By Sue Chapman

Last week, we talked about ways to make your loyal customers feel like VIPs with access to your products at sale prices before those sales are open to the general public. Today, we talk about another way to make your site visitors feel special by making them feel like you’re giving them a guided shopping experience: gift guides.

It goes without saying that gift guides make shopping for everyone on a consumer’s list easier. Because of this, every retailer seems to offer guides of all varieties, so you need to make yours stand out. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Make it easy

Sure, giving your customers a gift guide makes shopping easy. When your customers feel overwhelmed with the number of people they have to shop for, they’ll welcome the opportunity to not have to think about what to get for Uncle Bob and Aunt Julie. But don’t forget to make the gift guide easy to find. Feature it on the homepage, show it in the site navigation bar and reinforce it throughout the shopper journey, including featuring it in email campaigns.

Get creative with your gift segments

The normal gift guides we typically see include lists by price range or gifts for a specific subcategory, like “Gifts for Him,” “Gifts for Her,” “Gifts for Mom,” “Gifts for Dad,” etc. Everyone does this, so get creative! Think about your catalog and assortment, and make your gift guides unique to your brand. Things like “Gifts for Kids who love sports” or “Gifts for kids who love arts & crafts” are just two examples of how to narrow the focus and keep the shopping experience easy for everyone on your customers’ lists.

Being Unique

As I mentioned, to really stand out and resonate with your customers, your gift guides need to be unique to your brand. And how you advertise these gift guides is critical. Consider making it your “Must Haves” or “Most Wanted.” One of our clients decided to name their gift guide a “Most Wanted” list and, as a result, it was the most popular category page that collected 60% of all site visits.

Think events

Not all gift guides need to be tailored to the recipient. Sometimes, creating gift guides that focus on a specific event can be just as effective. Think gifts for regional specific categories, like Women’s Little Christmas in Ireland and Scotland, or festive seasonal categories, like stocking stuffers, party decorations, hostess gifts or winter travel.

Keep it fresh

Kick off your gift guides early in the season to encourage your early-bird customers to make their purchases with you. But don’t forget about those last-minute shoppers! Consider refreshing your gift guides to accommodate various shipping deadlines, helping your shoppers still get great gifts for everyone on their list on time.

As you plan this year’s gift categories, remember to take the time to measure the performance of each category so you have a good baseline to start from next year. And if you used gift categories last year, use that performance information to create this year’s gift guide.

Next week, we’ll take a look at product finders and gift cards as two other means that can help your customers find the perfect gift for everyone on their list.

In the meantime, check out some of our past tips from our Get Holiday Ready blog series: