How to utilise Gmail ads to retarget customers

Every brand needs an upper-funnel strategy and a creative way to retarget customers, but being able to do this on a budget can be tricky.  This is where Gmail ads come into play.

Gmail ads are interactive adverts that appear at the top of a user’s inbox tab, but what makes them such a viable option for marketers looking to engage with both prospective and returning customers?

To start with, their expandable ad formats can feature both images and video. However, most importantly, cost-per-clicks (CPCs) are typically very low when using Gmail ads, averaging between £0.02 – £0.06 depending on the market. So using these ads are a great way to increase your brand awareness and drive traffic to your site, whilst keeping costs low.

This article will deep dive into the various targeting options available to you in Gmail ads, and how you can utilise them to reach your campaign goals.

Drive incremental growth for your brand

For driving traffic to your site and increasing brand awareness, you want to focus your campaign goal on either ‘brand awareness & reach’ or ‘website traffic’. And you can use brand awareness to either showcase your brand in general, or certain aspects of your business, such as a new product launch or promoting sales and discounts.

To capture users within your demographic, you can utilise the following audiences;

  • Similar Audiences
  • Custom intent keyword targeting
  • Affinity audience targeting
  • In-market audiences
  • Detailed demographics

Custom intent keyword targeting is a great option if you’re looking to target potential customers who are actively searching for specific keywords which may be of importance to you, or shopping around different competitor websites. You can use custom intent to target these users and make them aware of your brand.

When it comes to conversions, as Gmail is traditionally aligned with an upper-funnel strategy, you’re likely to see low volumes of last-click conversions. Instead, focus on assisted conversions in Google Analytics, which show you if a user has engaged with your ad and then come back to purchase at a later date.

However, it’s important to note that you cannot simply rely on conversions in order to determine your performance. Gmail clicks-to-site, Gmail saves and Gmail forwards are also great indicators of engagement, especially in identifying if a user has clicked through to your site or saved your ad to view later. Arguably, these are the most important metrics for a brand awareness campaign. Another great feature is the ‘% of new sessions’ metric which highlights the number of new users to your site, as a result of the Gmail ad campaigns.

Re-engaging with previous site visitors

If you’re looking to re-engage with site visitors or those who have dropped off at the checkout stage, then remarketing for Gmail ads might be worthwhile.

Using the ‘Sales’ campaign goal, you can focus your audience targeting on specific pools such as:

  • Previous site visitors
  • Non-converters
  • Basket abandoners

Please note, that when looking to retarget a potential customer with your brand, you may want to think about differentiating ad copy. For example, rather than ‘discover our products’, it might be more beneficial to try ‘have you forgotten something?’ or ‘we noticed you browsing our products’, therefore including a call-to-action that persuades the users back to your site.

Additionally, ‘last click conversions’ also tend to be higher through remarketing as the user is already familiar, or close to converting. But it’s important to keep an eye on your assisted conversions over time as, depending on your product, the path to purchase may be longer.


Now that you have your campaign goals set, whether that’s driving incremental growth or re-engaging with previous visitors, you can move on to setting up your creative.

The creative required for Gmail Ads is straightforward, and can even be pulled from your site if you don’t have separate assets available. Both image and video can be seamlessly used by simply adding the YouTube URL to the ad. Remember, as your campaign matures, make sure to update your creative periodically, to keep the click-through-rate (CTR) consistently up.

Additionally, A/B testing creatives is also a great way to try out different images, or ad copy. If you’re a retail business, try testing product versus lifestyle imagery – as shown in the examples – in order to see which has a higher CTR.

Once you’ve got your campaign structure set, and creative ready, you’re all set! Gmail ads are an inexpensive way of reaching your target audience, whether that’s prospective customers or retargeting those who have already shown interest. By making sure to utilise the relevant targeting and creative capabilities, you can ensure you’re making the most of your budget too.

To find out more about utilising Gmail ads, or how Croud can help you with your paid digital advertising, get in touch.

by Sophie Gillott
17 July 2020



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