So you’ve been advertising your business on social media. Facebook? Firing on all cylinders Instagram? Been there, done that. Twitter? You tweet like a pro! LinkedIn? You write the sort of insightful posts your professional network loves.
There’s another social network that, statistically speaking, you’re probably not using: Only a quarter as many brands advertise on it as do on Facebook. If you’re not on it, you’re missing out on a platform that could be seriously driving awareness of your brand among a receptive, interested audience -- an audience that says they get more ideas of new things to buy here than they do on search engines or other social media networks.
That platform, which went public this week, is Pinterest.
(You were probably expecting that; if it were something else, the title of this article wouldn’t make any sense!)
Why Consider Pinterest Advertising?
For those not already familiar with Pinterest as a platform, it’s a visual-based social network more similar at a glance -- though very different under the hood -- to Instagram than it is to Facebook or Twitter. Users post images and videos (accompanied by links or descriptions), and can in turn search for similar posts, browse hashtags, or follow particular accounts.
What sets Pinterest apart from some of its contemporaries is its ability to save -- or “pin” -- a post you like to your own board. As a user, you can have multiple saved boards for your different interests. Taken together, this turns Pinterest from pure social network to something merged with a search engine and a wish list of sorts.
Your typical Pinterest users (called Pinners), for example, could have one board for healthy dinner recipes, one board for stylish furniture, one board for DIY home improvement, and one board for cute pictures of puppies and kittens, because of course they’re going to have a board for cute baby animals. Who wouldn’t?
The ability Pinterest users have to combine searches, general interests, and a prospective shopping list makes the platform uniquely good at driving conversions and sales leads. After all, Pinterest users are doing more than just browsing images of things they like -- many of them are actively planning what they’ll buy next when they’re doing so.
All of this combines to make Pinterest much more effective at getting people to visit your site than other social networks are: According to Pinterest statistics, a Pinterest user is 33% more likely to click through to your site from a post on their network than a Facebook user is. The difference is even greater for users of Snapchat and Twitter!
The downside, of course, is that Pinterest has a smaller user base than most of the other premier social networks. A whopping 2.7 billion people use Facebook every month and half a billion use Instagram, both of which well exceed Pinterest’s 250 million monthly users. Pinterest is also behind Twitter and Snapchat, with 321 and 301 million monthly users, respectively, but ahead of LinkedIn with its 106 million monthly users. So from a purely number-driven perspective, Pinterest does have fewer active users than its competitors. However, as marketers, we all know that it’s not the number of leads that matters, it’s the quality of leads -- if a million people see your ad but only 10 of them make a purchase, was it worth it?
Here’s where the true power of Pinterest lies -- its ability to drive sales. 90% of Pinterest users say the network helps them decide what to purchase, and over half have bought something after seeing it on Pinterest. So while your ads may not have quite as large a user base as they do on Facebook, you’ll be getting more bang for your buck and viewers more likely to click through to your products.
Who are those users, anyway? Pinterest has a reputation as a network with a user base that’s heavily female, and it’s not an unearned one -- 70% of its user base is women, though that gender gap is narrowing, and over half of all new Pinterest users are men.
Pinterest users tend to be younger, on average, and have more disposable income at hand, with a good chunk of Pinner households making more than $75k every year. They’re often looking to be inspired, and open to new experiences that they find on Pinterest. And while many of them are already at a more advanced stage in the buyer’s journey -- they know what they want and are looking for a solution -- they tend to be making generic searches that aren’t brand-specific.
All of these incredible Pinterest Ecommerce statistics combine for one heck of an obvious answer: You should be using Pinterest ads for your business!
Now, Pinterest isn’t necessarily for every product or service. Its nature means that it’s best suited for B2C marketers, particularly those offering tangible goods that lend themselves to the platform’s visual nature.
We’re not saying that a B2B company offering high-end cloud information services can’t advertise on Pinterest, of course -- it’s just that they might not see quite as high a ROI as a B2C Ecommerce business offering custom-made duvet covers might.
So, now that we know why you should be using Pinterest for business, now let’s look at how to advertise on Pinterest.
How to Advertise on Pinterest with Organic Posts
Perhaps the easiest -- certainly the most simple -- way to start advertising on Pinterest is to do it organically… that is, behaving like a normal Pinner might. Let’s not mince words: This will undoubtedly be less effective at driving awareness, clicks, and conversions than paid Pinterest advertising would be, but not everyone can fit Pinterest into their budget! If you’re a very small business or private seller, this may just be how you get started on your Pinterest journey.
The very first thing any business should do is to make sure that it has a Pinterest business account; if your business is already using a personal profile and you don’t want to lose your content or existing followers, Pinterest offers a way to convert personal accounts into business ones. This will give you access to Pinterest analytics and some important tools and options, like the keyword search tool -- more on that later.
It’s important to make sure that your Pinterest profile reflects your brand! If at all possible, try to maintain the same handle and logo or profile picture you use on other social sites. This will help create a more cohesive online identity for your business.
How to Smartly Use Pinterest Boards
Once your profile is all ready to go, it’s time to set up your boards. Pinterest supports both public and private boards, and lets you further divide boards by sections; consider what your users might want to see or what they might find particularly interesting in terms of content.
