Pinterest social media online shopping

Pinterest is frequently in the news these days — and for reasons beyond its IPO. Recently, the influential social site rolled out even more updates to improve product recommendations and support advertisers. Investing in new digital channels tends to prompt advertisers to proceed with caution. But, the robust customer-oriented features Pinterest has added to its advertising capabilities offers a massive opportunity for brands to drive traffic and sales.

For luxury fashion brands facing an uphill battle to master a digitally focused media mix that doesn’t compromise brand integrity, Pinterest is an obvious choice. As an established platform with ample shopper data and deep-rooted user habits, it is at the intersection of social network and search engine.

If you aren’t quite sure how to make the platform work for you, we will show you how you, too, can take a performance-driven approach to Pinterest by exploring the pros and cons of the platform and the steps needed to set up your program for success.

To best take advantage of the platform, factor the following into your decision to invest and get top takeaways to drive sales for your brand.

What’s Not to Love? Seamless Integration, Creative Freedom and Cross-Device Tracking

Like merchandising buyers rely on preseason markets to gauge next season’s trends, consumers depend on research tools to plan for future milestones. Whether searching for outfit inspiration for the holiday party or determining which boots are in style this fall, 90 percent of users look to Pinterest for their next purchase ideas. So, it’s an ideal platform for brands to guide customers along the shopping journey.

Where Pinterest really makes its mark is as a visual discovery engine. Actively considering what to do and buy next, Pinners value brands that offer relevant ideas for the moments they are planning for. They come to get inspired — looking for the full picture. Seventy-three percent of Pinners find brand content useful and 50 percent purchase after seeing a promoted Pin. Brands that can creatively frame their products in their consumers’ feeds have huge potential with eager shoppers.

Laura Russell

Laura Russell  Courtesy Photo

While seamless integration into a consumer’s feed makes Pinterest an enjoyable advertising experience for the users, the platform’s wide range of targeting options and accurate reporting makes it desirable for advertisers. With the ability to place ads on home feeds and in search results, Pinterest offers the best of both worlds for social and search engine marketing. They allow advertisers to target by audience and specific query, and strategic brands can build out their audiences to include custom lists using their audience data, act-a-likes, interest, behaviors, demographics and more. Because a login is required to access the platform, brands are reaching audiences where they’re spending time, whether on desktop or mobile, without losing tracking across devices.

Where the Shoe Could Drop: Long-Game Strategy in a Competitive Market

We’ve described Pinterest as a visual discovery engine, and the emphasis is on discovery. Pinners are in the early stages of the customer journey when browsing the platform. If the goal of the campaign is direct response or last-click conversions, brands may not see the results they’re seeking. Pinners are planning two to three months ahead of a purchase, with an average buying cycle between 21 and 25 days. Advertisers must view Pinterest as a long-term strategy to drive sales to reap the most value from the platform.

With a wide reach in audience, Pinterest has become highly competitive in the top verticals, especially fashion. There are about 46 million monthly active users interested in fashion, and 20 million of them are searching for fashion-related key words monthly. Ninety-seven percent of Pinterest searches are nonbranded. Although this presents a chance for brand exposure with ideal audiences in the early discovery phase, brands will need a refined content and targeting strategy to spend resources and ad dollars efficiently.

Top Takeaways to Set Yourself Up for Success on Pinterest

Now that we’ve given an overview of how Pinterest may fit into your media mix, here are our top three best practices to help you take a performance-based approach:

Pin Down Your Plan Early

Trends happen earlier on Pinterest compared to search engines like Google. Invest accordingly on Pinterest’s search platform to capitalize on consumers planning ahead. Use Pinterest to drive interest early through nonbrand key words and get in front of new customers in the ideation stage.

According to Oracle Data Cloud, Pinterest users are 48 percent more likely to shop at women’s high-end fashion retailers. With 72 percent of Pinners reporting that Pinterest inspires them to start shopping, even when they weren’t planning to, advertisers have the chance to engage these audiences before their buying cycle even begins. Investing in evergreen media, as well as leveraging peak periods, is crucial.

Maintain Good Campaign Hygiene

With a highly competitive auction and a jumble of content pushed on to users, advertisers should follow these best practices on Pinterest to win at the best cost-per-click by serving the most relevant content to audiences and creating a seamless user experience.

• Identify top items your brand wants to push

• Identify audiences and key word targets for these items

• Match creative to objective and create tightly themed pins

• Use “quality over quantity” when it comes to selecting keywords to target

Measure online impact, measure off-line impact, and then measure again.

Just like on any other channel, measuring your investment is vital to seeing success. Recognizing what role Pinterest plays in your customer journey is important to deciding how you measure its impact. Because Pinterest is known to influence online and in-store purchases, do not judge the channel’s performance solely using Google Analytics or an equivalent.

After adding Pinterest to their marketing mix, one of our retail clients saw a 21.8 percent return on ad spend from their Pinterest shopping strategy versus an average of a 1.3 percent ROAS in other shopping engines.

Adding a digital channel to your media mix should be done strategically. Understanding how Pinterest can work for your brand and with your other channels is imperative. The platform’s troves of shopper data, user-focused advertising enhancements, and established market share make it an easy lever to pull. If you do invest, make sure to do so early, maintain a clean campaign structure, and continuously measure for impact. Then you, too, can turn pins into profit.

Laura Russell is director of strategy at Adlucent.

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