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Pinterest Marketing 101: How to Successfully Promote Your Business on Pinterest

Pinterest marketing

If you’ve mastered one social media platform, it’s an easy trap to believe you’ve pretty much conquered them all. There are a few overlapping best practices, after all, between sites like Facebook, Instagram, and even YouTube.

And then Pinterest came along and threw a wrench in those plans.

Pinterest is a popular and valuable channel for almost any small business, though makers and marketers alike are often puzzled by Pinterest because it's so different from more conventional platforms.

In this starter guide, we’ll outline all of the fundamentals of using Pinterest for marketing, including how to set up your profile, how to optimize your pins, how to advertise on the platform, and, last but not least, how to measure your results.

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What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a social media platform that lets users (“pinners”) save pins that contain links, descriptions, and images onto different boards for later use. It’s a big visual search engine where people can find ideas for recipes and style inspiration, and even shop the brands they like. 

Pinterest has become a place where people feel good, with eight in 10 users saying the platform makes them feel positive. 

Users can create Pinterest pins by uploading images and links manually, stumble across pins they want to see in their feed, or find pins they’re looking for via search. The latter two are great opportunities to market to future customers.

Pinterest marketing example
Image courtesy of Pinterest

Pinterest is designed to store ideas and inspiration in a way other social media sites aren’t. Users are encouraged to organize what they find into different board names for easy navigation, and most pinners are primarily on Pinterest seeking and saving what they want to see—they generally don’t care if other people see what they’ve tagged or archived, because the platform’s just not about generating discussion or exchanging information.

Think internal versus external motivation. It’s why Pinterest has the option to create “secret” boards, which are private and can only be viewed by specific individuals who are given access.

How effective is Pinterest for marketing?

If you’re wondering why creating a Pinterest marketing strategy is worth the effort for your online store, check out the following reasons:

It has a growing international user base

Pinterest is the 14th most popular social network, with more than 478 million active users. While this number isn’t quite as big as other social networks, it’s growing. Pinterest’s quarter-over-quarter change in advertising reach went up by 6.2% in 2021, and should keep rising as it continues to add new customers to its ad targeting capabilities. 

Q1 2021’s user figures showed a 30.2% year-over-year increase. A majority of that increase came from the rise in international users throughout 2021, which grew by 37% year over year.

Pinterest can be a marketing powerhouse for online stores. Users buy products they stumble across on Pinterest organically at a much higher rate than the average social platform, and that’s partially because Pinterest users are proactively searching for things rather than just reactively scrolling through a feed.

There’s a place for every brand

Ninety-seven percent of searches on Pinterest are unbranded. This means users don’t search for particular brands when browsing the platform. Instead, they are looking for inspiration and discovering new ideas. 

98% of people polled by the brand say they try new things based on what they find on Pinterest. 

Brands can target buyers who are in the early stages of the purchase process, getting their product in front of them at the right time. You don’t need to hard sell on Pinterest. 

Ideal for product discovery

There are over 240 billion pins saved by users on Pinterest. So just what is everyone pinning about and what purpose do these pins serve? The majority of folk use them for product discovery. In fact, 80% of weekly pinners say they’ve discovered a new brand or product while browsing Pinterest. 

After relaunching our new site in June 2021, we took the opportunity to overhaul our Pinterest to provide people with relevant, engaging, product-centric content. We decided to make all our items available through Pinterest, so users could pin them on their boards. This made it easier for people to find AreYouGame, start the purchasing process, and spread product awareness. With this approach, we went from zero impressions to almost 700,000 in four months!

People use Pinterest to plan for the future. With a solid Pinterest marketing strategy, you can find and reach your audience on the platform. Pinterest provides interactive insights to go deeper into your audience demographics, interests, and behaviors, making it easy to tailor ads and create more effective pins. 

It’s become a place to shop

Pinterest recently reported, “Shopping ad revenue once again grew faster than our overall business and we saw a 6x increase in the number of businesses that used the shopping ads format in Q4 [of 2020].” This indicates that people aren’t just engaging with content on the platform, but they are also checking out.

