Pinterest for Retail: 4 Ways to Attract New Customers and Boost Sales

Pinterest for business | Shopify Retail blog

Pinterest is still the ultimate platform for browsing and saving inspiration on everything from DIY projects and recipes to decor, fashion, beauty, and basically… you name it. (It’s also an awesome procrastination tool, but I digress.)

When it first launched in March 2010, Pinterest was described as a “curation tool” or a virtual cork board where users could “pin” the photos and information they wanted to save. Today, it is so much more.

For starters, it’s now more precisely known as a “visual discovery tool” — as a result, Pinterest’s power becomes unleashed once you truly understand how it operates.

As you may be aware, this social platform is useful beyond being a brilliant way to procrastinate. More businesses are taking advantage of Pinterest to plant visual seeds, allowing new customers to find retailers on the platform. According to recent research from Oracle Data Cloud, retailers are using Pinterest with great success — retailers are seeing 70% of sales from Promoted Pins coming from new customers, and they’re generating four times the sales lift of existing customers.

So not only can you win new customers by leveraging Pinterest correctly, but you can also boost sales. (This is not a drill.)

It also helps to consider Pinterest as a catalog of ideas rather than an engagement tool. Actually, according to Pinterest’s Webinar series: How to grow your business with Pinterest, 75% of the content on Pinterest comes from businesses — so you want to ensure that whatever you are pinning is relevant and actionable for pinners, as they’re potential customers.

Your pinned content should not be disruptive to users’ browsing experience. It needs to stand out enough to attract their eye without repelling the user by looking too promotional. (Don’t worry, we’ll address some tips on creating the right images below.)

We’ve already delved into the various ways to boost online traffic via Pinterest. Here, we’ll share how some Shopify retailers have seen success with Pinterest, and how you can do it too.

1. Use Keywords, Not Hashtags

In order to make Pinterest work for you, it helps to know this about the platform from the start: Contrary to popular belief, it is not a social media tool, it is a search engine.

So what’s the impact?

It means that when writing copy to describe your Pins, you need to use keywords rather than hashtags.

Keywords will direct users to your Pins, so think about the words your target audience would type into Google, for example. So if you sell women’s accessories, then some relevant keywords would be “women’s hats”, “latest jewelry trends”, “accessories for her”, “stylish accessories” — to name just a few.

On the flipside, hashtags work especially well when there’s a trending or relevant topic at play, and as a way to track a campaign or online conversation. Counting how many hashtags on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are using something like #ootd (AKA “outfit of the day” in social media speak) signals an important hashtag for those platforms, not on Pinterest.

Social media strategy and planning templates

Ready to get started with your social media strategy? These free, customizable templates give you tools to plan and execute a strategy that connects you with your target audience while keeping your content calendar organized.

2. Look into Promoted Pins

Promoted Pins, Pinterest | Shopify Retail blogThere are also some small-scale investments you can make on Pinterest to help boost viewership of your Pins, like launching a Promoted Pin campaign.

If you have a little wiggle room in your marketing budget, consider running some Promoted Pins to increase your brand’s reach and exposure. Essentially, Promoted Pins are just like regular Pins, only you pay to ensure they are seen by more people. According to Pinterest for Business, these are native ad units that perform just as well, if not better, than organic Pins in helping people discover and save ideas.

Pinterest is a place where people go to find brands they love — and maybe some brands they haven’t yet heard of — so running a Promoted Pin campaign is a good way to direct users to your brand.

According to Pinterest’s webinar series, one of the prime reasons to invest in a Promoted Pin campaign is that your content will circulate for months after your ad is running. The lifespan of a regular Pin is much shorter (basically, not much longer than a few days).

This, friends, is where Promoted Pins come in handy.

Macala Wright, a Seattle-based retail technology consultant and contributor to sites like Mashable and PSFK, shared her thoughts on Promoted Pins and navigating the ins and outs of the platform:

“With Promoted Pins, you are able to boost your top performing content or product Pins to your target audience. Unlike other platforms, Pinterest uses ‘terms’ to target people. With terms, you select the keywords that will trigger your ad. Terms allows you to narrow down your target audience by only showing your ad to someone who is actively searching for a keyword related to your brand. This naturally may give you a better click-through rate.”

