How to create a holiday gift guide: Step-by-step

What is a holiday gift guide?

The holiday period can be stressful, especially for consumers faced with a long list of gift-buying decisions. A holiday gift guide will allow a company to display a curated list of their products, which can be of value to new and existing customers.

Reasons to create a holiday gift guide for your business

  • Increased sales potential. Gift guides encourage customers to make purchasing decisions because much of the hard work required to locate and source inspirational items is already done for them. If they do not have the time or inclination to browse through your range of products, a gift guide will present them with festive gift ideas in a single convenient package.
  • Enhanced customer experience. Browsing a selection of tailored products makes the shopping experience smoother and can create a feeling of exclusivity for the customer. Many shoppers may already have an inbox full of holiday promotions, leading to holiday message fatigue1. Generating a positive shopping experience can make a brand more memorable after the holiday period is over, and for years to come.
  • Showcasing product ranges. Business holiday gift guides can be organized by price, style, or trend, or even customized for specific people in the customer’s life. The more creative these categories are, the more inspired customers will become. Think ‘Gifts for your mother-in-law’ instead of ‘Gifts for her.’
  • Building brand identity. Assembling a gift guide is a great opportunity to select products that express your brand’s image and values.

Potential benefits of creating a holiday gift guide

  • Enhanced customer engagement. Gift guides encourage customers’ curiosity and exploration. If they find a product they love in one setting, they are much more likely to hunt for similar products elsewhere on the website. A holiday gift guide can also surface products they would not usually have considered – or did not even know existed.
  • Increased conversion rates. A well curated guide can help convert shoppers into customers. As it encourages product bundling, customers can make buying decisions easily, and both early holiday shoppers and last-minute buyers are catered for. Businesses can even create a gift guide with segmented audiences and themes to boost conversions for specific demographics. This is a great way to convert casual browsers and passive newsletter subscribers into paying customers.
  • Improved brand loyalty. A seasonal gift guide demonstrates how much a business values its customers. They will always remember which business helped them choose a great gift for their loved one. Solving those gift-buying headaches can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty for new and returning customers alike.
  • Competitive advantage. Competition is tough during the holidays; highlighting the best of your holiday-appropriate products and making them easy for your customers to buy can set your business apart.

How to create a holiday gift guide from scratch: A step-by-step process

Step 1: Identify your target audience

Define your ideal customers’ preferences. Depending on what your business sells, this could be lovers of sustainability, parents on a budget, outdoorsy types, or luxury shoppers.

Step 2: Select gift categories

Organize your products into holiday gift guide categories. These could be based on different themes, price ranges, or recipients. The more organized a gift guide is, the easier it will be for customers to choose what they want and make a purchase.

Step 3: Curate product selection

Teams can use existing sales data to decide which products to feature. This could be a mix of bestsellers, new arrivals, and unique and memorable items from each product category. To aid this process, you should put themselves in the customers’ shoes – what would they want to see this time of year?

Step 4: Design and layout

Make the gift guide beautiful and uniquely branded. It should be enjoyable for potential customers to browse. You could hire a graphic designer to create an interactive guide with user experience in mind, or leverage drag-and-drop design tools like Canva or Wix to create attractive email campaigns, social media imagery, and landing pages in house.

Step 5: Compelling descriptions and imagery

Engaging product descriptions and high-quality images may help boost sales. Appealing imagery also helps customers make quick decisions on products, reassures them the product is high-quality, and clearly communicates brand identity.

Step 6: Call to action (CTA) and easy checkout

If a beautiful gift guide has captured your customer’s imagination, they now need to be directed to where they can buy their gift (or gifts) with ease. Use clear CTAs for each product so customers know exactly how to make a purchase. It is essential that your online and in-person checkout experiences are seamless during the high-demand holiday period. Slow loading times and unclear steps can lead to cart abandonment and lower conversion rates.

How to market your holiday gift guide

  • Social media. Visual channels are a great place to promote your business and begin the customer journey. Use both Instagram Stories and the main grid to create buzz around seasonal products during the countdown to the holidays. You could also upload product collections to Instagram Shopping so customers can buy directly via the Instagram app using the Shop tab. An international survey of users aged 18–50 found 50% of active account holders use Instagram to discover new brands2. Publish frequent high-quality product imagery with optimized, searchable keywords and captions. It’s wise to start this effort months before the holidays officially begin, as festive searches start in June on this platform.
  • Email campaigns. Email campaigns are perfect for focusing on specific categories. Design them so they are easy to scroll through and find the most appropriate gifts, whether these are price or recipient-based. Surface highly specific and creative categories to capture email subscribers’ imaginations. Emails are also useful for highlighting convenient customer service benefits, from 24/7 customer support to next-day delivery, and delivering CTAs that lead customers straight to the products they want to see.
  • Collaborations and influencers. Leveraging collaborations can expand your guide’s reach by putting your holiday products in front of larger audiences. Choose influencers aligned with your brand and that fit authentically with your firm’s aesthetic and identity. Collabs can promote your business’s unique gift categories with special offers only available to their viewers and followers and can integrate this into their own content and storytelling style.
  • Website banners and pop-ups. Once you know how to create a holiday gift guide, it is also important to promote it to people already using your website. Prominently placed banners and enticing pop-ups will attract attention and direct traffic to your curated gift guide. This is much more likely to convert them than pages and pages of non-specific products.

Picking the best time to promote and launch your holiday gift guide

  • Planning phase. Create a marketing strategy powered by real data – which means gathering insights early. It’s sensible to start promotions well before the holiday season officially begins, with a study on consumer shopping showing that more than half of shoppers that last year purchased gifts in October3. Starting early amplifies your business’s presence in the market and captures conversions as soon as customers start thinking about the holidays.
  • Soft launch. Introduce the gift guide to a small segment of your audience first to test its effectiveness. Customer segmentation gives teams time to tweak underperforming CTAs and imagery. This will also avoid overwhelming customers with too many early-season promotions.
  • Peak promotion. Some of the key US shopping dates between October and December are Halloween, Día de Muertos, Thanksgiving, Diwali, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Hanukkah, and the end-of-year holidays from December 24 to January 14. These dates can guide you on when, where, and most importantly to whom you want to actively promote.

Realizing sales potential through a strategic gift guide

  • Monitor and adapt. As your holiday gift guide is promoted and shared, make sure you continually measure its performance by checking engagement and conversion stats. A heat map can be particularly illuminating here, as it will show which products customers are looking at, scrolling past, and clicking on. Use these stats to tweak imagery, swap products in and out, and trial new categories.
  • Businesses can also track sales performance with PayPal. PayPal Business accounts include streamlined sales, disputes, refund, and transaction reports, which can all be tailored to a company’s specific needs.
  • Engage with feedback. If customers are asking for sales and discounts earlier in the season, listen to them. Everything a business does is about solving customer problems and keeping them happy. It’s therefore logical to use customer feedback to refine and improve. Polls, social media comments, and engagement stats can tell you what customers want to see, as well as reviews posted after purchase.
  • Post-holiday analysis. The holidays come around every year - and so will seasonal campaigns. Learn from the data you gather in 2023 to launch a holiday gift guide with better results in 2024. For example, your social media audience might show low engagement in October and high engagement in late December, or product categories your team expected to be popular may have flopped. Conducting a thorough post-holiday analysis can help prepare you for next year.

For more ideas on how to sustain success after the holiday season, check out 10 daily habits your business can incorporate to boost success.

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