How to Create a Holiday Gift Guide That ‘Sleighs’ Sales

December 1, 2019

By Taylor Elliott, e-commerce strategist at BVAccel(opens in new tab)
3-minute read

In short:

  • Most retailers know they’d be wise to release a holiday gift guide, as the season’s famously high volume of shoppers actively takes recommendations from brands.
  • Allow shoppers to browse by their relationship to the recipient for a higher chance of conversion.
  • Search-optimize your gift guide and ensure it reflects your brand, and you’ll have the basis of a guide you can update season after season.

One of the most popular and highest-impact tools you can give customers this holiday season is a gift guide(opens in new tab). With Google searches for “gift guide” spiking in October — and 54% of shoppers taking holiday purchase recommendations(opens in new tab) from brands — it’s not a question of whether to offer a gift guide but rather which elements will make it successful.

A typical e-commerce brand gift guide includes a curated selection of products, often categorized by price point or the recipient’s interests or relationship to the giver. Brands from big-box retailers (Macy’s(opens in new tab)) to specialty retailers (J.Crew(opens in new tab)) to media publishers (Vogue(opens in new tab)) create gift guides that are, in many cases, the most anticipated of their annual marketing campaigns or coverage.

For retailers, an effective gift guide is more than just a list of products: It’s a combination of your most popular products (with the best profit margins) that aligns with your marketing strategy to give shoppers a better, more efficient holiday purchasing journey(opens in new tab). And focusing on interactive shopping avenues, SEO(opens in new tab) and cohesive brand experiences can make sure your holiday gift guide "sleighs" sales.


Focus on relationships for your categories

When designing your gift guide, use historic purchase data(opens in new tab) to choose products and categories of products that are trending with your consumers and enhance your other marketing campaigns. You can also use search data(opens in new tab) to learn which types of items consumers are coveting most, then create a gift guide that caters to these non-customers’ intent(opens in new tab).

There are many individuals who make up a user's gift-recipient list: family, close friends, friends-of-friends and even Dan From Accounting. Since consumers often have varying degrees of knowledge  about each gift recipient — i.e. lots of intel about what their sister wants for Christmas, but not so much Dan From Accounting -- it’s important to provide the gift-giver multiple ways to relate products to the person they’re shopping for.

Allowing the user to relate a product to a specific trait of their recipient is a powerful persuasion tactic. Below are recommended “shop by” collections to offer on a holiday gift guide:

  • Price
  • Relationship ("for dad," "for coworkers," etc.) 
  • Trending or most popular
  • Interests of the recipient ("sports," "cooking," etc.)

Doing so can pay off: In 2018, jewelry retailer Luca+Danni provided its customers with the ability to shop by relationship (mother, sister, best friend, etc.) and persona types like “animal lover,” “the traveler,” “the fashionista" and more. Customers made use of the gift guide — promoted via email and the brand’s social accounts — and Luca+Danni saw more than $75,000 in revenue from the guide alone between October and December.

Jewelry retailer Luca+Danni saw more than $75,000 in revenue from its gift guide last year. 

Don’t forget your SEO

Gift guides make great social media posts, but prioritizing SEO(opens in new tab) will elevate them to the next level. Set a specific URL handle for your guide according to the type of product featured, like “/jewelry-gift-guide” as opposed to just “/gift-guide."

Remember, gift guides are a tool for bringing new visitors to your site via search, so be as specific with the titles and categories as you would when you create your keyword-researched category pages(opens in new tab). Include headlines and detailed product descriptions within the collections that display prominent keywords.

If you’ve published a gift guide before, you’re better off updating its title and content than creating an entirely new URL — the longer the page is indexed with Google, the better. As the year progresses, you can drip more keywords into the guide to keep it current.

Provide a quality brand experience

The last thing to cross off the holiday gift guide list is providing a quality branded experience. Direct-to-consumer businesses usually gain an influx of new users between October and December. To potential customers, your gift guide should act as a representative of the brand, and the same rules that apply to your products’ category pages apply here. Does your gift guide highlight the most popular products? Is it a fast-loading and shoppable page(opens in new tab)? Can a new user learn the company’s brand value propositions from browsing the gift guide?

 Wrapping it up

If your online brand’s holiday gift guide includes various ways to connect products to the people in your shoppers’ lives, it’s a win. Also employ SEO tactics and a branded UX, and you’ll have a highly effective tool to gift your returning shoppers, as well as introduce new ones to the brand.

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