When running a Promoted Pin campaign, there are three different goals you can set to the campaign:

  • Awareness campaigns: Get in front of as many people as possible.
  • Engagement campaigns: If you want to create really savable Pins and get lots of saves.
  • Traffic campaigns: Getting traffic to the site to generate orders.

If your objective is a traffic-generating campaign, then the goal is to reach people in your audience based on their interests.

Promoted Pins are impactful, especially for fashion accessories and furniture retailers. For example, these retailers have all been featured in Pinterest’s “Success Story” section:

  1. Lingerie company Adore Me increased its Pinterest-referred revenue by 4,000% with Promoted Pins.
  2. Online store Dot & Bo quadrupled the number of site visitors, increased repins by 6,000%, and boosted daily clicks to its site by a whopping 18000%.
  3. Chicago-based sock brand Living Royal saw a 31% decrease in cost per acquisition (CPA) and a six-fold increase in traffic within the first month of paid promotion on Pinterest.
  4. MVMT Watches found Pinners convert at a rate 2X higher than users on other platforms — and with higher average order values.

Wright continues: “Pinterest advertisers can utilize further targeting to narrow down the audience and reach a more relevant demographic. Additional targeting that is currently available through Promoted Pins include the following:”

  1. Locations
  2. Languages
  3. Devices (desktop, Android phones/tablets, and Apple phones/tablets)
  4. Genders (male, female, and unknown)

PRO TIP: Remember, the better targeted your ads, the better chance of action. 87% of Pinterest users say they have purchased something they discovered while pinning. Additionally, the average order value of sales coming from Pinterest is $50, which is higher than any other social network.

3. Integrate Buyable Pins

In addition to Promoted Pins, you can also integrate Buyable Pins. As you might have guessed, these allow people to buy products without ever leaving Pinterest. And the best news? As a Shopify retailer, you can activate Buyable Pins with just a few clicks. (Boom.)

So, what does this mean?

When you spot a pin with a blue price, it means it’s buyable. This integration means that users can find your Buyable Pins in search results, in related Pins, and on your business profile.

And as a retailer, you can still control the shopping experience — Pinterest doesn’t take a cut from your sales, and you still get to handle shipping and customer service according to your preferences.

Want to learn more about Shopify retailers seeing great success with Buyable Pins? These success stories published on Pinterest’s Business Resource Center will certainly motivate you to pin your faith on Buyable Pins for increased traffic and sales.

FlyAway BlueJay

Online seller of curated, handmade, eco-friendly items.

Noteworthy Results:

  • Saw 100% of Buyable Pins sales come from brand-new customers.
  • Throughout the holiday season, Pinterest drove 20% of FlyAway BlueJay’s overall sales and 28% of overall website traffic.
  • According to founder and owner Holly Feld, “Now, Pinterest is the number one source of social traffic and sales for the shop.”

Key Takeaway:

Create boards that include a mix of Buyable Pins and non-Buyable Pins to drive inspiration and showcase uses of your shoppable products


Online clothing boutique that sells unique boho chic dresses, vintage-inspired styles and affordable accessories.

Noteworthy Results:

  • Experienced an increase of 15% in sales and 20% of website traffic, thanks to Buyable Pins.
  • 90% of customers from Buyable Pins were new.
  • Store manager Tanya Nguyenbui explains: “Buyable Pins made it easy for us to gain exposure and increase brand reach without the typical level of effort.”

Key Takeaway:

  • Create themed boards that not only showcase specific buyable products, but also a mix of inspirational Pins, to create an organic targeted audience that will more than likely save and purchase its theme-specific Buyable Pins.

Modern Citizen

Online boutique that sells thoughtfully designed and curated women’s fashion and home goods.

