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Creating A Holiday Gift Guide To Boost Sales

Creating A Holiday Gift Guide To Boost Sales↘

If you want our advice, we’d recommend starting strong with a well thought out strategy before big shopping events and seasonal holidays arrive. It’s important to get ahead of the game because you won’t be the only one who’s thinking about how they can reap the most benefits from seasonal shopping events.

Researching Holiday Ecommerce Products 🔍

Of course, your brand’s competitors will be taking the time to plan, but surprisingly so will your customers. It’s thought that many shoppers have begun to research products before big sales events arrive.

How do shoppers conduct research? Well, with a little planning and inspiration, it is thought that consumers are more likely to find the right product at the right price through the assistance of handy holiday gift guide articles that shower the internet.

However, shoppers aren't just getting smarter about the products they buy and what price, they're purchasing them for, consumers are also eager to learn more about where they're purchasing items from.

In 2021, shoppers are more eager than ever to narrow down which items will make it onto their Christmas gift list, as research has taken place earlier this year than any other year before.

According to the National Retail Federation, it is estimated that around 40% of U.S. consumers will have already begun to research products with their holiday shopping list in mind by the time November hits.

Additionally, around 18% of consumers are referred to as 'early-bird shoppers' and this group of individuals are suspected to have started their Christmas shopping in September or beforehand.

It is also thought that 91% of consumers plan to celebrate the winter holidays this year so, the Google search figures for ‘holiday gift guide’ are beginning to spike and are expected to hit their peak in mid-December.

Common Marketing Methods

Display ads, email marketing and retargeting are some of the most common methods utilised by merchants who are looking to capture enthusiastic shoppers. However, these techniques aren’t the only strategies worth executing in the lead up to the festive season, as holiday gift guides will have the potential to drive many customers to your store.

Holiday Gift Guide Potential 🎁

The NRF has predicted that consumers will spend a total of around $1,007.24 on gifts this holiday season and holiday shoppers who are interested in gift ideas will generally look to curated lists and gift guides for inspiration.

We’d be surprised if you haven’t clicked on one before, even without realising it. At this time of year, gift guides fill the web with wonder so, it’s not bold of you to assume that there will likely be competitor websites within your niche that specialise in publishing gift guides featuring products similar in nature to that of your business.

Most gift guides are curated on the idea of providing gift inspiration for friends and family and thrive on specifying the reader’s relationship with the receiver, for instance ‘Gifts for Mum’, ‘Gifts for Dad’ or more simply ‘Gifts for her’, or ‘Gifts for him’.

Gifts guides can also be centred around a shared interest, or for special occasions, so the potential for this holiday ecommerce strategy is unmatched.

Typically, gift guides will offer a high return on investment (ROI) for merchants who invest their time into curating them. Plus, there’s always the possibility of being featured which means that your brand’s holiday gift guide could be put in front of new, targeted shoppers who are ready to make a purchase.

If you’re wondering what to include within your gift guide, it’s worth pointing out that relatively unique or niche products tend to do especially well in this context.

The Guitar Chalk Gift Guide

If you’ve never come across a gift guide before, here’s a great example from Guitar Chalk that has been created specifically for shoppers who are looking to buy a gift for a guitar player.

Featured in an online magazine for guitar players, this particular guide is one of the top search results for the phrase “gift ideas for guitar players 2018.”

As you’d imagine, this keyword naturally draws in shoppers who are interested in guitar-related products and the high ranking ensures a steady flow of traffic, which is ideal for the publication and the businesses at hand.

So, your outreach plan can consist of getting featured in existing guides like the example above, or pitching to publications that are likely to schedule a gift guide in their holiday editorial calendar.

It’s a good sign when a publication has previously run gift guides, or if they usually publish product-related content during the holiday season. So, take the time to check out what publications to approach and start your outreach strategy there.

A Relevant Holiday Gift Guide 👌

As you begin to research the blogs and websites within your store’s niche, you’ll find an array of holiday gift guide content that crowds the web. So, it’s a good idea to organise each candidate that you find into a spreadsheet, which will make the outreach process a little easier for you to manage later on.

Shopify has kindly created a template for merchants to utilise so, be sure to take a look at this before you go off to gather data.

Once you’ve got your spreadsheet ready, it’s time to head on over to Google and step into the shoes of someone who is researching gift ideas.

Wondering what you should search for? Here are some search terms and ideas that one might search for if we were sticking with the guitar gift guide example above.

To cater these search terms to your store, just replace the word ‘guitar’ with your store’s niche:

  • Guitar player gift guide
  • Guitar gift guide 2021
  • Guitar gift guide 2020 (offer suggestions to update for this year)
  • Guitar buying guide
  • Guitar player gift ideas
  • Guitar player Christmas gift ideas
  • Gift ideas for guitar lovers

As you’ve probably guessed, merchants can swap the year and holiday term for what is most appropriate to the gift guide you’re creating. For example, if you’re reading this in the future, just swap 2021 for the year that you’re in, equally if your products are well suited for Father’s Day, swap out the term ‘Christmas’ for ‘Father’s Day’.

Note:

Try to accumulate around 20 possible websites to approach for a gift guide feature within your spreadsheet before beginning the outreach process and since you’ll likely get several results, you’ll want to analyse each candidate by quality. We’ve put together some criteria that you should look into before gathering candidate information for your spreadsheet:

N0.1: The Right Candidate

If your gift guide is already appearing in a competing store, this candidate may not be too keen to feature your content. So, it’s a smart idea to brush up on who a company’s competitors are before making a feature proposal.

Additionally, it should also be noted that relationship-building with an editor will be required if you are planning on reaching out to a major publication before making a pitch.

N0.2: Is There An Active Readership?

