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Selling on Pinterest: How to Build a Following & Make Sales on Pinterest in 2019

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Selling on Pinterest
Selling on Pinterest: How to Build a Following & Make Sales on...
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Pinterest has more than 250 million active users. Yet, the platform is often overlooked by ecommerce businesses. This is a mistake.

Users are twice as likely to say time on Pinterest is well-spent compared to rival platforms, and two-thirds have discovered a new product from a business account.

In short:

Selling on Pinterest is a huge opportunity for ecommerce brands to get their products in front of eager consumers.

So in this guide, we’ll take a look at exactly how to sell on Pinterest. And how you can build a strategy to use the platform for driving sales.

What is selling on Pinterest?

Selling on Pinterest is about driving ecommerce sales specifically via the Pinterest social network. This can come in a variety of ways, including driving targeted traffic to an online store or directly on Pinterest itself via Rich Pins, Buyable Pins, Promoted Pins or Shop the Look Pins.

This guide will cover how to use all of these, as well as putting into place a sales-driving strategy behind the scenes.

How to know if selling on Pinterest will work

Pinterest is a social platform that lets ‘Pinners’ (AKA users) save ‘Pins’ to ‘Boards’ that are arranged on their profile.

Any link or image can be turned into a Pin that Pinners can refer back to later. Each Pin takes the user back to the website it was saved from, making them a neat and tidy way for people to store ideas and inspirational sources that they find online.

As a visual discovery tool, Pinterest is unrivalled and ideally suited to a wide variety of ecommerce stores. Two of the most obvious examples include fashion and home decor retailers.

Fashion

In fashion, a picture really is worth a thousand words. The entire industry is built around aesthetics, making fashion retailers a natural fit for selling on Pinterest.

Boasting over 5 million followers, luxury department store Nordstrom offers an excellent example of what Pinterest can give visual brands.

They have some excellent Pins curating items into outfits and styles to match specific occasions:

Nordstrom selling on Pinterest Western Chic & Vacation Pins

Clicking each Pin takes you straight to a landing page where you can add any (or all) the items to your basket within a couple of clicks. Selling on Pinterest like this means it’s never been easier for customers to buy something that catches their eye.

Home decor

When renovating a new home, a lot of people use pictures as a source of inspiration to find creative ideas.

Whether it’s mid-century modern, hygge or bohemian chic – home and decor stores use Pinterest to provide DIYers with the best online lookbook you can imagine.

For example:

With over 1.2 million monthly views, IKEA UK uses its Pinterest profile to share tips and ideas on how to incorporate their products into people’s homes. A quick glance at their Boards page reveals over 30 Boards, which include living room ideas, kitchen ideas, Christmas decorating ideas and much much more:

IKEA UK selling on Pinterest Boards example

Clicking one of these Boards reveals hundreds of Pins showcasing brilliantly decorated rooms. Taking children’s bedroom ideas as an example, within a couple of clicks you’re taken to page on Ikea’s site where you can order all the items on display without fuss.

It leads with a great, inspirational image of the room itself:

IKEA UK children's bedroom idea

Followed by a super clear and easy way to add any or all of the items to your cart for purchase underneath:

IKEA UK selling on Pinterest product listings

All in all:

The key to remember is that Pinterest users are usually actively looking for visual inspiration on specific things. Like decorating a room, landscaping a garden, planning a wedding or finding a new dress.

If your ecommerce business lends itself well to this kind of content, selling on Pinterest should be a perfect fit for you.

How to use Pinterest effectively

Pinterest for Business works in the exact same way as it does for ordinary users. So here’s a quick run-down on how to make the most of Boards and Pins as a brand.

Boards

After setting up your Pinterest for Business account, you’ll be ready to start creating Boards. To do this, from your Pinterest profile:

  1. Click the Boards tab.
  2. Click the red plus sign to create a new board.
  3. Enter a name for your board.
  4. Return to the Boards tab, click the name, and then the pencil icon.

Clicking the pencil icon will allow you to create a description of your Board and choose its category.

Pinterest only allows 500 characters to define your Board – so use them wisely. Think about keywords, hashtags, and remember to pick a descriptive name so people can find you.

And remember: you can switch your Board to private until you’re ready for people to find it.

Pins

To catch people’s attention on Pinterest, your images need to pop. You’ll want to use the highest quality pictures you have and, if possible, create compelling videos and animated GIFs too.

High-quality free image websites can dig you out of a hole if you don’t have the time, skills or resource to create unique visuals.

Once you’ve sourced an eye-catching image, there are techniques that will help you create Pins that generate more clicks:

  • Use keywords in your image file name.
  • Fill out the description.
  • Keep your branding consistent (fonts, graphics, and graphics).
  • Include a call to action.

Primark uses all these elements in the example below to give their Pins the best chance for success:

Primark selling on Pinterest Pin example

What to post when selling on Pinterest

A well-organised profile is essential if you’re going to help people find your Boards, Pins and products for selling on Pinterest.

