Using Gift Guides to Boost Your Holiday Sales

Using Gift Guides to Boost Your Holiday Sales

Posted in Marketing by on

Every year it’s the same dilemma. What should I get my sister for Christmas? What about mum? And dad?

Come December, people are frantically searching for gifts for their friends and loved ones. They need inspiration and guidance on what gifts to get. The solution? Gift guides. Gift guides are a roundup of great gift ideas for someone with a particular interest or of a particular demographic.

  • Gift Guide for the hip mum
  • Gift guide for the active dad
  • Gift guide for the fashionista

For online shop owners, gift guides are a great strategy to attract potential new buyers. Get on board the gift guide train this holiday season!

The Benefits of Gift Guides

Gift guides are lists of products compiled for a specific holiday with a specific target audience in mind. For anyone who has some sort of marketing experience, this is the juicy stuff. Marketing is all about targeting: target audiences, target messages, retargeting - and gift guides are a godsend for anyone wanting to reach their target audience with a targeted message.

Gift guides are usually compiled by bloggers, YouTubers, or social media influencers who have access to a curated audience. Often, people are following these influencers for an extended period of time, looking to them for inspiration and ideas. As a result, shoppers see influencers as trusted sources for gift recommendations.

Having your product featured in a gift guide means that it’s exposed to a wide audience, who - if the influencer has chosen well - should already be interested in your product or products similar to yours. Having your products appear in a gift guide is likely to lead to an increase in sales during the holiday season - which is what we all want, right?

How to Find The Right Gift Guides To Be Featured In

In theory, finding the right gift guide to feature your product in is easy. Find a website, blogger, YouTuber, or social media influencer that creates gift guides for your niche, reach out to them, and convince them to feature you in their next gift guide. Easy, right?

In practice, this process requires a lot more research and finesse. Here’s what you can do:

Research to Find The Right People To Connect With

There’s no use having your product featured in just any old gift guide. Having your toddler jumpers in a gift guide for ‘Men Who Love Bodybuilding’ is unlikely to generate new traffic or sales. Instead of contacting anyone and everyone asking to be a part of their gift guide, research those who are targeting the same audience as you.

Search On Google

The first step is a simple Google search. Think about your product and who specifically would enjoy it as a gift. Next, search the phrase ‘gift guide for X’, with X being your target audience.

Typing in ‘gift guide 2017’ alone gave me 48,000,000 results:

We haven’t quite found what we’re looking for yet. ‘Smart Bitches Gift Guide’ isn’t necessarily going to be the right fit for your product. That’s why we add the X. That’s what your niche search is for.

You may also notice that many of the above gift guides are put together by big names in the publishing industry, e.g. The Mirror and The New York Times. It’s probably going to be difficult to feature in their gift guides on such short notice, especially if you’re a relatively small business.

It might be a good idea to look specifically for bloggers, as they have already collected and curated an audience, and are likely to be interested in testing and talking about new products that are of interest to their niche.

To search specifically for bloggers, add ‘inurl:blog/‘ to your search. While searching for sustainable gift giving ideas, we came across a gift guide put together by My Green Closet, a blogger that is spreading the word about conscious consumption and sustainable living.

This ultimate gift guide for ethical products is organised into categories based on who the product would best serve, such as “For those who deserve pampering”, “For the Adventurer” and “For The Food Lover”.

You get the idea. The first step is finding influencers who are connected to your target audience via a simple Google search.

Dig Through YouTube

Don’t just stop at Google. YouTube, which is owned by Google, has grown to be the second largest search engine. So, being featured in a video gift guide could be even better, as video is proven to increase conversion rates. Apply the same process as before, and search for a gift guide in your niche.

Scroll through Instagram

Instagram is also a great way to find social media influencers that put together gift guides in the lead up to the holiday season. On platforms like Instagram, it’s easy to tell how many followers, more importantly how many engaged followers each influencer has, and who their target market is. Searching for conscious gift guides on Instagram led us to Sustainablychic's account. We then headed to her website only to discover a treasure trove full of different gift guides:

She even features a link to gift guides as part of her main menu!

Decide Which Brands To Work With and How

Who Is Likely To Recommend Your Product?

The next step is deciding who you want to work with. Your research is likely to generate a list of up to 50 possible gift guides your product could be featured in. In order to decide which influencers are worth approaching, keep the following criteria in mind:

Are they approachable?

Make sure you’re not trying to enter a gift guide that is run by one of your competitors. You are looking for complements, not substitutes. Another point to consider is the outreach of the people you want to approach. Whilst bigger publications reach more people, they are also more likely to require more resources from you, both in terms of time spent building a relationship and investment.

