Need a quick way to boost traffic and sales? Is there any holiday or special occasion coming up? If so, you just might want to make a gift guide!
(And even if there’s no occasion, you can make one up 😉 Because gift guides help increase sales. Pretty much always.
Gift guides fun to read, inspiring, and help solve an immediate problem: what to gift the important people in your life. In other words, they’re a great way to put your best products forward, at the right time, when shoppers are looking for something to buy.
And while browsing, good merchandising and an attractive presentation help nudge your buyers towards things they would never would have thought of.
While they’re popular year-round, gift guides do especially well during the holidays because they help relieve the #holidaystress that comes with having to make so many decisions.
According to AdWeek, the average shopper spends over $660 on holiday gifts. And the National Retail Federation reports that some retailers earn 30% of their revenu at the holiday times (especially jewelers)!
How early should you start creating a guide? For holiday guides, the answer is right after the previous season. Most larger businesses start preparing in June or July!
But it’s not never too late (or too early) to start planning your own. In this post, we’re going to:
Explore why you should create gift guides to increase your sales (especially during the holidays)
Talk about how to start planning your gift guide
Go through the pros and cons of a few different types of gift guides
Link out to some examples and templates to make it easier for you to make your own
So let’s go over a few types of gift guides to create and look at some great templates for you to make your own magic!
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through one of my links, I may be compensated. This helps fund me to write better content for you!
How To Start Planning For Your Gift Guide
Get out your bullet journal, your shop history, your convos with past buyers, your social media posts… and sort through them all to choose a few products that you want to highlight. Then make it all look fab!
Sounds like a tall order? It is, but if you’re in a rush, The Shop Files has a great post walking you through the tactical side of creating a holiday gift guide.
What Kate says, and which many other retail strategists echo, is that you have to do a little research to figure out what might sell best.
Also, grouping your products into categories will help you sell more. Remember, you’re trying to guide people towards the best purchases for the mother/father/husband/co-worker/and-so-on in their life, so what you choose to feature might not be for your ideal client/target audience.
That’s why general bucket categories like gifts for him, gifts for her, gifts under $50, or unique handmade gifts do well.
Just do a keyword search for “gift ideas” and you’ll see who people are shopping for:
You can also create find keywords for your collections, for example: “the best gold earrings under $100”.
When you start grouping your products for buyer personas, you can either choose to create one large gift guide with subsections, or several guides for each different person or category.
Ideally, you’ll do both 🙂
Choosing Which Kinds of Gift Guides to Create
Making a gift guide is easy. Making many gift guides, to fit the context of different platforms, takes a lot of time.
Because when you create one piece of content, no matter what it is, you’re going to want to post it in different places. Your blog. Emails. Instagram. Facebook. Pinterest. YouTube. Mailouts. In-Person Events.
(Now you see why major retailers start early?)
But I’m going to make your job a little easier by talking about the main types of guides, show some examples, and link out to some templates.
Here we go!
1 | Create Blog Post and Embedded Gift Guides for Endless Traffic
Blog posts are one of the best types of gift guide to create.
It’s super easy for anyone to find a handful of products, type in a few sentences about each product, and hit publish. Ideally, you’ll want to include a lot of text alongside your images to help you rank for shopper-friendly keywords.
If you do your keyword research right, your gift guide post will help you rank for years to come, and you can even earn a few backlinks if you make it your guide thorough enough.
Most name brands and popular online magazines create seasonal gift guide blog posts along with general guides. They usually live in a “gifts” blog category where these evergreen posts bring traffic year after year.
Similarly, but maybe a little easier than a blog, are embedded slideshow gift guides. They live on a single page and you click through a the images like a slideshow. Here’s an example Etsy jewelry gift guide.
Tip: If you’re on Squarespace, you can use its slideshow feature and insert your text as descriptions that will show up alongside each slide.
Other online sources embed pins or affiliate links directly into their blog post (hint: like I do throughout mine).
Finally, Paper and Stitch does has a curated wall of affiliate products that you can browse and shop. It’s kind of like a shoppable Instagram feed on their website.
So find some best-sellers, get out your keyword tools, and start typing away! (Then cross-promote with the next type of guide.
2 | Drive More Traffic with Pinterest and Instagram Gift Guides
Pinterest and Instagram are two visual platforms that any ecommerce business should be on. You can have shoppable posts on both platforms, and if you’re using an app like Tailwind to schedule your posts, you can do it all from one easy platform.
Instagram is–as the name suggest–instant, so you’ll want to keep your content fresh. But Pinterest has an average Pin life of about 3 years, meaning that when you publish a gift guide to Pinterest, it can bring you traffic for longer than your “gifts” are in stock!
Pro Tip: You can use Tailwind’s new Smart Loop Feature to loop holiday boards and re-promote pins during specific time frames. Super for seasonal gift guides!
How to design your pins and posts? Try a free layout fom Canva, a mood board, or better yet, find unique templates on Creative Market, like this one from designer Basil&Bark.
Powered by Creative Market
Here’s a great live example from Twitter with caption.
We are preparing our ? 2017 GIFT GUIDE FOR PLANT LOVERS ?Do you have cool plant-related gift suggestions? Send them our way! How? Check our Instagram Stories: https://t.co/GRA6ztU20b #urbanjunglebloggers #giftguide pic.twitter.com/cH6cm7yHaa
— UrbanJungle Bloggers (@UrbanJungleBlog) November 16, 2017
3 | Email Gift Guides To Your Subscribers
You know the holidays are coming when your inbox starts filling up with gift guides. Sometimes this happens months in advance.
While I do receive some shoppable, click-through guides, I really like the emails that are designed like catalogs, with great photography and interesting layouts. In fact, I’ve just started a Pinterest board collecting some of the best email gift guide inspiration.
If you’re creating email gift guides, you can start with free templates from your email provider. But it’s much more memorable if you create on-brand email campaigns from a template or custom design.
Both Etsy and Creative Market have a have a great selection of email marketing templates.
Powered by Creative Market
4 | Create Online and Printed Gift Guides/Catalogs to Make Shopping Easy
I saved this suggestion for last because creating catalogs and printed gift guides takes the most amount of time and resources. But they also do so much more than blog posts towards establishing your brand in its own right.
There’s something so much more personable about holding a paper guide in your hands, especially if you create handmade or hand-crafted goods.
And if you’re into fashion or selling to a high-end market, catalogs and printed guides are expected.
The holidays are an ideal time to release a mini gift guide / catalog where you’ve repackaged your products with some seasonal flair.
I recently published a post on the best catalog and lookbook templates for fashion and designer brands. Templates are a fine way to start out, but unless your look is streamlined and minimal, you’ll want to add your own touches to make the template fit your brand, and not the other way around.
**Update: I just created this feminine and easy-to-edit gift guide template for Adobe InDesign. You can buy it here.
You can easily turn your printed catalog into an interactive publication and post it to a platform like Issuu to gain widespread exposure. Just tag your guide with words like “holiday gift guide”, or “summer gift guide”.
Need some more inspiration? See this collection of holiday gift guides I’ve curated.
Wrapping It Up
Gift guides are the gift that keeps on giving. Not only do they bring in seasonal sales, but they can help you establish your brand and bring you buyers for years to come.
I hope this post gave you enough inspiration to go out and create your own guide. Just start planning your categories, pick your formats, and start designing!
And remember, designer is always better 🙂