A complete guide to driving store traffic and increasing sales with Pinterest
We hope our last post, How to Sell Apparel on Instagram in 2017, drove home the point that developing and abiding by a solid strategy can turn social media into incredibly powerful tools for driving store traffic and increasing sales. And it certainly holds true beyond the realms of Instagram. Another heavily visual platform with plenty of promise for ecommerce businesses is Pinterest.
Originally a wishlist-like platform, Pinterest has grown into an inspiration and shopping destination for many of its 150 million monthly active users (Pinterest, 2016) – users who are not so easily acquired by quick hacks or spammy tactics.
Effectively marketing on this social platform will require more than pinning every item from your store. Let's go over how to sell apparel on Pinterest.
1. CREATE OR CONVERT YOUR ACCOUNT
One of Pinterest's major strengths is the suite of marketing features available to Business Accounts. What exactly is in the toolbox?
Pinterest Analytics – Thanks to rich tracking information, you can determine which pieces of content from your profile and your website jive with your audience and what that audience looks like.
Promoted Pins – Pinterest's version of paid ads, they look like native pins but show up more frequently in relevant search results and feeds. Promoted Pins are current only available to US, CA, or UK-based business accounts.
Rich Pins – There are 6 types of Rich Pins – app, movie, recipe, article, product, and place – all of which provide additional information within the pin itself. Instead of manual input, Rich Pins will help you automatically pull information such as the price and availability of a specific item from your store.
Newsletter – Get business-oriented Pinterest news and updates straight from the horse's mouth.
Pinterest designed these tools specifically to help businesses maximize the platform's marketing effectiveness. For this reason, we encourage you to create a Business Account. If you have an existing Personal Account you'd still like to use, Pinterest also allows you to convert to a Business Account.
2. CREATE A PIN
Similar to creating content for any other channel, successful marketing on Pinterest will require you to understand two things: the kind of content your target user wants to see and how to ensure the content you've created gets seen.
KNOW WHAT YOUR AUDIENCE WANTS
A study conducted at The University of Minnesota examined 32,200 Pinterest profiles and analyzed the distribution of their pinning activity based on category and gender.
The X-axis shows the 33 Pinterest categories, and the Y-axis shows the relative proportion of each topic within gender.
You can read the full paper here.
Going by the chart, you may be tempted to zero in on the most popular categories. However, your first concern should be relevancy and then popularity. If your brand has nothing to do with food and drinks, then avoid dedicating a board to summer cocktails.
OPTIMIZE YOUR PINS FOR SEARCH
Pinterest functions as part visual search engine for many users and part actual search engine for others. Therefore, if you don't create easily searchable content, then you may very well not create content at all.
Follow these guidelines to increase the likelihood that your pin reaches its target.
Image Size – All pins are 736px wide with an unlimited height. While tall images do perform better, be mindful that the length of your image doesn't become overwhelming.
High-res – Avoid using stock photos as much as possible, and use original high quality images instead. Your images should not pixelate in the expanded view.
Light and Bright – Light images are re-pinned 20x more than dark images.
SEO for Pinterest search is much more straightforward than bigger Internet search engines – think "relevant keywords."
Step 1: Use Google's Keyword Planner to find keywords related to your business and pins
Step 2: Include these keywords in your pin's image file name.
Step 3: Use these keywords when writing your pin descriptions. However, as a general SEO rule, avoid sounding "keyword-y." Your description should still flow naturally even with the keywords included.
3. GET VIEWS AND RE-PINS
We've only grazed the surface by creating great visual content. Next, we need to focus on increasing views and shares.
CONNECT OTHER SOCIAL ACCOUNTS
Gaining new followers organically for any social media channel is undeniably a tough task. Luckily, you can connect existing social accounts to your new Pinterest for Business account.
Connecting your social accounts not only helps grow your Pinterest following, but it also bridges your distribution channels to get your content shared more easily and more frequently.
- Head over to "Account Settings"
- From the menu, click "Social Networks"
- Add your Twitter and Facebook accounts
TIME YOUR PINS
A single "best time to pin" does not exist because it heavily depends on your target audience. For example, the optimal time to grab the attention of fitness fanatics in California will vary greatly from a dedicated homemaker residing in Vermont. The only sure way to confirm this information is to consistently test your pinning schedule.
USE A CALL-TO-ACTION
Even though your pin has a link, it doesn't hurt to remind your audience to take action. In fact, pins with CTAs get 80% more engagement (BrandonGaille, 2013).
4. GAIN NEW FOLLOWERS
Connecting your other social media accounts will help increase your follower count to some degree, but this should not be your primary means of gaining followers. The value in Pinterest is to tap into a new stream of followers who have a higher tendency to purchase and the purchasing power to buy more.
In the study from the University of Minnesota we'd referenced above, researchers found three factors largely influenced whether a Pinterest user will follow you or not.
And they are:
- How many accounts you follow/how many accounts follow you
- Your number of pins
- Your number of boards
In order to turn your account into a follower magnet, you'll need to commit to the improvement and maintenance of these three factors.
