Pinterest. For some, this is a social media site dedicated to collecting wedding gown photographs, DIY craft instructions, and guidelines for making the very best Christmas cookies. Described as a “visual discovery” storage tool, the site popped up around the same time as other visual sharing services like Instagram (each launched in 2010).
Pinterest works well as a digital push board for storing ideas to share later. However, the social sharing aspect of the service also makes it great for generating eCommerce traffic. In fact, here are 15 tried and tested strategies for generating more traffic for your online storefront, all with the aid of Pinterest.
Why Pinterest in the First Place?
There’s only so much time in a day for you, your marketing department and your social media team to focus on all the different service providers out there. From Google+ to Twitter, Facebook to LinkedIn, there is no shortage of social media accounts available for you to try out. So why should you divert time to Pinterest?
The real question should be, why should you spend time away from Pinterest on other social media accounts.
According to a recent survey conducted by Gigya (Media Post, 2013), Pinterest generated 41% of all eCommerce social shares. Facebook, on the other hand, accounted for 37%, while Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn combined accounted for just 20%.
Visual-based social media services allow you to connect with consumers using your products, instead of relying on links, text and quick bursts of information. So, remember, if you’re just starting out with Pinterest as a traffic generating opportunity for your eCommerce site, you stand to potentially gain over 40% more social shares.
That is why you need to use Pinterest in the first place.
1) Posting Source is Critical
You probably do a great deal of work for your business on a single computer. From images to product descriptions, you likely store everything on one system. However, don’t fall into the trap of posting to Pinterest from your computer.
What’s the problem with posting directly from your hard drive? It’s the same picture, after all, right? Well, yes, but the problem here is you’re doing your eCommerce site a disservice by not including a link.
Have you ever seen a great piece of clothing, camping tent or really anything else on Pinterest, only to have no clue where to purchase it? It’s pretty frustrating. It’s also what happens when someone posts from their computer and not from their website.
Sharing a post from your website to Pinterest creates a link sending interested customers back to your eCommerce page. This way, instead of someone having no clue where to buy your goods, they just select your pinned image and are instantly transported back to your site.
The real beauty of posting from a website and not from your computer is when another user shares your pin onto their own board, this new pin also includes your link, giving you limitless sharing potential. So, don’t fall into the trap of just posting images from the work computer. Doing so instantly neuters your ability to make sales generated in Pinterest.
2) A Check Mark is a Good Mark
Check marks on social media accounts tend to be good. When you see a check mark next to a Facebook profile or a Twitter handle, you know the user is verified. These checks are also (especially with regards to Twitter) a bit difficult to obtain.
Pinterest also offers out a check mark. But what exactly does this mark mean and do? It instantly tells users the images provided are directly pinned from your eCommerce website and not from a third party. This way, a viewer knows if they select you’re pinned image, the option of traveling to your website to purchase the product is available.
Verifying your Pinterest account also gives you access to Pinterest Analytics. While not as in-depth as the Google variation, Pinterest Analytics does provide helpful insights into where clicks originate, if they travel to your website from these clicks and a host of other beneficial data to help build your Pinterest account.
3) Board Names Are Important
When using Pinterest, a board functions in a similar manner to a folder on your computer. You’ll pin similar visual content to the same board, making it easier to see all the connected information. While the visuals draw the attention of a prospective customer interested in buying what the images depict, pay extra close attention to the name of the board itself.
While in Pinterest, users have the ability to search for both individual images and created boards. Due to this, titling a board using very specific keywords helps all pinned content stand out from the millions of other images posted to the social media service.
The beauty of Pinterest is you don’t have a limit to the number of boards you create or how many boards you pin the single image to. With this in mind, create very specific boards with specific keywords. If it helps, think of Pinterest as just a fancy search engine (essentially, that’s exactly what it is).
For example, a company selling model toy cars can have specialized boards including “die-cast model cars,” “plastic model toy cars,” “Chevy Classic model toy cars” and so on. Keyword utilization within board names helps generate more traffic to an entire board.
4) Pin Descriptions Help Boost Re-Pins
With Pinterest, as is the case with most other social media accounts, you want to boost your likes and shares. This increases visibility and helps connect your products to a greater audience.
The optimal length for your pin description to maximize re-pin potential sits at 200 characters, according to social media scientist Dan Zarrella (Marketing Land, 2015). Think of it as about the length of a tweet (only without abbreviations).
Pinterest does support hashtags, but, it isn’t necessary as the search feature scans keywords included in pin descriptions, similar to a search engine. This more or less renders hashtags unnecessary. Instead, focus on an in-depth, specific description of your board.
The description should provide context to the board. Maybe it is the fabric your clothing is made out of, or the season certain decorations are best for. The description provides additional information the board title doesn’t have room for.
