Having little experience beyond personal playing around on it, my view was that Pinterest was shaping up to be a fun toy, but had little value for marketers. Of course, I love to be proven wrong when someone can bring the numbers to back up their experience with a new “toy.”
Steve Gerencser from Steam Driven Media did just that; I was intrigued with his experience using Pinterest to drive traffic to client sites (and convert!) and asked him to share a few tips and tricks for marketers who want to use Pinterest.
Pinterest Works for Both E-Commerce and Brick-and-Mortar Stores
When this first came up, Gerencser was adamant that Pinterest was an amazing source of traffic for his clients, the majority of whom are high-end brick and mortar jewelry stores. Most have e-commerce sites, but there are some who are actually using Pinterest to drive traffic to their physical stores.
To gauge its success in the brick and mortar world, he went in to each store for employee training. Each and every paying customer answers questions about how they heard about and interact with the store. It is important, said Gerencser, that employees understand how the company uses Pinterest, which strategies work and why, and how they can participate.
He has been using Pinterest longer than most people I know, so I was interested in learning when it became more interesting to the marketer in him.
“We spotted Pinterest as a viable traffic source around Thanksgiving, one because I hang out in a lot of jewelry forums and a lot of people were literally begging for invites,” he said. “I asked for one just too what all the fuss was about. Shortly after that, I was looking at the analytics from one of our client sites and saw the traffic from Pinterest climbing, through no effort on our part. It was the people who come to her website driving this traffic; we had nothing to do with it but I was definitely keeping an eye on it.”
The first week of December, a Steam Driven Media client who sells fitness products online had their first 5,000 visitor day. That was when they decided to get in there and really start to test and experiment. Gerencser explained that they played with different types of photos, experimented with tying photos they wanted pinned to blog posts, and tried out watermarks.
“Now, every time something new is released, it gets pinned at several different levels,” said Gerencser. “So these are still her own followers driving the majority of the traffic. We’re not just pure marketing and it’s not a broadcast channel. We’re just using better pictures, making suggestions, repinning, and participating.”
Pinterest by the Numbers
Between February 1 and 20, Pinterest drove 73,000 visits to the fitness client site, 95 percent of which were new visits. The mobile site drove an additional 6,324 visits. This is a long established client account that has been with Gerencser for years, so he was able to compare Pinterest’s success against other, more established channels.
“We’re converting just under 1 percent of the Pinterest traffic in the online store. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re driving 75,000 people to the site, you make it up in volume. If you’re only driving 100 people to the site, obviously it’s not going to be worth it for you,” Gerencser said. However, if you have a product your customers are already pinning, it’s a pretty good clue there’s an opportunity there.
Gerencser shared with us that this particular client’s conversion rate for traffic from Facebook is somewhere around 4 percent, so even with the lower conversion, Pinterest is dominating.
Gerencser’s clients in the jewelry niche are seeing success with Pinterest, as well.
“We’re converting at 4 or 5% on fine jewelry but with less traffic,” he said. “We’re just now starting to do some lower price point items. We don’t have trends to speak to yet about that, but obviously we’re interested in seeing where that goes.”
Pinterest is blowing the client’s YouTube traffic out of the water. However, said Gerencser, their YouTube video views have tripled since they started pinning the videos.
How to Use Pinterest for Marketing
If you’re looking for a sure-fire recipe for success, there just isn’t one – though there are plenty of creative ideas. Keep in mind that it’s relatively new, the level of interest in your pins will vary widely depending on the industry, and there simply isn’t enough historical data to say, “This will definitely work and this won’t.”
With all of that said, Gerencser now has all of his clients using it and has shown me enough data to make me a believer. He shared a few tips for marketers getting into Pinterest or trying to build their presence.
2 Things That Will Pretty Much Kill You on Pinterest
First, don’t watermark or brand your images. People will recommend this – don’t do it.
Second, don’t use a price tag banner. Again, it just doesn’t work.
“With the volume of traffic we have with this client, we can test and get real traffic out of it easily. When you watermark something, the initial pins do okay, but you will lose on repinning. It only gets about 10 percent,” Gerencser said. “We’ve seen some with price tags not get repinned at all. Take the price tag off and it travels as normal.”
Take Advantage of What Data You Can Get Your Hands On
Pinterest.com/source show pins and repins, but it doesn’t appear to keep the history for long. You’ll see that same picture over and over again, as there’s a new stack for each pin. You can see the original and repins others are sharing from your site.
It’s a very manual process to get the data out of there, but paired with your analytics data, it gives you a better idea of how Pinterest is working for you.
When Setting up Your Account, Use a Real Name Unless You’re a Major Brand
Most businesses can’t pull off using the company name. The same thing goes with the profile picture; don’t make it a logo unless you’re a major brand.
Pinterest is personal and social. If you’re going to pretend you’re a corporation, you’ll be ignored.
Be Careful About the Board Names You Use
You want to be a little unique, but you don’t want to be so vague or out there that visitors don’t understand what you are talking about. If users see something come through the stream, look at your board name and it doesn’t make sense, they’re probably not going to click on it and follow your board.
Take “nom nom noms,” for example; if you’re into the Food categories and you understand what that means, great. But if you’re using industry-specific terminology for your boards, some people just won’t get it.
Bounce Rate Isn’t Necessarily a Relevant Metric
You may have noticed the higher bounce rate shown in the above screenshot. Gerencser said he doesn’t care about bounce rates all that much.
“I’d rather have them come to the site and leave than never have come at all,” he said. “We’re tracking the entire sales funnel and time to sale, with sales happening almost a month later in some cases. So if they visit, bookmark and bounce but buy later, that’s still a sale. Conversions don’t always happen the same day.”
Your Experience With Pinterest?
Are you using Pinterest for clients or your own business? Let us know how it’s working for you in the comments!
The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start - to help you master being found on search engines. Early Bird rates available through Sept 12. Register today!