On this podcast, you’ll hear from Beth Anne Schwamberger, an entrepreneur who uses Pinterest to drive the majority of sales for Brilliant Business Moms, a community that offers resources, guides, and courses for mompreneurs.
In this episode, you'll learn:
- How to balance building an audience and creating and selling products.
- How she created a viral giveaway that resulted in 7,000 new email addresses.
- What are Pinterest group boards and how to work with them to drive traffic.
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
Felix: Today I'm joined by Beth Anne schwamberger from BrilliantBusinessMoms.com. Brilliant Business Moms creates resources for momepreneurs like planners, guides, calendars and, most recently, courses. It was in 2014 and based out of San Diego California. Welcome, Beth Anne.
Beth: Thank you so much for having me, Felix. I'm so excited to be here.
Felix: Awesome! Tell us a little bit more about your store. What are some of the most popular products that you sell?
Beth: Sure, so our Shopify store, the most popular product by far has been our brilliant business planner. My sister and I created a planner that was really geared towards women with an online business. This past planner season, December / January 2015-16, it kind of sold really well. Then I guess I should also say our newest most popular product is now a course that I've created on how to use Pinterest to make sales.
Felix: Awesome, I definitely want to dive into the Pinterest thing. I think there's a bunch of entrepreneurs out there that are chomping at the bit trying to get more information about Pinterest so I'm excited to get to that in a second.
Let's talk about your origin, how you got started and everything. I didn't even know there was such thing as a planner season but it makes a lot of sense that people are gearing up for the next year and the end of the year. How did you get involved in this, I guess, I won't call it industry? How did you get involved in this thing, to this plan our kind of community?
From that, my sister and I kind of research and tested all these different time management strategies and we wrote a book called Time Management Momma that's in our Shopify stores as well and also on Amazon. From that also came the idea to create our own planner, because the time management methods that we were using and the goal setting strategies that we were using, we couldn't find a planner that kind of Incorporated all of that so we just said, “Let’s give this a go. Let’s create a planner that we feel will be the perfect fit for our audience.”
The first round of the planner we actually launched in May of 2015. I will be honest, as you spoke earlier about planner season, that's definitely a thing because,well we tried kind of our 6-month planner that would go July to December 2015, those sales were not very good because it wasn’t planner season. Nobody was really thinking about, “Yes it's time to set my goals. It's time to yeah like tackle a new thing,” and so those sales were not great.
We stuck with it. We knew the ladies who did purchase the planner. They were really loving it and so came out with our 2016 version. Then, in November 2015 is when we said, “Let's get on Shopify. Let's get our own store, not be tied down just to Etsy and really focus on selling these planners,” and things really took off from there.
Felix: Cool, yeah, definitely want to dive into all these little pieces here that you mentioned. Let's start with the podcast. You began this journey of yours by building an audience, I guess, thorugh the podcast. Did you have an intention of eventually monetizing the podcast. Or not the podcast but the audience itself. When you and your sister sat down and said, “Let's start a podcast,” what was the goal at that point, at the very beginning?
Beth: Sure so I think we did naively think that we could build up a huge podcast listenership and maybe just make an income through our podcast sponsors. That is not happened. I think the most recent stats for us or maybe like 17,000 downloads a month, something like that for just the four podcasts a month that we're putting out for a while there. So we had like a nice core loyal audience but not big enough to be making a full-time income just from podcasting.
The other motivation there for starting a podcast was we had our own little Etsy shop and in that shop we were selling these little butterfly terrariums and kind of outdoorsy crafts type of things. Then we also attempted to start a mommy blog and realized quickly that it was so hard. It was so tough to build up traffic to that Mom blog, to figure out how to monetize it and so we got together and said, “You know what would be really great is if we could just pick the brains of other successful momepreneurs and see what they're doing. How are they managing their days? What strategies are they using?” We said, “Alright let's do this! If we had this problem and we want to pick the brains of mompreneurs, I bet there’re a lot of other women out there who would love to listen in and do the same thing.”
That's kind of how the podcast was born.
Felix: Yeah, I love that. Obviously I'm a big fan of podcasts. I think it's really dependent on what is your kind of preferred style of communicating, because some people love writing. They can spend all this time writing and that how they ... It's almost therapeutic for them just to sit down and write.
For me writing is great. I think writing ... I'm a big fan of writing too, but what comes more naturally is just sitting down having a conversation with somebody. If that's the kind of style that you can feel like you get into, I think podcast is a great medium which kind of leads to my next question which is do you think starting a podcast make sense from most brands? What kind of brands or companies or businesses out there would a podcast make sense for?
Beth: Ooh, that is a great question! I think a podcast is a great fit for any brand that has this really tight-knit community that could build around it. I'm thinking for example ... I've seen this happen with ... There's an Instagram account. I think it's called @skatemotivation something like that. They’ve built this really hardcore community, I guess you could say around skaters, and they feature skaters. It's really neat. I actually do think that this guy ended up going on to start a podcast around that.
I think anytime people just kind of have a common mission, common goals, perhaps a common hobby, then, yes, I think absolutely you could build a podcast around that. I will say that certainly, as you know, Felix, starting a podcast is a lot of work. There's definitely some expenses up front to consider. There's things you have to figure out like either editing the sound yourself or hiring a sound editor, getting some fancy equipment, but yes. I mean podcasting is really a powerful way to build a community, build closer relationships with your customers. It's been really great for me.
