Pinterest started offering promoted posts relatively recently. They're currently available only for U.S. users, but you can sign up on a waiting list to be alerted to when they open it up worldwide. They're also currently rolling out buy-it-now pins that will let people buy items directly from pinned photos. If you sell things online, this is a wonderful thing. If, that is, you can get in on it, because they have a waiting list and they're being very slow to go through all of the applicants. But I digress...
Honestly, I don't do much with Pinterest. I pin things occasionally, but I don't spend a lot of time on there. I figured that this would actually be good, because I could see if my traffic increased a lot if I paid a little attention to my account.
So I decided to pay to promote a pin from my Etsy shop to see what would happen. I chose an item that sells relatively well, but that had recently slowed down a little. Since I'm pretty cheap I put a $5 a day limit on the ad and ran it for a week. I have to say that the results were very intriguing.
First step: Make sure that you're on your business page, not a personal page. I assume that you can only do this with a business account. Click on the "promote pins" button at the top right under your business name on the screen. You'll find the welcome page.
It will give you a little walkthrough/sales pitch that gives you a quick overview of the program.
When all that's done, you can choose either an engagement campaign, which looks like it's aimed at increasing the number of people who follow you, or a traffic campaign, which directs people to click to see your website. I chose the traffic campaign because I want people to go to my online store, and I would also only be charged for clicks to the store itself. In an engagement campaign you're charged for every click, closeup and pin on the post that you're promoting.
Now you can choose how to target the ad. This process isn't nearly as thorough as the facebook ads process, but you can choose a general geographic area if you want to keep it local. Since this is only for U.S. users at this point they give you a list of American cities to choose from, and if you have a preference for languages, devices etc you choose those next. You also choose the link that you want to direct the traffic to.
And now the results...These are the results from teh 5th day of a 7-day campaign, and it's pretty clear from the charts which day the pin started being promoted. Look at those increases in traffic to my Pinterest profile! So the ad was definitely effective in increasing the number of people to my pin.
Here's the actual number difference...To start, I had about 324 pin views per day. Remember that this is only the 5th day, too.
On the third day of the promotion I had 8210 pin views. Percentage-wise, those are huge increases. And the number of people in the "average monthly viewers" category doubled.
At the end of the campaign, my promoted pin had been shown in people's feeds over 39,000 times. 77 people repinned it and 32 clicked through to my store, which is when I was charged. So for a 7-day total of $4.36 the pin was saved to 77 people's boards.
This might sound low, but remember that when a pin goes on a board, it stays there. And if someone follows that board, they'll see the pin. and when they pin the pin it spreads it more. It's not like facebook or Instagram, where a picture goes by in your timeline and is gone. On Pinterest the value is that the picture stays there and is available for other people to find. For all eternity, or whatever...
So for $4.36, I got 32 new sets of eyes on my shop. The one weak link here is that I don't have a way to track how many sales actually happened because of people clicking through. That could be sales of the pinned item, or of any other item in my shop the people found only because they clicked on that pin. There's an option to create a piece of code to embed in your website code to have that information reported, but since I was pointing people to my Etsy shop I couldn't use it.
I did check in my Etsy stats, and the views coming from Pinterest increased, plus the item that I pinned was at the top of the favorited items category for that time period. Whether that would have happened anyway, I don't know, so that's the one weakness in my evaluation. Based on the number of sales of the listing in the last week, though, I do think that I got at least a few sales from it.
I think that the promoted Pin was worth doing, especially for that price, what the heck! If the 32 people who clicked through to my shop had never been there before and now know that it exists, it's worth $4.36 even with no sales. If they bought something while they were there I made money in the process.
I'm running another promoted Pin ad now to see how a less popular item gets pinned. If I get similar results exposure-wise, and if I actually sell a couple of those items, I'll be sold on the effectiveness of this kind of ad. The strength of Pinterest, as I said before, is that the pins stay there, and they don't get buried and forgotten by new content. I'll see what happens from here, but based on the results that I had I think that this is a good way to drive traffic to your site.
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, online cake supplies at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com