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Four Types of Holiday Gift Guides

Explore different ways to share your holiday shopping guide with your email list

Tips for Marketing Your Holiday Gift Guide
'Tis the season for helping your customers make others happy.

Finding the right gift for a friend or loved one is not easy. The fact that we have hundreds of thousands of choices available to us makes the decision-making process harder than easier.

According to psychologist Herbert A. Simon, the more choices we have, the more stressed we feel. He coined the terms maximizers and satisficers.

Maximizers want to know that every purchase is the best possible. It’s the best item. The best price. The best match for the recipient. Naturally, when a maximizer is presented with too many options, the decision-making circuitry can go into overload and shut down.

As Mark Twain once said, “I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up.”

Satisficers, on the other hand, have standards and a framework for the purchase but don’t put a lot of mental energy into worrying about something better coming along.

The satisficer is more like The Dude from the cult classic “The Big Lebowski.”

“I can’t be worrying about that sh*t. Life goes on, man.”

Smart companies use this consumer behavior to their advantage, especially during the big holiday shopping season. They know how to stand out from their inbox competitors by helping their email subscribers:

  • Find the right gift quickly

  • Ensure delivery before Christmas

  • Offer savings

In short, they use their email marketing to turn maximizers into satisficers.

One of the best ways to do that during the holiday season is with a gift guide.

Below are some of my favorites of 2019.

Teaser Holiday Gift Guide

This year, is running a teaser email that piques your interest. As the name implies, the teaser’s job is to give you just enough information to want to click the button to go see the holiday goodies on the website.

For a teaser to be successful, you have to have the following:

  • Feature in-demand products

  • Showcase great photography

  • Have a super sexy design

Obviously, most copywriters hate these because they can’t write a 20-page sales letter.

I love them because I was an art major before I became a writer and came from a family of professional artists, so I get the importance of the partnership between design and copy.

Don't forget: Online content, including emails, with images, gets 94% more total views than text alone.


SITK Gear Holiday Gift Guide

Structuring your holiday gift guide into collections, or categories, help consumers organize their shopping by person or product, or allow them to do a digital version of window shopping. Collections are also a fantastic way to feature new items and best-sellers.

As we get closer to the holiday, consider adding a “Last Minute Gifts” category. Make sure these are items that can still be delivered on time.

For the product type to work, you need to:

  • Have a clear, well-defined layout

  • Promote your top 3-5 collections in the email

  • Offer a limited-time discount

SITKA Gear used an animated graphic in their email to rotate between their top collections: Big Game Necessities, Whitetail Favorites, Waterfowl Essentials, Women’s Must-Haves, Best of Everyday Wear, Best Selling Gear


REI holiday gift guide

Building your holiday guide around the type of recipient your email subscriber is shopping for is my favorite. This approach is perfect for those of us who have run out of gift ideas for our spouse, sibling, child, or parent.

Tips for the recipient type include:

  • Know your customer. The easiest way to categorize these roles is by relationship: Mom, Dad, Daughter, Son, Husband, Wife, etc.

  • Really know your customer. Perhaps the best way to categorize these roles is by the recipient’s favorite activity or interests: Climber, Hiker, Cyclist, Runner, Foodie, Traveler, Dog Fanatic, etc.

My favorite company REI does a great job of showcasing roles in the first email about their holiday guide. The email starts with a teaser, then goes into the types of recipients, and closes out with the catch-all magic of gift cards.


While I would NEVER advocate putting a spending cap on buying a gift for your wife, sometimes there’s never enough of that holiday budget pie to go around.

Offering the consumer options to shop by price ranges is a proven method to take care of those gifts for...okay, I admit it. Price types are perfect for your nieces, nephews, and co-workers.

Break your price ranges into categories from small to large. For bigger ticket items, you may want to label them “Show Her How Much You Love Her.” :)

Triple Aught Design created an outstanding combination of price and role with their first holiday guide email of the season.

Share the Holiday Spirit. Repeatedly.

I advise sending these guides in a weekly email drip campaign. Pick from one of the gift guide types I mentioned — mix and match if you’d like — but make sure you keep the same format each week. Just change the content.

No matter which type you choose, don’t forget to make sure you’re still sending your holiday emails with a frequency that is right for your subscriber list. This number is usually somewhere between seven and 5,000.

I’m kidding.

Kind of.

It takes someone seeing your consistent message around seven times before a purchasing decision is made. Don’t forget to factor that concept into your email sequence distribution schedule.

More to Come

I’ll add more examples as I get them in my inbox. If you have any great ones you’ve found, let me know, and maybe I’ll add them to the list.

Remember, the holiday competition is fierce. Be savvy this year!

If you need help putting your holiday guide together, or are feeling like The Dude and don't have time for this sh*t but still have to get it done, let’s talk.


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