Many shoppers go online to research products and services before making a purchase. They are looking for information and recommendations from those in the know. If you want to increase awareness of your brand, and have shoppers buy from you instead of the competition, gift guides are a great way to go about it.

The goal of a gift guide is to simplify the research task for a shopper and narrow down the abundance of choices in the marketplace. For businesses, they offer a great return on investment, particularly during the holidays. Being promoted in a gift guide on a popular website can add credibility to your brand. More and more, people are valuing reviews from peers and making choices based on social influencers as opposed to traditional marketing.

Let's say your business sells skateboards. A parent who may not be aware of your brand decides to buy their child a skateboard, but wants to shop around to compare price, performance, and popularity. If you want yours to be the skateboard they choose, you want to make sure you are being talked about online.

Because gift guides are updated on a regular basis, you have many opportunities to be included. Guides are easily shared on social media, allowing you to reach even more potential customers. You can promote a variety of items, or test the response to new products and services. You might even work with a complementary business for the purpose of mutual promotion, if you both publish your own gift guides.

Take a look at each guide before you approach the publisher, and make sure it's a good fit for your product or service — for example, a website for skateboard enthusiasts that features a top-10 list of boards on the market, or a fitness organization that publishes a guide recommending durable types of sporting equipment.

When reaching out to potential promoters, keep your messages short and to-the-point. You can offer them samples of your product or services.  Once you've placed your offerings in a few guides, you can use metrics to keep tabs on which ones bring in the most traffic and sales for your business, and adjust accordingly.

Find more resources to help you increase your sales and manage relationships with your customers and the public.