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Why your store needs to offer a holiday gift guide

Written by Spencer Durrant on October 21, 2015 in Strategies & Tips

With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, online retailers have a lot to do in order to get ready for their busiest time of year. Between marketing, ads, and sales, you have a lot on your plate to try and put your store in the best possible position for your most profitable time of the year. 

One of the best things you can do in order to position your store for more success this holiday season is to offer a gift guide.

A gift guide is a great way to get the word out about your products, advertise deals, and show potential customers why your store is the best fit for their holiday needs. 

Gift guides do cost money to produce, but between freelance designers and existing templates, it's very possible to produce a guide on a smaller budget. Let's take a look at how to put together a gift guide and some examples of how you can use it in your marketing efforts this holiday season. 


Identify products for the guide

The first step in putting together your gift guide is to identify which products you're going to feature. Obviously, you'll want to feature the products that you're going to put on sale. But since you're likely to not slash prices on everything in your store, which products do you use to fill in the gaps? 

You want the products to be simple, affordable, and easy to fulfill. If you're using the loss-leading pricing technique for your holiday sales, you should fill in the rest of your gift guide with high-margin items. This allows you to effectively upsell your customers and make a profit after losing money on some of your sale items. 

If you sell products from several categories, it's a good idea to have a theme for your gift guide. For example, if you run a sporting goods store, you could run separate guides for fishing, hunting, and camping gear. This allows you to market that guide to a specific niche audience. You'll probably see better conversion rates than simply trying to sell your entire store in one catalog. 

But the theme you choose doesn't have to be product-specific. You can also base it on price, like "Gift ideas for $99 and under". 

Woothemes also gave out some great tips for selecting products for your guide. Some of them are: 

  • Don't advertise products that are frequently out of stock or often have other fulfillment issues. When customers see your gift guide, chances are they'll want to make a purchase quickly after looking at your products. If you can't get the product to them quickly, you'll likely lose that customer for life.
  • Don't advertise products that are overly expensive. These kinds of products aren't generally bought on a whim, and since the goal of a gift guide is to highlight sales, products with a hefty price tag aren't usually the right fit. 
  • Try and keep all of your products simple and competitively priced. This increases the likelihood that customers will buy on impulse after reading your guide. 

Decide on design

After you've picked out your products, it's time to decide on the design of your guide. 

You can create a guide that lives on a page on your website (like these ones) but the most effective format is to create a downloadable PDF. It can easily be shared via email and social media, and customers don't have to navigate back to a webpage every time they want to reference the guide. 

As far as the actual design of your guide goes - if you have design resources and the time, it makes sense to put the guide together in-house. You can even download a template and do most of the work on your own if you need to pinch pennies.

If you have a little bit of budget but not the time nor the design skills, you can to outsource the project. Reputable sites like 99designs, DesignCrowd, and Elance are great resources that can help you get a good design job done for a reasonable price.

Obviously, the design of your guide is an instant signal of credibility to your shoppers. Make sure that it's done well and it'll be much more successful. 

Use the guide in marketing and ads

Once your finished guide is in hand, it's time to spread the word about it.

Use some of your advertising budget to include a few ads featuring your gift guide. Create an email campaign specifically for your guide, and include a link to it in relevant emails for the rest of the holiday season. Definitely promote it on social media to your existing audience. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram have increasingly robust audience targeting tools, making it very easy to find new customers that are interested in what you have to sell.

If you can get the guide in front of the right customers, it'll help position your store as a top-of-mind option for their holiday gift needs. And seeing as how consumers are researching holiday gifts as early as Halloween, it's not too early to get a gift guide in front of your customers. 


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