5) Take Advantage of Rich Pins
In the early days of Pinterest, the company used a single kind of pin. Now, however, it has expanded in order to provide “rich pins.” While not as necessary for the average user, as a business owner, you need to take advantage of rich pins in order to maximize your Pinterest traffic.
Rich Pins are broken down into six different types and include product, recipe, application, place, article, and movie.
As an online business, there are several benefits to using these rich pins. For starters, the product pins provide additional information as it highlights what website the images come from in addition to price and availability.
The product rich pin also provides a direct “Visit Site” link at the top of the image listing, as well as a handful of different social share features (Facebook and email are the two most popular social share options).
You will need to apply for rich pin capability through Pinterest (remember to verify your account with the service, as mentioned earlier), but once the site confirms the authenticity of the website, the rich pin feature becomes enabled.
6) Put Your Customers to Work
Is there anything better than free labor? There might be laws preventing you from bringing employees in without a promise of payment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t extract a bit of work from your customers.
So how exactly can you put your customers to work? Give them the ability to share your products. Every time a customer shares a product or service your eCommerce business provided, it functions as free advertising. This is why you need to take advantage of social sharing options built into your website.
Copying and pasting a URL from your page takes time and dedication. Most customers will not seek out your URL to do this. However, if you make it a one-click option, more customers will take advantage of the feature.
By taking advantage of a “Pin It” button feature on your website, a Pinterest pin icon appears above images of products on your site. When a (potential) customer clicks on the pin, it ads your product to their board. This works not only as a product reminder, but it shares your content with others who may not have come across it yet.
7) Make it Personal But Keep it Anonymous
Social media is all about connecting with your customers. It allows you to develop a much more personal relationship with clients. Due to this, you might want to show off your face or include pictures of models in your Pinterest posts. Don’t.
So why should you avoid images with faces? According to Curalate, pictures without faces actually are re-pinned 23% more of the time over images with faces (Shopify, 2017).
This doesn’t mean you need to crop all of your images whenever posting. You can use pictures with the back of heads or of other areas of the body. Just avoid using an actual face.
What’s the deal with using faces? There are several answers to this. For starters, when a person’s face appears in an image, a viewer instantly looks to the face and not the item in question. Secondly, people like to visualize themselves with the product, so seeing someone else’s face makes visualization difficult.
When selling a home, real estate agents have sellers remove family photographs from the house. This makes it easier for a potential buyer to see themselves in the house, and not another family. So interact with customers and make it personal, but keep the images anonymous to help percolate a person’s ability to see themselves in your image.
8) What to Look For In Your Pictures
Long before you post pictures to Pinterest you need to consider what you’re taking pictures of and how it looks. These images represent your products and should consist of the highest quality. However, on Pinterest, there are certain characteristics that help boost not only visibility but also how frequently other users re-pin the content.
For starters, consider the size of the image. Realistically you need to shoot for a pin with a width of 736 pixels. This is the largest display size option available on Pinterest. Additionally, according to Dan Zarrella, author of “The Social Media Marketing Book,” the size of an image directly affects how often it is re-pinned. Additionally, taller images are more likely to be repined rather than wider images. So, when choosing what image to use for your Pinterest pin, always default to the vertical image.
Color also plays an important role in your image. Images using several, vibrant colors are re-pinned 3.25 more often than images with only one dominant color (Curalate, 2017).
So let’s say something you’re selling only has one major color. What then? Well, you need to focus on the actual color itself. Perhaps you sell a particular t-shirt in several colors. Opt for images where red dominates the picture. Pictures with a brighter red or orange color are re-pinned nearly 2-1 versus blue or light green images.
9) Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak
You might be selling a product, but don’t just show an image and that’s it. Customers don’t just want a picture of a tent or a computer. They know what a tent or a computer looks like. Instead, you need to sell the lifestyle.
The outdoors company REI does this exceptionally well. Instead of showing off a mountain bike and offering bullet-point specs, it shows the bike in action, tearing up mountain terrain or on the back of a car, driving through the desert. These visuals show a customer what they can do with the product when should they decide to buy it. Sure, most people are not going to buy a snowboard and then head out to the Swiss Alps, but it’s always a possibility. That’s what you’re selling.
Images are worth a thousand words, so instead of writing about a lifestyle, show them the lifestyle in your images. The beauty of Pinterest is you can create a complete lifestyle using a collection of images on individual boards. Have each image feed off the next and assist the pictures that came before it.
10) What a Girl Wants
Anyone has the ability to open up a Pinterest account. However, that doesn’t change the fact that most users are female. According to Forbes (2014), nearly 95% of all pins made on Pinterest are done by women.
Guys just don’t generally use the website. 94% of all activity on Pinterest is carried out by women. On top of this, 50% of all men abandon their Pinterest accounts within a four-year span. For women, only 16% of women abandon their accounts during the same time period.
