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The Ultimate Guide to Pinterest Strategy and Marketing

Jennifer Meech
April 13, 2020
Last Updated On
January 12, 2022
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With over 335 million users and 200 billion Pins, Pinterest holds endless opportunities for brands. While that user base may seem small in comparison to larger platforms, it’s what’s inside that counts. Users come to Pinterest to inform their buying decisions, search for products, or plan out major spending sprees — we see you, house, travel, and wedding boards. Further to their intent, 84% of active Pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases, and 98% said they’ve purchased something because of Pinterest.

Pinterest takes direct-to-consumer marketing to the next level by acting as a curated lifestyle search at the very beginning of a buyer’s journey — during the ideation phase. This makes Pinterest the perfect launchpad for consumers to search, see, save, and plant the seed for future or current purchases. Add the fact that they can click through directly to your product pages? An invaluable addition to your multichannel marketing strategy.

Let’s dive into all things Pinterest.

Pinterest Metrics

Pinterest isn’t your typical marketing channel — think of it as a curated search engine. Users are going to Pinterest when they’re planning their next vacation, meal prepping for the week ahead, or designing their dream home. This means that brands need to think about curating visuals that will feed the visual search engine and be discovered by their target audiences.

To understand what type of content your audience wants most, you need to stay on top of your Pin performance and audience engagement. Your Pinterest business account gives you insight into the metrics that matter most.

The Metrics to Know

  1. Outbound Clicks: Understanding the number of clicks on each of your Pins provides you with insight into what type of content is converting Pinners to your website and into customers.
  2. Impressions: Indicates how many times users laid eyes on your Pin. Unlike other visual channels, your impressions don’t peak the day your Pin goes live. Your Pins age like fine wine, generating more impressions over time. This also means that it takes time to measure the impact of your Pins.
  3. Pin Clicks: Tells you how many users are tapping on your Pin, meaning that they either want to see it up close, or view the description. This metric provides insight into which of your Pins are garnering attention.
  4. Saves: The number of users that are saving your Pin to one of their own boards. This provides insight into which of your Pins are resonating most with your target audience and inspiring their projects and purchases.
  5. Engagement: On Pinterest, engagement is measured by link clicks + comments + closeups + saves/impressions. Similar to other platforms, it provides insight into which Pins evoke audience action. 

Pinterest for Business: The Basics

Crafting a winning Pinterest strategy requires more than just engaging visuals. Whether you’re an apparel, home decor, or automotive brand, you need to curate your Pins to meet your customer at each point of their buying journey. This means it’s crucial to measure Pin performance over time and track ROI from your Pins to inform your strategy in the long run.

How do you do this? With a Pinterest business account. Signing up is easy. If you’re completely new, select that you are a business in the signup process. If you already have a personal account, head to your account settings and convert to a business account. Now what?

The first step to success is to leverage all the features, tools, and analytics that your Pinterest business account has to offer.

1. Pinterest Analytics

The sidekick you need to drive real results on Pinterest. Your Pinterest business account includes a built-in analytics dashboard that offers a high-level overview of your account performance, which organic, paid, and earned Pins are driving traffic to your website; and audience insights.

Brands can test different types of imagery and measure results to refine their approach to the channel, and ultimately better understand who their audience is. You can quickly filter by date or see which of your Pins generated the most impressions over the last 30 days. This allows you to attribute any changes in performance to specific Pins and boards, and understand what’s working and what’s not to optimize your strategy moving forward.

2. Rich Pins

Rich Pins are essentially a way to label your Pins to provide more context to Pinners with custom CTA buttons suited to four specific types of Pins: products, articles, apps, and recipes. Rich Pins include extra information directly on your Pin and offer a range of options for brands across different industries.

For Product Pins, brands in the retail, e-commerce, or fashion industries can include a ‘Visit’ button to send users directly to the product page. Publishers can use Article Pins to feature a headline, snippet of body text, author, and CTA to ‘Read it.’ App Pins are the perfect solution for developers and tech brands to convert users to their app without even needing to leave the Pinterest platform by adding an ‘Install’ CTA. Lastly, Recipe Pins take home chefs directly to their next creation with a ‘Make it’ button.

3. Promoted Pins

With Promoted Pins, you can target specific audiences and ensure you’re putting your Pins in front of the right eyes. Much like other paid advertising platforms, Pinterest Ads Manager allows you to target Pinners based on several variables such as gender, age, location, and income. Brands are then able to target audiences based on keyword searches. Pinterest Analytics measures the results of your ads and informs brands on which promoted Pins are performing the best.

4. Buyable Pins

One-click to convert — need we say more? Pinterest’s Buyable Pins allows brands to add a ‘Buy it’ button to Pins. This feature is especially great for e-commerce brands. It allows brands to leverage Pinterest as a second storefront, and drive conversions directly from their Pins.

Next-Level Pinterest Insights

Pinterest’s built-in analytics tool provides a starting point for you to gain a high-level understanding of your brand’s performance, but to dive deeper into the specific styles of Pins that are engaging users, Dash Hudson’s Pinterest Insights tool has the answers. To optimize your Pins and maximize ROI, you need to get granular when it comes to performance. With Dash Hudson’s Pinterest Insights, you can do just that.

Dash Hudson Content Segmentation Boards serve a whole different purpose than Pinterest Boards. Pinterest Boards are for organizing your content on your Pinterest profile. Dash Hudson Boards enable brands to break content out into unique pillars to measure how specific styles of content perform with your audience. Brands can identify visual trends, measure specific campaigns, and create benchmarks for their unique content pillars.

Dash Hudson has also created a scheduling and publishing tool to help you maintain a constant flow of Pins to feed the engine. Seamlessly bulk-schedule up to 10 Pins at a time with Scheduler. Then, set it and forget it with Dash Hudson’s Pinterest Insights Auto-Publish.

How Pinterest Fits Into Your Multichannel Strategy

Brands and social media marketing gurus alike have been trying to crack the Pinterest code to understand how to leverage this mysterious whitespace. And it's no wonder why — in terms of user behavior, Pinterest is all about planning and purchasing for the future, a completely different mindset than the impulsive, in-the-moment nature of Instagram.

Pinterest’s niche audience, different algorithms, objectives, and user experiences require a unique approach. While there are some transferable tactics from Instagram, there are a number of best practices to follow that are specific to Pinterest that will maximize your brand’s strategy.

Pairing the two visual marketing powerhouses together stacks your chances for an impactful multichannel marketing and Pinterest strategy for brands. The key differences outlined here can help optimize ROI across Instagram and Pinterest.

1. Follower Growth

On Instagram, a key indicator of success is follower growth. Brands invest heavily in engaging their followers through thoughtful and curated storytelling on their feed, with the hopes of building strong brand awareness and a captive audience. And for good reason — your followers are served your content as soon as they tap into Instagram. On Instagram, your followers are often your ceiling for how many views you can attract — with Pinterest, your followers are your floor.

The entire purpose of Pinterest is not social networking, but discovery. When logging onto Pinterest, the first thing a user sees is the discovery feed with content that the algorithm has selected based on their interests and previous searches. Pinterest groups Pinners by their interests. This allows Pinterest to figure out which interests overlap, which topics certain demographics are interested in, and ultimately, how to serve engaging, topical information to the right audience at the right time.

A base of followers is important on Pinterest, and consistent growth can help you with overall reach and impressions. The age-old rule, quality over quantity, applies to your followers, too. Because Pinners see their discovery feed first, brands need to optimize content for maximum reach. The way to do this is by delivering content that resonates with your follower group, as highly engaging content has a better chance of being distributed to Pinners with similar interests, demographics, and most importantly, intent.

Building this strong foundation of followers is critical to your content reaching your target audience, and increasing engagement and views over time. Keeping tabs on spikes and dips in your follower count to ensure that quality content is contributing to your growth is paramount.

2. Posting Cadence

The right posting cadence is a highly sought-after recipe for success on Instagram. From what we know about the algorithm, how often you post daily and weekly can impact your place in the feed, and per-post engagement. For some brands, posting more than once a day can have diminishing returns for post engagement.

What’s more, the best time to post on Instagram has become a science amongst social media managers — so much so that the Dash Hudson Scheduler predicts the top-performing times for your brand to post.

With Pinterest, because the overall objective is for content to be found — and Pins have an engagement-generating life span of years rather than days — the precise time you post isn’t as precarious. What’s more important is consistently posting to feed the Pinterest engine.

The best practice is a minimum of five posts per day, with some of the top Pinterest players posting up to 300 times a week. Because timing isn’t as strategic, or time-sensitive, brands can easily bulk schedule their content for the week with staggering times to find their rhythm.

While the hour of the day that you post on Pinterest might carry little weight, brands instead need to take a more macro approach to content planning. Pinners are planners, which means you need to be thinking about timely and seasonal content (such as holiday campaigns or back to school) months in advance. When you’re thinking about the best times to post, instead of thinking within minutes and hours, consider weeks and months.

3. Content Flow

Of course, posting cadence and the amount of content you’re posting go hand in hand. Instagram is a social media platform, which encourages sharing content and following friends as well as aspirational accounts. Like any good conversation, no one wants their feed taken over by one voice. Hence, the importance of selectively choosing the content you’d like to share for maximum impact.

With Pinterest, you’re feeding a search engine with content from your brand that you want to be discovered, especially for your organic strategy. And what does a search engine need for your best chance of visibility? A plethora of content to encourage reach and multiple touchpoints with your Pinterest audience. Pinterest SEO is essential to getting your content in front of users. Between your original content, website imagery, product shots, user-generated and paid content, there is no shortage of visuals to pump into Pinterest.

4. Photo and Video Curation

On Instagram, especially for feed content, every post is an opportunity to tell your brand story, garner loyalty, and create engagement. Feed planning is an art — the Instagram aesthetic has become such an industry standard that some brands are starting to break out of their millennial-pink hazes to stand out amongst the noise.

On Pinterest, there’s a common misconception with brands that their content needs to be perfectly curated and highly aspirational to succeed. Since Pinterest is all about stimulating inspiration, your ideas and creativity don’t need to be fully baked. The best-in-class Pinterest leaders align their website with their Pinterest pages. By optimizing product shots to make them easily pinnable, feeding 30 or 300 posts into the search engine weekly becomes a breeze.

Another seamless way to succeed: optimize content based on Pinterest’s creative best practices. Any 9:16 content will do, however, 2:3 is their recommended ratio. Different sizes are typically accepted on the platform, but they may end up being cut off in-feed or not shown at all.

5. Measurement

Different platform, different purpose. On Instagram, brands are engaging their audience and aiming to entice them to follow along on their journey. This ultimately builds brand loyalty and organic awareness.

To get a pulse on photo and video performance on Instagram, engagement and Effectiveness Rate are the ultimate metrics of success. Secondly, brands focus on growing their following, optimizing for reach, and if they are investing in a link in bio solution like LikeShop, conversions and website traffic get a seat at the table.

On Pinterest, you’re looking for growth in two ways. It’s no secret that website traffic, click-throughs, and revenue are all part of your SEO plan. From a top-of-funnel awareness angle, marketers are also tracking impressions and Pinterest engagement (link clicks+comments+closeups+saves/impressions). This tells you who you’re reaching, what Pinners are searching for, and how they’re interacting with your Pins and products.

How to know if your Pinterest strategy is driving results? First of all, don’t compare reach and impression numbers with Instagram — it doesn’t translate. Pinterest offers a much more curated audience based on their likes and search terms, not to mention they’re likely in a purchase mindset. Move your focus from follower growth to monthly unique viewers. This indicates how far your content is reaching.

Pinterest engagement will tell you if your Pins are catching attention, and give you benchmarks for future content curation and campaigns. And, of course, keep an eye on which visuals are driving the most website traffic — because driving potential buyers to your site is almost always priority number one.

Grow Your Organic Pinterest Strategy

As we’ve mentioned, best practice says you should be posting 5-30 Pins a day. That’s a lot of meaningful creative to supply on a daily basis. But don’t fret just yet — we’re here to remind you of your not-to-be-forgotten hero: user-generated content (UGC).

Besides the obvious aesthetic and community-building benefits, Pins that show someone using a product or service are 67% more likely to drive offline sales. Pinners love to imagine how products will look IRL and using earned media helps to take a piece of the creative process off your plate.

Creating engaging and aspirational content that stops a user mid-scroll is the bread and butter of any visual marketing channel — especially on Pinterest, where 85% of users access the platform through a mobile device. Marketers need to ask what kind of content is going to inspire action.

The best creative starts with audience insights. How are Pinners going to use your product? What problem does it solve for them? And, considering Pinners are planners, what seasonal events are upcoming that your audience is thinking about?

To keep up with the demand, don’t forget about photos and videos from other channels and sources. Now — there’s a big difference between reusing and repurposing content. Smart brands will repurpose content, such as blog posts, but put thought into how it will perform on Pinterest. Pinners are often searching for solutions and how-to ideas — translation: they’re likely to spend more time with your content to investigate. As Pinterest tested, stitching together photos and videos to tell a compelling, complete story resulted in seven times more engagement than a single image.

The Rise of the Pinfluencer

Influencer marketing quickly became an instrumental part of leading brands’ marketing toolkits. It’s not a new concept but one that requires a different approach for Pinterest.

As we know, Pinners are in the mindset of purchasing and planning, and they search Pinterest for inspiration on which product is the best. It’s basically an influencer’s haven. The opportunity remains unsaturated — rare to find these days on digital mediums.

92% of brands who invest in influencers on Pinterest see success. There’s an opportunity for serious ROI, considering a single Pin can drive engagement for over four months, providing value long after the content is live — no more fleeting posts with short-term impact.

There are a few things to keep in mind when blazing the trail with Pinfluencers. Pinterest is all about inspiration and aspiration. This means you should allow influencers to create authentic content that’s going to resonate with their audience without feeling too “in their face”. Pinterest isn’t about followers and voice; it's about delivering content that your audience can place themselves in.

This is an opportunity to get creative with your marketing efforts without a huge investment upfront because of the lower demand for Pinfluencers. Measuring results has only gotten easier since Pinterest released in-depth influencer analytics. So, get going while the going is good.

Pinterest Video

The first question you need to ask is whether or not your product or service would look good in action. For most brands, the answer is a resounding yes. Motion makes it easy for consumers to imagine a product in real life — and the more they can picture it, the more inclined Pinners are to make a purchase.

Alternatively, for publishers and media companies, a quick video is an effective way to tease your content and incentivize that coveted click. The effectiveness of video is even higher on a channel like Pinterest because the majority of content in the main feed is static.

While anyone can Pin from other sources, only verified businesses can add native video content into the feed.

All you have to do is find the big plus sign on the homepage to create a Pin.

Next, upload your video and use the slider to find a cover photo. Pop in a snappy title and Pin description, then select “choose aboard” to organize it into whatever category you’d like.

Finally, enter a link for Pinners to go to when they click on your vid. Hit publish and voila — it’s live.

Tech Specs and Best Practices

Once your creative vision is realized, focus on the technical specs of the upload. Lo-fi video is great but only works as a style when it’s done intentionally. The wrong file type, size, or codec can take a post from lo-fi to low impact.

If you want content to appear in the feed as envisioned, you need to show it in its best proverbial light. That means your specs should be a combination of the following:

File Type: .mp4 | .mov | .m4v

Encoding: H.264 | H.265

Max File Size: 2GB

Video Length: 4 Seconds - 15 Minutes

Recommended Aspect Ratio: 1:1 (Square) | 2:3 (Vertical) |  9:16 (Vertical)

Copy also has an impact on video performance. Because Pinterest operates primarily as a search engine, adding a couple of keywords into your title and description helps Pinners find it organically. There’s a copy character count (100 for the title and 500 for the description), but most people will see only the first 50-60 characters in their feed. Use this space wisely.

A technical detail to keep in mind when posting video is the sound. People Pin whenever inspiration hits, which could be in a circumstance where sound isn’t an option. In this context, visually driven content is your best bet. If sound is an important element, adding captions for any dialogue is a great way to grab Pinners’ attention and help them understand your message in a way that’s significantly more accessible.

Pinterest Advertising

Users are already in a purchase mindset when they go to Pinterest. Pinterest Advertising capitalizes on Pinners’ intent and empowers brands to maximize ROI with targeted keywords and audience selection.

Brand marketers tackle Pinterest with a unique lens compared to visual channels like Instagram and Facebook. Similarly, advertisers are tasked with combining their approach to paid social with SEO best practices to optimize their Pinterest advertising strategy.

