When people search for Christmas gift ideas and how marketers can get in on the action

Christmas gift lists

People searching for inspiration are a potentially valuable channel for retail marketers

It’s not always possible to know exactly what to get everybody for Christmas. Yes, you may know that dad wants an electric drill and that a particularly fussy uncle has said exactly what he wants, but for the most part it requires an element of research, brainstorming and – in the online world – searching, to find the right gifts for everybody.

In the run up to Christmas retail marketers are falling over themselves to get their products front of mind. From gardening to gaming, competition is high to get products seen.

When people are searching for inspiration they search for generic gift ideas, knowing that the search results will produce plenty of ideas for them. In November and December of 2013, over seven million individual searches were made for terms like ‘Christmas gift ideas’ in Google alone. *

The graphs below use data from Experian’s Hitwise platform
to show the volume of searches in the run up to Christmas for ‘Christmas ideas’, ‘Christmas wishlist’, ‘Christmas gifts’ and other relevant keywords (Hitwise creates groups of relevant keywords together). Included are the results for 2011, 2012 and last year (2013). The volume is displayed as a percentage of all
search traffic – so even small increases count for a lot of users.

Christmas gift searches - Experian

Searches for gift inspiration have traditionally peaked the first weekend in December

As you can see search volume has historically steadily increased in the run up to Christmas, picking up pace at the end of October and the beginning of November, before peaking after the first week of December.

Taking a closer look at last year’s results in more detail (graph below) we can see that search volumes started to increase at the end of October and peaked on December 7.

Christmas Gift searches 2013

A closer look at 2013 searches for Christmas gift ideas


How can marketers capitalise?

Knowing when people are searching for these terms allows marketers to plan their campaigns accordingly. But what can marketers do to get in on the action?

Create your own Christmas wish list – creating a Christmas wish list depends on your product range – if you only sell a limited range of items you are not going to be able to draw up a sufficient range of items. Don’t panic, you could just as easily refine lists to target more specific searches depending on your product range and your target audience. Try Dad’s Christmas list or Christmas lists for Mums or young adults, boys, girls, gardeners – the list goes on…

Use pay per click (PPC) – using a Christmas list landing page and bidding on these keywords, or more specific variations (see point above) will enable you to get a slice of this traffic. Using the data from the above graphs it is possible to see when the largest search volumes are up for grabs. However, competition will be high so make sure your conversion and content is up to scratch as each click could be quite expensive.

Use social media advertising – if people are searching for terms in search engines it is worth considering either promoting your gift lists in social media (using promoted posts) or running a more straightforward social media advertising campaign targeting your audience for those keywords. This will refine the recipients further.

Co-operate with other brands to create a more thorough wishlist and promote that between you.

Go organic – if you have a particularly strong website with a strong presence in the search results it may be worth making a concerted effort to get certain pieces of content ranking for the keywords in and around the times of the top search volumes. Remember you don’t necessarily need to be ranked at number one to get seen as the effects of personalisation and search history will come into effect and customers who have visited your site before are more likely to be shown your lists.

However, just remember that it can take the search engines a number of weeks to fully index new content – especially if you run a particularly large and complex site – so make sure your content is live and indexed well in advance of the target period.

The key takeaway form this article is the knowledge that the window for searches for Christmas gift ideas starts at the end of October and peaks at the beginning of December. In order to capitalise on this knowledge you should plan accordingly.

However, having a better understanding of your customers will allow you to refine your marketing to maximise returns and bolster customer loyalty. If you are thinking of using PPC to target Christmas shoppers then using more specific search words for individuals who fit your customer profile is sensible. Even if you accept that these clicks will cost your more they are customers who are more likely to want to purchase from you.

Read Experian’s predictions for Christmas 2014 here.

Keyword analysis is just one example of the in depth of analysis possible with Experian’s Hitwise platform. Hitwise empowers users to carry out detailed competitor studies, see where traffic is coming from and where it goes.

Experian Marketing Services helps bring brands and customers closer together through detailed consumer insights and cross-channel marketing solutions.

*According to Google Adwords there were 7,706,060 searches for ‘Christmas gift ideas’ and similar keywords in November and December 2013.