Felix: That's a good thing that I didn't even consider is there’re more technical challenges with starting a podcast than starting a blog, just because the blogs have been around for so long that it's a well kind of worn path where podcasting is kind of a new space. Not necessarily a new medium, it's practically radio, but getting started yourself is definitely some challenges involved there. The benefits I think kind of ... I think you touched on a lot which is that you have this community that you are creating.
You can think of like a popular TV show like The Walking Dead or something. There's this like one thing that everybody in the community gravitates around that. They all turn into so they all have something in common with each other that they can now talk about in that community. If you have a planner community for you, or a skating community for the example you gave, they all now I have this central … a TV show, radio show, that they are all watching or listening to and it really ties them closer together. I think that's a great kind of criteria that you laid out is that you need to have some kind of common hobby or a common lifestyle. Maybe not even lifestyle. Lifestyle might be too broad but a common hobby that you can tell everybody together for that.
The second thing that I wanted to say was that podcasting is great just to get access to influencers. You can't always get people to spend the time to talk to you for an hour or you might not even be able to to get them to talk to you for a minute. If you have a podcast, you have an audience, it becomes a lot easier. I think if you are a brand out there and you want to kind of market your brand through access and influencers, I think a podcast is a great medium because it gives you access to these people that you can talk to for an hour or however long you want for your podcast. That could open up doors for co-branding or co-marketing, who knows what. It's just access and building your network from there. That's another kind of, I think, and unseen benefit from podcasting at least that I didn't see a front before I got started.
Cool so ...
Beth: Yes, yeah. Totally agree there.
Felix: Nice, so I want to talk about, maybe not specific to podcasts, but you build an audience. I think maybe some listeners out there have also built an audience. Maybe they have a popular blog or a popular YouTube channel or maybe an Instagram account but they don't have a store yet. They don't have anything to sell yet. You said that you originally thought that you could just monetize that audience through advertising and you’ve learned … I definitely learned this too is that you need a lot of scale, like a huge audience, before you can make a actual living in income off of just creating content that you were giving away for free that is.
If someone out there has content they're giving away for free and they're just giving it to their audience, what was that transition like to selling a product? Maybe the first question I want to ask about this is the survey that you sent out. Can you talk a little bit more about that? How do you discover what your audience wants that you could create that you could sell to them?
Beth: Sure, so the survey, we did that quite a while ago. I'm trying to think back to the questions we asked but really the main point of it was figuring out what are the common problems and struggles that our audience has and then mention that with what do we feel like we have the skill-set to provide the solution for. Obviously some of the problems ... like another common problem they had was traffic, was getting enough traffic to their shop or blog. At that point, we felt like, “We’re still struggling with that too so I don't think we're going to come up with a solution to that particular problem right now.”
When the time management thing came up over and over again, my sister and I were both stay-at-home moms. We were juggling our kids and all sorts of things with our business so we thought, “Oh, I guess we do know more about this than we originally thought. We can dig in even more and really provide this overarching solution to the problem.
Yeah, that's where I would say to start, just solve a problem. Solve a problem that your audience has and, yeah, it becomes way easier from there, yeah, to market.
Felix: No, that’s definitely true. I think the addition to that is that let's say you … Let's start with the traffic one, because when someone says, “I need more traffic to my shop,” it's such a broad problem. When I say broad I mean like there are just so many possible solutions for it and it might vary from person to person.
When your survey responses were coming back saying they don't have enough time, they don't know how to kind of prioritize, the these are kind of feedback you were getting, was the immediate product that popped in your head a planner or were there other kind of options that you ...I guess, how do you go from the problem to then discovering what kind of product to actually focus on, because there could be multiple solutions for the same problem?
Beth: Right, exactly, I some people even suggested to us, “Why are you doing a planner? Why wouldn't you create time management app? That honestly came from reaching back out to our audience and this was a really quick little survey we did inside our private Facebook group. Inside any private Facebook group you can do … It's like ask a poll or create a little poll, and so we did a bunch of little polls like that to figure out did more people want an app to help them manage their tasks and goals and time or did more people want something physical something that was pen to paper, .
It came back very clearly that our audience wanted the pen and paper. They were kind of feeling overwhelmed with the screens and technology and in some ways, was just an extra distraction to them and so they wanted pen to paper.
You're right, I mean, I guess there's a bunch of different things we could have created. I don't know. It just kind of flowed naturally. The book definitely came first, so writing Time Management Momma. Then, from there, we kind of realized, while this isn't the entire solution, we were still struggling with putting all of our own time management tips into practice and that's when we realized, Oh, okay, I guess we need more than just a little notebook to keep track of all of our goals and things,” and that planner would be really great.
Felix: Awesome, so I kind of want to lay out the timeline here. You started a podcast 2014, wrote the book Time Management Momma shortly after that, and then created a planner in May 2015. During this entire time did you have an Etsy store or was the book the first product in the Etsy store?
Beth: We did have our first Etsy store which was called the Amateur Naturalist, so totally unrelated …
Felix: I see.
Beth: ... to our podcast audience, yeah, and Brilliant Business Moms. It was just this little hobby thing we had started a couple years before. That shop is still open. My sister’s still selling out of that shop but, yeah, so we were just kind of doing that on the side well we've built up this new community.
