As the holiday season approaches, store owners will begin scrambling to get the word out about their sales. Display ads, email marketing, and retargeting are some of the most common methods, but there’s one overlooked strategy that has the potential to drive a lot of customers to your store: gift guides.
Many shoppers do a lot of research before big sale events and holidays. In fact, shoppers are researching Christmas gifts and gift ideas earlier than ever. According to the National Research Federation, 40% of customers begin researching their holiday shopping as early as October.
This is where gift guides come in. Many shoppers looking for great gift ideas will look to gift guides and buying guides for inspiration. In fact, there are likely websites in your niche that specialize in sharing gift guides including products very similar to yours. Most gift guides are roundups of gift ideas for a loved one or friend with a particular interest. Sometimes, they’re compiled for a particular holiday such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, birthdays, and so on.
A survey by NFR found that consumers will spend an average of over $450 on gifts for their family this Christmas. Getting your products in gift guides can help more shoppers discover you, especially if you have a very unique or niche product that makes a great gift.
In this blog post, I’m going to show you how to get your store in gift guides, create your own gift guides, and drive more sales during the holidays.
What Gift Guides Look LikeTo give you an idea of what a gift guide looks like, here’s one that caters to guitar players.
As you can see, this particular guide is actually a post on a blog for guitar players. This is one of the top search results for “gift ideas for guitar players,” a phrase that shoppers looking for gift ideas for the guitar player in their life might be searching.
This blog post lists 20 unique gift ideas, with a link back to each store selling the mentioned product.
What we, as store owners, plan to do is find websites that create gift guides in our niche, and reach out to them to feature our products in new (and even existing) gift guides.
How to Find Gift Guides
As you begin researching blogs and websites with gift guides in your niche, you’ll want to organize each into a spreadsheet. This will make the outreach process easier down the road.
Next, find the blogs and websites with gift guides in your niche. For example, if my store sells guitar straps, I would look for, and reach out to, blogs and websites with gift guides for guitar players.
Head over to Google and put yourself in the head of someone researching gift ideas. What do you search? Here are some search terms and search ideas, just replace guitar with your store’s niche:
- guitar player gift guide
- guitar gift guide 2017
- guitar buying guide
- guitar buying guide 2017
- guitar player gift ideas
- guitar player christmas gift ideas
- guitar fathers day gift ideas
- guitar fathers day gift guide
- gift ideas for guitar lovers
You can swap the year and holiday for whatever’s most appropriate. For example, if you’re reading this in the future, use 2017 or 2018. If your products are well suited for Mother’s Day, swap out Father’s Day for Mother’s Day.
If you want to specifically find blogs with gift guides, add “inurl:blog.” to your query. Here are a few examples:
- guitar gift guide inurl:blog/
- guitar gift guide 2017 inurl:blog/
- gift ideas for guitar lovers inurl:blog/
I suggest trying each of the keyword variations above, and adding the relevant and more approachable websites to the spreadsheet you created earlier.
I recommend finding and adding at least 20 websites to your spreadsheet before beginning the outreach process. Since you’ll likely get a lot of results, you’ll want to curate them for quality. Here’s some criteria to help you out:
First, ensure they’re approachable. If it’s a competing store’s gift guide, then they’re probably not a website you want to reach out to. If it’s a major publication, it might take a little more finesse and relationship building with an editor of the publication to make a successful pitch.
Secondly, ensure each website has an active readership. Check if the website is still active and that they have a reasonably sized audience. To do this, look at the date of their most recent post and see how many followers they have on social media. Check for other social proof like the average number of comments on their blog posts.
Their audience doesn’t need to be massive. Remember that smaller websites and blogs will be more approachable, too. Even if a website only has 100 dedicated fans, that’s 100 passionate people learning about your product. Plus, your product will live on that guide forever. People will continually find that gift guide in the future once it ranks on Google.
How to Do Outreach
First, you’ll need to find the contact information for the person who runs each website. For most blogs, you can find this in the footer or top navigation, usually as “contact” or “contact me.” If you’re struggling to find a website’s contact information, try reaching out to them on social media or use an email guessing tool such as Email Hunter.
Do not send a mass email. This is an unprofessional, impersonal way to build business relationships, and mass emails are more likely to land in most recipients’ spam folders. Instead, send each person an individual, personalized email. Yes, it takes some extra work, but it will be worth it.
Some things I might mention to personalize the email is something I enjoyed from their gift guide, something I like about their site, or how I found their site. I try to find a way I can relate to the person within the first few lines of my email before getting into my request. This will make your emails sound more authentic, instead of something mass-produced or automated. If you give people the impression that you’ve sent the same email to a hundred other people, they won’t take your request seriously.
If you can afford to, offer to send them a sample of your product. People are more inclined to talk about or recommend a product after trying it for themselves.
Here’s a sample script to help get you started:
I love your [post name] post
Don’t be afraid to follow up a week later if you don’t hear back. I’ve found I get a lot of responses when I follow up.
You should also set realistic expectations. If you email 20 different websites, expect around one interested response. Not everyone has plans to create or update their gift guides and not everyone will be interested in your product or think it’s a good fit for their audience.
Don’t take it personally, you only need to have your product in one gift guide to see a significant increase in sales.
Or Create Your Own Gift Guide
Alternatively, you can create your own gift guide on your website and promote your own products within them. Most people use Google to research gift ideas and there could potentially be a lot of organic search traffic that comes your way by putting up a simple gift guide on your website.
Take a look at the searches for “gifts for guitar players” according to Google’s Keyword Planner.
There’s definitely an opportunity for me, in this example, to create a gift guide page on my store and get some nice organic search traffic from it. Other brands and store’s have done this as well for their own products. Just take a look at ThinkGeek’s gift guide page:
What should you include on your gift guide page?
I would include a short blurb at the top of the page, around 100 words, introducing and talking about your gift guide and who it’s for. You should also title and name your page appropriately. In my case, since I want to try and rank for “gifts for guitar players” on Google, I might consider naming my page “Gift Ideas for Guitar Players.” Here’s how it would look when I create a new page in Shopify’s admin.
Next, I would create collections (or groups) of the items I want to include in my gift guide. I could simply create one collection and call it “gift guide” or I could create a collection to further categorize the gifts such as “gifts for him” or “gifts under $20.” If you want to learn more about how to create collections using Shopify, read up about them in the Shopify manual. I would then include a link to each collection on my gift guide page.
Alternatively, you could make your gift guide a blog post instead of a separate page, similar to the blog posts I mentioned earlier. For example, “best 2017 christmas gifts for guitar players” might be a blog post I publish in my store. I might even consider creating a series of different blog posts covering gift ideas for different occasions and different kinds of guitar players.
Over To You
Hopefully this post has inspired you to think more about how you can put your products and store on other websites that share your audience. If you want to learn more about getting press for your store, read our post about getting free coverage.
If you have any questions about gift guides or want to share any ideas, leave your comment below. I engage with and respond to everyone.
Check out our Black Friday Cyber Monday Toolbox for free tools and resources to help you succeed during BFCM 2017.