For example, let’s take Shannon’s Shoe Shop. Shannon is an entrepreneur who hand-paints shoes and then resells them. She’s currently selling her shoes through Etsy and doing this in her spare time, but dreams of being able to grow her business until she can do it as a full-time job.
Shannon might set up three initial boards -- for men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes -- and then have sub-sections for each individual type of shoe. When she’s all done creating her boards, they might look something like this:
Men’s Shoes: Athletic Shoes, Casual Shoes, Sandals
Women’s Shoes: Athletic Shoes, Flats, Heels
Children’s Shoes: Sneakers (the only type of kids’ shoe she sells).
This instantly helps guide prospective shoppers to the section of Shannon’s profile that they’re most interested in, and also, in turn, offers Shannon insight into what’s getting the most traction. If her women’s athletic shoes section is by far the most popular, then she can devote more time and energy to making more of those, ensuring that she’s focusing her efforts on making products that will sell.
Pinterest also lets users create private -- or, as Pinterest calls them, “secret” -- boards. These boards are only visible to anyone a user invites to see them, and clever Pinterest businesses can use these as a way to incentivize engagement. For instance, Shannon might offer behind-the-scenes photos to people who follow her social accounts, or have a secret board where she gives first dibs on new shoes to repeat customers. A restaurant could publish some recipes for its most popular dishes to customers who provide their online information. There are a ton of possibilities for you to get creative!
How to Optimize Pinterest Posts
We’ll go into the specifics of what makes a great, effective Pinterest post a little later, but there are some things to keep in mind when you’re starting to build your organic Pinterest advertising -- the sort of things that will make your post gain traction and do what you want, which is to drive awareness of and engagement with your brand.
- Pinterest is a very image-driven platform, of course! Consider how your post will look on a Pinner’s screen as they browse. A colorful image that grabs interest will make users more likely to engage with your post. Low-quality, blurry, or dull-looking images will mean that all your effort is likely to go to waste.
- Related to the above point, consider that the vast majority of Pinterest users are browsing their feed on their phone or other mobile device. Consider the sort of content that would appeal to a mobile user -- for instance, it’s wise to make sure that your images or videos are designed to look good in portrait orientation.
- Every Pinterest post has to have a destination link. You could always direct someone to the front page of your website, but that’s typically not very effective, especially if the post is for a specific product you sell. If Shannon’s post is about her new painted pumps, the post should link to where a person can buy those pumps! Link to the most relevant page possible so that users don’t become frustrated with your brand.
Use relevant keywords in the descriptionRemember that most Pinners search Pinterest like they would a typical search engine, and so your posts should use basic SEO best practices. Keep keywords short -- typically one to three words -- and don’t overuse them. Nothing turns off a prospective customer faster than clicking on a post to see an avalanche of hashtags in the description. For instance, our friend Shannon could post her next work of art with the hashtags #customshoes #shoeart #womenshoes.
Use the Pinterest Promoted Pins keyword helperEven if you’re not yet ready to spend actual money on promoted pins, one of the tools you have as a business on Pinterest is the tool that shows you what some of the most commonly searched keywords are in the area you’re looking to target.
You can use the Promoted Pins keyword tool for ideas to include in your organic posts, then come back when you’re ready to up your Pinterest game.
Speaking of which…
How to Make the Most of Pinterest Promoted Pins
You feel like you’ve gotten all the mileage you’re gonna get out of basic organic posts, and now you’re ready to up your game and start putting some money into your Pinterest advertising. Great! Let’s get started with how to use Pinterest for your business -- with paid posts.
Pinterest offers a powerful, versatile suite of tools for advertising on the Pinterest platform. When planning how best to use Pinterest ads, you should consider Pinterest’s three-level structure: Campaign, Ad Group, Promoted Pin.
- This is the highest level of your Pinterest advertising efforts -- it’s the big picture, where you focus on your overall objectives, like driving brand awareness, getting web visits, or increasing app installs.
- In many ways, this is the meat and potatoes of your Pinterest ads. Ad groups are where you set your budget -- with options for maximum spend on both daily and lifetime limits, your timing, and your target audience. Pinterest supports a versatile, robust array of targeting options based on things like demographics, location, interests, and more.
- This is the front end of your Pinterest advertising, and what other Pinners will actually see. For the most part, these work exactly like normal organic pins, except Promoted Pins note that they’re being promoted by a specific brand.
You can set up, monitor, and manage all of your Pinterest ads in the Ad Manager, so you can always have a decent idea of how your campaigns and Promoted Pins are performing.
There’s very good reason to use Promoted Pins in your business’ advertising: they work. According to Pinterest, fully 50% of all Pinners have made a purchase after seeing a Promoted Pin, and 2/3rds have discovered a new brand, service, or product they might not have otherwise known about thanks to a Promoted Pin. As a rule of thumb, every $1 spent on Pinterest Promoted Pins generates about $2 in revenue. What’s not to love?!
