Pinterest for Sales, Can You Pin Your Way to the Bank?

In this article I describe the journey of Pinterest users from ‘lookers’ to ‘buyers’, and how to use Pinterest to boost ecommerce sales. – Ed Leake, Midas Media

How to Use Pinterest to Drive More Sales?

A century-old adage tells us that a picture is worth a thousand words. With 87% of Pinners reporting that Pinterest helped them decide what to purchase, Pinterest has shown that that pictures can also be worth a thousand sales too.

It’s no secret that Pinterest is gaining momentum. According to Shareaholic, Pinterest is the second largest driver of social referrals worldwide. Furthermore, its users are ripe for online retailers to attract as paying customers.


Here are a few key Pinterest facts:

  • More than 50% of Pinterest users are between 25 and 54 years old
  • 64% earn above average incomes
  • 87% of Pinterest users have bought something online because of a pin [← Tweet that.]
  • 35% are college graduates
  • 25% earn more than $75,000 annually.

Most Pinterest users are still women, but a recent Fortune report details, the fastest growing segment of Pinterest users are men in the 25 to 40 age. Just outside the ‘millennial’ age range.

In order for businesses to maximise Pinterest as a sales generating tool, they must understand the customer journey of users. After all nearly 9 in 10 Pinners turn from mere browsers to an eventual buyer.

There are four main phases in the Pinterest customer journey:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Preference (Research and Evaluation)
  4. Purchase

 Awareness, “I’m Just Looking Around”

This stage encompasses everyone in the Pinterest universe. These are the people who are not ready to buy and even those who do not have an iota of intention to buy. They are browsing around based on their interests, looking for something relevant to them.

This is where the content marketing mantra “Content is King” comes into play. If all your pins are hard-sell posts, you will not appeal to the majority of Pinterest users who are casually browsing, gathering ideas.

Images that provide valuable information and entertain would work best at this stage. Throwing in some interesting infographics into the mix is also a great way to engage users at this phase.

Perhaps you’re a clothing retailer? Consider pinning the latest trends and fashion direction that include your type of garment.

You might sell furniture, in which case style boards based on colour and tone for each room in the house, can work particularly well.

Consideration, “Is This Something I Could Use?”

Users at this phase are starting to form a more concrete plan to tend to certain needs or satisfy their desires. This is the point when they ask themselves, “Will this make my life better?”

Think emotional triggers; “I must have” this thing instead of merely needing it. Needs are logical, wants are triggered by an emotional desire.

An example of Nilla™ Wafers being used in treat recipes - I want one of those!
An example of Nilla™ Wafers being used in treat recipes – I want one of those!

Consumers at the consideration stage are looking for Pins that are more specific. For instance, someone who’s looking to lose a few pounds may be looking weight loss supplements or recommended exercises.

Start to segment your pins by awareness and consideration, needs vs emotionally desirable imagery.

When you start to consciously cater to these consumer types, you will in turn gain more insight from Pinterest analytics. You will know which Pins users are engaging with by looking at the volume of clicks, close ups and re-pins.


 Preference, “I Need More Information to Make a Decision”

The above treat example from Nilla is naughty, but nice. Let’s go for back to the healthier weight loss example; users at this stage are more or less decided that taking supplements is the best route to go. But, they have yet to decide on which specific supplement type or brand they’re going to buy.

These users are on Pinterest to research before they make their final buying decision. Indicative of this are your posts that users share or re-pin the most. Typically, they would go back to these later as they go deeper in their research and evaluation process.


Purchase, “Take My Money!”

These are the people who already know what they want to buy.

Purchase-worthy Pins and Promoted Pins are crucial to capture these users. Seeing a Pin at the right time when they’re in a buying mind-set can lead to an instant sale.

It’s true, this behaviour represents a small percentage of Pinterest users. However, being able to engage and capture this segment is key to maximising your revenue from Pinterest.


Ready, Set, Pin!

Practical Tips to Get You Started

The four stages of the Pinterest customer journey gives you the broad strokes required to engage with potential customers across the different phases. If you’re new to using Pinterest for ecommerce, here are a few practical tips to help you get started:

1.     Use lighter images.

Research on what Pins perform the best for driving sales shows that dark, shadowed images don’t do so well. Opt for clear, lighter images instead. Lighter images are also re-pinned 20% more compared to their darker counterparts. Hence, if you’re going for virality, use lighter images.

2.     Use rich Pins to display product prices.

If you’re pinning product images, the description is not the best place for you to show prices. In fact, Pinterest has already disallowed including prices in the description of Promoted Pins. Instead, use Rich Pins which would also allow you to display more information about your products. Prices are essential because Pins with prices are liked 36% more than those without.


3.     Include a call to action in the description.

What specific action do you want Pinterest users to do when they see your Pins? Do you want them to go to your website? Buy your product? Enter a contest? Sign-up? Whatever it is, you should include a call to action in your descriptions. A strong call to action can increase engagement by as much as 80%.

 4.     Use taller images.

In Pinterest, taller images appear larger, take up more screen space and in turn reward you with more engagement. It’s good to know that tall Pins are also shared 67% more than wide or landscape images!

5.     Timing is everything.

The best time to post something on Pinterest is on Saturdays before 8pm. The highest engagement happens between 8pm to 11pm on Saturday evenings. Other strong windows of engagement include 2pm to 4pm and 2am to 4am on Saturdays and at 3pm on Fridays.

6.     No face allowed.

Traditional marketing principles would dictate that images with faces would get more engagement. It’s different with Pinterest though. Product images without faces get 23% more re-pins. Thus proving what works for one social media platform, doesn’t always work for another!

7.     Keep it short.

While you want your images to be on the longer side, you want to keep your descriptions short. Pins with descriptions between 200 and 300 words get shared 57% more. Keep it short and sweet, and let the photos speak for themselves. If you want to include more information, use Rich Pins instead.


8.     Measure it.

Keep an eye your Pinterest Analytics to get an understanding of how many people are viewing, repining and clicking on your content. Pinterest also gives you data on your audience profile, by region, gender and interestingly their interests. You can use this information to mould your content going forwards, adapting to what your audience likes.


So, Can You Pin Your Way to the Bank?

Including Pinterest in your marketing mix may not seem like an immediate priority for ecommerce businesses.

Pinterest won’t make you an overnight millionaire, either.

It will provide you with a new source of untapped online audience that you can market to and try to convert into real, paying, and loyal customers.

Pinterest is one piece of a larger puzzle that is your holistic sales and marketing strategy. With a little care and attention, segmenting your pins to each stage in the buyer journey, can reap rewards.


Ed Leake is the Managing Director of Midas Media. His experience is cemented in rapid growth, enabling his client’s to achieve big returns on their marketing investments. Ed – a fan of doughnuts - is active daily on Twitter and Facebook.
Ed Leake is the Managing Director of Midas Media. His experience is cemented in rapid growth, enabling his client’s to achieve big returns on their marketing investments. Ed – a fan of doughnuts – is active daily on Twitter and Facebook.
About the author

Ready to boost your online sales and retention?