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Ecommerce | Social Media

11 Tips for Using Pinterest as a Marketing Tool

image: chalkboard with top tips written in white
73 million people log onto the social network every day; here's how you can turn those consumers into your customers

A spring 2015 report from Millward Brown Digital makes a compelling case for using Pinterest as a marketing tool: 96% of active users considered the social network a source for gathering product info, 93% used it to plan for purchases, and 87% said it helped them decide what to buy. And given that 73 million people log onto Pinterest each month, it's a sizable as well as engaged audience.


If you've yet to use Pinterest as a marketing tool because you don't know how to take advantage of it, or if you're not yet seeing a return from your Pinterest presence, these tips should help:



Understand the basics.

In case you've yet to jump onto Pinterest, here's a primer: Accounts consist of boards, which in turn consist of pins, or images. These can be photos, illustrations, or infographics. You can post self-created pins to your boards, as well as pins that you find from other Pinterest accounts, websites, and blogs. "Pin It" badges on websites let you post those images directly onto one of your boards with just a click. As with other social media, you can follow other accounts, and other users can follow yours. Users can follow individual boards as well.



Be sure you have a business account, and have it verified.

If you already set up your account as a personal one, you can convert it to a business account. Only business accounts have access to Pinterest Analytics.


Then submit it to Pinterest for verification. According to Pinterest, "The verification badge helps people identify high-quality sources of content and more easily find the business they want in search results." In other words, it adds a level of credibility to your account. Even more important, it grants you access to information from Pinterest Analytics about the traffic driven to your website from your Pinterest account; if your business isn't verified, you have metrics only about your audience and your Pinterest account itself: repins, clicks, impressions, and the like.



Pin only high-quality images.

Given that Pinterest is a visual medium, this should be apparent, but... If your imagery quality is iffy, you're better off not posting the picture as a pin at all.



Opt for high images over wide images.

In its whitepaper "A Checklist for Brands to Ignite Their Pinterest Marketing Presence," social marketing platform Shoutlet suggests ensuring that images are "vertically oriented," at least 600 pixels wide, and with an image aspect ratio in the range of 2:3 to 1:3.5. So a 600-pixel-wide image with a 2:3 aspect ratio would be 900 pixels high; with a 1:3.5 aspect ratio, it would be 2,100 pixels high. Images with a ratio higher than 1:3.5 will appear cropped.


That said, according to Curalate, another social marketing platform, you don't want your images to be too skinny. It found that images with an aspect ratio between 2:3 and 4:5 were repinned 60% more frequently than those with a 1:3.5 ratio.



Use your words.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a picture accompanied by a few words can be worth even more on Pinterest. You can use up to 500 characters in each pin to give context to your image, 75-100 of which will appear in the grid view, according to Shoutlet: "Unlike Twitter and Facebook, where shorter is often better, a descriptive Pin can put your images in context and help you be found in Pinterest search. Include searchable keywords, but make it highly readable."


So if you're including photos of products on a board, don't simply label the pictures with their product name ("Black Skirt, Cotton, on"). Add a brief blurb to provide context—and valuable keywords that will improve your chances of showing up in search results, both on Pinterest and on Google ("This pleated black skirt is just as flattering with flats by day as it is with heels at night").


Avoid overtly promotional copy, however. Calls to action and references to discounts, deals, or special offers are Pinterest no-nos. Also avoid hashtags: They really serve no purpose here, and too many can result in your boards not appearing in search results.



Keep in mind that Pinterest is meant to be inspirational and aspirational.

For many, if not most, users, Pinterest serves as a combination mood board, wish list, and to-do list. That's why you want to provide at least some images that don't just show products silhouetted against a white background but also the same items in situ or in use. Sure, a photo of a pair of chic wellingtons might end up on the "Stuff I Want" boards of some users—but a photo showing those same wellingtons being worn by a woman as she's walking a puppy on a picturesque hillside may land on even more boards.


Particularly on your business's boards, you want to feature images that are less about blatantly selling merchandise and more about engaging viewers in your brand and enabling them to visualise themselves in the scenarios depicted. This is borne out by another stat from Curalate: Brand images without faces receive 23% more repins than those with faces. It's for the same reason that when you're trying to sell a house, you should hide personal photographs: Potential buyers don't want to see you and your family in the house; they want to image themselves and their family living in it instead.


Nor do you want all pins on all boards to be of images from your company. Share pins from other accounts, including those of your followers. This makes your boards feel less like advertising and more like friendly inspiration.



Make it easy for visitors to pin images from your website.

Add the Pin It button to any and all images you want site visitors to be able to pin on their own boards.



Consider using Rich Pins.

Pinterest offers business accounts six types of Rich Pins that include relevant information right on the pin itself. When a visitor clicks on a Product Pin, for instance, it displays real-time pricing, stock availability, and info on where to buy the item. Recipe Pins include (no surprise here) recipes; Article Pins provide an article's headline, author, and summary; Place Pins display a street address, a phone number, and a map.


You need to implement some additional tagging to make Rich Pins work, but the effort can pay off. Ecommerce platform Bigcommerce reported that its merchants that adopted Rich Pins saw a 38% average increase in traffic from Pinterest as a result.



Promote your Pinterest account via your other marketing channels.

Share your pins on your Facebook page, your Instagram feed, your Twitter feed. Include them in marketing emails. And don't forget to include the Pinterest icon with a link to your account on everything from your website home page to your direct mail pieces.



Get creative with your boards.

Sure, a board titled "New Arrivals, Summer 2015" lets users know what sort of pins they'll see. But keeping in mind the inspirational aspect of Pinterest, think in terms of themes that will resonate with your followers, customers, and prospective members of either group. Shoe brand Clarks, for instance, has a board devoted not to footwear but to clever ways of storing shoes. Disposable diapers brand Pampers has nearly 13,500 followers of its "First Birthday Parties" board.


image: Pinterest: Pampers First-Birthday-Parties page screengrab.

image: Pinterest: Pampers First Birthday Parties page screengrab.


It's this sort of beyond-the-product thinking that enables b-to-b organisations to engage via Pinterest too. Office Depot, for instance, has boards such as "Gear Hacks" (sample pin: "How to filter loose-leaf tea with supplies from the office"). Scrubs & Beyond, which sells medical apparel and accessories, has a board dedicated to "taking control of your office space."


image: Pinterest: Scrubs and Beyond Taking Control of Your Office Space page screengrab.

image: Pinterest: Scrubs and Beyond Taking Control of Your Office Space page screengrab.



Keep your page updated.

If it's autumn, your board dedicated to spring gardening should not be at the top of your page. Nor should any boards that you haven't updated in months. If you don't have original content to add to a board, search other boards for images to repin—that's the beauty of Pinterest, and another reason to include boards that are theme-oriented as well as those that are product-focused. After all, it's much easier to update a board titled "Gardens to Die For" featuring pins of gorgeous (and inspiring!) gardens than a board named "May's New Irrigation Supplies."


Another way to keep boards fresh is to avoid adding numerous pins at once. Ration them out over time instead. "Pin daily to maintain a healthy stream of content but be careful not to overwhelm your followers with too much content at once," Pinterest advises.

author: Sherry Chiger

Sherry Chiger

The editorial director of Your Commerce, Sherry Chiger is an award-winning writer and editor. She was formerly editorial director of Multichannel Merchant and Catalogue e-business magazines.


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