Pinterest Advertising adds an extra layer to the channel’s revenue-generating capabilities. Ads are served to users in the form of “Promoted Pins.” With Promoted Pins, brands can target specific audiences based on criteria like geography and gender, as well as keywords and verticals.

Why Brands are Advertising on Pinterest

According to Pinterest, Promoted Pins typically earn $2 in profit for every $1 spent. And 1 out of 2 Pinterest users have made a purchase after seeing a Promoted Pin. It’s the best of both worlds. Advertisers can serve ads to users who are searching for their products with keyword targeting. Alternatively, brands can engage Pinners who are passively browsing by targeting interests and specific demographics.

Pinterest Analytics measures the results of your ads and determines which Promoted Pins are performing the best with your target audience. Brands can leverage Pinterest’s in-platform analytics to measure Promoted Pin performance and inform their advertising strategy. And brands that are investing in Pinterest ads are seeing real results. A recent study found that for every $100 spent on Pinterest ads, brands produced $60 more in profit compared to other channels.

Convert Pinners Into Customers

Similar to other advertising channels, Pinterest ads run on an auction system. To create a Promoted Pin, advertisers need to choose an objective and targeting criteria. There are four objectives to choose from: brand awareness, video view, traffic, and app installs.

Based on your brand’s product, visual strategy, and KPIs, you can select an objective that best fits your goals. From there, brands place “bids” on Promoted Pins shown to their target audience. The brand that places the highest bid has its ad served. The objective that you select determines how you bid in the auction.

  1. Brand Awareness: If you want your Pin to be seen by as many relevant users as possible, this objective will best optimize your campaign. Brands pay per 1,000 impressions.
  2. Video Views: Similar to brand awareness, the goal is to put your video in front of as many relevant Pinners as possible. Brands pay per cost per view, when users watch your video for more than two seconds.  
  3. Traffic: The goal is to drive traffic to your site. While all of the objectives allow brands to drive users to their website, this option is unique because brands pay-per-click rather than impressions.
  4. App Install: The goal is to encourage users to download your app. Brands pay per click for this objective.
  5. Conversions: The goal is to drive Pinners to take action. CTAs include: Check Out, Sign up, Add to cart. Brands pay per click.
  6. Shopping Catalogue: The goal is for Pinners to discover your Promoted Pin while browsing Pinterest. Brands can choose to pay per click or per 1,000 impressions.

Optimize Your Pinterest Ads

Once advertisers determine what they’re aiming to achieve with their paid Pinterest campaign, selecting the visuals is the next step. Compelling photos and videos are at the heart of Pinterest — and your Promoted Pin performance.

Instead of wasting resources on testing paid Pinterest campaigns, start with your organic Pinterest performance. The users who are engaging with your organic Pins likely resemble the audience you’re targeting in your advertising. Understanding what types of organic Pins resonate with users will inform the visuals you select for your Pinterest ads and fuel your paid strategy.

With Dash Hudson, you can surface meaningful insights that inform which Pins are engaging your brand's target market and, ultimately, driving traffic and revenue. Easily uncover what visuals are inspiring action from Pinners and monitor KPIs to have a pulse on your Pinterest performance. This insight will fuel your photo and video selection for Promoted Pins and ensure you have a consistent visual strategy across your organic and paid Pins.

The Power of Promoted Pins

Pinterest is already built with conversions in mind and Promoted Pins equip advertisers with the tools to capitalize on Pinners’ purchase mindset. Advertisers can optimize their campaign performance by selecting an objective that best suits their KPIs and target specific audiences.

Where Pinterest differs from other platforms is its search engine capabilities. Users go to Pinterest with intent. Brands can bid on keywords to capitalize on Pinners’ intent — and maximize ROI.

Pin It to Win It

Many visual mediums are centered around personal popularity and peer-to-peer engagement, but Pinterest is perfectly positioned to foster positivity, excitement, and hope. Pinterest is where users go to get inspiration for their life and purchases. It’s not about projecting an image — authenticity is at the heart of the Pinternet.

To effectively craft a Pinterest marketing strategy that will generate real results for your brand, you need to keep a pulse on which types of Pins and boards are performing with your target audience. From there, the revenue and brand-building opportunities on Pinterest are endless.

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