Tis’ the Season for 2019 Holiday Gift Guide Planning: Part I Ditto’s Pro Analysis & Tips
With summer just around the corner, holiday gift guides probably aren’t top of mind for you. But it’s never too early to start thinking about the holidays and you’ll thank us in December.
Gift guides are a big deal: they guarantee positive positioning of your product and reach people who are actively looking to buy. It’s challenging to secure product features or meaningful inclusions in round-ups during the year, especially for emerging brands, but the same rules don’t apply for gift guides. And there’s a good chance your product will be featured in multiple guides on the same site after you break into your first. They can be your way in if you do your research and prepare early in the year. We took a close look at last year’s online holiday gift guides from some of the top publications, and in the spirit of giving, we’re sharing our findings.
What you need to know
Timing is everything.
Think of gift guide season as a marathon, not a sprint. Just as you’re confirming magazine placements, it’s time to hit the pavement for short lead, online pitching. We saw online gift guides run as early as September! Out of the top outlets we analyzed, Mashable had the earliest, running in mid-September, and POPSUGAR wasn’t too far behind. While peak online gift guide season is in November (with an emphasis on Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals) and December, you don’t want to be battling for a spot in a nearly-full guide. By starting these conversations during the summer when most people are still gearing up for Back to School, you’ll get the head start you need to be successful.
If you’re late to the game, you can still pull off a Christmas miracle. POPSUGAR’s gift guides ran through the end of December, aimed at people who received cash presents and gift cards. We noticed some “What to do with a $xx gift card to XYZ store,” lists, but the post-holiday splurge category was much slimmer. By January, everyone’s re-focusing on tips that will help them reboot their lives and their bank accounts.
Do your research.
Who does your product appeal to and how can you reach them? Creating a list of publications and editors in every relevant vertical is just as important as starting early. We saw consumer tech products dominate lists in home, lifestyle, business, women’s and men’s publications. Sky’s the limit; just make sure you’re tailoring your pitches to the right audiences. This involves knowing your customers and knowing the journalists you’re reaching out to.
Seeing is believing.
Strong visuals are must-haves for gift guides. It was rare for a site to recommend a product without an associated image so you should always send high-resolution images as part of your pitches. If you have great video of your product, or it has that “beauty that moves” thing going on that isn’t done justice in a photo, send video too. CNET had a number of video gift guides in 2018.
Make sure you’re thinking in visuals and have extra product on-hand to ship out as many publications like to do their own shoots.
Think outside the (gift)box.
Business Insider ran a survey asking people what kinds of gifts they were most interested in to help them crowdsource their guides. Now, we’re not saying you should nominate your own product…but consider creative tactics like having influencers and power users promote your brand. If you want to turn it up a notch, approach your dream outlet over the summer to see if they’re interested in having you sponsor a similar survey — it’s win-win.
Selling on Amazon is a selling point.
It’s great to drive traffic directly to your site, but it’s rare for a gift guide to send their readers straight to you for online orders. Creating a new account and re-entering credit card information are drop-off points. Amazon is the number one purchase destination, particularly for last-minute guides, and there are entire lists dedicated to gifts you can buy there.
There’s a lot more to gift guides than gifts
With proper planning, solid positioning and a stellar product, a gift guide can be a breakthrough moment. It takes a lot of work, but the ROI is huge.
If you have an awesome product and want to put our expertise to work, let us know sooner than later. Our team of gift guide warriors is here to help.