Pinning your way to success: The complete guide to marketing on Pinterest


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pinterest craft

Whether you’re a novice chef finding your way around the kitchen, a DIY fanatic, a bride-to-be, a daydreamer or just in the mood to discover new things, Pinterest has something just for you! This unique social media network has opened up a world of creativity and discovery and compiled it all into a neat little platform where users can search for topics of their interest and share socially. Likewise, individuals and businesses may share their own content and build communities around specific themes.

This popular channel tallies a whopping 150 million active users monthly, not quite as many as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat, but certainly a top contender for users and marketers alike. While the audience remains primarily female at 71%, the platform is diversifying and demographics and shifting rapidly.

The question of the hour, however, is not about what you can find on Pinterest, but  rather, how can marketers use it to optimize their social media strategy? Moreover, should organizations even be on Pinterest?

Whereas its user base may not be as exaggeratedly high as others within the social media brethren, Pinterest is a platform with some serious marketing potential, especially for B2C organizations. The downside of marketing on social media networks, is that users are not always receptive to brand messages, especially those that don’t fall in line with platform structure (too salesy, irrelevant). Despite this, Pinterest has been a welcoming platform for marketers, in fact 5% of the world’s referral traffic comes from it.

Pinners have shown they are always willing to engage with products and even purchase. According to a study from Millward Brown, a surprising 87% of pinners have purchased a product thanks to Pinterest. 93%, however, have admitted they’ve used Pinterest to plan future purchases (guilty!) Just take designer Moorea Seal as an example. This brand has acquired a followers base of 900,000 but attributes half of their sales to Pinterest.

Creative ways to market on Pinterest

creative pinterest board

So your product doesn’t fall into Pinterest’s top category searches? No worries, strategic marketers know that it isn’t about sitting around and and hoping your audience will come to you, but rather, actively searching for avenues to find them and relate to them in a way they will absolutely love. Brands such as Sony do this really well by jumping on trends like posting irresistibly cute animals and building boards around these trending topics with their own unique twist. In addition to their “I can haz gadgets?” board (pictured above), they have fun boards for followers to engage with them such as: “So Hipster it Hurts”, “Get in my Belly” & “Game Day Party Prep”.

So, you’re probably thinking that yes, you can create boards revolving around trending topics, but you might still be wondering how to get your own product out there? If we take a look at Nordstrom’s Wanderlust board, we can see they’ve done a fantastic job of mixing in content that can ignite the travel bug while sparingly sharing examples of products their followers could easily purchase to take a long with them on their next big adventure. So if dreaming of a mountainside escape, a pinner might imagine themselves there wearing a casual “Sig Sur” graphic tee, or maybe they’ll find the perfect one-piece to pair with an upcoming weekend on the coast.


Community boards are a fun way to catch your audience’s attention, but to really get them to interact with your brand, consider running a “Pin it to win it” contest. Jetsetter, whose brand content already revolves around posting inspirational vacation and adventure images, asked pinners to create “the ultimate destination pinboard” with “Jetsetter curator·” in the title and the hashtag #JetsetterCurator. The winner would receive an exciting adventure free of charge to 4 excotic locations.

Just imagine the look on your executives’ faces if you were able to share similar news to that presented by the marketers who set up this campaign! Jetsetter reported a 100% increase in referral traffic, 150% increase in pageviews, and bounces dropped overall. Additional benefits included:

  • Increased referral traffic from Twitter and Facebook
  • They more than doubled their followers
  • Increased content (which was widely user generated) and could potentially help to increase visibility, brand authority in SEO and brand trust from consumers who see content from people ‘like them’
  • The development of an engaged and active community
  • Creation of a lasting reputation on Pinterest

The Power of the Pin

So what even makes a pin “pinworthy”? We’ve collected a few helpful tips for pinning the most irresistible, attention-grabbing pins:

  • Taller images are more likely to be repinned. Try using a 2:3 aspect ratio
  • Images without faces have 23% more engagement (cute animals win everytime…)
  • Select bright colors: red pins get much more attention than blue
  • Don’t forget to leave a thoughtful description that explains exactly why your pin is worth a click (keep it between 200-310 characters)
  • Overlay text directly to your image such as step-by-step instructions or advice
  • Be relevant to your board’s main focus or audience’s interests
  • Don’t skimp on great photography
  • Post between 8-11pm – according to buffer the best time to pin is afternoons, evenings and on Saturdays
  • Post regularly, but spread your pins out throughout the day
  • Link pins to relevant websites

Keep it fun! A good rule of thumb to follow with pinterest is to market a lifestyle and not a product.

Rich Pins

Marketers may opt to use Rich Pins in order to include additional information in their pin thus providing users with “richer” context. Rich pins are available for the following types of content:

  • Product – include price, availability and where to buy
  • Articles – include headline, author and story
  • Recipe – include ingredients, cooking time, and serving information
  • Place – include map, address and phone number
  • Movie – include ratings, cast members and reviews
  • App – include an install button

Promoted Pins

If you’d like to increase awareness, engagement and referral traffic, give Promoted Pins a shot. Brands like L’Oreal were able to use Promoted Pins to increase purchase intent around a specific product by 37.2% at its launch. Kristin Comings, Integrated Consumer communications, said “We realized that our customers use Pinterest to create a digital shopping list of products they plan to buy, so we strategically create compelling boards with this consumer behavior in mind.”

If you choose to go with this option you will only pay for clicks to your website from a Promoted Pin. As far as targeting goes, you can select the terms you’d like to target as well as set up parameters for audience and url tracking. For best results, when selecting terms include what the product is as well as use cases. So, if we have a ski coat, we might have general terms like “Coat” and “ski coat”, but we should also include terms like “winter fashion” “ski adventure”. Likewise, we can search for recommended terms in the suggested terms tool and select multiple phrase or broad match terms. Pinterest suggests bidding on at least 30 terms per pin, but marketers can bid on thousands if they wish. Try starting broad and narrow down as you go and start to learn what consumers click on and what works for your brand.

A few important notes on Promoted Pins that you should consider before getting started include:

  • Can only have 1 hashtag #onlyone
  • Cannot be Gif or video pins
  • Must be pinned on a public board
  • Price can only be included if you promote a Rich pin
  • Only allow promotions for start and end dates or always on sale
  • Business must be US, CA or UK based

Measuring success

As with any marketing endeavor, you can’t optimize your strategy without gathering and reporting on the right metrics. Get started by measuring the metrics listed below and regularly check your reports. Furthermore, set realistic objectives to be met on monthly or quarterly basis and continuously tweak your strategy to make sure you’re reaching them.

  • Pins from your website – is your website content intriguing and visually appealing enough for pinners to share it?
  • Repins – how popular is your content on Pinterest? This KPI will indicate how much your content is spreading on the platform. Test different types of pins to see which ones are repinned the most.
  • Referral Traffic – How many people are driven to your website from Pinterest?
  • Conversions – Take referral traffic one step further and follow their journey to see how many people make conversions while they’re visiting your site.
  • Engagement rate – measure engagement rate across all boards as well as by board to identify the categories your audience engages with the most.


Is Pinterest part of your social media strategy? Which KPIs do you use to measure success?

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Holly McKendry

Sweetspot Marketing Director. Wakeboarder & travel enthusiast. Communication Studies graduate of Texas State University, San Marcos.

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