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How to Create an Engaging Holiday Gift Guide

How to Create an Engaging Holiday Gift GuideEveryone loves giving gifts and getting them. The problem is that when we give our friends and family gifts each holiday season, there comes a point in time where figuring out what to get becomes challenging. Suddenly, the joys of the season seem like a big headache. 

However, as retailers, our job is to help alleviate that struggle. And, a gift guide has become the go-to method for providing a roundup of gifts for different groups -- parents, siblings, children, and spouses, or gender, age group, and interests. Gift guides also typically have price range categories. This segmentation helps a shopper find the right gift quickly, putting the joy back into the season of giving. 

The ability to provide a great shopping experience for your customers just by creating a gift guide is what has led retailers to use this tactic season after season. Despite being satisfied, now consumers expect more from gift guides to get the same experience from them. That means you can't just spit out the same format you used last year and make your customers happy. Instead, your gift guide must be more engaging, which requires some different strategies. To minimize costs involved and maximize return, here are some proven ideas:

Get Graphical

Your audience wants something that is visually appealing, which adds to the excitement. Think bold and contrasting colors, festive visuals, and words and pictures that are instantly recognizable. Choose more graphics over words on each section of your holiday gift guide. This approach adds interest, gives the eye and brain something to process that is different, and builds connection through the use of holiday symbols and their meaning.

Keep it Simple

The idea of being graphical with your gift guide often translates as needing to have a lot of elements when, in actual fact, it doesn't. Instead, it means you should focus on a clean, simple, and uncluttered layout. While consumers like bright and festive gift guides, they also want to find what they need quickly. To do that, make categories the focal point along with great visuals of the recommended products. Use bold and color text only when you want to emphasize a call to action.

Use Storytelling

Although consumers may want to find gift ideas quickly, it doesn't mean they aren't willing to stop and enjoy a story related to a product. If anything, that draws them into wanting to get certain products more in order to achieve the same emotion as experienced in the story. Costco has used pictures and brief stories of their customers and relatives of employees to highlight certain products in their print and online guides. This provides some connection to the product, especially when a consumer can relate to the story. Since the holidays are about family and special emotions, using storytelling is one of the best ways to elevate your gift guide.

Turn it Into Video

While many retailers have evolved their gift guides from static pages to flipbooks, now is the time to take it to the next level with a video gift guide. You can opt to create it as a pre-recorded video or you might even consider live streaming it for extra excitement and spontaneity. You can then edit and use the saved version for sharing later on throughout the holiday season. One advantage to the live stream option is that it can involve viewers who might be able to comment and send in questions. Answer as many as you can without taking too much time away from each segment of your video gift guide. Then, remaining questions can be addressed via email after the live stream ends. 

You may even want to create a video library of gift guides, opting to create a video or live stream for specific categories rather than trying to hit all the segments in one viewing. That will help you get extra mileage out of each video and attract different audience members with each gift guide release. These releases can then become individual campaigns that allow you to highlight a certain selection of products that align with your available inventory.

Minimize Product Overload

In some respects, this goes back to the aforementioned idea of keeping it simple. Don't add too many gift ideas to each category because you will overwhelm your customers and they will be right back where they were when they entered your store. Select a few categories and then add between three and six products to each one. This will also help align with your inventory so you don't take on too much over the holidays.

Send the Gift Guide Out

You'll find engagement with your gift guide will increase when you do the heavy lifting for your audience and deliver it to them. Make it easy to find on your blog or website. Add a link to your social media sites, such as Pinterest or Twitter, so they can click and be transported into the gift ideas. Better yet, just email the gift guide to them as a PDF.

Make it Mobile Friendly

Many consumers are looking at gift guides on their phone. While it may seem impossible, the mobile device is often the screen of choice for research and shopping, including tablets. Make sure your guide is sized and available for this smaller screen. These potential customers may decide after looking at such a beautiful gift guide to buy from you on the spot. Make sure that happens!

Add Links to Buy Directly

In doing the majority of work for your customers, be sure to add working links to your gift guide so that shoppers can go immediately to the item to learn more. Or, they can click on a "Buy Now" button in the gift guide and have the item placed directly into their shopping cart to have shipped or be picked up in your store. This will encourage immediate purchase decisions and facilitate an enjoyable holiday shopping experience. Just be sure that your checkout process including secure payments, an array of payment options, and fast transaction completion, are operable and scalable to the traffic your site will receive.

Do Usability Testing

Make sure the gift guide is as good as you think it is by taking the time to get some feedback from employees and anyone from the target audience that has signed up with usability testing companies. You'll be able to get some constructive criticism to help tweak your holiday gift guide and make it even better.

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