Shoppers on Pinterest spend twice of much times on the platform per month than people do on other platforms. You can combine free shopping tools and paid campaigns to reach your audience. 

Pinterest found when brands add Shopping or Collections ads to their Pinterest mix, they see three times more conversions and a two times increase in return on ad spend. 

Product pins connect to your Shopify product catalog. Once you upload it, you get a Shop tab on your profile and people can find your products more easily. Users can also browse shoppable pins in the Shop tab of their search screen.

product pin

What types of businesses should use Pinterest?

Many businesses have the potential to get meaningful results from Pinterest, especially online stores selling physical goods that can be photographed.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies in general have a much easier time on Pinterest than business-to-business (B2B) companies, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for the latter to get traction on the platform. 

Let’s take a closer look at who typically uses Pinterest today.

Who uses Pinterest?

Women have historically used Pinterest more than men, and with greater frequency. While that’s still mostly true, the number of men on the platform is growing quickly. Women now make up 60% of the platform’s users, while younger men are beginning to join the platform.

Take a look at this info provided by Pinterest:

  • Male pinners and Gen Z pinners are up 40% year over year
  • 35% US millennial pinners are up 35% year over year
  • 45% of all pinners have household incomes of more than $100,000 annually

The household income statistic is crucial because it suggests Pinterest attracts users with a higher disposable income. This is reflected in additional data from Pinterest for Business, which shows that pinners are more likely to spend (and spend more) on everything from food to luxury goods.

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Set up your Pinterest profile for success

The first step to marketing on Pinterest is setting up an effective profile. Your profile lays the foundation for the rest of your marketing, and you’ll save a lot of time by getting it right now versus trying to “fix” everything later.

Make sure you set up a business account for your store instead of a personal one—this will give you access to Pinterest analytics, rich pins, and other advertising and marketing tools exclusive to business profiles. 

There are a few ways to create a Pinterest business account:

  1. Convert a personal account to a business one.
  2. Create a linked business account.
  3. Create a new business account.

Convert a personal account to a business one

If you already have a personal profile and have followers and content saved to it, you can convert it to a business profile. You can switch back to a personal account any time. 

  1. Log into your personal Pinterest account.
  2. From the top right of your screen, click the directional chevron down icon, then click Settings.
  3. From the left side navigation, click Account settings.
  4. Scroll down to Account changes.
  5. Under Account changes, find Convert to a business account.
  6. Click Convert account.
  7. Fill out the fields to Build your profile, then click Next.
  8. Fill out the fields to Describe your business, then click Next.
  9. Select if you want to run ads, then click Next.
  10. Select where you’d like to start, or click the X icon to go to your converted Pinterest business account.

Create a linked business account

A linked business account connects your personal and business accounts. You’ll log in with the same email and password and can easily switch between the two. 

  1. Log into your personal Pinterest account.
  2. From the top right of your screen, click the directional chevron down icon, then click Add account.
  3. Under Create a free business account, click Create.
  4. Click Create a linked business account.
  5. Click Create linked account.
  6. Fill out the fields to Build your profile, then click Next.
  7. Fill out the fields to Describe your business, then click Next.
  8. Select if you want to run ads, then click Next.
  9. Select where you'd like to start, or click the X icon to go to your linked Pinterest business account.

Create a new business account

If you want to create a new business account not connected to a personal one, do the following. 

  1. Head to Pinterest and create a business account.
  2. Enter your email, create a password and enter your age.
  3. Click Create account.
  4. Fill out the fields to Build your profile, then click Next.
  5. Fill out the fields to Describe your business, then click Next.
  6. Select if you want to run ads, then click Next.
  7. Select where you’d like to start, or click the X icon to go to your new Pinterest business account.

Once you set up a business profile, you can choose the next steps. Choose between: 

  1. Importing products from your Shopify store
  2. Running ads
  3. Showcasing your brand

Setting up Shopify profile

Create your Pinterest marketing strategy

Set goals

What do you want from your Pinterest marketing efforts? According to the 2021 Sprout Social Index, the most common goals for social include increasing brand awareness (58%) and community engagement (41%). Whether you want to grow your following or make sales, defining your Pinterest goals are the first step in achieving them. 

