When you’re looking for ways to increase holiday sales, go back to the basics: solve a problem.
Put your focus on making gift giving easier for your customers and they’ll be more likely to throw everything in their cart!
Sure, buying gifts for others is supposed to be a fun experience – one where you’re sitting down and blissfully thinking how you can surprise your bestie with the greatest gift ever; but it can also be stressful! And since spending is predicted to be up 10% over last year, that’s a lot of purchase potential.
So let’s work to eliminate that holiday pressure for your customers by being thoughtful + helpful. Again, the basics 🙂
First – what is a gift guide?
A gift guide is a list of product recommendations or product round ups that focus on a specific interest or individual. The intent is to help shoppers brainstorm ideas and provide inspiration by doing some of the hard work for them.
One of the advantages of gift guides is that they typically come from sources consumers trust – such as their favorite bloggers or magazines – and they’re actively looking for them to get new ideas!
That’s why I believe gift guides are one of the BEST marketing tools you can use!
Should I create my own gift guide or pitch to other publications?
I suggest creating your own in addition to pitching to publications for three reasons:
1) Establishes Trust + Authority
Creating your own gift guide shows your point of view and allows you to highlight brands and products your customer would be excited to learn about, while putting you in a position to be seen as an “authority” in that niche.
2) Builds New Connections to Expand Reach
Gift guides can be a strategic way to network with complementary brands and develop new connections. When you create a guide, you’ll generally include items from other shops and brands. Once published, you can reach out to these brands (via email or tagging on social media) to let them know you love their product and featured them in your latest gift guide on xyz. In many cases, they’ll re-share and send to their audience as its free advertising and provides “social proof” that others are featuring and interested in their product.
3) Provides Full Control of Traffic + Capturing Leads
When you’re driving traffic to your own site for a gift guide, you keep control over the other links on the page and the ability to capture email addresses; even if they don’t purchase. For example, you could include a link at the bottom to say “Don’t see what you need? Shop our other styles here” or incentivize them to join your email list with a discount or other email-opt in.
We’ll review how to pitch to bloggers and publications in another post, but for today, let’s get into creating your own.
How to Create Holiday Gift Guides that Increase Sales:
DETERMINE WHAT TO INCLUDE:
1. Review Recent Trends
What are your current hot sellers? Would they make sense for gift giving? (answer: probably.)
You could round up a gift guide of “Best Sellers for xyz” xyz = whatever your shop’s main values are: minimalists, plant lovers, stationery addicts, color lovers etc.
Or , if your best sellers fall into different categories, use them as a guide (guides on guides on guides) to develop a couple different gift guides.
For example, your top sellers are a pair of crystal earrings and a simple gold band bracelet. Use that knowledge to round up similar earrings to your top seller for one gift guide; then round up similar styles that make sense with the simple gold band – either other bracelets or complementary styles.
2. Review last year’s best sellers
When selecting which products to include, start with the information you already have:
- Did an item sell out too early last year and disappoint some customers? What can you do this year to make it bigger + better?
- Are there similarities across your top selling products to bundle into a gift theme?
- Was there a price “sweet spot” that you should focus your gift guides around?
3. Use Customer Reviews, Instagram Engagement, and In-store + Employee Feedback
What’s been receiving a lot of attention or gotten people really excited lately? if you haven’t seen the sales come through yet, but its getting a lot of interest; take the time to call it out special in a guide! If they don’t fit into set themes, re-categorize it! A few ideas:
- “Employee Favorites” – yes, even if its only you
- “Top Rated Products” – based on customer reviews
- “Instagram Favorites” – look through your past instas and select the products that received the most likes + comments!
- “Twitter Winners” – Create polls that pit items against each other and ask your followers which they’d rather receive
4. Create Gift Guides by Theme
By far the most popular option, focus your gift guide on a specific theme or niche. When I see a gift guide that speaks to me – you know the ones – I just gobble that stuff up (#turkeyjokes). I want it all, I’m buying for friends, “gifts” for me (don’t judge), throwing in extras. So take the time to review who your customer is and how you can connect with her.
Crazy about air plants? Create one for “the air plant obsessed” (really. they’re everywhere + I love those little guys) Think how amazing she’d feel if you corralled all your vases, hanging planters, terrariums, etc into a little gift guide that JUST GETS HER. Don’t be afraid to get specific if you have the inventory + breadth to back it up!
A | Gift Receiver Ideas:
- Gifts for Men / for your Boyfriend
- Gifts for Girlfriend
- Gift Ideas for Mom / Dad
- Teacher or Coworker gift ideas
- #Girlboss Gifts
- Secret Santa / Gag Gifts
B | Gift Category Ideas:
Cozy Gifts / Hostess / Adventurer / Animal Lover / Tech Geek / Traveler / Cook / Fitness / Crafter / Wine Snob / Sweet Tooth / Stocking Stuffers / Gift Boxes / Color Coordinated (we’re all obsessed with these thanks to Instagram flat lays anyway, so take advantage and be PINK OBSESSED
C | Gift Guides by Price:
Under $25 / $50 / $100 are good places to start as that covers most budgets. However if you have the inventory and it fits your brand – gifts under $10 can be really impactful as they’re fun and just the right price point to pick up and throw in your cart without thinking too much. Hello stocking stuffers!
A stocking stuffer, secret santa or “awkward co-worker” gift guides would all be awesome.
D | Appeal to their Emotional Side:
American Made / Handmade / Local Goods / Charitable Brands that Give Back
E | Popular Searches to Incorporate into Your Gift Guides:
Look up Google trends or what’ trending on Pinterest.
For Pinterest, click on the search bar > It will show your recent searches then below that “Trending Ideas”
5. Re-Package Current Products
It’s all about making it easy for them, remember?
So create a gift guide that creates the total package (sorry – I had too).
Pair a candle with a cozy throw. Create hat + scarf combinations. Present a mega-gift package that includes everything for that core customer under ‘x’ price point. Which leads me to my next point….
6. Market to the Gift Buyers, Not Just Your Direct Customers
Think if your boyfriend (like the attractive man above) wanted to get you a gift and spend around $100? Now he could go out and try to find a few items or really take a stab at it with one big gift …OR… he comes across your site and you have a thoughtful collection of “GIRLFRIEND APPROVED” items where he’s like uh. yes. this is much easier.
*Places everything in cart. Drinks beer.*
When should you start promoting your holiday gift guides?
Ideally, October. (gasp! yes before Halloween!) 25% of consumers shopped before trick or treating last year.
According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 57% of consumers have already started shopping by early November; so get your ideas out while they’re still in research mode.
SEO Tips for the Holiday Season:
Use longtail keywords that people may use to find the gift they’re looking for.
“Gift Guide for Boyfriends” is not as effective as “Boyfriend Gift Ideas” – which by the way is one of the top rising queries when searching for “christmas gift ideas” so ahem, if you carry any men’s items, get on that stat.
Related Post: Tips to Boost Holiday Sales
Good News for Small Businesses during the Holidays:
*Internet research has continued to increase as a preferred research method over asking friends + family
*40% of last year’s shopping was done online
(53% of those purchases were made on mobile – is your site ready?)
*41% of consumers purchased from a new-to-them retailer!
(source: Think with Google)
So, what do you think – did you find something new here to try? What have you had the most success with in the past? Share your best tips for creating holiday gift guides in the comments below!