Holiday gift guide 101

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The holidays are rapidly approaching! And that means brands everywhere are scrambling to get the word out about their products. While ads, email marketing, and retargeting are some of the most common methods, there’s one overlooked strategy that has the potential to drive a lot of customers your way—for FREE. ‘Tis the season for gift guides! With pumpkin spice products and cozy sweaters hitting the shelves earlier every year, shoppers are researching holiday gifts and gift ideas earlier than ever before. In fact, 40 percent of customers begin researching their holiday shopping as early as October according to  the National Research Federation.

Where do they do their research? Many shoppers looking for great gift ideas will look to gift guides for inspiration. As most gift guides are roundups of gift ideas for a family member or friend with a particular interest, there are likely websites in your niche that specialize in sharing gift guides including products very similar to yours.

With the average consumer spending more than $450 on gifts for their family this holiday season, getting your products in gift guides can help more shoppers discover you—especially if you have a very unique or niche product that makes a great gift.

The first step in getting your brand in gift guides is to research blogs and websites with gift guides in your niche. For example, if my company sells jewelry, I would research blogs and websites with gift guides for jewelry lovers.

Before you Google, put yourself in the head of someone researching gift ideas. What would he or she search? Here are some search terms and search ideas, just replace jewelry with your store’s niche:

  • jewelry gift guide
  • jewelry gift guide 2016
  • jewelry buying guide
  • jewelry buying guide 2016
  • jewelry gift ideas
  • jewelry holiday gift ideas
  • gift ideas for jewelry lovers

Before beginning your outreach process, find at least 20 websites that match your niche and curate them for quality.

Not sure what you’re looking for?

First, ensure they’re approachable. You would never approach a competing brand to promote your products any other time of year. The same holds true during the holidays. If an identified contact is a major publication, research the editor of the publication to make a customized, personal and successful pitch.

Next, check to make sure your identified targets have active websites and have a reasonably sized audience. To do this, look at the date of their most recent post and see how many followers they have on social media. Check for other social proof like the average number of comments on their blog posts.

Remember, a site’s audience doesn’t need to be massive. Smaller websites and blogs are often more approachable. Even if only 100 new eyeballs see your brand for the first time, that is still 100 passionate people learning about your product who wouldn’t otherwise. Plus, gift guides live on forever. Even after this season, people will continually find that guide once it ranks on Google.

Before performing any outreach, you’ll need to find the contact information for the person who runs each website. For most blogs, you can find this in the “About” or “Contact” sections. If you’re struggling to find a website’s contact information, try reaching out to them on social media.

Never send a mass email! Not even if you blind copy everyone. This is an unprofessional, impersonal way to build business relationships. Instead, send each of your prospects an individual, personalized email. Will it take extra time? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of drafting 20 personalized emails, break your content down into something relatable for each contact. Write about something you enjoyed from their previous gift guide or something you like about their site. Then, try to find a way you can relate to the person before getting to your request. This will make your emails sound more authentic, instead of something automated. Trust me, if you give people the impression that you’ve sent the same email to a hundred other people, they won’t take your request seriously.

Want to really stand out in the holiday gift guide crowed? Offer to each contact a sample of your product. People are more inclined to talk about or recommend a product after trying it for themselves.

Still not sure where to get started? Here’s a sample email I would send to promote my jewelry lined mentioned earlier.

Subject: Loved your <name of post> post!

Message:

Hello <contact name>

I read <name of post referenced above> and loved it! Your point about <one key point of post> really resonated with me. 

My name is KJ Greenwood and I have my own line of sustainable jewelry. With the holidays rapidly approach, I would love to be considered for your next gift guide. I think my jewelry would make a great gift for your readers and fans.

If you want to check it out yourself, I’d be happy to send you a sample. In the meantime, you can learn more about my brand here: <my jewelry website link>.

Please let me know what you think and if you’re interested in learning more. 

Thank you for your consideration!

Best,

KJ

[contact information]

Wait two to three days and then follow up if you don’t hear back. Gift guide space is limited and email inboxes are quickly overloaded this time of year. You’d be surprised how many responses you’ll receive once you follow up politely.

Don’t forget to set realistic expectations around your outreach. If you email 20 different websites, expect an interested response from four or less. Remember, not everyone has plans to create a gift guide or update an existing one. Also, not everyone will be interested in what you are offering or think it is a good fit for their audience. Don’t take it personally! It only takes one gift guide appearance for you to see a significant increase in sales.

As an alternative, you also can create your own gift guide on your website to promote your products. This is a great way to bring organic search traffic to your site from Google searches on gift ideas. For example, “2016 holiday gift guide for jewelry lovers” might be a blog post I would publish if I was in the jewelry business mentioned previously.

What creative ideas are you using to get your product noticed this holiday season?

Want more helpful tips like the ones above plus more? Check out The Buzz: A Media Darling’s Guide to Press Coverage or sign up for exclusive Hearsay content.