Pin to win: five ways your brand can boost e-commerce with Pinterest


As well as enjoying a boom in popularity among consumers, the aspirational nature of Pinterest is drawing attention to the site as a great channel for brands to promote themselves. The site is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to put out content, and research shows that referrals to online shops from the scrapbooking site generate more sales than from any other social network. Brands like Barbour use the site as a platform to showcase the story of their brand, while others use Pinterest to circumnavigate some of the common pitfalls of traditional e-commerce.

We took a look at some of the reasons why brands – and in particular those with an e-commerce offering – should be using Pinterest, and some of the practical ways they can make the new-ish kid on the social block work for them.

It’s (currently) a bargain 

Pinterest, unlike longer-standing social giants Twitter and Facebook, is still a relatively cheap way for brands to get their message out. Facebook has changed the way its algorithm works to become more like a traditional ‘bought media’ channel – where brands used to hit about 18% of their audience with content pushed out through their Facebook pages this figure has slumped to around 5% for some. Instead brands are encouraged to buy advertising to reach their desired audience. Twitter too uses ‘Featured’ tweets to monetise brand content. Quoted in a recent Marketing Week feature, Jason Kenny, chief strategy officer at social media agency Jam, said: “There is a business advantage to working with the growing social networks that haven’t yet found a way to monetise themselves. Brands can generate more engagement and at a lower cost that on Facebook.”

It’s where your brand story lives

Pinterest is a great way to tell the story of your brand. Instead of always focusing on the latest campaign, pinning is a great way to present a visual history of your brand; how you’ve developed ideas and what has remained at the core of your offering. See these archive boards from British heritage brand Barbour, quirky home furnisher Cath Kidston and Volkswagen for some brand history ‘pinspiration‘. Equally, brands can use a Pinterest board to show off a particular facet of their work, like Topshop have done with their past collaborations.

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 17.39.04
One of the vintage pins from VW’s archive board

As well as showcasing your rich history Pinterest allows e-tailers, and brands generally, to display current product and contextualise it with complementary image and video – bringing more life to product images which can be notoriously dull otherwise. Check out this board from high-street fashion retailer Zara for a great example of just this. Or, compare this scrapbooky board from IKEA Live, where products are shown ‘in situ’, to the way similar items are displayed on the IKEA retail site. What is important here is that in the first example products are presented in a way that lets shoppers visualise how items will look in their homes, creating an emotional connection we often experience when shopping in-store, but that is much more difficult to replicate online.

Baskets? We don’t need no steenking baskets!

Image property of Warner Bros (1948)

The abandoned basket is the scourge of the modern e-tailer. The notoriously fickle and easily distracted modern consumer will click away from your site at the slightest provocation. And once they leave your site, there’s a good chance the items collected in their shopping basket/cart will have gone too. With pinning it works a little differently, of course you can’t make content on Pinterest directly shoppable – more on this later – but every time a Pinterest user pins one of your images/products to a board it stays there. A little reminder of your brand and that product of yours they love every time they log in.

The social proof is in the pudding.

If you’ve ever spent fifteen minutes idly flicking through Pinterest you will most likely have come across another user’s “Things I want” board, in fact you’ve probably created a board like this yourself. These boards are where the digital-magpie in each of us files away the shiny items that they would like to one day have in their life but maybe can’t afford to purchase right now.

The benefits of getting your product on just one such board are huge. Not only is the item permanently viewable on that page by the owner but it’s also there for their friends and followers to see. Pinterest is all about aspiration, and seeing one of your peers aspiring to own a particular product might be just the social proof they need to go ahead and click ‘buy’ themselves.

Everyone can see you! 

A common dilemma facing smaller e-tailers is whether or not to list their products on third-party online marketplaces like Google Shopping or eBay. The benefits: increased visibility of their products listed on sites with much higher site traffic. The downside: lost income through commission payments.


Pinterest offers the benefits of huge digital footfall past the ‘display window’ of your online store and, best of all, if your brand is owning the content on the channel, all the pins your audience see can feature a link back to the product page of your e-commerce site. If that’s not enough, recent research by Shopify shows that visitors to online stores referred from Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy than those who find their way there by other means.

HINT: What do we mean by ‘owning the content’? Well, making sure that every item you stock is available to be pinned is a good start; ensure that each of your pins carries a link to the product page for that item on your own site and you’ve got yourself a neat little sales funnel.

Puzzled by Pinterest?

Need help getting your brand’s Pinterest up and running? Drop us a line!

Further reading

Check out some more examples of how Canadian and US businesses are using Pinterest creatively.

Author: Tom Owen

A strategic storyteller and compelling content creator, awash with acuity and adept at alliteration. I work for Speak Media.

2 thoughts

  1. Fantastic piece! Thanks for including a link to my article:) You make some great points about the benefits of Pinterest for businesses, namely how they can tell their ‘brand story’ and create an emotional connection to their products- as for making a pin shoppable, I expect you’ll do a great follow up on rich product pins and the effect they are having on retailers sales! I look forward to seeing that. I included the details of that in my piece How 5 Businesses Are Using Pinterest Boards to Creatively Promote Their Products – The Wishpond Blog

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