Setting goals are impactful for any marketing strategy because they let you look into your market and evaluate your businesses position. It offers a blueprint to identify strengths, find areas to improve, and track progress.

Realistic goals for Pinterest include:

  • Increase brand awareness, or get your name out there. Building awareness means publishing content that builds trust and shows your personality, not just posting promotional messages.
  • Generate leads and sales. Pinterest helps people find products and connect with brands. You can direct traffic to your website, where you can control the experience, get email sign-ups, etc. Or you can sell directly on Pinterest through product pins. Knowing your conversions and URL clicks helps you determine social media ROI. 
  • Build your audience. Finding different ways to get new Pinterest followers and introduce them to your brand. It also means having conversations with followers and taking advantage of industry trends. 
  • Boost engagement. The Sprout Social Index shows that 46% of consumers think brands that engage with their audience are best in class on social media. Experiment with messaging and content on Pinterest to grab the attention of your followers. 

Choose one or two goals above to start. Keeping it simple will help you stay focused and create content that achieves business goals. Set goals that are “SMART” (specific, measurable, achieve, relevant, timely). For example:

Improve Pinterest ROI 

Increase revenue from Pinterest 10% each quarter until end of year

Precise goals give you clarity around what needs to be done. It also keeps you organized and helps you plan better strategies that get results. 

Research your target market

Pinterest marketing truly starts with knowing your target audience. Spend time researching the different demographic data and observable patterns to build an image of your ideal Pinterest user. This will help inform your content creation and develop a tone and voice that resonates with them. 

If your business naturally focuses on a specific market (like dog owners), your job is already easier than trying to appeal to a broad audience on Pinterest. Here’s what we know about Pinterest already: 

Food and drink and home decor are the most popular categories on Pinterest. With health and fitness, women’s fashion, and health and beauty falling closely behind. 

Learn about your brand’s specific Pinterest audience. Look at what competitors are doing on Pinterest. As you begin posting and interacting on the platform, you’ll collect audience data that can be reviewed through Audience insights via Pinterest Analytics. It’ll give you real-time information on who interacts with your pins so you can better plan future marketing and ad content. 

Fill out your Pinterest business profile 

If you need to update any information, click on the pencil emoticon in your Business hub to edit your profile.

business hub

When creating your profile, keep your branding consistent with your site and other social media profiles. Match your username to your other usernames on sites like Facebook or Instagram if possible. You should also use the same logo for your profile picture, as it will make your business easy to recognize.

Setting up public profile

After filling in your information, click “Claim” in the left side navigation bar. On this page you can claim different business assets, such as your website, Etsy, and YouTube channel, and install the Pinterest app on Shopify.

Claim your website on Pinterest

Organizing your Pinterest boards

Board organization is key for several reasons, one being that if you break boards down into niche subsections you’ll get more followers. Here’s why:

  • You’ll be optimizing for more keywords users are searching for, which makes you easier to find.
  • Niche interests get a lot of attention on Pinterest, so niche boards will be more relevant to members of your target audience.
  • Users are quickly able to see what your board is about and if they’re interested.

Use separate Pinterest boards to market different types of products and to different audiences. You can also create sections, which are essentially boards-within-a-board to make organization easier.

Pinterest profile example

Want to see how this might look in practice? A jeweler could organize their Pinterest into the following boards:

  • Birthstone Jewelry, with sections for each month
  • The Meaning of Gemstones, which contains blog posts and on-site resources about the symbolic meaning and history of different types of gemstones
  • Engagement Rings, with sections sorted by style
  • Men’s Watches, with sections for different brand names

Take keywords into consideration

We’ll talk about keywords several times throughout this guide because they’re an essential part of marketing on Pinterest—and that’s all because of Pinterest’s search feature.

Pinterest is a unique platform because the SEO and social hybrid are ripe for shopping.

Lauren Petrullo, founder of Mongoose Media

Pinners commonly use the site to research buying decisions, and even to make direct purchases. You want to make sure your pins are showing up when they’re looking for products like yours. A good way to do this is to optimize for different keywords within a single pin.

