How to start marketing on Pinterest for your small business

17th August 2020

Having grown 26% year-on-year, Pinterest now has over 350 million active users each month. But the high amount of eyeballs on your content is not the only reason it should be on your social marketing radar. There’s a hidden mithril mine of engagement buried in the Pinterest platform if you’re willing to dig deep. 

We’ve put together the below guide to explain what Pinterest is, how it works and help you start marketing on Pinterest for your small business.

Did you know? 30% of Pinterest users buy something online after browsing Pinterest content.

Let’s get Pinning!

Pinterest Explained

Let’s quickly look at the structure of this unique social media platform and how you can make use of it.

Pinterest Account

If you’re reading this, you probably want to sign up for a business account on Pinterest, if you don’t already have one. That’s the best option if you’re planning on making use of it for a brand, product, campaign or company.

A business account gives you access to its built-in analytics, which are actually pretty good. More than adequate for testing different pin designs, and for figuring out which pieces of content are finding an audience.

You also get to use “rich pins”, which adds a bit of extra info and functionality to your Pinterest content.

Boards

These are how you categorise your Pinterest content. Give each board a specific subject or topic that relates to your brand, and fill it with pins that lead out to relevant content.

Pins

And finally, you’ve got pins. These are what any other social media channel would call a post. It’s primarily image-based, with a link that takes people to the external content you want them to see.

Related: The anatomy of a perfect Pinterest post

Discovery of these pins is primarily driven through keywords. That’s how Pinterest surfaces the top content when you’re browsing; not by showing you the newest content, as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram does, but by showing you the most closely related content, along the same lines as YouTube. This means that a pin has an impressively long shelf life, which can lead to a regular supply of traffic that isn’t dependent on today’s trends. With patience, this extended lifespan can equate to a lot of traffic.

All very straight forward. However, the real question about what Pinterest is, revolves around the actual platform. Because of all the social media options out there, Pinterest is one of the more unique choices.

Social Media or Search Engine

I suspect that if you asked the people at Pinterest, they’d say it’s most definitely a social media platform. Which I understand, as that’s the business model driving it, and that’s how it brings in the users. Plus, it does fit the definition very neatly.

According to Hootsuite, by the end of 2019, Pinterest was the fourth largest social media network in the US. That’s quite a claim, and means Pinterest demands attention from all digital marketers.

But the way in which Pinterest serves content to its users is more akin to a search engine. Its internal search is very effective at finding the right content based entirely around keywords, and it ranks relevance over new content.

According to the platform, 97% of searches are based around keywords and not brands. It’s all about discovery, rather than time-sensitive trends. You aren’t going to find breaking news on there, so think of it as an “inspiration engine” as opposed to instant content delivery, and you’ll start to appreciate the platform’s real strengths.

Although Pinterest doesn’t bear many other comparisons to YouTube, in this respect the two are very close. So as you build Pinterest into your new marketing strategy, keep this in mind and make your pins as relevant to your board as possible, making sure the perfect keywords are attached.

There are real benefits to Pinterest in this respect. It means that great content rises to the top, even if the pinner doesn’t have tens of thousands of followers, which is a roadblock 99% of us hit with Instagram. You can reach an audience with a brand new account, as Pinterest users are looking for inspiration, not influence.

Meet the Pinners

Pinterest has a predominantly female demographic, at around 70% women. Plus, it seems to have the most impact on B2C brands and products. If you’re looking to drive traffic to an industrial or enterprise B2B brand, it probably isn’t going to perform for you, no matter how much budget you pour into its ad platform.

Small businesses, entrepreneurs, crafters, food, interior design, style and fashion, and any product or service that takes a stunning photo needs to give Pinterest serious consideration. Even if you’re aiming at the male users, there’s still an epic audience hunting for inspiration.

In contrast to the gender split, the age range for Pinterest users is very eclectic, from 18 to late 60s, bolstered by a platform and interface that’s very appealing for a non-technical audience. Nor is it particularly plagued by conflict or controversy, which gives its uses a sense of safety and friendliness that keeps them coming back every day.

It’s a great option for premium products and services, too. According to Pew Research, high-income households are twice as likely to be regular Pinterest users as low-income, so you have a waiting audience that’s ready to shed its disposable income.

A Social Media Strategy for Marketing on Pinterest: Pinterest Ads

Don’t be shy. Pin a lot of stuff. Five times a day isn’t too much, even if that means regularly recycling your content by repinning it. The platform doesn’t appear to penalise that approach, and is especially tolerant if you’re willing to use new images for pins that take people to the same content. Go ahead and pin one piece of content to multiple boards, so long as it’s a good fit.

And don’t be afraid to curate content from other places if you don’t have enough blog posts or new products to fill five pins a day. Building a following on Pinterest is as advantageous as any other social channel.

Once it’s time to test Pinterest ads, you should experiment by going in with low bids, just as with any new ad platform. Find the floor for your content, and gradually increase from there. Pinterest isn’t an expensive platform by any means; more comparable to Facebook than LinkedIn, in that respect, so you don’t need a large budget to test it out.

A lot of people report excellent ROI in terms of building a solid contact list through Pinterest ads. Which makes sense, as the pin itself has already piqued your lead’s interest by delivering on the inspiration they were looking for. It’s a platform that aims to capture attention at the very beginning of the customer journey, as people are on there as part of their discovery phase. 

As long as your pin is super relevant, capturing contact details on the landing page/post isn’t difficult, and it’s not expensive. Budget for around $0.30 – $0.60 per email, and it won’t be hard to get results within your budget. Indeed, a study suggests that Pinterest delivered an average of $2 profit for every $1 of ad spend.

Types of Pinterest Ads

Once you’re ready to test out ads, your first task is installing the HTML tag on your website. It’s how you’ll track all your leads, traffic and sales in the Pinterest analytics, and is a requirement of running ads from a business account.

Promoted Pins

Pinterest ads are almost entirely built around the simple promotion of your pins. It’s a strong approach that blends your ad into other types of content quite seamlessly. And the good news is that all Pinterest ads are now “one tap”, which means any click takes people directly to your landing page, rather than first opening up extra pin info.

App Pins

If you’re an app developer or marketing, install buttons can be embedded into promoted app pins, linking directly to installs from the App Store and Google Play. These are mobile-only ads, since they drive direct installs, but they’re well worth experimenting with since 80% of Pinterest action happens on mobile devices.

Video Pins

Like all platforms, Pinterest has made a move toward video in recent years, so you can have video pins that also serve as ads, just like the static image pins. The only thing to watch out for here are video ratios. You can post widescreen (16:9) if you want to, but Pinterest is designed to look best with a 2:3 ratio; that’s what the images are. This is a bit unusual for video, but portrait or square will still fit that nicely. They also top out at 30 seconds.

Carousels

Carousels let the user swipe through a short gallery of images all within a single pin, if you want to promote a range of goods or services in one ad. One fashion brand reported an increase of over 70% from these sales-focused pins.

Summary

If there’s any chance your demographic fits Pinterest’s user base, you should start marketing there. Whether using it as an ad platform or not (and you’re recommended to test it out), it’s very marketer-friendly. If you’re totally new, the Pinterest Academy is a good place to pick up the basics.

Your message isn’t going to be lost in the white noise of dominant influencers, and it’s an excellent source of traffic since it’s one of the few social media platforms that’s happy to send users to external web pages.

But your content must look good. Amazing, actually. It’s entirely a visual platform, so although you don’t have to influence people, you do have to inspire them.

What does your Pinterest marketing strategy currently look like? Which tactics from this guide are you going to try first for your small business? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to check out your Pinterest page.

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