Noteworthy Results:

  • Buyable Pins helped Modern Citizen gain key consumer insights during the holidays: According to marketing manager Nichole Powell, “We’ve found that if a particular style does well on Pinterest, that’s likely an indicator that our audience is looking for more of that style.” This is key intel for a relatively new brand like Modern Citizen.
  • Reached new mobile customers across different demographics, increasing sales from Pinterest by 73%.
  • Optimized for mobile shoppers, enabling an effortless buying experience for the modern, mobile woman.

Key Takeaways:

  • Use rich insights about your customers’ tastes on Pinterest to drive your product and marketing strategy.
  • To quote Modern Citizen: “Deliver an effortless mobile shopping experience with Buyable Pins that combines delightful discovery with instant gratification.”

4. Revamp Your Pinterest Strategy: Easy Tips to Apply ASAP

So we’ve covered the business tactics you can apply to boost traffic and sales to your store and website, but what about some easy ways to optimize your Pins right now?

For more advanced tips, get the most out of your Pinterest account with our post on the 5 Powerful Tools for Growing Your Business on Pinterest.

Know Your Audience

Hone in on your target audience: Who are you trying to attract? What would he or she be searching for when browsing on Pinterest?

PRO TIP: Since Pinterest is a search engine, knowing who your target audience is will help determine the optimal times to pin and be active on Pinterest.

Don’t Get Fancy With Board Titles

Save the word play for your brand’s website and marketing materials. Pinterest board titles should be simple, direct, self-explanatory, and keyword driven.

Consider Pinterest’s Feed Functionality

Basically, you need to share quality Pins in order to increase your chances of being repinned and to be bumped to the top of your users’ feed. (Think of it like Facebook and Instagram’s algorithm: it’s about relevance, not recency.)

Create Vertical Images

Because Pins are organized into columns, vertical Pins will stand out more in a user’s feed, as opposed to smaller, more horizontal ones. This is especially true on mobile devices!

PRO TIP: The maximum vertical aspect ratio is 2:3, or 600 pixels wide by 900 pixels high.

Overlay Copy onto Your Images

If possible, add some helpful text onto the image to give more context. (Do not use promotional copy like “Sale” on your image though; this is your chance to create quality visuals.) If you want to add promotional copy, do so in the Pin’s description.

Repurpose Content From Your Website, Facebook, and Instagram

There’s no need to reinvent the Pin, so to speak; use nicely branded images from other owned channels like your site or social media, and simply optimize and format them for Pinterest (see points 4 and 5).

Make Multi-Image Pins

If you want to add even more value to the image, there’s opportunity to use a free photo editing tool like Canva to create a “diptych” or basic layout featuring a trio photos. These are particularly useful for how-tos and other tutorial-type content.

To Recap

Pinterest is a virtual idea playground — and the brands that know the rules of the game will walk away the winners. Not only can you increase brand equity and awareness by pinning beautiful images, but you can also attract new customers by making your Pins serve as ideas that feature helpful information.

After all, people visit Pinterest with intent, looking for inspiration or ideas. By applying the right strategies are experimenting with Promoted Pins and Buyable Pins, users are more likely to learn about your brand too.

Pinterest for retail FAQ

How can I use Pinterest in retail?

  • Create boards that showcase your products: Pinterest is a great way to draw attention to products you’re selling. Create boards that highlight specific products or collections with visuals and descriptions.
  • Promote special offers: Use Pinterest to promote any special offers or discounts you may be running. This can help you draw in new customers and increase sales.
  • Utilize influencers: Reach out to influencers in your niche to help promote your products and services. This can help you reach an even larger audience and generate more sales.
  • Use “Shop the Look”: Pinterest’s “Shop the Look” feature lets you tag and link products directly to the images on your boards. This makes it easier for customers to find and purchase items they’re interested in.
  • Leverage user-generated content: Feature content created by your customers or fans on your boards. This can help boost engagement and create a sense of community around your brand.

Is Pinterest good for selling products?

Yes, Pinterest can be a great tool for selling products. With its visual format and huge user base, it can be a great way to showcase your products and reach potential customers. However, it is important to remember to create content that is tailored to meet the interests of your target audience and use effective tactics to promote your products.