Use relevant keywords in the pin description that align to the page you are linking to. This helps Pinterest serve your content to the most relevant audience on the platform. These keywords should preferably be placed at or near the beginning of the description for maximum impact.

Patrick Crane, founder of Love Sew

Let's say you sell a subscription service for dog toys like BarkBox, but for the purpose of this example we’ll make up a name and call it WoofCrate. You might have a description that reads something like this:

Have dog toys delivered to your door once a month, and spoil your pup with gourmet dog treats.

💡 Tip: If you aren’t sure what keywords to target, one strategy I like to use is to go on the Promoted Pins creator and use its keyword suggestion feature. You type in a general keyword you’re trying to target and it provides similar suggestions with an estimation of how many searches they receive per month.

finding keywords on Pinterest

Decide on your content mix

There are various types of content that perform well on Pinterest, so we’ll take a look at the different formats and how best to use them.

Note that all pins must link to another site and include a visual component, and all links should point to the most relevant page. You typically want to avoid sending people to your catch-all homepage.

Product Pins

Pinterest product pin example 2

Product pins contain pictures or videos of specific products, which then take users directly to the site to purchase. These are among the most popular types of pins, and they’ll be what gets you the best ROI, easily.

These pins are enriched with metadata and formatted to let people on Pinterest know they are shoppable. For example, a pin could say “Bestseller” if it’s a most-purchased item in a Pinterest product category. It could also read “Popular” if it’s the most clicked product on Pinterest. These labels don’t reflect your individual sales activity. 

popular pin

Blog posts and content

pin for blog post

Blog posts have the potential to do very well on Pinterest. You’ll want to keep best practices in mind for your main image, which includes using text on the image itself (tools like Canva can help) and writing a description that explains why the article is worth a reader’s time.

Infographics

Infographic on pinterest

As infographics are inherently visual, they fit right in on Pinterest. Make sure your infographic meets the standards that work best on the platform or it could show up as too small to read.

Videos

Videos are becoming more popular on Pinterest, and you can import videos directly from YouTube if you’ve already built up a channel there. Autoplay videos are currently only for promoted pins, but if you’re able to offer value to pinners, you could build a following with video content. Tutorials and DIY videos generally perform well on Pinterest.

Story Pins

Story Pin

Story pins are a newer type of pin that let you tell stories with video, voiceover, images, and text overlay. Think of them like Instagram Stories that last longer. Story pins can be saved to boards for later and are discoverable over time. 

Text on Pinterest: What part does it play?

Visual content on Pinterest will always take center stage. Users are, after all, presented with a swath of images all squished together, and they scroll until something jumps out at them.

That doesn’t mean text is never useful. Quite the opposite: while the visual part of a pin will catch a user’s eye, the description can determine whether or not they decide to click. Just as important, it can help the right users find your pins.

Pinterest offers only a few seconds to grab the attention of your prospective customer with one image. For this reason, it is crucial to put intentional thought into how your one image can best lead your customer to your website, and eventually your purchasing page.

Users will never even see your image if you don’t have the right keywords and copy to tell them (and the Pinterest algorithm) what you have in store. Pin descriptions, board descriptions, profile descriptions, and board titles should all creatively include keywords for that very reason—but avoid writing copy that looks and feels like low-effort keyword stuffing.

For best results, your pin descriptions should:

  • Be front loaded. While pin descriptions can contain up to 500 characters, users will only see the first 75 to 100 characters unless they click. Put the important stuff that establishes context and value to increase clicks up front.
  • Read naturally. Keywords are important, but you don’t want to sacrifice creativity or overwhelm users. Pin descriptions that are nothing but a series of keywords can be off-putting and will discourage people from engaging with you.
  • Sell the pin. Users can see that ridiculously cute t-shirt your store is selling is their style, but a description that lets them know it’s premium organic cotton and that you’ll donate a portion of the proceeds can be what tips the scales and encourages them to purchase. Again, Pinterest is visual, but compelling copy will always matter.

Choose a publishing schedule 

Publish continuously on Pinterest. There’s no hard rule for how many pins you should post per day. Some sources say one to five, while others claim between 15 and 25 is ideal. The best way to think about it is like any other social media channel: pin too little and you may lose followers’ interest. Pin too much and you risk overwhelming them. 

