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To continue the Effective Use of Social Media for eCommerce series, we’re addressing Pinterest. Pinterest is an effective platform for making a positive impact for retailers. It is an image-based social networking site of over 70 million users that can help retailers increase sales. In 2013, Pinterest had the greatest increase in American user base of any social networking site. Given that it’s a relatively new player in the social media world, many marketers haven’t taken full advantage of it’s benefits yet. Here are some tips to help incorporate Pinterest into your Social Media strategy.

1. Build a Library of Inspiring Images

According to a Bizrate survey, 70% of consumers say they use Pinterest for inspiration on what to buy. High quality, editorial style images are what Pinterest users expect, and are great for expanding brand recognition. Using these images to provide further information (like how to tie a scarf) makes a more meaningful connection with consumers.

2. Ditch the Logos, Price Tags, and Watermarks

Since Pinterest is about inspiration rather than selling, images should not be sales-oriented. Pinterest users don’t like images with logos, price tags, and watermarks, which are perceived as making the images look like marketing materials. Your brand’s images for Pinterest should be strictly “no-pressure.” This is an important factor to keep in mind as Pinterest expands into the native advertising and potentially the ecommerce world.

3. Depict Products in Realistic Settings

Pinterest users like images that offer context, not just a product on a plain white background. People perceive simple product shots as “salesy,” and prefer images used in settings indicative of a certain aspirational lifestyle. Make sure your images put your products into scenes or vignettes.

4. Connect Pins With In-Store Merchandise

Retailer Nordstrom has over 4 million Pinterest followers. One way they connect Pinterest users with actual in-store products is to place tags with Pinterest logos next to frequently pinned products in actual stores. This created a positive feedback loop that encouraged even more people to follow the brand on Pinterest.

5. Use Vertical Rather than Horizontal Images

The layout of Pinterest restricts the size of rows, but not columns, so horizontal images show up smaller than vertical ones and are thus less eye-catching. Ideally the width-height ratio should be about 1:3 for highest visibility and greatest visual impact.

6. Make Followers Feel Like They’re in a Privileged Group

Again, Nordstrom leads the way in this strategy. The retailer makes a huge effort to make its Pinterest followers feel like part of a special community. With over 13,000 items over 64 boards, Nordstrom presents attractive collections of product ideas categorized in ways that appeal to lifestyle, rather than specific product wants.

7. Make Your Customers Want to Pin

Though images on Pinterest should generate interest by themselves, more people share pins when they’re incentivized. This can take the form of daily prizes, or less frequent “grand prize” giveaways where people can enter by pinning images. You have to follow guidelines in this case, you can’t specify which products people pin or require them to make specific boards. Embrace the theme of Pinterest and allow customers to Pin what inspires them.

8. Present Your Brand as a Lifestyle

When people click through on Pinterest, they want to find tutorials, recipes, and DIY instructions. You can use your brand’s blog and your own Pinterest boards to offer users tips on designs and how to experience your products. Clothing retailer Anthropologie invites customers to bring their Pinterest inspirations to local stores for personal shopping assistance.

9. Enroll in the Rich Pins Program

Using the Rich Pins program starts with applying to be part of the program, and adding meta tags to your website. Once you’re approved, your pins automatically update with details from the meta tags so Pinterest users can get real-time information on prices, reviews, ingredients, and local availability of products.

10. Don’t Overdo It

You don’t necessarily have to pin all your products. In fact, an overloaded feed can make Pinterest users feel like they’re being sold to, and that’s not (primarily) why they use Pinterest. One smart way to roll out product pins is by adding popular products based on revenue and order volume, and slowly rolling out other products in batches at varying times of day.

Bizrate research found that 69% of online shoppers who use Pinterest have purchased or wanted to purchase items based on what they found on Pinterest versus 40% of Facebook users. A significant portion of Pinterest users consider the site as a place where they gain inspiration on what to buy. By having a consistent Pinterest strategy that rests on high-quality, editorial content, you can use Pinterest effectively to help increase sales and build brand loyalty.

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