It’s that time of year again when gift giving season gets into full swing. In the early days, holiday gift shopping meant wandering through shopping malls for hours in hopes of finding those perfect gifts for friends, family, colleagues and clients. Then, online shopping arrived, which made it more convenient but it also meant shoppers then had hundreds of more choices. While that seems good, having even more choices often creates a bigger conundrum in terms of the best present.

Gift Guides Increase Holiday Sales

Along came the gift guide as a brilliant marketing tool conceived by retailers to help their customers by narrowing down the choices and offering a range of gift ideas by recipient, interest, and even budget. One of the first companies to offer gift guides was the forward-thinking online retailer known as Amazon. Now, a Google search reveals pages of holiday gift guides by all of today’s major retailers available as landing pages on their websites. This is because retailers started to understand that offering this type of help could translate into major sales.

This year’s holiday shopping appears to reveal that more shoppers than ever are turning to these gift guides to start – and even finish – their holiday gift list. According to research conducted by Searchmetrics, 62% of U.S. consumers are using Amazon as a source to research potential Christmas gifts while 44% have noted they have used Google to search for gift guides and ideas. The majority (67%) of this holiday gift research is being conducted on smartphones with 20% saying they will only use this device to get their shopping done.

However, it’s not just retailer websites and Google where holiday shoppers are seeking out help with gift ideas. Many are also turning to social networks to get advice from their friends. The top social networks noted by Searchmetrics for this assistance include Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Visual content was listed as the most important in assisting with the challenge of finding something unique for those especially hard people to buy for.

Knowing that this is the pattern of behavior for befuddled holiday shoppers, retailers are intent on winning them over to become the prime choice for gift buying this season. These gift guides, chock full of content and visual prompts, are an ideal tactic to include in a product search marketing strategy. The additional content is not only in demand, but it also offers a way to deliver fresh updates to your website during the most important sales season of the year that can positively influence your search ranking.

A Recipe for the Best Holiday Gift Guide

To maximize the inherent value in this online marketing strategy, it’s important to know how to create the ideal holiday gift guide:

·      Do your research in terms of trends and sales figures to determine what items are the most ideal to include in the gift guide. Consider what is trending with consumers and what delivers the highest profit margin. You might even want to ask your customers in advance what they most want to see that can make the experience more enjoyable and convenient for them.

·      The most important aspect is to make it mobile-friendly since surveys are concluding that a significant number of consumers are shopping this way.

·      Overall, the holiday gift guide should be easy to read and pleasing to the eye, keeping the content simple and straightforward while ensuring key terms are included for your search marketing strategy. You may even want to add some video content as more consumers note they are interested in this format.

·      Content should primarily be focused on the gift item description and how the product will be ideal for the recipient on their list.

A Plan for Every Point in the Holiday Purchase Process

Finally, while it is vital to have a strategy that helps consumers know what they want, you then have to follow through and make sure that you get it to them so they continue to return to your retail operation for future gift ideas and purchases. That means having an effective supply chain in place to ensure the right amount of inventory is available to fill every order. You will want to work directly with your suppliers as well to coordinate the development of the gift guide.

This is particularly critical with the recent changes to delivery options that are making it possible for holiday shoppers to potentially get their items within hours of ordering. When you are able to satisfy consumers at every point in the holiday purchase process – from search to delivery – you will win them over and set yourself apart in the crowded retail space.