Pin & Win: Why Brands Should Invest In A Pinterest Strategy

Pin­ter­est lets your cus­tomers tell you which items are the most rel­e­vant and excit­ing to them.

Ken Burke By Ken Burke from MarketLive Inc.. Join the discussion » 0 comments

If you’re a retail brand seek­ing to boost your social media pres­ence and online rel­e­vance, you need to opti­mize your sites for Pin­ter­est users, invest in your own boards, and learn how to cap­i­tal­ize on the insights that Pinterest’s unique ana­lyt­ics offer about your prod­ucts. Pinterest’s visu­al book­mark­ing plat­form will only con­tin­ue to grow in influ­ence as more peo­ple dis­cov­er its unique capa­bil­i­ties for dis­cov­er­ing prod­ucts, styles, and ideas that are rel­e­vant to their lives.

It’s been two years since Pin­ter­est became the social media to watch.

Based on the con­cept of a bul­letin board, users, indi­vid­u­als, and com­pa­nies “pin” images to themed “pin­boards” they cre­ate, reflect­ing their own inter­ests, per­son­al­i­ties, and brand­ing. Since then the visu­al book­mark­ing site has explod­ed fetch­ing a recent val­u­a­tion of $5 bil­lion.

While Face­book con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate the social media land­scape, Pinterest’s unique visu­al book­mark­ing design and ana­lyt­ics cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties to boost your brand in ways Face­book can’t.

Accord­ing to the 2014 Dig­i­tal Mar­keter: Bench­mark and Trend Report by Exper­ian Mar­ket­ing, Pin­ter­est is the top social traf­fic dri­ver to retail web­sites with 30 bil­lion pins on 750 mil­lion boards. Twen­ty-three per­cent of users use it at least once a day, accord­ing to Dig­i­tal Insights. That’s a lot of eye­balls.

As more peo­ple use social media as dis­cov­ery plat­forms, some Inter­net-watch­ers think Pin­ter­est could become a seri­ous com­peti­tor to Google in search­ing for objects because peo­ple define what is rel­e­vant in a giv­en search, rather than a com­put­er algo­rithm. Search engines are great for answer­ing spe­cif­ic ques­tions. Pin­ter­est helps with ques­tions that have more than one right answer – and you will know you have found the right one when you see it.

Rather than an end­less news­feed of items your friends feel impor­tant, and atten­dant adver­tis­ing, users can col­lect visu­al con­tent and cat­e­go­rize it on their pro­files. Con­tent is then search­able, and can be re-shared and re-cat­e­go­rized, allow­ing for many vari­a­tions on your theme reach­ing dif­fer­ent niche pop­u­la­tions.

Optimize Your Site For Pinterest

When opti­miz­ing your site for Pin­ter­est, cov­er the basics like mak­ing con­tent on your own site pin-wor­thy, inte­grat­ing Pin­ter­est into your mar­ket­ing plan, and installing plu­g­ins and soft­ware to your web­site to make your prod­ucts easy to pin.

  • Pro­mote your Pin­ter­est pres­ence on your web­site and in emails.
  • Make sure cus­tomers can eas­i­ly pin items from inside your site.
  • Employ struc­tured markup to take advan­tage of Rich Pins which allow prod­uct infor­ma­tion such as price and stock-sta­tus to appear.
  • Encour­age com­mu­ni­ty and inter­ac­tion with con­tests and wish lists.
  • Cross-pro­mote with oth­er social media and all touch­points.

Next, cre­ate pin boards with cat­e­gories rel­e­vant to your prod­ucts, your brand, and the inter­ests of your tar­get cus­tomers.

Consider The Niche

Accord­ing to RJMet­rics, 92 per­cent of Pin­ter­est users are female and the site has an unprece­dent­ed user-reten­tion rate of 84 per­cent of users still active after four years. Social Media strate­gist Eka­te­ri­na Wal­ter esti­mates women now account for 85 per­cent of all con­sumer pur­chas­es, so this is a seg­ment you will want to invest in.