Start with what you can manage based on time and new content ideas. As you post, you can later tweak your strategy according to insights from Pinterest Analytics. If you see posting five times per week during the day shows better reach and engagement, post more in that time frame. If other times show less favorable results, test different times and pin frequency. 

Use a social media management app to schedule pins and make your life easier. Two popular apps include Sprout Social and Tailwind. They’re good for automating the hard parts of Pinterest marketing so you can grow faster.

Run Pinterest ads

Promoted Pins are Pinterest’s system for advertising. They run in an auction style, where advertisers bid to have ads shown to their target audience.

With promoted pins, you can pay to have your pins show up in users’ feeds when they’re browsing, or in their Pinterest search results. Promoted pins can include images or videos, and look like regular pins with a small “Promoted” tag on the bottom.

pinterest ad

With promoted pins, you can optimize for different types of goals. Your objectives will determine the user actions you pay for, including:

  • Brand awareness
  • Video views
  • Consideration
  • Conversions 
  • Catalog sales

campaign objective

With the promoted pins system, you can set daily and total budgets. You can choose if your ads will appear in searches, feeds, or both. There’s also the option to schedule start and end dates for each campaign.

setting an ad budget

If you wish to spend your campaign funds evenly over a long period of time, choose a lifetime budget. To determine the amount paid each day, create a daily budget. You’ll have to adjust the budgets automatically, depending on how long you want your ad to run.

With promoted pins, you have the option to create custom audiences from email lists for retargeting, and you can use demographic and location targeting.

Interest targeting and keyword targeting, however, hold more value than they’re typically given on other platforms. Choosing the right keywords is essential to ensuring your content pops up in the right searches organically, and the same is true for ad targeting. Choosing the right interests will help Pinterest place your ads with users who are most likely to be interested in seeing them when browsing.

keyword research for pinterest ad

Placing your ad in search results is a valuable opportunity. You’re getting in front of a high-intent audience and users who are actively seeking out information. It’s like Google Ads, but with a frequently purchasing audience and flexible, high-impact visuals.

No other social media marketing activity gives you this kind of advantage. If your audience is on Pinterest, it’s worth testing out promoted pins with some of your ad budget to see if it works for you.

Free: Social Media Strategy Template

From choosing your channels to figuring out what to post, fill in the blanks to think through how you can best use social media to meet your marketing goals.

Pinterest marketing tips

Explore the following tips and best practices to grow your presence on Pinterest and make sales:

Become a verified merchant

The Verified Merchant Program (VMP) helps people buy from vetted brands on Pinterest. When you become a verified merchant, your pins can appear organically to people searching for products on the platform. 

pinterest profile example 2

To become a verified merchant, you’ll need:

Robert Johnson, founder of Sawinery, a one-stop shop for all things woodworking, recommends becoming a verified merchant. “Aside from receiving a shiny blue badge that makes your business look credible and legit, you’ll get a Shop tab in your profile to house products.”

Merchants in the program also appear in shopping experiences on Pinterest. Your products can show up in experiences like related pins, putting your products in front of the right people looking for new brands. 

The program is free to join. Apply to become a verified merchant here

Add Follow buttons

The Follow button lets people know you’re on Pinterest. One click and they’ll land on your profile, where they can follow your brand or browse your products. Include this button where you connect with people, such as your blog, emails, or website, like in this example from Modern Citizen.

follow buttons for pinterest

Cross-post videos to Pinterest

Cross-posting refers to taking a piece of content from one platform (like a TikTok video) and sharing it across other social channels (like Pinterest) at once. It saves you time and effort creating content and keeps your account active. 

It’s a popular strategy that Kyle Dulay, co-founder of influencer marketing platform Collabstr, is seeing in social media. “One opportunity that has recently popped up for ecommerce brands is cross-posting short-video content to Pinterest from Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts,” he says. 

“When posting on Pinterest, you can include links to your website for those who want to learn more about the product they are seeing in the video. This is what makes Pinterest an excellent passive acquisition channel for potential customers and website visitors.” 