Felix: Awesome so when you have this audience do you remember how large it was? I know it was spread out between a podcast, the group, and maybe an email list, and maybe traffic to your blog. How sizable was it or kind of give us a ballpark just so that the listeners out there can kind of get a feel for when it might make sense for them, if they have an audience, don't have product yet. When does it kind of makes sense to stop kind of focusing so much on growing that audience and more on how to actually monetize it or create products for that audience?
Beth: Sure so I think when we launched our planner, the first round May 2015, we had less than 3000 people on our email list so we were not huge. I think our podcast downloads at that point or maybe 12,000 downloads a month. Blog page views coming in at under 15,000 page views a month, so not huge website traffic at all. I mean very small.
Let's see, we had our private Facebook group and so we had several hundred women in the private Facebook group and from our perspective it kind of felt like we have several hundred people that we kind of viewed as they’re our core audience. These women are tuning in every week. They're in touch with us via the Facebook group or email or things like that on a regular basis.
Really just I feel like if you have several hundred loyal audience members that really love what you do and connect with you that I think absolutely start thinking about how you can solve their problems. Then when you come up with a great product that does solve their problems then the fun part is, as you market that product, your audience will continue to grow even more.
Felix: I like that. Yeah, because when you were first saying 15,000 pageviews, 12,000 downloads, i think that’s one of the … I bet a lot of listeners out there are saying, “Wow, I wish I could have that and I wish I could get there too.” I think you're selling yourself short there. I think that that's a great progress to have, especially only a year or so into your business.
This idea of I think what you were saying is … kind of alluding to this earlier about balancing building an audience versus creating products. Did you kind of try to do both at the same time or was there a certain point where you were saying, “All right, stop driving traffic or stop focusing on traffic and focus more on creating these products? What's the different phases that you were going through or did you just try to do both at the same time?
Beth: Sure, that's a great question. I would say we continue to focus on building our audience while marketing our planner and book. That was kind of all to the summer of 2015 but then when we came out with our 2016 planner … This was November 2015. We had the 2016 planner ready to go, ready to kind of hit the ground running and market that hard. That's when we really quit focusing on building the audience and we focus just on how do we get sales.
We tried all sorts of things like blog features of giveaways, paying some Instagram influencers, setting up an inch Instagram account. Then Pinterest obviously came into play so, yeah, at that point we really were not focused on traffic. We were just focused on how do we bring the right customers in the door that would want to buy this planner.
Felix: Makes sense. You were mentioning earlier about how, if you have a core group, of a couple hundred loyal, maybe not customers yet if you’re not selling anything, but loyal listeners or fans or people that are in your mailing list, that's when it starts making sense to sell a product to them. If you have a core group that you have a feeling that exists in your [inaudible 0:19:59] audience … You have all these different channels that you're talking about. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook groups, your mailing list, your blog, and your podcast. Out of all those mediums which one do you think is the best one to focus on if you want to really cultivate the relationship with that core group?
Beth: Oh, that's a good question. I think the email list, you have to build your email list. I think that is so core to any business and I do think a lot of shop owners kind of neglect their email list for a little longer than they should. The thing with that email list is essentially is algorithm proof. It doesn't matter if Facebook changes, Instagram changes, Pinterest … The Pinterest algorithm changes too. The email list is yours and so you can always reach out to those customers. Whichever form of social media you really want to focus on to build your audience, make sure you're getting them onto your email list.
I'd say that's number one and the number to that's really tricky. I obviously advocate for Pinterest now because it's been great for me and it's something that I can really set on autopilot but our private Facebook group has been awesome for community building and in building a relationship. It might depend on the particular business and what their overall goals are.
Felix: I love that saying that email is algorithm proof and I completely agree with it. I bet the only change in the last 20 / 25 years to the email’s algorithm is maybe Gmail's priority inbox, where they start separating people. I guess what you're getting at with the whole algorithm proof thing is that, if you have access to someone's email list and you send them something, they're going to get it. It's not going to be filtered necessarily or prioritized a different way until obviously Gmail’s latest features, but there’s kind of best practices on how to deal with that. The changes, like you were saying, for the inbox to your emails, they don’t change. Again, you have access to someone’s email and you send them something, they’ll get it so i like that saying.
Cool so let's start talking about when things kind of changed for you. You were saying off air and hopefully you're okay talking about this too or maybe I'll let you say it then. Let's say after the plan or launched in May 2015, didn't do too well, what were the sales looking like at that time for you guys?
Beth: Oh man, I mean, let's see. I know we sold less than a hundred planners for our May 2015 launch and so that was over a month or so. Honestly, I think we may have only sold 60 year 65 so it didn't feel great I guess.
Felix: Why did you give up at that point? Most people … they say if you want to test a product or test if there's a market for your product, you can do something simple as driving them to a landing page and collecting their email address and that's kind of a I guess a proxy for actual demand for your product. Or at the very kind of aggressive end if you really really really want to find out if someone wants your products, see if they'll buy it. If you're only getting like 60 sales or so, was that deflating? What was that like? Obviously you've continued because spoiler alert, you're still doing this now. How did you know to not give up at that time?
