The Gift Guide Template: Step-by-Step Guide on Writing Gift Guides & Examples
Nobody “adds to cart” faster than the last-minute shopper. But you’ll need a compelling gift guide template to capture their attention.
Another month, another content calendar. What’s on your radar this time? No matter your niche, you’re always on the lookout for tried-and-true tactics that convert.
Crafting a compelling gift guide is one of those tactics. That’s why we made you a gift guide template.
Why? We want to help you seal the deal with primed potential customers: those eager last-minute shoppers.
December sees the highest volume of “gift ideas” search queries, with May a close second. People need useful gift ideas blog articles during the Christmas holidays and Mother’s Day – and you’re just the affiliate to provide them.
A gift guide is a commerce content model that offers consumers gift ideas for every occasion in the form of a product roundup.
But gift guides offer a uniquely effective way to promote affiliate links, too. A picture says a thousand words on a normal day. But to a time-pressed shopper around the holidays, it could say a million. Today’s gifting template demands brevity – short, crisp copy to make space for the eye-popping visuals that will do the heavy lifting.
The best gift guides offer your audience a massive sigh of relief.
Imagine how the mother of a young, easily excitable child would feel when she comes across a carefully curated list of “unique gift ideas for a 10-year-old with a short attention span.” You’ll save her tons of time – a resource that keeps getting smaller.
We see this with today’s shoppers’ preferences to shop online (57%) versus in-store (43%). Plus, just look at the “breakout” status of this past year’s “mothers day gift” keywords on Google:
P.S. – “Breakout” means increased by over 5,000%. Wowza.
On top of that, gift guides allow you to cater to new audiences.
For example, Google reports a 230% increase in searches for the person who “has everything” or “wants nothing,” two gift queries from a desperate holiday shopper. This searcher is eager enough for ideas to try something completely new.
If you’re a gaming blog, your gift guide conversions aren’t coming from your normal audience. Now you’re catering to the gamer’s mom, sister, and best friend that’ll remember your site when they need a gift idea for their loved one.
Another benefit of having a gift guide template at the ready? People buy gifts year-round. Of course, December’s an important period for search volume, but you can foster traffic and conversions with gift guides any time of the year. People buy gifts for all sorts of occasions – birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, retirement, promotions, and religious ceremonies – all year round.
So, what’s the formula for writing gift guides that appeal and convert?
Let’s walk through a gift guide template that has already proven effective. It’s jam-packed with unique insights, strategies, and examples from successful affiliates and ranking gift guides across the web.
The Ultimate Gift Guide Template
A lot of TLC goes into a high-ranking gift guide. Here’s how to ensure your guide is competitive.
- An exciting gift guide title
- A concise intro
- Use alternatives to product comparison tables
- Short, effective individual product reviews
- Buyer's guide
- A conclusion to wrap up
1. An exciting gift guide title
Your title should catch your reader’s eye and Google’s algorithm. Make sure you use keywords, title formulas, and variables on your shopping list.
Here are a couple of basic examples:
- Keyword: “best gifts for”
- Formula: Best Gifts for [Whom], Best Gifts for [Persona]
- E.g.: Best Gifts for Friends
- Keyword: “gift ideas for”
- Formula: Gift Ideas for [Whom], [Occasion] Gift Ideas for [Whom]
- E.g.: Gift ideas for men
The common denominator? Think of the average title like the average bowl of oatmeal. It’s nothing special – just rolled oats in boiled water with a dash of cinnamon or, in our case, keywords in a formula with a persona. But it gives you just what you need.
Your next customer is scrolling through the SERPs, yawning. They scroll right past “10 Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Uncle,” “Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Teenage Boys,” and “Best Gift Ideas For Your Girlfriend.”
Why? Three reasons. One, these titles are boring, lost in a sea of similarities. Sure, there’s volume. But second, they don’t directly address your audience’s needs. Finally, they’re extra hard to rank for – without some pizzazz.
After all, you don’t really want an average bowl of oatmeal. You want bananas, chia seeds, and peanut butter in there, too. The gift-guide-headline equivalent? Long-tail keywords.