The best tactic for achieving this is creating boards around themes that either tell a story or illustrate what your products can offer people. Just remember that it’s about showcasing your products in a visually inspiring way.

To help fire your imagination, here are some initial theme ideas:

  • Top-selling products.
  • Product collections.
  • Trending now.
  • Seasonal (summer, winter, autumn, and spring).
  • Events or activities (
  • Special offers.
  • Promotions.
  • Discounts.
  • Christmas/Holiday ideas.
  • Ideas around other key retail dates.
  • Recipes.
  • Departments.

With a total of 80 boards, John Lewis has embraced this approach to Board creation and provides an excellent source of inspiration:

John Lewis Pinterest Boards

Building a following on Pinterest

Whatever social media platform you invest in, its success depends on the number of engaged followers that you can attract. In the spirit of building a community around your business on Pinterest, there are several routes you can explore.

A great place to start is by actively taking part on the platform:

  • Commenting on other people’s Pins.
  • Re-pinning other people’s Pins.
  • Tagging other people’s Pins in your own.

This will help demonstrate your ability to start conversations, share ideas and become a leading voice in your niche.

You could also join a group board as a contributor. Like this Home Decor one:

Pinterest Home Decor Group Board

However, if you take this path, you’ll need to make sure your Pins are valuable, striking and not overly promotional.

So it’s a good idea to link to blogs, videos and other forms of content marketing, rather than straight products.

Making sales on Pinterest

Now that you know your business is suited to Pinterest, how to set up Pins and Boards, what to post and building a wider audience – it’s time to cover how to sell on Pinterest too.

For this, there are four very important types of Pin to consider using:

  1. Rich Pins
  2. Promoted Pins
  3. Buyable Pins
  4. Shop the Look Pins.

Let’s take a deeper look at each one:

1) Rich Pins

Rich Pins provide more context about an idea because they show extra information directly on a Pin. There are four types: product, recipe, app and article.

Product Pins are specifically designed with retailers in mind and include extra information like real-time pricing, availability and information on where Pinterest users can buy the product featured:

Selling on Pinterest with Rich Product Pins

Rich Pins are free to use and show up in your followers’ feeds. Making it much easier to drive users with buying intent over to your website.

Adding Rich Pins involves:

  • Marking up a product or article with rich meta tags via Open Graph or Schema.org.
  • Adding the URL of the page to Pinterest’s Rich Pin validator tool.
  • Clicking the ‘Apply’ button (which will appear if the webpage is marked up properly).

2) Buyable Pins

Buyable Pins are slightly different in that they allow users to purchase from retailers directly on Pinterest. Cutting out that extra step of being redirected to a third-party online store.

Here’s a video showing perfectly how it works:

Pinterest has strict guidelines when it comes to Buyable Pins, and the feature is currently only available in the US. But in short, this type of Pin must feature an appropriate product and be backed up by high-quality customer service.

Most businesses can apply for Buyable Pins via their ecommerce platform (like Shopify or BigCommerce). Once accepted, you’ll receive an email running through the process of setting up a ‘Protected Products Board’ especially for Buyable Pins.

The simplest way to then add products to a Buyable Pins Board is with the Pinterest Save browser extension. Allowing you to add a Buyable Pin directly to your Pinterest account when on any website product page.

3) Promoted Pins

These are a great way to use paid advertising to get your Pins out to a wider audience. Allowing you to build a following and generate sales quicker.

Promoted Pins are really easy to set up with Pinterest Ads Manager – and fit seamlessly in with your Boards and Pin style.

If you’re looking to build brand awareness, increase in-store or online sales and drive online traffic back to your site, setting up Promoted Pins could be great for your business.

4) Shop the Look Pins

Until late 2018, Shop the Look Pins were only available to the largest ecommerce stores. Now, any brand with a business account can take full advantage of them via a free product-tagging tool.

The tool can be used to tag any product featured within an image. These tags appear as small white dots, which users can click to see more information – including pricing, stock availability and a link to buy:

Selling on Pinterest via Shop the Look Pins

These are a great way to combine several of your products into one image or Pin. Meaning you can show off great visual styles without the post’s first impression being littered with product info.

Shop the Look Pins are generally best suited to fashion and home decor retailers, but have been known to generate almost twice as many clicks as regular Pins.

Final thoughts

Pinterest is best suited for engaging customers as a visual discovery tool. So selling on Pinterest is extremely effective when it comes to products lending themselves well to imagery and visual social media posts.

Before doing anything, make sure of two things:

  1. Enough of your target audience is actively using Pinterest in order to make it worth your while.
  2. Your products and/or business niche aligns with the kind of posts that do well on the platform.

If both of these points go well with your business, then Pinterest could be a powerful way to make customers fall in love with your products and brand. And running through the tactics outlined above is the best place to start.

Have you had any success or failures selling on Pinterest with your ecommerce brand? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.

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Written by Patrick Foster

Ecommerce Consultant at Ecommerce Tips
Patrick Foster is an ecommerce consultant at Ecommerce Tips, which is an industry-leading ecommerce blog dedicated to sharing business and entrepreneurial insights from the sector.

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