Beth Anne: I think the women who did purchase the planner they really loved it. I think that part was encouraging. When they got there planner in the mail, they were sharing pictures with us and posting on Instagram about it and we're so excited and thought it was so helpful. We felt like, “Okay, well, these sales, we can build on this. This is something that we could continue to grow as they start telling their friends and as we build up our audience more.
Two, and this I’ll have to give my sister credit. She kept saying, “Beth Anne, this is not peak planner season. This is not the right time when people are really thinking about buying a planner and so we need to give this another try. This was kind of our beta test.” I'm so glad that I listen to her. It was discouraging but, yeah, we didn’t give up and the next planner season went much better.
Felix: For the seasonal product like yours ... Let’s say it launched in May and then the summer happens, during that time and the next kind of seasonal boost and the end of the year, what were you doing in the kind of middle period?
Beth Anne: In that middle period, we were first of all kind of revamping the planner, changing a little bit of the designs. We did a survey of everybody who had purchased the planner to get their feedback and see what did love the most about the planner. What pages were they like us to add? What was missing? We did improve the planner in that time period as well, added some new planning pages, some new layouts to. Added some sticker tabs that people could add to the side. That was one. We were making our product better.
Then, two, we really focused on building our email list. I did a viral planner giveaway. It didn't happen until January but I kind of had been planning it all fall and so that got us thousands of new email subscribers.
Beth: We started planning out. We really just came up with our marketing plan of what blogs do we want to get a feature on. I started doing some YouTube videos that featured the planner and I also did planner reviews of other people's planners just to get people in the door and kind of have my YouTube channel be seen as a place where you could watch planner reviews.
We both of our Pinterest account Kama so we focus on time management Pinterest boards and then a planners Pinterest board and all of those kinds of things. It focused on building up for Instagram following, so we had double that from, let's see, 750 up to 1,500 followers and then doubled it again so now we're at over 3,000 followers. Yeah, just really marketing plans and building that email list and following.
Felix: Awesome so that's kind of break it all down then. I definitely want to get to Pinterest too because I think that was the big game-changer for you. Starting with this viral giveaway, what did you give away and how did you concoct this virality from it? How did you get thousands of email subscribers?
Felix: I think that's a big win for any business, if you can get thousands of email subscribers. That can really change your business.
Beth: Yes, so what I did, I called it the Great Big Planner Giveaway and, because during the fall of 2015, I decided, “Let me go by at all these different planners,” because, one, it was great market research for me or great product research to figure out what are the other popular planners. What features do they have? What makes them great? What makes people let them and what are they missing? How can I fill a hole in the marketplace that these other players are addressing essentially?
I ordered up a bunch of the most popular planners. Then I did those planner reviews of them on my YouTube channel. Obviously, I was super fair and nice and the way that I did this. It wasn't like I thought all these planners just so I could tear them down and not … I essentially said I know my planner’s not right for everybody so on my channel I'm going to just give really completely honest reviews of everybody's planner so that if someone stumbles across my channel they can make the decision that's right for them.
I did that and so now I had I think it was eight planners. I had an awesome planners, like premium price planners. I mean like Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner. Whitney English’s Day Designer. These are planners that cost over $50 for someone and so it's a prize that a lot of women would want to get. I did the Great Big Planner Giveaway and I gave away all eight planners to one winner.
Obviously my Brilliant Business Planner or was one of the planners that was in the price but I was honestly amazed that so many women were excited about this prize, because there is … Like you said, did this whole plan our community. There are ladies who are obsessed with planners and they don't just buy one they literally by five every year and they …
Beth: … use them all. Yeah, it's crazy. They use them all in different ways and sometimes they use them almost just like a journal or scrapbooks. It's this whole crazy world planning ladies and so people are really excited about this giveaway.
What I did, I use the King Sumo Giveaways app. What I was able to do was is say that anytime … It gives everyone who enters their own referral link so they can refer friends to the giveaway. Anytime my friend enters through their link that person would get 10 extra entries into the giveaway. It encouraged people to share about the giveaway because, if they really wanted to win the prize, then the more they would share, the more chances they had to win. What I saw was that the first kind of 1,000 people who enter the giveaway they were all sharing it with their friends and so I ended up with I think it was 9,000 total entrants into the giveaway. About 7,000 of those people we're brand new to me ...
Beth: … so brand new subscribers. I will say too I did do some Facebook ads. I created a video and if you go to my Brilliant Business Moms Facebook page, you can see it over on my video section on the side. I created kind of a silly video of me running onto the stage kind of saying “I'm getting all these planners away.”
I think I only spent a couple hundred dollars maybe total on my Facebook ads but it really did kind of help incubate that give away and get more entries into it. Then obviously those people kind of did the hard work for me and spread the word.
Felix: You don't necessarily have to have … Someone listening out there I might want to build an email list but they might not have I guess a foundation for a base. That's the most important part of kicking this off because you want your current audience to then broadcast it out to all their friends to improve their chances of winning this giveaway. I'm not sure if you mention that but every time you refer somebody it improves your chances of winning yourself.
You need to have an audience already to kick this off, but you're saying that you could also just run Facebook ads to drive them to a giveaway and then that could also potentially … Do you know how much … This might be hard to say exactly but do you know how much of the breakdown between your existing audience versus the audience that you were able to get from the Facebook ads I guess contributed to the number of entries?