Do they have an active readership?

Check the date of the last post on their website, YouTube Channel or Instagram account. If there is no recent posting, it is quite possible that the influencer is not active anymore. You should also take a look at their followers on social media, and collect social proof by going through the comments their visitors leave. Do you want your products to be associated with the persona these influencers portray?

What Are You Going To Offer Them?

Many influencers live off their online work. It’s likely you’ll have to offer them some sort of incentive in the form of either sample products, one-off-payments, or commission links.

Let’s look at the above examples. The ‘My Green Gift Guide’ gift guide specifically notes that the gift guide is made possible through both partnerships, and affiliate links - through which sales coming from the blog post are tracked. Similarly, Sustainably Chic makes reference to partnerships and affiliate links on her website and Instagram page. Learn more about affiliate marketing here.

Once you have come up with a list of people you want to approach, you can organise yourself in a spreadsheet to keep track of your contacting efforts.

How To Get Your Product Featured

The first impression often makes the biggest impact, so we learnt from our post on welcome emails. Similarly with finding influencers, you want to make sure that you are building a relationship with them straight away.

First Things First: Locate Contact Details

Before you can do anything, you need to find the appropriate contact details. Often bloggers provide a contact form or contact information on their websites which you can either find in the menu bar, header, or bottom navigation bar. Don’t worry, bloggers want to be found, so it won’t take you long to get in touch with them.

If all else fails, you can also look up influencers on other social media channels and contact them that way. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube all have contact forms you can use.

Brainstorm Content Ideas

A great way to show that you care about the influencer and their audience (not just about your product) is by providing content ideas. Good content ideas outline the benefits of your product to the target audience, and how this might fit in with the content that influencers have already posted on their website or account.

That being said, it’s ok if your chosen influencer wants to write their own content for your product. Sharing content ideas is simply a way to relate to your influencer and show them you care.

If the influencer decides against featuring your product in their gift guide, but they’d still like to write about it elsewhere, then great! The more exposure the better.

Offer Free Samples

Another way to engage an influencer is by offering a free trial of your product: people are more likely to recommend your product if they can first test it themselves. As a bonus, there’s also a possibility that the influencer will take photos of your product and post it across their social media channels!

So before you send your first email, think about what you can offer influencers in exchange for featuring your product in their next gift guide. Then you’re ready to get started and get the word out there!

Send an Engaging Email and Build a Relationship

When sending out emails to convince bloggers, YouTubers and social media influencers to feature your product in their next gift guide, you must first focus on building a relationship. You can do this by personalising each email, and staying away from mass emails.

A great way to introduce yourself is to tell them what you like about their work. Positively comment on their last gift guide, their latest post, or the most recent video or photo they posted. You can then share your request, and finish off by listing the benefits of your products for their audience, or the way you’d like to collaborate with them.

Follow Up

It is likely that not every influencer will get back to you straight away. Some might be busy, Some might not be interested in your products. Some might simply forget.

Don’t hesitate to send a follow up email with a gentle reminder a week after you’ve sent your initial message. This is where your spreadsheet comes in handy, as you can keep track of who you’ve gotten in contact with, who responded, and who you have followed up with.

Try to keep your expectations at a realistic level. For every 20 influencers you get in contact with, you can expect one or two interested responses. The internet is a competitive playing field.

How to prepare your store

Develop A Gift Collection

Think about which of your products you want to be featured in a gift guide. Sometimes less is more. Rather than trying to get your entire store featured, focus on a handful of key items you think your target audience would appreciate as gifts for the holiday season.

Research current trends and put together a gift collection that helps people find great presents for their loved ones. Try adding a little somethin’ somethin’: offer one of your most popular products in a limited edition colour, or include a small gift with each purchase. These cool extras make it more likely that influencers will want to recommend your gift ideas to their audiences.

Take Beautiful Product Shots

People are drawn to beautiful images. Taking professional shots of your products means a greater chance that influencers will feature your items in their gift guide.

Take part in the holiday spirit and create product shots and lifestyle photos featuring your product that are holiday-centric. Give your store that holiday feel to appeal to gift guide readers!

Run a Sale

Holiday time is sale time. People love getting a good deal on gifts for their loved ones. To make featuring your product in a gift guide more attractive to influencers, try offering special discount codes that only their audiences have access to. It’s a win-win situation: influencers get the opportunity to provide their loyal followers with great deals and discounts, and as a result you get to expose your products to a wider audience, in turn generating more sales.

What’s next?

Are you preparing your Shopify store for the holiday season? Need some help making sure it’s a successful one? Say hello to the Elkfox team and we can assist in you in making your Shopify store holiday ready!

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