FIND FRIENDS FROM OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKS
Reach for low-hanging fruit first and connect with your friends from the other social media accounts you've linked.
- Click on your business name in the top right corner of the screen.
- In the dropdown menu that appears, click on "Find Friends."
- Choose the social networks you’ve connected to find friends, then follow them.
You'll likely get more follow-backs here because you already have a relationship with these people beyond Pinterest.
Similar to "the best time to post," there's no definitive number of times you should post per day. Case studies from numerous sources have found success in frequencies ranging from 5 to 30 posts per day. The optimal number for your account will heavily depend on your target audience's level of activity. Start at 5 posts spread throughout the course of the day and gradually increase until you reach 30. Which frequency seems to earn the highest engagement, shares, and traffic?
With a posting schedule of 5 to 30 pieces of content per day, Pinterest can sound like a big time commitment. Don't let the numbers scare you because the majority of your pins do not have to be original content. There's content everywhere that can make up a good portion of your posts – just make sure the content is relevant and you've credited the correct sources.
Successful social media for brands is ironically less about the brand and more about catering to consumers. Take a page out of their book and provide others with a reason to engage with you by proactively engaging with them first. Beyond responding to your followers' comments and questions, you need to proactively re-pin their pins, like their pins, and participate in the community.
PROVIDE MEANINGFUL RESPONSES
Don't be bland and post generic comments such as "nice pin" or "this is great" on every post. Pinterest users know what you're up and you'll end up wasting your own time. Instead, leave thoughtful comments that demonstrate your interest and knowledge on the subject.
Note: There is such a thing as too much commenting. Pinterest considers commenting too often spamming and it can lead to the suspension of your account. Limit your thoughtful responses to 2 or 3 times per day.
GO WHERE THE POPULAR PINS ARE
The Popular section on Pinterest houses top performing pins based on the combination of re-pins, likes, and comments. It's also the section that will offer you the most insight into successful Pinterest strategy, so find popular boards that are relevant to your business and start taking notes.
A portion of your thoughtful comments should go to the pins in the section. Again, make sure the pins you comment on are relevant to your business. This virtually acts as free advertising because your brand name becomes exposed to the people who follow those boards.
CONTRIBUTE TO OTHERS' BOARDS
Dedicate time to building relationships with owners of popular group boards or the board's other contributors, and then request an invite to be a contributor yourself.
If you can contribute quality content, the board's followers will likely become your followers too.
On the flip side, you can create your own board and invite your followers or popular accounts to contribute. We don't recommend this method until you have some clout to your Pinterest name.
COLLABORATE WITH INFLUENCERS
Pinterest has its influencers too, and it's exposure to these influencers' followers that can really boost your Pinterest reputation.
Start with baby steps by following their boards, re-pinning their pins, and leaving thoughtful comments to their content. Slowly build familiarity to indicate your interest in their specialty and ideas before initiating a collaboration.
There are several ways you can work with Pinterest influencers.
- Invite them to contribute to one of your boards.
- Once you've proven your level of expertise, offer to contribute to one of their boards.
- Show that you pay attention by offering ideas for their boards.
5. PROMOTE YOUR BRAND
Pinterest is an additional channel to pump new prospects into your sales funnel. In order to keep that funnel consistently topped off, you'll need to make a habit of best practices that will contribute to the growth and promotion of your brand over the long term.
GET RICH PINS
Rich Pins, as the name implies, enriches your ordinary pins with valuable real-time information – automatically.
Pinterest current offers 6 different types of Rich Pins – app, movie, recipe, article, product, and place – each offering its own set of features aimed at boosting engagement and direct traffic to your site.
Specifically for ecommerce business owners, we recommend making good use of the product pin and, if you've been keen on blog content creation, the article pin. Check out what they look like in action:
Image Source: Pinterest
This product pin by Urban Outfitters features an official link to the store’s site, updated pricing, and a detailed description.
To see a complete list of metadata for product pins, please click here.
Image Source: Pinterest
This article pin from CNN comes with a prominent title, a branded logo, a brief description, and a call-to-action.
To see a complete list of metadata available for article pins, please click here
How to Set up Rich Pins
Because Rich Pins display metadata from pages on your website, you may need a hand from your web developer to edit its contents.
Step 1: Decide on which pin(s) you want.
Step 2: Find your pin from the menu on the left and determine which meta tags you need to add to your website.
Step 3: Choose any page on your site that you've added the appropriate metadata to and go here.
Step 4: Enter your chosen URL into the validator form field and hit "Validate."
Step 5: Correct any mistake you see through your site.
Step 6: Select 1 of 3 options below based on how your webpage was marked up:
- HTML Tags, if you used Open Graph or Schema.org formats.
- oEmbed, if you used oEmbed format.
- Shopify, if you have a Shopify site.
Step 7: Click "Apply Now." Your Rich Pins will populate within the hour.
Note: You only need to validate and apply for one link per domain.
