The holidays are commonly known as the most wonderful time of the year, but this season calls for an extra level of attentiveness as we close out a challenging 2020. Business owners have a unique opportunity to position their holiday marketing in a way that encourages sales and invites conversation within their customer communities. While there are numerous strategies to capture your audience's attention during a high-energy shopping period, gift guides continue to be one of the most effective methods of bridging the gap between content and commerce. Below, we're breaking down a few elements to consider as you plan and create gift guides this holiday season.
Anatomy of a Gift Guide
Gift guides tend to be pretty self-explanatory: they guide customers towards purchase decisions based on a particular product category, market, or trend. The curation of these guides can vary based on details like industry or price point. Still, given the uncertain economic climate, this year presents an opportunity to iterate your guide to meet customers where they're at currently. Let's examine the following scenarios.
Traditional Guide: Consumer Brands
For emerging or consumer businesses, a traditional gift guide is a good starting point to streamline your marketing around core products that are distinctive to your brand. Keep your product segmentation simple by creating categories based on the kind of product or giftee. For example, if you're a fashion brand, your curation might be broken down by apparel type (i.e., outerwear, dresses, and so on). You may also choose to curate products based on style preference (i.e., for the minimalist, for the athleisure lover, and so on).
Values Guide: Nonprofits/Service Brands
Service businesses or philanthropic organizations can also leverage gift guides even if they aren't selling physical goods. The holiday season is the perfect time to appeal to conscious consumption by curating your guides by cause or activity. For example, if you're an education nonprofit, structure your guide by who (or how) a customer's donation will positively impact (i.e., for teachers, for students, for administrators, and so on).
Discovery Guide: Content Creators/Influencers
As we navigate a new normal, followers will be looking to tastemakers for guidance and insight into what's relevant. This season, influencers have the opportunity to curate their guides through the lens of discovery to help their followers find something new. For example, a sustainable lifestyle blogger may choose to curate a guide to help their audience discover products or services that allow their giftees to live more sustainably. In this case, a discovery-focused gift guide may also include a section for activities or experiences in addition to physical products.
Amplify Your Gift Guide
Now that we've covered some fundamentals around structuring your gift guide, the next step is to create a promotional strategy. Similar to deciding what gift guide structure works best for you, the way you approach amplifying the guide will depend on variables around what platforms, call-to-actions, and creative assets work best for your audience. In any case, keep these best practices in mind as you craft your strategy:
A Multi-Channel Strategy for Gift Guides
From social to email marketing, don't underestimate the power of a multi-channel strategy. When it comes to platform-specific promotion, don't forget to leverage all aspects of an in-app experience. Instagram and Pinterest, for example, presents a few different ways to promote your gift guide content:
- Content – In-Feed: Lean into your creative imagery with memorable visuals that tap into your brand's aesthetic. Your Instagram profile and Grid is the perfect place to capture the immediate attention of your customers. You can only place one link in your Instagram bio, make it easier for your followers to shop from your gift guide. PLANOLY’s linkit tool to create a grid gallery linked-to websites, blogs, or affiliate links for your followers to shop!
- Conversation – IGTV/Live: Invite relevant influencers or shopping experts to talk about the benefits of products and services featured in your gift guide. IGTV videos and Instagram Lives lend themselves well to conversational content. Show your followers how you use the products in your gift guide to add a personal touch.
- Community – Stories/Reels: Tap into the mood of your gift guide by creating content that inspires your community. Stories and Reels are the perfect vehicles to create content that is interactive and easily digestible (depending on the mood/tone of your brand).
Optimize Your Gift Guides
With the above points in mind, it's essential to consider what kinds of content will facilitate actions from your customers. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Copy: Create an editorial framework around key phrases or call-to-actions that work well across your long-form and short-form content channels. With an emphasis on the gifts in the guide, copy can be used to create context or education around what you're trying to sell.
- Visual: Gift guides are inherently visual as they provide a look at the service or product for sale. Use the holidays to iterate on your visual product imagery by creating a unique identity system (colors, fonts, embellishments) that is distinctive to all holiday/guide-related content. Doing this will help maintain consistency across your brand's hero content while creating something aesthetically-stimulating for your customers.
- UGC: Don't underestimate the power of a real-life testimonial. Consider how user-generated content (or UGC) can fit into your marketing strategy in addition to the assets you create in-house. This approach can be especially helpful when establishing credibility around products or services that might be a hard sell otherwise.
Identify an Industry for your Gift Guide
From food to design, every sector will have its own set of standards for promoting gift guides. Generally speaking, here are a couple of things to consider whether you're a brand or content creator.
Brands: This year has paved the way for transparency across a brand's environmental and social responsibility functions. Consider how you curate/market your guide to reflect the efficacy or long-term value of your products or services.
Influencers: Similar to the above, as trusted authorities, influencers are responsible for remaining transparent in how they're curating their gift guides. With that in mind, it's important to make sure your guides are considering diversity in both product and brand selection.
Takeaways for Creating a Gift Guide
This article scratches the surface of how you can create and promote your holiday gift guide. Whether you're a brand or blogger, don't forget to take advantage of PLANOLY's suite of products to streamline your processes this holiday season:
- Plan: Get ahead on your planning by using our hero visual management and scheduling tool to plan your Instagram and Pinterest content with ease. More on getting started with PLANOLY here.
- Design: Create beautiful, design-driven Stories templates for your content with our tool, StoriesEdit. More on using our free templates on the StoriesEdit app here.
- Sell: Seamlessly sell your products or services with sellit anywhere and with a single click. Learn more about sellit here. We’re offering an introductory holiday trial offer to try sellit for free the first month, use the code sellit2020!
For more holiday planning and resources, head to our workstation!