Shelley Marmor, owner of the travel blog Travel Mexico Solo says:
Niche down if you can.
Instead of ‘gifts for travelers,’ go for a long-tail keyword like ‘best Christmas gifts for travelers,’ or [even better] ‘best gifts for travelers who hate to fly.
We agree. Try using gift guide titles that demonstrate the problem you’re solving for shoppers, suggesting gifts by impact, profession, hobby, and budget. Here's a title example from Good House Keeping:
Title formulas that convert
Instead of the basic formula that uses just the “gift ideas” keywords…
Gift Ideas for [Whom]
Spice up your gift guide with…
[Number] [Adjective 1] [occasion] gift ideas [persona] [action]
Put it all together and….
- “10 Cheap Birthday Gift Ideas Your Best Friend Will Love”
- “5 Romantic Anniversary Gift Ideas to Seduce Your Girlfriend”
- “7 Thoughtful Retirement Gift Ideas Your Dad Will Actually Use”
Here are a few more specific formula combinations:
- Keyword: best gifts
- Formula: [adjective] best gifts [profession]; best gifts [age]; best gifts [hobby]
2. A concise intro
Remember, gift guides aren’t for musing or ranting. Your intro should be straight to the point yet inspiring.
Our advice? Appeal to your audience first, but position yourself as a friendly helper. Maybe you’re an expert, but communicate it lightly.
Buzzfeed masters the concise intro in this birthday gift guide with a friendly tone, sourcing info, and affiliate disclosure:
They continue that pattern of conciseness in their product reviews as well, with crisp title-descriptions:
Then, they seal the deal with a thoughtful CTA:
3. Use alternatives to product comparison tables
Gift shoppers don’t consider gift purchases as heavily as personal purchases.
A packed product comparison table won’t be as valuable here.
Instead, opt for a quicker overview of your gift guide with a short product outline.
You might summarize based on price, like New York magazine, The Strategist does here:
Still, the overview isn’t vital. Remember, gift guides are always shorter on copy, so you can get away with leaving this part out. Buzzfeed doesn’t include a product outline for a few of their guides, including this creative basket gift guide.
4. Short, effective individual product reviews
Remember, you’re not writing for your average niche enthusiast here. You’re writing for someone that wants to impress your niche enthusiast. They don’t have the same experience, so they don’t need as in-depth a product review.
All you’ll need to capture them is a few value-packed lines and a CTA. Here’s a loose outline:
- Gift product category (optional): Often presented as a heading.
- Product images: Big, high-resolution, and colorful.
- Product name: Smaller text format than product category, with anchored links.
- Product intro: Short and sweet.
- Description: Important features, who it’s best for, and quotes from happy customers.
- CTA buttons: Complete with affiliate links, sometimes combined with the product name.
Photos do the heavy sales lifting in gift guides.
Insider Intelligence reminds us that product photos are king when it comes to conversions. And when it comes to purchasing decisions, specifically? Even more so.
If you’re targeting US smartphone users (and who isn’t?), remember that 83% decide to buy products based on product photos. Plus, 60% of online shoppers aren’t satisfied with just one photo – they want three or four.
Marmor from Travel Mexico Solo has the right idea with her Mexico Gift Guide. We’ve got a crisp, concise product intro paired with not one but three high-res product photos and CTAs for each.
Source: Travel Mexico Solo “Best Mexico Gifts for All Occasions”
Here’s another fabulous product review on a water bottle gift guide, written by Nsisong Asanga, physician, freelance writing consultant, and founder of Dr. Cici Wordsmiths.
Check out the credible quote from Kaitlin Bitting – a Barre3 instructor and the perfect audience persona.
Asanga took the time to reach out to her network and audience roster to find never-published quotes to build credibility with the reader. Originality? Check. And she included a satisfyingly clear and color-saturated product photo too!
One thing we encourage: add a purchase link with a compelling CTA into the product name to sneak yet another opportunity to buy.
