Optimizing Pinterest for the Buyer’s Journey
This is a post written by our Seattle intern, Tammy Yu. Tammy is a recent graduate from the University of Washington who majored in Informatics and is soon to be a full time Distiller.
According to Pinterest, 72% of survey respondents said Pinterest helps them find ideas for their everyday lives, and 1 out of 2 users have made a purchase after seeing a Promoted Pin. With 200 million users monthly, Pinterest is becoming a powerful tool for ecommerce retailers to connect with their current and potential consumers. In this post, I highlight the buyer’s journey and suggest ways to optimize each step in the funnel on Pinterest: awareness, consideration, and decision.
At this stage, potential buyers become aware of a problem or opportunity. It’s the light bulb that lights up inside their heads and they realize there’s a problem. This can happen on or off the platform.
On the platform: A user came across a repin of a nice houseplant. This sparked interest in a need for a houseplant.
Off the platform: A user sees a houseplant while visiting a friend’s house. This creates a need for a houseplant.
Although we can’t account for awareness that takes place off the platform, we can account for awareness that takes place on the platform.
Think of this stage as a potential domino effect: one user who shares your pin might bring about awareness and interest in another user. To make your pins engagement-worthy, refer to the next stage, consideration, for more tips.
The awareness stage focuses on growing your reach and gaining more exposure for your pins so that the domino effect can occur.
Collaborate on group boards
Group boards are great for brands looking to gain more exposure on their pins. They’re “owned” by one Pinner, though the board shows up in the profiles of all the collaborators. As a collaborator, your pin to a group board is shown to the users that follow that board. You have the potential to gain more exposure and increase your odds of getting repinned.
Install the Pinterest “Save” button on your site
Installing a Pinterest “Save” button makes pinning images easier for a user and also your marketing/social team.
If a visitor on your site finds an item interesting, the pre-installed save button makes it easy for them to save your product and image to their Pinterest board(s). When one person saves a pin to their profile, their followers can also see the pin, potentially creating awareness in another user.
Rather than uploading a pin manually, you can pin any image on your site by using the save button. Tip: pin from your site, rather that repinning from others. According to Pinterest, it makes your pin more credible.
At this stage, potential buyers are researching, discovering, and evaluating their options.
Furthering the houseplant example: the potential buyer searches on Pinterest for more ideas of what kind of houseplant to buy.
Pinterest users need to be able to find your pins before they can consider your products as a possible solution. Make your products relevant to the potential buyer, give them the information they need about your product, and show them how your product can solve their problem to help drive a decision -- “yes, I want that product!”.
Use captivating images
High quality image
Nothing’s worse than seeing a crappy image on a platform built on visuals. Use high quality images that grab a user’s attention.
Pinterest recommends the following for images:
File type: .PNG and .JPG
Max file size: 10 MB
Aspect ratio: 1.5 (truncates after 2.8 aspect ratio)
Text overlay can be a faster method to communicate a CTA (call to action) or short descriptive text with the user because it requires the user to look at only your image (which they’re most likely doing already), rather than your pin description. This would also be a good place to use your keyword research, to make the text overlay more relevant to the user. I will talk more about keyword research below!
If you decide to use text overlay, make sure the text does not interfere with the entire image or the corners, especially on top of important elements or products in the image. Doing so will interfere with visual search and results. For anyone without fancy shmancy photo editing programs, try Canva.
Conduct keyword research
Conduct keyword research to improve your targeting and increase your pins’ chances of being seen.
Using visual search, take a picture of whatever it is you’re pinning and see what other results come up. You can learn from other competitors or the suggested keyword terms that appear in search.
Pinterest Guided Search
Type in your keyword in the search bar and press enter. See what other search terms show up below the search bar. You can also learn from competitors and other Pinners to see what they’re using in their descriptions.
SEO best practices for Pinterest
Pinterest is a platform that relies heavily on its search abilities. Optimize your Pinterest components to ensure your profile, boards, and pins can be found in user searches. Use your keyword research here!
Business Account & Verification
If you haven’t already done so, make sure you set up a business account and “claim” your website. Business accounts give you access to Pinterest Analytics. “Claiming” your website will ensure your profile picture will show up on any pins made from your site. According to Pinterest, verified/claimed accounts will have their pins appear higher in the search results.
Profile Description & Website Link
Create a descriptive profile description to let readers know what your company is all about. Make sure to link your website on your profile as well!
Boards & Sections Names
Consider naming your boards and sections something specific and unique, yet also descriptive of the pins it entails. In a sea of boards all titled nearly the same thing, you want to stand out.
Use CTAs in descriptions to help the potential buyer understand what they can gain from looking at your board.
Include keywords in your pin descriptions & img alt tags on website
Pin descriptions are also used as the alt tag for images on Pinterest and vice versa. As a result, a pre-populated pin description will appear when a user saves a pin from your site. When it comes to pin descriptions (and img alt tags), implement the following best practices:
Describe the image accurately.
Include keywords towards the beginning of your descriptions so that it’s more likely to appear in search results.
Use CTAs in descriptions to help the potential buyer understand what they can gain from looking at your pin.
Pinterest recommends a description of a maximum of 500 characters.
Links should go directly to the product page
Make sure to link your pins back to your site! If your pin is focused on a product, link to that specific product. Consider using Google Analytics’ URL Builder to keep track of your referring traffic source.
Show how versatile your product is
Have a product that can be used in different ways (e.g. furniture, apparel)? Post several different pins (with different images) to better capture the versatility of your product and how it can be used in different ways and for different people. This will help the potential buyer understand how the product is relevant to them, and ultimately increase your chances of conversion.
At this stage, your potential buyer has done all the research and has now made the final decision. Here, your focus is to help your buyer purchase your product, should they decide your product best fits their needs.
To continue with the houseplant example: the potential buyer has decided they want to purchase one of your houseplants.
Make purchasing your products easy as possible.
Shorten the buying process to make purchasing easy and painless.
Make use of buyable pins
Buyable Pins allow you to sell products on Pinterest. The great news for ecommerce businesses: it’s free! Buyable Pins allow users to shop and checkout directly on the platform, without having to leave.
Directly link your pin to the product page, rather than the home page.
Linking directly to your product will ensure your potential buyer can find exactly the item they were viewing on Pinterest, eliminating the need to search your website to find the product.
Make checkout as easy as possible on your site.
Although I won’t touch too much on this subject since it takes place off Pinterest, do consider the user flow of purchasing a product on your site. Think about what can be improved about this process and follow UX best practices.
Use Rich Pins
Rich Pins provide more information on the pin, in comparison to traditional non-Rich Pins. At the moment, there are four types of Rich Pins: app, product, recipe, and article. Product Rich Pins give your potential buyer all the information they need to make a purchase: pricing, availability, and a link to buy the product.
Personally, one of my biggest pain points about getting ideas from Pinterest, is how incredibly hard it is to find the original source for products. When I come across something I want to buy, I can almost never find where to actually buy the item. Pinterest has made a lot of improvements to help solve this problem through verified businesses, visual search, product/Rich Pins, and Buyable Pins. If you haven’t already, now is the time for ecommerces to market on Pinterest.
Have you already taken the steps to optimize your Pinterest profile for the buyer’s journey? Consider conducting a social media content audit to learn more about your content’s strengths and weaknesses. Want more ways to grow your ecommerce through social media? Check out our post about driving traffic to your site from Instagram.
About the author
Sam joined Distilled in July 2018 as a Consultant. Originally from Italy, Sam studied Economics in Modena before moving to London for his Master's degree in Strategic Marketing at Imperial College. He has been working in