One critical element of how to use Pinterest for business is how you pay for getting your brand in front of customers. Like many pay-per-click campaigns, Pinterest runs on an auction system, where advertisers will place bids for desired actions like clicks or impressions. Certain actions have a higher minimum bid floor and certain areas are more expensive than others, so it’s important to think strategically about what will best benefit your business on Pinterest and spend your money accordingly.
When setting up your Promoted Pins, make sure you’re following Pinterest’s guidelines. Promoted Pins should be:
- Saved to your own profile
- Not saved to secret boards
- Have destination URLs
- Do not have link shorteners in the destination URL or description
- Not third-party videos or GIFs
Review and acceptance should be completed in under one business day, and then you’re off to the races!
Why You Should Focus on Keyword Targeting in Pinterest Advertising
It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that clever, skillful keyword targeting is the key to how to advertise on Pinterest. As previously mentioned, Pinterest offers a robust keyword manager tool to help you find the things that Pinterest users are actively searching for. When you enter the keywords that you want to target, Pinterest will show related searches with high volume to help you get some extra ideas.
It can be tempting to only target the most-searched keywords, but remember that Pinterest works on an auction/bid system, so these will likely also be the most competitive -- and most expensive -- options. Consider less-searched keywords that are still relevant to your customers, but will let you get in front of more eyes for less money out of your pocket.
Remember that when you use Pinterest Promoted Pins, you’re getting in front of an audience that’s already primed for the content -- or goods -- you’re offering. If someone searches “stylish modern furniture” or “men’s winter clothing,” they’re already primed for a purchase. Keeping your audience in mind and the things that they’ll be most likely to be searching for when they see your Promoted Pin is critical.
Remember to use A/B testing to find the best types of content and most effective keywords for your Pinterest ads; Pinterest offers a pretty robust set of analytics to track Promoted Pin performance, so you’ll never be flying blind.
What Are Buyable Pins and Promoted App Pins?
Pinterest users are already in a purchase-ready state of mind, and you can encourage them to act on that state of mind with Pinterest Buyable Pins. These are a special type of Promoted Pin that allows a Pinner to shop and buy an item without ever leaving Pinterest -- the Pinterest page itself is the point of sale.
This is an incredibly useful option in your toolbox, and can be excellent at increasing impulse purchases: A user sees your offering, is intrigued, checks the price, and pulls the trigger on buying it without ever having to leave what they’re doing. Eliminating extra steps is eliminating barriers between a would-be customer and an actual customer.
Promoted App Pins are similar, in that they’re designed to help a shopper make a quick decision. These are Promoted Pins that link directly to an app on Google Play or the App Store, which is especially nice since, as we mentioned before, most Pinterest users are on mobile devices.
For more on how to best use Pinterest Buyable Pins, check out our handy Buyable Pin guide!
What Are Some Best Practices for Pinterest Ad Posts?
Whether you’re using organic posts or paid Promoted Posts -- or, ideally, a combination of both -- there are a number of things you should keep in mind when creating the best post possible.
Avoid Using People
One idiosyncrasy of Pinterest advertising is that, contrary to typical marketing savvy, images with models or other people typically perform worse than posts without any human beings in them at all. Weird, right? If at all possible, avoid using human subjects in your images.
Use Videos… the Right Videos
Video content can be a great way to stand out and get a prospective customer to stop scrolling for a moment. However, if your video isn’t effective for the Pinterest format, you’re just wasting money.
- If your video takes too long to get to the point, the user will just keep scrolling. 30 seconds is a fairly decent benchmark; a video should almost never be longer than 90 seconds.
- You can’t assume that someone is in a position where they can listen to video content, and autoplaying videos typically start muted. Your video should be just as effective with the sound off as with it on -- including subtitles and easily-read text is a great way to accomplish this.
- If a user starts watching your video and it’s blurry, they’ll probably not think very much of your brand.
- As mentioned before, people typically browse Pinterest on a mobile device, and even a minor annoyance like turning their phone to properly orient a video can be offputting. Videos should look good in portrait mode -- or be square to ensure they’ll look fine no matter how a user is holding their device.
Use Branded Images
A Promoted Pin will have your brand’s name and logo on it. If a user pins your post to their own board, though, this branding is lost -- even more so if someone decides to take the image and spread it on the internet far beyond your ad campaign. Make sure that the images themselves are clearly identifiable as coming from your organization, no matter what it is, so that if someone reposts it? It’s free advertising for you.
Make Your Pins Pop With Color
A colorful image is more likely to make a user stop and take notice -- especially if it’s got more than one dominant color. Don’t be afraid to be vibrant!
(But don’t be garish. Hurting your audience’s eyes is a no-no.)
Include Content Your Audience Will Love
It’s one thing to just have a promoted pin that links to your store, but audiences like content that teaches them things. Infographics, how-to guides, recipes, explainers -- these are all excellent types of content that will get spread and shared and pinned. Hard sells aren’t necessarily bad, but soft sells can be very useful.
There you have it! If you’re an Ecommerce brand -- or brand of any type -- looking to embark on your Pinterest journey and you want to talk to an expert, contact SevenAtoms to learn about our Pinterest advertising expertise.