Shelly Marmor advises:
Use clear CTAs – make the link something like ‘Buy this awesome neck pillow for mom,’ instead of making the product’s name a link.
More people will click on a clear CTA.
Still, a strong verb is sufficient, too: BUY.
Marmor’s Mexico Gift Guide ranks #1 on Google as an evergreen guide, earning her revenue every month.
5. Buyer's guide
The buyer’s guide helps the reader make the most of your product roundup. It’s usually short – just a paragraph or two – with tips for using each product, insight into how you chose each item, price ranges, popular brands, and more.
But you may opt to skip the guide entirely (they’re not always needed if the rest of your piece is sufficient).
6. A conclusion to wrap up
Short and sweet is best, like everything else in this gift guide template. Your conclusion shouldn’t be more than a line or two long.
Some affiliates use the same conclusion for each gift guide, but these are more like a brand mark to highlight credibility:
In fact, some affiliate writers don’t bother with a conclusion at all:
How to create a gift guide for bloggers
Ready to start writing gift guides?
We love the enthusiasm! Here’s what to consider before diving in:
- Will your guide be holiday-themed or evergreen?
- What products will you feature?
- Who are you writing for?
Follow these easy steps to put your best gift guide forward.
1. Decide when your gift guide will be published and choose a type
Are you writing for the frantic Christmas or Valentine’s Day shopper? Then you’re writing a holiday gift guide.
But you won’t get far if you publish on the day of.
Make sure to post a few weeks before the date, so your audience can sift through and consider your gift guide recommendations. Google reports that nowadays, people take an average of nine days longer to decide on a purchase than they did in 2015.
Forbes has the right idea – they just published this Valentine’s Day gift guide over a month before the holiday date.
Then there’s the evergreen gift guide, which is relevant any time of year. You have tons of content ideas to choose from and can base gift guides on age, category, budget, trends, and much more. Just remember to update your evergreen gift guides regularly.
Marmor from Travel Mexico Solo recommends:
If you use Amazon, keep checking their Top 10 products to see what’s trending.
If there’s something with more or better ratings that makes sense in your post, replace it.
2. Know your audience
The product is for one person, but the gift guide is for another.
You probably have tons of research on your regular audience, but your gift guide caters to a new one altogether. That means you’ll not only have to impress them with your knowledge of the gift recipient’s interests – you’ll also have to cater to their own desires.
One psychology professor at the University of West Virginia tells the New York Times that it’s human to place the recipient’s needs second when buying gifts. Seriously? He elaborates that buyers tend to subconsciously give gifts that reflect their own likes and values.
But we’re not here to judge – we’re here to help you convert them.
Step one: write for the gift buyer. You can look to Square for insights on a few different gift-buyer types, including the ethical shopper, the big spender, the experiential shopper, and the procrastinator.
It’s not always easy to tell which shoppers will reach your gift guide. Our advice? Appeal to a few of them at once. We chatted with Jewel Elizabeth, Buzzfeed contributor and founder of fashion blog RentedThriftedReal. She shows us how it’s done with this sustainable fashion gift guide:
Here, she’s appealing to both the ethical shopper and the bargain hunter.
Next, she caters to the experiential buyer – a smart move in the growing minimalist movement. People sometimes prefer quality time and experiences with loved ones to physical gifts.
But she still keeps the big spender in mind with this sustainable spin on high-end designer handbags:
With such a diversified approach, we wondered how Elizabeth came up with her product list.
3. Choose a product list
How do you pick your products from the thousands available on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and everywhere else on the web?
Pick items that are niche-specific so your readers feel they’re catered to them.
She doesn’t just pick fashion finds on H&M or Amazon’s sites – she pores over endless fashion-forward gifts and experiences to stand out by always offering her audience something new.
Asanga from Dr. Cici Wordsmiths concurs on the importance of audience interest in selecting products. She goes a step further and advises you to ask for your audience’s input before writing.
It helps to get input directly from those your guide is for.
That’s why we always recommend a quote for each product review – your pictures speak volumes, but so do raw insights from people who have actually tried the product.