Pin­ning says ‘I want this.’ It’s aspi­ra­tional. Peo­ple pin prod­ucts they’d love to own, recipes they want to cook, and projects they want to tack­le,” said Robert J. Moore of RJ Met­rics.

Study the most pop­u­lar cat­e­gories and see how your brand fits. Look for ways to speak to the audi­ence already engaged there. Lowe’s has tak­en advan­tage of the DIY and home-relat­ed inter­est in Pin­ter­est boards to devel­op a fol­low­ing of almost 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple.

Build It And They Will Come

With Pinterest’s new­ly intro­duced Guid­ed Search, descrip­tive guides will allow users to scroll through and tap any that look inter­est­ing to steer their search in the right direc­tion. Now is the right time to cre­ate and beef up exist­ing theme-based pin boards. You can devel­op a strong brand pres­ence on Pin­ter­est by fea­tur­ing cre­ative and use­ful con­cepts that relate the feel­ing you’re try­ing to cre­ate with your brand as well as the prod­ucts them­selves.

REI has a board called The Gear­head which fea­tures not only prod­uct but amaz­ing places to use it with acknowl­edge­ments back to the orig­i­nal sources. This tag­ging helps to link back and cre­ate that all impor­tant social syn­er­gy of the like­mind­ed.

Aspiration And Inspiration

Make your boards more than just a prod­uct cat­a­log. You should repin con­tent found on sites oth­er than your own that your tar­get audi­ence would find inter­est­ing. This kind of atten­tion to your cus­tomers will pay off in reten­tion of engage­ment, build­ing your brand’s image, and cre­at­ing the com­mu­ni­ty that social media sites are all about.

Con­sumers appre­ci­ate the high­ly per­son­al and con­ver­sa­tion­al nature of social media sites, and they pre­fer inter­act­ing in an open dia­logue as opposed to receiv­ing a hard sell. Pin­ter­est can give you insight on where to focus your con­tent and effort as well as how you might shift brand mes­sag­ing as a whole.

It gives you a real time snap­shot into how are peo­ple per­ceiv­ing our prod­ucts, what oth­er things do they think go with our prod­ucts, And what does that tell us about how we should be think­ing about mes­sag­ing how we should be think­ing about pack­ag­ing and how we should be think­ing about mer­chan­dis­ing and its all in real time,” said Steve Patrizi, Pin­ter­est Head of Part­ner Mar­ket­ing.

Nord­strom, one of the most pop­u­lar Pin­ter­est retail­ers, with more than 4.4 mil­lion fol­low­ers, fea­tures prod­uct images, how-to’s, trends, wed­ding ideas, trav­el images and cat­a­log pre-releas­es among oth­er top­ics. Their invest­ment is deep and con­tent pro­lif­ic. They have sev­er­al off-prod­uct boards that help serve to keep the Nord­strom name cir­cu­lat­ing the vast Pin­ter­est uni­verse with repins.

Title Nine, a cloth­ier for women on the move, mix­es prod­uct with off-prod­uct top­ic boards like Book­shelf and Dif­fi­cult Women, to enter­tain their core cus­tomer base, as well as draw in those who would be aligned with their brand but may not know about them yet through repin­ning of this con­tent.

Once a pin is cre­at­ed, users are free to repin con­tent. Each time your brand’s con­tent gets repinned, it is shown in the news­feeds of all the Pin­ter­est users who fol­low the user who repinned your pin.

Mar­ketLive mer­chant Design With­in Reach (DWR) cre­at­ed a retreat-themed board that fea­tures both great places to reju­ve­nate and prod­ucts for sale that fit the cat­e­go­ry.

DWR has also cre­at­ed a cat­e­go­ry land­ing page, Back­yard Escape 101, on their web­site for prod­ucts fea­tured on the Pin­ter­est board that can help con­sumers cre­ate their own retreats. This is a great exam­ple of cross-sell­ing and an ide­al organ­ic result of a Guid­ed Search for “retreats.”