ADD VARIETY TO YOUR CONTENT
The content you distribute or share on any social media channel acts as an extension of your brand. However, that doesn't mean you should feel restricted to using one style or one format of content. And most of all, please refrain from posting only product images. Pinterest users congregate for interesting and inspiring content. It's your job to deliver. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Gifs – Short and sweet, gifs contain dynamic content that’s rich in meaning and rarely considered spammy. They're the essence of a good CTA.
Lists – We are so consistently bombarded with information that we've become accustomed to skimming or skipping information altogether. Lists are perfectly designed to accommodate the modern attention span – they're short, precise, and easy to read.
Guides or Recipes – These references strip lengthy explanations down to fundamental instructions that help readers better understand the subject matter.
Memes – Funny always wins, but it's also difficult to get "funny" right. Get honest feedback from a friend or family member before you post.
LINK YOUR PINS
Rich Pins automatically offer valuable information, but adding a variety of content means not every pin you publish will be a Rich Pin. And that's ok.
Normal pins still offer an important piece of information: a link to your site.
PRIORITIZE POPULAR BOARDS
As you accumulate pins into boards, move better performing boards to the top of your page. This way, you increase the likelihood of converting and acquiring users who are visiting your page for the first time.
6. TRACK AND OPTIMIZE
Image Source: Pinterest
Pinterest Analytics provides insight into the performance of your campaign and the audience engaging with it. The conclusions you draw from this information will help you improve content, engagement, and conversion.
Here are a few questions this feature will help answer:
- Which of your pins and boards do people love the most?
- How does your target user compare to your actual Pinterest audience (i.e. gender, location, interests, etc.)?
- What kind of devices are users on when they pin your content?
- For more information on the analytics data available, check out this Pinterest Analytics guide.
7. BONUS: ADVERTISE ON PINTEREST
Image Source: Pinterest
We have 3 reasons for keeping Pinterest ads as a bonus step:
Pinterest ads are currently only available to businesses in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
You can only promote existing pins. It would be a waste of your marketing budget to immediately upload and promote new content. By holding off, you can access the best type of content to target at the best type of user.
Runnings ads on Pinterest is a short-term fix to an acquisition challenge that requires a long-term answer i.e. growing and engaging with the Pinterest community. If you choose to run Pinterest ads, we recommend using it to complement a strategic approach.
DETERMINE YOUR GOAL
Pinterest ads, or Promoted Pins, are native ad units i.e. regular-looking pins that you pay to have displayed to more people. Pinterest offers 3 types of ad campaigns to support your business goals.
Raise brand awareness by getting your business in front of new users. You pay on a CPM basis.
Boost engagement with your pins by reaching users with higher intent and probability for interaction. You pay on a CPE (cost per engagement) basis, where "engagement" is defined as: a closeup, repin, or click.
Drive traffic from your promoted pins directly to your website. Traffic campaigns are PPC (pay per click) ads.
Setup for all three types of campaigns follow the same steps.
Step 1: Choose a Campaign Goal
Head over to ads.pinterest.com to select 1 of 3 campaign goals, and name your new campaign.
Step 2: Pick a Pin
As we mentioned earlier, you can only promote existing pins. To ensure your money is well spent, pick pins that have performed well for your intended goal.
Pinterest offers filters where you can quickly view your most clicked and most repinned posts from the last 30 days.
Step 3: Pick Your Audience
In addition to choosing your audience, this is also the time to determine where you will send users who click on your ad. We recommend customizing a landing page that matches the contents of your promoted pin.
For audience targeting, you can opt for a general approach based on user interests and keywords. Interests are restricted to a set list, and keywords are provided through Pinterest recommendations or manual upload.
Alternatively, you can get more specific by targeting existing customers, people who have visited your site before, or users whose profiles match those of users already interacting with your Pinterest content.
Additionally, you have the option to target by location, language, device, and gender.
Step 4: Pay for Results
Next, enter the maximum amount that you're willing to pay per action taken on your ad. Pinterest will automatically let you know if your bid is competitive and good to go or if it's too low.
Remember, if your bid off wins, you won't necessarily have to pay that amount. You will only have to pay the amount that beats the next highest bidder.
Review your information. If everything looks good, click "Next" to submit your ad for review (24 hours). During that time, submit or update your payment information so that you're good to go as soon as your Promoted Pin gets approved.
Step 5: Track What's Working
To set up conversion tracking, go to the Ads menu on your profile. Select the conversions you'd like to track such as page visits, sign-ups, purchases, etc. Copy and paste the code generated into the body of page you want to track.
ABIDE BY BEST PRACTICES
Pinterest makes more money when your ads work – it's within their best interests to help you. Having said that, go through Pinterest's Advertising Standards to ensure you're setting your ads up for success. Some key points to definitely note are:
- Be authentic and honest.
- Create high-quality and interesting content that elicits action.
- Avoid sensitive topics
Pinterest is an ecommerce goldmine filled with people looking for things to learn, do, or buy. If you stick with the plan we've outlined here, your Pinterest account and opportunities will undoubtedly develop for the better.