With women making up the vast majority of active users, all posts should push towards a female audience.
11) Everyone Loves a Contest
There’s something about offering customers the chance at winning free goodies that really motivates them to take action. Chances are, you’ve gone out of your way to partake in a contest previously. It’s why radio stations offer $1,000 call-ins or why McDonald’s uses its popular Monopoly game over and over again. Running a successful contest has the ability to dramatically increase traffic and sales.
Just how much can a successful contest help your business? Overstock.com experienced a 1000% increase in referrals thanks to a contest it ran on Pinterest while Jetsetter saw an increase in sales through Pinterest traffic by over 150% (Mashable, 2012).
There are a handful of contest ideas designed to boost interaction and improve sales. The kind of contest does depend on the current size of your Pinterest following though. You don’t want to promise a $1,000 giveaway if only 10 people follow your account. So keep in mind your current audience base when customizing the contest.
Simple contests include asking individuals to re-post certain images. The more they re-post the more chances of winning. Forever 21 regularly has followers create full boards full of posts from the company’s profile. The contest does typically include a $1,000 gift card, so the higher incentive helps boost customer interaction.
However, make sure not ask too much for what you’re giving away. Forever 21 offering the chance of winning a $1,000 gift card is one thing. However, if the company offered just $5 gift cards for all the work, most followers would likely avoid the contest due to too much work and not enough value.
12) Guest Blog Guest Pinner
As an eCommerce company, you know the importance of having a blog (if you haven’t started a blog yet for your company you need to start right away). Bringing in a guest blogger helps diversify your company exposure and connect you with new individuals. You should consider doing something similar in the form of a guest pinner.
Taking advantage of a guest pinner, much like guest blogging, brings in additional attention to your account from outside consumers. Companies such as Martha Stewart Living and Williams Sonoma regularly take advantage of this.
The great thing about guest pinners is they do not need to necessarily write a full-page blog post. There are some out there who simply don’t have enough time to devote to writing a blog post. However, selecting out their favorite products and pins takes less time (not to mention they might enjoy it more).
Using varying guest pinners can bring about varying results. Naturally, if Oprah guest pins your Pinterest profile (congrats are in order if you could manage that) you’ll receive far more traffic than a popular mommy blogger.
13) Create Curiosity
Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it can do wonders for an eCommerce website. When a customer’s interest is peaked and curiosity builds, they become much more likely to click on your pins and follow the link to your website.
There are many ways to create curiosity within your Pinterest posts. You’ll want to offer the promise of “revealing more” should a potential customer follow the link to your website. Perhaps you’ll provide “3 Tricks to Getting More Done” or “the 1 tip to make more money.” Whatever it is, you’ll grab the attention of a visitor. They know they are literally one click away from finding out what you have to offer.
Another great way to boost curiosity is to offer a “sneak peak.” People love the idea of being the first to know. It’s like they have some sort of secret nobody else knows about. So don’t shy away from editing your images to include text from time to time. You don’t need to boost curiosity with every single post as it is a tactic you can use too often. But as a time-to-time method, it’s a fantastic traffic booster.
14) Don’t Forget the Call To Action
This is the main point of concern far too many eCommerce sites forget about. They post images from their site and leave it at that. After all, if they use the rich pins every image has a visible link available. The problem here is you’re not reminding potential customers to act now. You need to.
Much like creating curiosity, you don’t need to include a call to action in every single visual post. This not only becomes far too time-consuming to edit the dozens of visuals, but there are only so many times you can hit a consumer over the head before they turn away.
What’s great about Pinterest is the visitor to your board will see the entire board. This way, all you need to do is provide the occasional call to action on each board to remind customers of the potential to buy. Focus on offering quality images and products, then from time to time (in order to keep it up front and visible) add in an image with the “Buy Now” call to action.
15) Consider What’s Popular
Fitting in with what’s popular can boost social recognition. This includes not only what continually remains popular but also current trends. For example, you can create a “Star Wars” board a few weeks before the latest movie comes out. It’s always a massive media storm and Star Wars search terms dramatically increase during this time of year, so if you prepare for it you can maximize your sales simply based on what’s trending.
In terms of general popularity, the most popular topic by far is food and drink. This more than doubles the next most popular topic, which is DIY crafts. Rounding out the top five most popular topics are home décor, women’s fashion, “other” and weddings (Kissmetrics, 2017).
Focusing on your company’s own specific niche is important, so don’t abandon this at all. However, do what you can to maintain both popular and trending boards in order to bring in additional traffic.
Pinterest is a social media service designed specifically for sharing visual information with others. As a business, chances are visual content can do wonders for your eCommerce site. With the power of Pinterest, you have the ability to grow your customer base and bring in a substantial amount of traffic, all by taking advantage of these 15 tested strategies.
feature image credit: pinterest.ca/