Beth: Yes, oh that's a great question. Okay well I actually did a whole breakdown of this giveaway on my blog. Let me get back to that. If I can get to that blog post page, I can show you. I will say so when I launched this giveaway our list had about 3,000 people on it. Then obviously the giveaway took us nearly 1,0000 subscribers in just a week or two.
Felix: That's amazing.
Beth: Yeah, it was insane and then, man ... That's why building your list is just so great because now it seems like it just keeps snowballing. Did this giveaway in January. Launched us from 3,000 to almost 10,000 subscribers and now, let's see, we're sitting at end of April I have over 18,000 subscribers on my list. I've obviously done other things to get those too but, yeah, that list is very valuable.
Felix: Yeah that's amazing. Do you find that the quality of I guess prospective customers is just as good from a giveaway as people that maybe came across your blog post, your podcast, and kind of organically ended up on your list rather than through a giveaway? Would you know that?
Beth: That is a great question. I will say that is a caveat I will give you. I don't think the quality of the subscribers is as good. It's a great way to get exposure for yourself, build your list ,kind of get some confidence for your business and your brand. One thing I did notice of all of the people who enter my planner, over the next several months, those tended to be people who unsubscribed at a higher rate than my core audience.
One of the mistakes I made is I really should have done this giveaway and November so that I had a long planner our season to pitch my planner to them instead of the kind of ended up on my list towards the end of plan our season and so I was talking less about planning, goal setting, time management, and talking more just business tips. I think that kind of turned a few people off and so some people left. I would say, so of those 7,000 subscribers I gained, I’d say maybe one thousand of them have unsubscribed. That still leaves me with 6,000 subscribers and these are women that I can start climbing towards this next year's plan our season.
Actually, the next iteration of the planner is going to be a version that's for every woman. I've realized that what people loved most about our planner was the weekly layout, the goal setting pages. I had so many women approach me and say, “Hey, your planner is gorgeous but I don't have a business. Do you have something just for me?” Again, so just listening to that audience help me figure out how to refine my product.
Felix: Definitely makes a lot of sense. Cool, so all right let's just kind of jump into the topic I think everyone wants to hear more about which is about Pinterest. When did you start, I guess, focusing on Pinterest and was it specifically for Brilliant Business Moms or were you using it for your Etsy business? What were you using Pinterest for?
Beth: Sure so I really dug into Pinterest in November of 2015. I had a Brilliant Business Mom's account on there pretty much since the podcast started it in 2014 but really just wasn't using it well. Just kind of finding things here and there. Didn't have a very clear planner strategy. I do have a separate Pinterest account for the Amateur Naturalist Etsy shop. In the past I did use Pinterest for that Etsy shop and did see some results but I kind of didn't have the time to dig in and see the kind of sales that I wanted to see. Really wasn't until November 2015 with my brand new Shopify store that I dug in and realized, holy cow I think I can make this Pinterest thing work.
Felix: Awesome, so kind of looking at the stats from your Brilliant Business Moms Pinterest account you have a hundred twenty five boards, 19,000 pins, 12500 followers and you're following about 4000 people. Just kind of an idea of where you're at. What was your strategy coming into this? I think when someone's thinking about starting on Pinterest, what should their goal be? Should it be to grow their followers or what is the, I guess, initial strategy when you're starting off with a new Pinterest page?
Beth: Sure so my overall goal was that I wanted to make sales. I felt like I'm not going to use any form of social media and less it's bringing in sales for my stores.
Felix: Love it.
Beth: Yeah so that should be your big picture goal but of course yes you do … You get more traffic and you get more sales as you build your following but I actually have a two pronged approach to Pinterest. I use it organically and I also use promoted pins.
When I first got on Pinterest and dug in in November, I started with promoted pins because I felt like you know what I don't have time to organically build my following. I want to make sales now. I took some of my planner photos. I turned them into some beautiful collages, so the types of pins that would do really well on Pinterest and then I created another that kind of … It had a headline at the top and said announcing the Brilliant Business Planner.Your life and business simplified,” and then had a great lifestyle shot of the planner.
I promoted those pins and those pins went directly to my planner listing in my Shopify store and kind of figured out the game with promoted pins and I'll definitely be happy to share kind of some of those tips. Really just started getting this continuous stream of traffic and sales from those pins.
Felix: Yeah let's talk about that. What is the strategy? What are some tips for running a successful promoted pinning campaign?
Beth: Sure, so what I found is, one, you need to use a lot of keywords. The way it works is you’ll go in and then Pinterest’ll say, “Okay, what keywords do you want to target with this pin?” Obviously I can say something like planner, 2016 planner, all those general words. What happens is, when someone searches on Pinterest for those terms, Pinterest might choose to show your promoted pin in those search results and so get you exposure.
Then you're only paying for the clicks so I'm only paying when someone clicks on my pin and comes over to my shop. My tips there is Pinterest does not do a really great of suggesting a ton of keyword ideas to you so I suggest that people go over to the Google Keyword Planner to come up with tons, tons more keywords. I really think you need to have 50 to 100 keyword phrases that you're targeting with any promoted pin, which might sound like a lot to a beginner but you're really going to need to give Pinterest a lot to work with because you're competing against some really big brands who have a lot of money to spend and so you've got to give them tons of keywords.
