Gift Guides: A Powerful Marketing Tool for the Holidays

While the holidays are the peak time of year for retailers, it often creates a nagging sense of “I could be doing more” – better marketing, smarter inventory control, generating more online sales. You want to squeeze the most out of the shopping season, but it’s difficult to hit on strategies that work, that rise above the noise – strategies that don’t ultimately waste your time and money.

One of our preferred marketing tools for the holiday season is creating a gift guide. The concept is to curate a thematic list of products that your target audience would be interested in.

For online shopping especially, people often have a hard time discovering products outside of the few brands they already know of. This conveniently brings the brands to them.

In this article, we are going to first talk about the opportunities that gift guides create for your business, as well as how to execute them so that you maximize their impact.

How gift guides bring more shoppers to your website

Any form of content that offers value to your customers is going to help, even if just in small ways, grow your audience and create stronger loyalty to your brand. Inherently, gift guides exist to help consumers feel more capable at shopping (either for themselves or for family and friends). As I mentioned earlier, it can be difficult for them to stretch outside of the handful of brands they are aware of. This makes it particularly taxing when trying to come up with ideas for other people.

Convenience that’s worth sharing

Much to the chagrin of independent retailers, Amazon does an incredibly good job at curating products in a way that eases the gift buying season. When visiting the home page, you will see plenty of inspiration collections that Amazon has put together for you, whether that be “gifts for tech geeks” or “hottest toys of 2018”.

I don’t bring that up as an example to discourage you, but instead to help you grasp smart ways that you can provide recommendations for your customer types. While there is immense convenience with Amazon’s abilities to build these collections, shoppers still crave finding those unique gifts and brands that aren’t always found around the big box retailers.

Provide a similar experience as an independent retailer, and shoppers will be ecstatic to share among their circles or even buy off your gift guide.

Cross-promotion opportunities

Gift guides also create win-win partnerships with other similar retailers and product creators that serve your customers. One of the best ways to grow your own audience is to borrow from others. In addition to building valuable industry relationships, including products from similar stores in your gift guide also makes for a very natural cross-promotion that those other brands will be thrilled to share with their own customers – people that may otherwise not be aware of your business.

Note: Not only does that bring more traffic to your site, but it also creates backlinks to your site (links to your site that exist on other sites) which is immensely valuable for your search rankings.

With that in mind, be strategic when curating your gift guide. Not only should you choose to feature products that fit the styles that your customers are after, but also choose from brands with large followings and potential for a synergistic relationship.

Other necessities for your gift guide

It’s very important, when creating your own gift guide, that you hit the sweet spot for what styles/products that your customer types are drawn to. Are you curating for moms shopping for themselves? Millennials with two incomes; no kids? Those with modern styles or antique styles?

The collection should also not limit itself to one type of product or category, rather let it span across different categories. If you’re in home goods, build your collection in way that gives shoppers a wide range of ways to improve or decorate their home. This could be “how to upgrade your kitchen this holiday season” to “cozy upgrades for homebodies”.

Include your own items and make sure the products you feature naturally ties into your own product line. If your own products stand out as “one of these things is not like the other”, then you need to rethink the theme of your guide.

Examples of well executed gift guides

By now, you’re bought in to the gift guide strategy but may also be wondering how to go about it the right way. As a way to spark some ideas on how you can pull off your own gift guide, here are a few real life examples from other independent retailers.

Sur la table

Marine Layer

Rifle Paper Co.


Create your gift guide ASAP

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much time or effort to create a gift guide, but if in the midst of the holiday season, time is of the essence. You need to publish your guide with enough time for the included brands to cross promote and, most importantly, enough time for shoppers to be able to purchase the gifts in time for giving the gift.

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