For many local and small business owners, the holidays are not only the most wonderful time of the year – they can also be the most profitable. From gift-giving to festive gatherings, it seems like the stream of customers never ends during the holidays. (And, even though this year will probably look a little different, holiday shoppers are still planning to spend this season.)

We found that 70% of people plan to browse online for gift ideas this year – up from 60% last year. So, how can you make it easy for holiday shoppers to find great gifts for their loved ones while driving traffic and customers to your website and your business?

By creating a gift guide, of course!

Creating a holiday gift guide can amplify your business during the holiday season.

A holiday gift guide is a great way to increase traffic to your website, bring more customers into your store, and generate shareable content for your social media sites without spending a single dime.

Here are seven simple tips on how to create your best holiday gift guide ever.

1. Consider Your Customers

When it comes to creating your holiday gift guide, the most important thing to consider is your audience. What will they be looking for? What would they be most interested in?

Think about your target audience’s interests, hobbies, and more to determine what to include in your gift guide. And, don’t feel like you have to include only goods or services you offer. You can align your gift guide with your business in creative ways based on your customers’ interests.

For example, if you operate a spa and salon, your customer base may be interested in essential oils, candles, yoga classes, or other holistic healing methods, so include those on your guide along with some of the merchandise you sell at your spa.

If your spa customers are interested in holistic health or relaxation, you can include yoga classes from a local studio in your gift guide.

If you’re a restaurant owner, mention aprons, kitchenware, and other dining accessories in your gift guide along with cooking classes from your chef or gift cards to your restaurant.

For retailers, look at the products and services that were your best sellers this year, received the most rave reviews, or brought in the greatest profit and include all of the above.

Your current customer base should be your top priority when creating your gift guide, but a great gift guide can also help with bringing back old customers and attracting new ones.

2. Share the Spotlight

When it comes time to create your holiday gift guide, you have a special opportunity to highlight other local businesses in your community. Sixty-six percent of holiday buyers plan to shop more at local businesses this holiday season. So, make it easy for them by shining a light on products and services from other businesses in your area.

Partner with other local businesses in your area for your gift guide.

Reach out to local businesses and offer them the opportunity to be included in your gift guide prior to releasing it, so they have ample opportunity to promote your holiday gift guide on their own social media pages.

For example, for a spa, you can include tea from a local coffee shop, homemade candles from a local home goods store, and supplements from a local vitamin shop in your gift guide. You can also tag these businesses in your social media posts amplifying your holiday gift guide — this gives them extra brand awareness and also encourages them to share your post.

Giving your neighbors some free publicity in your gift guide can create goodwill and build a profitable business partnership — just make sure not to include any direct local competitors!

3. Think Outside the Box

While there’s nothing wrong with a standard gift guide, every customer has a quirky uncle, cousin, or partner that requires special thought for the holidays, so make sure your holiday gift guide can accommodate those hard-to-shop-for folks!

My dad is surprisingly hard to shop for. What do you get someone whose main hobbies are napping and watching OU football? I can only buy him so many OU blankets with sleeves.

Make sure to include some outside of the box gift ideas in your holiday gift guide.

Enjoy your present, dad!

You can make your holiday gift guide stand out by including some out-of-the-box ideas others might not consider. You might even tap into your current customer base or talk to your employees about the best gifts they’ve received that weren’t your generic socks and gift cards (not that anything is wrong with those!).

Adding some gift ideas that are outside the norm can help attract customers who are looking for unique ideas for the holidays. And, it can increase the likelihood that they would share your gift guide with friends, family members, and their own social networks.

4. Appeal to All Timelines

Making sure your gifts are inclusive of all gift-giving types is important, from the last-minute shopper to the long-distance planner.

You might even consider creating multiple gift guides – one for the early shoppers (40% of people begin holiday shopping before Halloween), one around Cyber Monday, and one for those last-minute shoppers.

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Make sure to include a mix of items that can be picked up from a local business last-minute or ordered weeks in advance. This will ensure your holiday gift guide is useful throughout the holiday season (and you can use the same format for your gift guide the next year!).

Accommodating all timeframes is important when creating the perfect holiday gift guide.

5. Offer Gift Guide Discounts

A great way to incentivize your customers to purchase from your gift guide post is by including a special discount code.

While it’s unlikely you can swing discounts on items or services from other businesses (although it never hurts to try!), you can think about running holiday promotions on the products or services you include that you’re offering from your business. Your holiday gift guide might bring shoppers to your site but offering a discount could be the extra push they need to make a purchase with you.

Including a promo code as part of your gift guide is a great promotional idea.

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If it’s not feasible for your to offer a direct discount on your products or services, think about bundling some of your items or services for a special deal to encourage local customers to buy multiple products or services from your business. Maybe it’s a free $5 gift card with the purchase of each $50 gift card, or maybe it’s half-off a future home cleaning session with the purchase of one cleaning session in 2020.

Also: Consider offering free shipping. Our research found that only 20% of shoppers will pay for shipping, and you don’t want that to be the reason they abandon their cart.

6. Make Your Holiday Gift Guide Look Good

While it can be tempting to throw a list on your website with your holiday gift ideas, taking the time to write some descriptions and make it look nice can really help you take it up a notch.

Here's an example of a holiday gift guide that is designed well.

Here’s an example of a well-designed holiday gift guide.

Include images, links, and short descriptions of all of the items in your holiday gift guide. If you or someone on your team has personally received or recommended the item or service, include the reason behind it.

For example, if you included a salt and pepper shaker on your gift guide, I’m probably going to be skeptical about buying it. But, if you tell me it’s the most amazing salt and pepper shaker you’ve ever used, it doesn’t dispense the salt too fast or too slow, and the pepper tastes so fresh, I’m adding that to my cart right now.

The content and design of your holiday gift guide are just as important as the items and ideas you’re including. Plus, a visually-appealing, easy-to-read and use holiday gift guide is going to get more views and shares than one that’s just a few links and maybe one picture.

7. Share, Share, & Share Some More

Your holiday gift guide is complete, and it’s beautiful. What now?

Now, it’s time to get it out into the world! Your social media sites are a natural place to promote your holiday gift guide. You can also send your holiday gift guide in a targeted email marketing campaign so it can reach a wider net of shoppers. And, you can include your holiday gift guide in display ads to drive users to your business and increase awareness for your brand.

Make sure to socialize your holiday gift guide.

Creating a holiday gift guide can be a fun and profitable way to capitalize on the holiday shopping happening in your area and partner with other local businesses to encourage shoppers to support local.

Want more tips for your holiday marketing strategy this year? Contact us for a free marketing assessment and let us help you get the word out about your business this season.

Download our holiday marketing guide for exclusive data, tips, and strategies to make your holiday marketing a success in 2020.

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