Felix: Is it the more the better or should you be selective at all? I think back in the very early days of, let’s say, SEO for example, the whole keyword stuffing thing was really popular where we would just put everything and anything on your site because there was no kind of penalty for it. Is there any kind of penalty? Maybe not directly from Pinterest but is there a downside to having too many keywords?
Beth: Oh that's a great question. Okay so there's a little confusion there. What I mean is I don't want you to put a hundred keyword phrases in each of your pin description. What I mean is that you want to target a hundred different keyword phrases that people are searching for on Pinterest. It's a little hard to explain unless you're inside the promoted pins app but as soon as you go in and you say, “Hey, Pinterest, I want to promote this pin,” They're going to say, “Okay great. What keywords do you want to target? When should we show your pin to other people?,” essentially.
You're exactly right though. You do need to be specific. For example, I did not target a keyword phrase like free printable planner because that would be silly. I want people to buy my planners so I'm not looking for a freebie seekers. I actually didn't target any printable planner phrases because generally someone looking for a principal planner Kama they have a smaller budget and they're looking for something more affordable.
Another thing I did is I would target let's see some big related planner brands. Emily Ley for example Whitney English, I can target those words that people might search for on Pinterest because they're looking for those planners but then all of a sudden my beautiful plan our pops up and so it's a way that they're kind of discovering my product. That is works really well. Yeah, so that's what I mean by hundred keyboard phrases. Definitely don't stuff your pin description with all those phrases. Just use one or two keyword phrases in your pin description but over inside the promoted pins application you do want to pick tons of phrases, in your niche, very targeted for sure but come up with 50 to 100 phrases there.
Then the other thing I did want to recommend is when I first started using promoted pins, I was paying way too much for clicks. Now I start out bidding just 10a cents click because I figured out based on my website visitors and conversion rate that's a number that works for me that then leads to profitable sales. Pinterest will try to tell you, Hey, other marketers are spending $1.00 per click so your bid is way too low.” Just my recommendation to new shop owners is don't listen to Pinterest. Keep your bit slow and see what happens with that first.
Felix: Cool, so in the pin description itself, any tips there? What should you be writing about? How do you write in a way that gets people to actually click and check out your products?
Beth: Sure, so i defintely like to write in a conversational tone, put some keywords in there but make it obviously natural. I might say sometimes like, “Finally, a planner that organizes my life and biz all in one place.” I also kind of write in the first person because, when women pin on Pinterest ... Let’s say I find something I really like. What I’m going to put in the pin description is, “Oh, my goodness. I love this living room. These colors are so beautiful!!,” and so that’s how I want to write my pin descriptions too so it looks like a friend would just be pinning it and sharing it with a friend.
I would say something like, “I love the goal setting pages in this planner and the florals are so beautiful.” Then I might end it though with a very targeted keyword phrase like, “Great planner for 2016.”
Felix: Yeah, I like that approach of making it seem like it’s actually part of the content. It kind of is but, if you maybe do it right, the kind of ad correctly. You don’t want to make it stand out and people recognize that it’s an ad because of the way you’re speaking to the reader or viewer in the pin description or maybe even the photos. You want to make it seem natural and I think that’s what you’re getting at. You want to make it seem as if you were just posting this as a regular pin. Is that what you’re getting at?
Beth: Exactly, exactly. Just make it as natural as you can. Kind of get inside the head of how you would talk about a pin if you were just pinning for yourself personally. Yeah, do it that way. Definitely don’t write things like, “Buy now!,” and “Click here!,” and “Get my planner!.” Yeah, don’t do that. Make it feel natural and conversational.
Felix: Cool. Have you also ... Is this the same ... I know nothing about Pinterest so I’m just kind of going off the top here but do you have experience with the buyable pins too? Is that related to the promoted pins? What is the difference between the two?
Beth: Sure, great question. I do have buyable pins in my Shopify store and I do recommend that anyone who has Shopify get yourself buyable pins. It’s really easy, or at least it was for me. You literally just go inside your Shopify store and you’ll see where it says Channels. Mine has online store and then Pinterest, Facebook, Buy Button, Twitter. You can literally just activate those channels.
You click over to Pinterest. They had some requirements to approve me for buyable pins and I think really all that it was was, “Do you have your policies written on your sites?” I’m going there now just to see. I had to obviously have a Pinterest business account and connect that to my Shopify. The one thing is they will not let you do a digital good as a buyable pin but you can do a digital good as a promoted pin.
Let me talk quickly about the difference between those two. A buyable pin is where if someone runs across that pin on Pinterest ... I think right now it’s just on iOS that the buyable pins work. On someone’s iPad or their iPhone, they’re scanning Pinterest. Let’s say they search for a 2016 planner. If they run across my planner, it’ll have a little button where they can buy now. They can just buy that product right on Pinterest without ever having to go to my website.
Now, the one thing I will say, I do not get very many sales through my buyable pins. It’s a very small percentage. I get way more sales through promoted pins. Promoted pins is obviously ... That’s Pinterest’s ad platform. Promoted pins is available right now to U.S. businesses but I do believe they’re expanding to Canada very soon. That’s what I talked about where you pick your target keyword phrases and you pick your bid per click. Then so I get people to my shop by paying to show my product to them or show my pins to them essentially.