Be sure to link back to spe­cif­ic cat­e­go­ry or prod­uct pages from your Pins, not just the home page. Get cus­tomers as close to the pur­chase as you can.

Make the high­ly active niche Pin­ter­est user, your evan­ge­liz­er, and cus­tomer. Bring them con­tent out­side your usu­al brand pro­mo­tion mate­ri­als to help engage them in what your com­pa­ny is about. Then guide them through how your prod­ucts can help them find the lifestyle they seek.

Do The Math

Many com­pa­nies still aren’t track­ing social media’s impact and that’s a shame because we’ve come a long way from advertising’s dark ages when the best we could hope for was to bal­ance the alge­bra of the CPM with our mar­ket­ing bud­gets and look for trends in the spread­sheets months for­ward. With Pin­ter­est ROI doesn’t have to remain elu­sive. You are get­ting self-select­ed qual­i­fied buy­ers – they are already look­ing for what you are sell­ing and you can mea­sure how well you are doing at deliv­er­ing in real time.

A hand­ful of the met­rics you can track are the most pinned items from your web­site, the most repinned, num­ber of impres­sions, clicks, and total inter­ac­tions.

Repins are impor­tant because you real­ly see engage­ment. Look also at the board cat­e­gories the peo­ple are pin­ning your pins into to get an idea of what is inter­est­ing them about your con­tent. What else is in the cat­e­gories or boards, how are they linked to the items around them?

Every day, our cus­tomers are active­ly Pin­ning, sav­ing and shar­ing the prod­ucts they find most rel­e­vant in their lives…our cus­tomers are telling us, through their pins, which items are the most rel­e­vant and excit­ing,” said Bryan Gali­peau, Nord­strom social media man­ag­er.

Nord­strom uses insight gained from Pin­ter­est to inform mer­chan­dis­ing in its pin boards, its own web­site and in stores. Now, all 117 Nord­strom stores fea­ture Top Pinned signs on mer­chan­dise in women’s shoes and hand­bags, two of the most pinned cat­e­gories from

While there a num­ber of third-par­ty apps that can help you mea­sure your Pin­ter­est traf­fic as includ­ing Share­Root, Curalate, and Pin­Reach. Pin­ter­est has lis­tened to the buzz and is mak­ing improve­ments in the data pro­vid­ed in its native ana­lyt­ics tool.

You can see what peo­ple are pin­ning from your web­site and how they are cat­e­go­riz­ing your con­tent. This can help inform your mar­ket­ing cam­paigns and refine the way you mer­chan­dise.

In their updat­ed tool, you also can see how your own brand­ed boards and Pins from your Pin­ter­est pro­file are per­form­ing. Which Pins and boards are dri­ving the most impres­sions, clicks and repins? It’s being rolled out in phas­es, but you can get a pre­view at

You can also exper­i­ment with cre­at­ing pins with pro­mo codes and pin-spe­cif­ic calls to action. You can also hook Pin­ter­est up with your exist­ing Google Ana­lyt­ics. Pin­ter­est sup­ports UTM vari­ables, so you can get a view of your cam­paigns.

Has Pin­ter­est helped gen­er­ate sales for your brand? If you haven’t start­ed on Pin­ter­est yet, what’s hold­ing you back? Share your thoughts in the com­ments.

Ken Burke

Written by Ken Burke

Founder & CEO, MarketLive Inc.

Ken Burke is a recognized e-commerce industry pioneer and visionary. He founded MarketLive as Multimedia Live in 1995 with only $500 in start-up money. Under his guidance, MarketLive Inc. has grown into a leading Total Commerce solution provider. Inspired by strategies and business methods from the cataloging and direct marketing world, Burke masterminded the creation of the MarketLive Intelligent Selling System, MarketLive's enterprise-class e-commerce application designed to optimize all selling opportunities, build solid relationships with customers, and give merchants complete control over their online merchandising.

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