You can make open calls on social media or use response aggregators like HARO, Qwoted, Editorielle, etc.
Another qualifier? Reviews and high ratings. Elizabeth continues:
Try to pick products that have thousands of reviews, with four to five stars.
But what if your list is super niche, without too many online reviews or audience insights? Roll up your sleeves and try the product yourself.
You might leverage your existing partnerships to score a freebie or reach out to different brands to get a deal on a product in exchange for a feature. Post an unwrapping reveal on your social media channel, or film yourself using the product. But whatever you wind up writing, remember to keep it concise yet honest.
One last point – don’t fall into the trap of repetition. Seray Keskin, Product Marketing Manager at Drip, laments that brands often present gift guides by category and simply repeat product listing pages. Our gift guide template lays a foundation for your next unique and compelling gift guide.
4. Create a gift guide following our template
You have all the raw ingredients, and you’re ready to get cooking. It’s time to mix your curated product items, descriptions, and photos into a slammin’ gift guide.
Here’s an easy five-step gift guide template that’ll bring optimal engagement and results:
- Click-worthy title: Keep it fresh, please! But use keywords.
- Short and intriguing intro: Speak to your audience’s pain points and build credibility by channeling your inner helpful, trustworthy guide.
- Summary outline of products: Highlight the best product for each potential recipient or usage in a short, bulleted list.
- Product reviews: Keep it short, but include main features, genuine quotes, and drool-worthy visuals.
- Snappy conclusion: A quick summary or invitation to connect on social media.
5. Drive traffic to your gift guide
SEO and ads are a blogger’s bread and butter. We don’t have to tell you the importance of driving traffic to your gift guide.
But we will share some tips and tricks you might not have used before.
To start, here's what Elizabeth from RentedThriftedReal suggests:
Use keywords and Pinterest.
Simple advice, sure. But following it herself, Elizabeth has garnered serious engagement with her sustainable gift guide on Instagram and Google, increasing sales for three months straight.
Asanga agrees, recommending a robust on-page SEO strategy and using tools like Surfer. You can also leverage click-based tracking with Affilimate’s Conversion Heatmaps, which identify your revenue-generating affiliate marketing strategies.
Once you’ve done that? Here's Asanga's tip:
Distribute like crazy.
This is where your social media channels and link-building strategies can be great tools. If you have any partners, invite them to share your guides on their channels as well.
6. Optimize your gift guides after they’re published
You’ve published your first gift guide? Congrats! We’re swooning at your original audience insights, delectable photos, and carefully curated lists. But your work isn’t finished…yet.
You’ll need a robust optimization strategy to ensure your gift guides perform over time. That’s where Affilimate swoops in with an analytics suite specifically designed for you, the savvy affiliate marketer. We’ll help you make sense of your performance with custom reports, aggregated conversions, revenue attribution, and so much more.
If your gift guide brings conversions for one partner but no others, you’ll find out in real-time. If you notice weak revenue from one gift guide but sky-high customer spends on another, we’ll fill in the data blanks to help you figure out what’s going on.
The best part? Affilimate’s insights help you narrow down the products your readers love the most. With that intel, you’ll be able to fill your content calendar with even more useful dedicated product reviews.
Measuring performance is the best way to stay on top of your content, audience, and revenue.
You might want to bookmark this article so you can always stay ahead of the holidays, whether you need a Christmas gift guide template or an evergreen gift guide template.
With careful audience research, a message that resonates with different gift buyers, captivating visuals, and a thoughtful product roundup, conversions will pour in, regardless of the time of year.
Check out your favorite, high-traffic niche blogs for inspo on gift ideas to shower your audience with. And for that unique, original spin? Talk to your readers for their honest feedback, and try out some products yourself.
Ready to create and optimize gift guides that help your audience give year-round? We’ve got the data, dashboards, and strategy that help you focus on writing gift guides that convert. Affilimate’s dashboards bring all your conversions into one place, helping you make smarter, faster decisions about your target audiences. Sign up for a free trial today!