Here’s the other difference. Pinterest will not let you promote a buyable pin. I can only use my buyable pins organically on Pinterest. I can spread them out to my different boards. I can put a buyable pin on a group board if I want but I cannot then turn it into a promoted pin and also have it be buyable right on Pinterest. Kind of a bummer. It’d be ... Honestly, I wonder if they don’t let you do it because it just would be so easy. I mean, I feel like I can make sales incredibly easily if I could combine the two but they won’t let you.
Felix: Yeah, I was going to ask that question next, because that definitely cuts down on the steps involved because if you’re promoting a pin ... It sounds like the reason why promoted pins are working better or giving you more sales is because it’s available in more places. I think you said buyable pins only works now if someone’s browsing the Pinterest iOS device.
Yeah, if you could promote a buyable pin, I could definitely see how it could drive up your sales because people don’t have to leave the site, don’t have to leave Pinterest and go through any checkout process. That makes sense.
Cool, so let’s talk about your organic pinning strategy. How do you, I guess, decide what you should be posting, the frequency, and just give us an idea of what’s your strategy.
Beth: Sure so my organic Pinterest strategy boils down to this. I want to draw in my ideal customer by creating the most gorgeous well curated boards that kind of that's what they're looking for, that solves their problems, that kind of displays that ideal lifestyle they aspire to. In my case, because my brand is I'm starving moms and businesses essentially so I have boards like Pinterest marketing for Instagram marketing or blogging tips. Then I also have obviously the time management piece so I've got a time management board and then I have one board that's planners, time management, and organization for moms. That board I really love because I can curate beautiful office spaces along with great time management blog posts along with great planner pins.
That’s the kind of board where my ideal customer, if they stumble across any of those pins, they stumble across the board, they're going to say, “Wow, this is gorgeous. This is filled with great high-quality content so I’m going to go ahead and follow this board and I may even go ahead and follow this entire account because this lady is doing a great job of curating awesome content.” That is the one thing I would say a lot of shop owners get this wrong. They feel like they just want to use Pinterest to put their own products out there. If you do that your account is going to be really boring and really … I mean it's just like it's going to be one dimensional if you're just putting your own products and so you really need to use Pinterest for what it's intended for we just suggest to rate the best from around the web.
Felix: I like that. I was going to say to before you said that last piece was that you were talking about all these kind of ... all this content that you’re putting out there. I don’t think ... You maybe only mentioned it once about your own products, but the rest of the things you’re posting about have nothing to do exactly with your product but it has to do with things that your target customers that would by your product, the things that they’re interested in.
It might not even be about planning. It could be about that lifestyle, like you’re saying, they might want to live. That’s something you would have to, I guess, tap into to really understand your customer and what else they like outside of just your own products. You could imagine if you were running a blog for your store. You don’t want to just post about your products because no one wants to read a blog about products. They want to read a blog about things that solve their problems or interesting entertaining things about a lifestyle that they want. I think that you really nailed it with your kind of ... the way that you approach it with Pinterest.
Cool, so do you ... You have ... Let’s see. Let me look at this real quick. You have a bunch of different boards. How do you recommend people kind of organize their entire set of 125 boards for you, which is a ton I think. How do you decide how to split things up and how do you decide when to add new boards?
Beth: Sure, great question. Start with the best of your own stuff board. For a Shopify owner, your best blog post, your best products. You can definitely create one board and make that your first one to kind of be like, “Hey!” That’s kind of your little billboard, your little advertisement for what you have to offer. I think that’s totally fine.
Then, after that, I definitely recommend if your Pinterest account is brand new, just trying to get it built up. Start with 10 boards. Start with 10 boards that are going to draw in that ideal customer. I’ll take one of my Pinterest students as an example. Kim, her shop is Lucy Jane Totes. She makes adorable ... these great tote bags and then little pouches and so what Kim has done is ... One of her target customers is brides who want to buy bridesmaids gifts, because she has these custom monogram little pouches in all these different colors and patterns. It makes such a great bridesmaids gift.
Kim has boards where it’s like pink wedding inspiration. Of course, she’s got gorgeous wedding pins from all over Pinterest and then she sprinkles in her beautiful customized totes and just the ones that are also pink. She does the same thing for an orange wedding or black and white wedding, things of that nature. Then she could also do ... Her other kind of target customer would be a mom who needs a big tote to organize everything. She could have a organization tips for moms type of board and draw in her ideal customer that way.
Yeah, I just recommend start with 10 boards. Just figure out what’s topics your customer would be searching for on Pinterest. Certainly start with the types of boards where you can sprinkle your own products throughout those boards.
Felix: Makes sense. In the world of Instagram one popular thing that people do is basically I guess work with each other and work with influencers to trade kind of promotions where you work with a popular influencer and maybe if you're not big yet maybe you pay them to post your products. Maybe if you are big enough you can work with other brands to each share each other's kind of content. Does that happened in the world of Pinterest too? Do Pinterest users do that as well?
Beth: It's a little bit different on Pinterest. I would say the equivalent is Pinterest group boards. That's another thing that I'm … I'm part of tons of group boards. That's why you see I'm part of 125 boards. Some of those are obviously my own boards but some of them were just group boards that I'm a member of. Another group board community, it's filled with a lot of women bloggers but I think that product based businesses are getting more and more Savvy with this and creating their own group boards.