Secondly, if a website is active and they have a reasonably sized audience, then it’s fair to say that they will have an active readership which - you've guessed - is exactly what you’re after.

To check this, take a look at the date of their most recent post and see how many followers they have on social media. You could also check for other social proof such as the average number of comments that they receive on their blog posts. This is a good indicator of how engaged their readers are with the content that they post.

The typical tradeoff is the larger the available audience, the less accessible the editor/ publication is, so instead of spending your time digging around for information, take the easier route and opt for niche websites and blogs with dedicated fans.

If it takes a little work to get featured, rest assured that this is normal. Being featured in a guide is worth it as the shelf-life of most guides means you’ll see results for a while unless the company updates the guide or redirects the link.

Requesting A Feature

Before you can scroll through the list of potential candidates and request a feature, you’ll need to locate the contact information for the person who runs each website. For most blogs, this is as simple as heading to the footer or top navigation menu and clicking on the “Contact” or “Contact Us” tab.

If you can’t find the company’s contact information this way, try running the term “contact” through the website. If this fails, you could always try reaching out to the brand on social media or use an email locating tool such as Hunter.

Once you’ve gathered all the information that you need, it’s time to focus on how to send an email and land a feature:

N0.1: Avoid Mass Emails

Sending mass emails is an unprofessional and impersonal way to build business relationships and mass emails are more likely to land in most recipients’ spam folders. So, instead, send each contact a personalised email. Sure, it will take a little extra effort, but it’ll be well worth the time when the strategy pays off.

N0.2: Personalising your Pitch

Try mentioning the elements of their gift guide that you have enjoyed reading alongside what it is that you like about their blog. The key to pitching for a holiday gift guide feature is to be able to relate your proposal to the person or company within the first few lines of an email before moving on to your request.

If you give people the impression that you’ve sent the same email to hundreds of other people, they won’t take your request seriously. So, personalisation is really important. To help sway their decision, you could offer to send them a sample of your brand’s product offerings, but this will only work for the stores that can afford to send out free products.

With that being said, we believe that this strategy is still well worth executing as people are naturally more inclined to talk about and recommend products after trying them out for themselves.

Shopify’s Sample Script 📜

If you need help getting started with your pitch, take a look at Shopify’s sample script below:

Subject: I love your [post name] post

Message: Hello [name],

I read [post name] and loved it because [Y and Z]. Will you be updating it for [year] or writing a new one?

My name is [name] and I sell [product]. I’m putting together a sale for [holiday/sale event] and would love to be considered for your next list. I think [product] would make a great gift for [type of person using gift] because [X].

If you want to check it out yourself, I’d be happy to send you a sample. Here’s where you can learn more about it:

[website url or product url]

Let me know what you think and if you’re interested!

Looking forward to your response,

- [name and contact]

Follow Up

If a week or so passes and you haven’t received a response from your email request, then don’t be afraid to follow up on your message with a second email. It’s a typical statistic that emails will receive a higher response rate when at least one follow up email is sent.

So, when you're reaching out to different companies and websites, be sure to keep track of who you’ve heard from and who you haven’t.

Realistic Expectations 😊

We believe that if realistic expectations are set, then positive results are more likely to be achieved. For instance, if you were to email around 20 different prospects, only a handful of the responses will likely show interest and that’s okay.

See, for as beneficial as gift guides are, not everyone will have plans to create or update their content. It’s also important to remember that one brand’s products may not be a great fit for every audience so, if a prospect isn’t interested in featuring your product in their guide, try not to take their decision personally.

Besides, you'll only need to have your product featured in one gift guide to see a significant increase in sales so, there's a little food for thought.

Creating A Holiday Gift Guide

Another option would be to create a gift guide on your website and promote your brand’s products there. This is typically a better fit for stores that have built at least a few links or mentions with other websites and who know the basics of SEO.

To continue with our earlier example, take a look at the searches for “gifts for guitar players” with Moz Keyword Explorer.

With this example, there’s an opportunity to create a gift guide page that will drive organic traffic from interested searchers. Many brands and ecommerce stores use this technique to drive gift guide views and product sales for their products.

So, if you want to join the community and are wondering what to include in your holiday gift guide, start by writing a short blurb at the top of the page (around 100 words), that introduces the guide and identifies who the listed products would be perfect for.

Also, be sure to title your page appropriately to reach the right audience. In the example of ranking for “gifts for guitar players,” you might consider naming the page “Gift Ideas for Guitar Players.”

Next, you’d need the collections of items that will be included within the gift guide. Of course, you could simply create one collection and name it “gift guide” or create a collection to further categorise products such as “gifts for him” or “gifts under $20.”

Want to learn more about creating collections using Shopify? Check out the Shopify manual for the team’s expertise and remember to include a link to each collection on the gift guide page.

Alternatively, you could publish your store’s gift guide as a blog post instead of a separate page. For instance, “best 2018 Christmas gifts for guitar players” could be a helpful post to publish, but why stop there?

You could also consider publishing a series of blog posts covering gift ideas for different occasions and different kinds of guitar players. The more gift guides created, the more sales your store is likely to make.

While pitching holiday ecommerce style gift guides for your online store, just remember that it will take a bit of time and effort to create and implement into your marketing strategy. However, the potential payoff could help to catapult your store’s holiday sales.

It’s also important to consider that those who search for holiday gift guide content as gift inspiration are shoppers with high sales intent, as they’re primed and ready to make a purchase. All that’s needed here is a little help determining what that purchase should be through the power of holiday ecommerce visuals and helpful suggestions.

So, get started with a few strategic pitches and a helpful gift guide to put your store and its products in front of enthusiastic holiday spenders.

If you’re actively looking to work with a Shopify agency designer or developer to assist you with your business, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to get started

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