Here is an example of how a Shopify store called FaceTory is posting short video on Pinterest and sending that traffic to its website.

cross-posting on pinterest

Avoid shortening website links

It’s common practice to place links to your website or product pages from a pin. A direct link to your store from a pin can increase traffic and conversions. Double check that links work (i.e., that they don’t lead to a 404 page) and that links aren’t shortened using a tool like bit.ly.

“Avoid shortening the links in your Pinterest descriptions,” says Patrick Crane, founder of Love Sew. “Often, when a Pinterest user clicks on a shortened link, they’ll receive a spam alert. This creates friction for the user, who is less likely to proceed to your site owing to the perceived security risk.” 

Keep your links in their original format to minimize the opportunities for friction and resistance to develop.

Collaborate using group boards

If you’ve already created boards on Pinterest, you may have noticed the ability to add collaborators to them. Using this strategically can yield great results.

the art of display

To use group boards to your advantage, you can:

  • Create a board with other influencers or industry experts, “hosting” the board on your profile while they share their expertise. This works well with both niche influencers who reach members of your target audience and broad-appeal influencers with large audiences.
  • Create a private board with individual customers where you can share ideas. A shop that makes custom designs or does engraving work could share different examples of what they can do on a private board.
  • Ask customers to pin pictures of their experience with your business. You can offer incentives for this, like a Pinterest contest with a potential prize at the end if their post gets the most repins from other users. To get started, you can reach out to customers over email and send them a link to the board.

Adding a guest collaborator is easy. On the group board, click the grey icon next to your logo. You’ll be able to invite specific users by the email address associated with their Pinterest account.

Pay attention to Pinterest Analytics 

Pinterest Analytics gives you an overview of your presence on Pinterest. It shows you what paid and organic content resonates with users, helping you decide on future campaigns via data. You can also use the Video report to understand video performance, and Conversion Insights to learn the impact pins have on your business goals. 

pinterest analytics

You can review your performance, top pins and boards, and specific metrics such as:

  • Impressions
  • Engagements
  • Pin clicks
  • Outbound clicks
  • Video views
  • Save rate
  • Total play time
  • Total engaged audience

Having this insight can help you make informed content decisions and get the most from your Pinterest strategy. For example, you can see which pins get the most impressions and clicks to your website, then create more pins with the same theme and style to attract similar audiences. 

Use the Pinterest app for Shopify 

Want an easy way to manage your Pinterest account and Shopify? Install the Pinterest Shopify app to upload your product catalog quickly and publish pins for your items. You can easily track performance with a Pinterest tag and keep pins updated automatically every day. 

Shopify app for Pinterest

Setting up a Pinterest shop through Shopify was easy. The benefit for retailers is simple: it pulls your Shopify catalog so you don’t have to add new products manually. We have hundreds of SKUs for our client Asian Beauty Essentials. Every time we update the price or images, it syncs to Pinterest automatically.

Once you upload a catalog, people can discover, save, and buy products from your store on Pinterest. You can also create ad campaigns to build awareness, drive considerations, or get conversions, all from your Shopify admin. It’s free to install. The only thing you pay for is running ads. 

Make the most of Pinterest

Pinterest is unlike any of the other social media platforms, because users are equally as motivated to save items for themselves as they are to share them with others.

It has exceptional selling power, particularly for ecommerce. To succeed on Pinterest, have a deep understanding of the customers you’re trying to reach, stay consistent with your pins, profile, and boards, and keep up to date on best practices and changes occurring on the platform. Happy pinning!

Illustration by Eugenia Mello


Pinterest marketing FAQ

What is Pinterest in digital marketing?

Pinterest is unique because it lets you link your visual content to your website or online store, unlike Instagram. You can share both written and visual content and run ads for awareness, consideration, and conversion on the platform. It’s a great social networking tool for creators and retailers alike.

How is Pinterest used for marketing?


    • Increases brand awareness

    • Improves product discovery

    • Increases website traffic

    • Gets your brand found on social

Why is Pinterest good for marketing?

Pinterest has over 400 million users and it’s growing year over year. More than 50% of users come from outside the US. Pinners come to the platform for inspiration and product discovery, so it’s a great way to get your brand in front of new audiences.