The way a group board works is for example if I go to create a group for today … Let’s say I create Creative Baby Gifts and that’s my group board and I just want to have great baby gift pins on my board. All of my Pinterest followers, the ones that follow my entire account comma automatically become followers of that brand new board I created. Then what I can do is I can invite contributors to that board. I can invite whoever else I want from Pinterest to come and pin onto my board. What day do I put it onto my board if they get their pins in front of all of my followers.
That’s how group boards work. There are some huge bloggers who have group boards with hundreds of thousands of followers. If you can find those really killer big popular group boards that are in your niche, then definitely do that. Definitely get in touch with those group board owners and ask them if you can join and be a part of them.
Felix: Awesome, so how often do you pin? Can you be pinning too much? What’s the frequency that you recommend for someone that’s maybe starting out?
Beth: Sure, I think with even just 10 pins a day, if you can use a pin scheduler, that’s a great place to start. I currently pin about 125 pins a day.
Beth: Again, that’s ... Yeah, I know. It sounds a little crazy. I might cut it down a little bit. I don’t think you have to pin that many to do well but, because I’m part of so many group boards, I can take my best blog posts and essentially circulate them out to all my group boards on a regular basis. Then I also have all of my core boards that I own. I do what’s called looping and I use Board Booster to help me loop my pins. Every single day, two of my older pins from the bottom of my board get repined to the top of my board. What it does is kind of just refresh that board and make it look active and potentially get those pins back out into the Pinterest feed.
That’s why I’m pinning so many a day but, if you’re brand new to Pinterest, you can start with 10 pins a day. Just try to keep your acct active. Pinterest does reward you if your pinning every day on the site. That can feel overwhelming as a busy shop owner so I do enjoy using a pin scheduler. It keeps that going on autopilot for me.
Felix: Yeah, I like this idea of I think you called it looping, which I think we shouldn’t be afraid to re-share content, especially the ones that are working well. People that are actually enjoying. Not everybody’s going to see it the first time, especially people that are joining your audience later. They’re going to miss out on all the great things that you were sharing before. As long as it’s content and not like super promotional, don’t be afraid to put it out there again. Even if they’ve seen it before, they might’ve forgotten about it or might want to see it again. Definitely there going to be people out there that never saw it at all the first time, and now you’re kind of giving them value again without having to create new content each and every time.
You mentioned 125 pins a day. That doesn't sound scalable unless you're using some tools and apps, right? Can you talk a little bit about the app that you use for managing Pinterest?
Beth: Sure, so I currently use Board Booster. That’s my favorite pin scheduler. I’ve tried Viral Tag and Tailwind in the past and those are okay but Board Booster just really has more features on it. Board Booster, the nice thing too about it, is you can start out at just ... I’m looking up the plans right now actually. You can start out, I think, at just $5 a month, if you’re only pinning a few things a day. Then I think I’m on the $50 a month plan, simply because I’m pinning so often.
Felix: Yeah, cool. With the success that you had on Pinterest and how much you’re working on there. Can you give us an idea of how successful the business has become because almost not even a year ago, you sold 60 products of your planner? What is it looking like today for you?
Beth: Sure Pinterest definitely allowed the business to go from just making $1,000 or $2,000 a month to scale it up to $5 to $10,000 a month in sales. I combine Shopify shop and then two Etsy shops got us to five to ten grand a month in sales. Then, as I figured out how easy it was, honestly, to use promoted pins and kind of make those sales on autopilot, I developed a course on Pinterest marketing because my audience wanted that. They were seeing me talk all about Pinterest inside the private Facebook group and how I was using it and how great it was and so they wanted to learn more.
I created a course for them and that has been amazing. Now I’m surpassing 10 grand a month in sales and just had my first month of over $15,000 in sales, so crazy.
Felix: That’s amazing kind of turnaround in just a year. I’m really excited to see where you go. I know a year from now, wherein you have scale that’s up even more. That’s super exciting to hear about that. Cool, so thanks for coming on Beth Anne.
BrilliantBusinessMoms.com is the website. It’s where you can check out the planners, the course that you are selling, the book as well is on there. Anywhere else you recommend that listeners go and checkout if they want to learn more about you or how you do things?
Beth: Sure, so my Shopify store, if you go to BrilliantBusinessMoms.com/shop, then it’ll take you to my Shopify storefront so you can kind of see what I have there. Then, obviously on Pinterest, I’m on Pinterest.com/brilliantmoms is my URL there. You can kind of check out what I’m doing on Pinterest to get more sales.
Felix: I know that ... Obviously everyone listening to this listens to podcasts. I know you mentioned that you have one out now and you’re looking to revamp it and do more of these podcast episodes. Can you give us an idea of where the listeners can go and find out more about your podcast?
Beth: Oh, sure, so if you go to BrilliantBusinessMoms.com, you’ll see some info about the podcast at the top and then, of course, we’re in iTunes. If you just search Brilliant Business Moms in iTunes, you can check out all of our old podcasts episodes. We were doing interviews up through February and then we’ll have some new episodes coming out pretty soon.
Felix: Awesome. Thanks so much, Beth Anne.
Beth: Thank you!
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the ecommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today, visit Shopify.com for a free 3-day trial.
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About The Author
Felix Thea is the host of the Shopify Masters podcast, the ecommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs, and founder of TrafficAndSales.com where you can get actionable tips to grow your store’s traffic and sales.