aspect ratio must be 1:1. Cannot be larger than 150 KB.
    • Marketing image: ​Landscape (1.91:1): 1200×628 (minimum size required: 600×314), or Square: 1200×1200 (minimum size required: 300×300).
    • Header image (optional): 1200×400 (minimum size required: 600×200).

Focus on the Subject Line

Your subject line is the most important part of your entire Gmail ad campaign.


Because 35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone, according to Convince&Convert!

Without a captivating subject line, you’re wasting ad dollars trying to attract the attention of Gmail users.

Instead of writing a subject line haphazardly, take the time to brainstorm a few ideas and run them by your sales team. Also, look at the subject lines used in past email marketing campaigns. What worked? What didn’t? Use all of this insight to craft an irresistible subject line that users can’t help but click on.

Use Existing Email Marketing Data for Greater Success

Your car dealership has already used email marketing to inform previous customers and existing leads about upcoming promotions, inventory additions, and other events. Take a look at data from past campaigns and use it to your advantage.

Analyze everything from the email design to the promotion you’re displaying. Think about how you can use this information to craft the best possible Gmail ad campaign for your dealership.

Using this data and insight, develop multiple Gmail ad campaigns and test them against each other. This will help you discover what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t interest them.

Target a Variety of Audiences

Gmail ads provide a wealth of targeting options to car dealerships. It’s in your best interest to use these features to their fullest and target a multitude of different audiences.

While you should continue to advertise to previous and current customers, use the targeting capabilities to discover new audiences in your local area or that prefer a specific vehicle make and model. Your targeting possibilities are virtually limitless, so use it to your advantage!

Be Mindful of Your Analytics

Similar to most Google products, Gmail ads offer extensive analytics for your marketing team to review. Keep a mindful eye on these reports and see what is working well and what could use improvement.

However, don’t sit back and watch the numbers roll in. If you spot something in your analytics report that signals a problem or a possible improvement, act on it and fast. Otherwise, you’re wasting ad dollars on clicks that don’t convert!

Launch Your Gmail Ads Campaign Today

Although Gmail ads have low competition compared to other platforms, they still need to be set up and launched properly to entice users to come in for a test drive or contact your dealership.

The team at J&L Marketing is ready to help you execute a Gmail ad campaign that accomplishes your marketing goals. Ready to get started? Contact us now.

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