The pinboard-style website is on the rise, aspiring to become the visual search engine of the internet.
With the novel arrival of the newest batch of pins that this social media channel has recently created for today’s modern digital consumers, will it be taking retailers by storm, or just bring a drizzle of rain into the world of ecommerce?
According to the Wall Street Journal, the long-awaited ‘Promoted Pins’ (introduced in late 2013) are currently undergoing beta testing.
They will allow selected businesses to pay to promote specific pins with their products, which will show up more prominently to Pinterest users and link to external product pages.
Visually, these pins are intended to be labelled as a ‘Promoted Pin’ underneath the product description and the link from the retailer. Additionally, there will be an information icon which will give information on what a ‘Promoted Pin’ entails.
‘Rich pins’ are also making big headlines for retailers on Pinterest. Metadata is incorporated into these pins, which enables brands and retailers to provide additional information on the images.
The ‘product pin’ is the main type of rich pin that is used by retailers. These product pins are, without a doubt, a neat little trick for retailers to increase traffic to their respective sites.
They function by allowing retailers to add three key things to their product images: stock availability, real-time pricing and a ‘buy this’ link. This is a very good way to directly link these product pins to the retailer website.
Out of all the features so far, the real-time pricing feature of these pins is sure to be a hit, as they also provide price change notifications to users.
These notifications are provided directly by Pinterest, which is immensely valuable for retailers, because users who are not subscribers on a retailer’s email contact list can still be enticed to visit a retailer’s site as they will receive notifications and alerts from Pinterest about specific pins depending on their preferences.
Another Pinterest treat for retailers is a trending-products widget, which allows data related to rich pins to be placed onto their respective retailer website.
The most popular pinned product images on Pinterest can be displayed, which can then be implemented into the retail experience on the site.
Target illustrates the use of the trending products widget from Pinterest by compiling their trending Pinterest product images onto one site: ‘The Awesome Shop’.
Target Spokesperson Katie Boylan revealed that the ‘Awesome Shop' was created for user discovery and inspiration, and their excitement about seeing how their customers will respond – and indeed, they responded very well!
According to Fast Company, Target’s website achieved a 70% increase in website traffic since utilising rich pins on Pinterest to promote its products.
In a separate trial, Topshop customers were encouraged to pin their favourite Topshop products on their personal pin boards, as if they were compiling their own Christmas wish list.
The most popular pinned products were displayed on the Topshop website, and customers were given the opportunity to enter their Topshop Christmas wish list pin boards into a competition.
Additionally, huge touchscreens showing the most pinned Topshop products were displayed in flagship branches across London and the US.
Sheena Sauvaire, (Topshop’s Global Marketing and Communications Director) states that despite their experience with other social media platforms influencing customers’ purchase choices, Pinterest seemed like a perfect fit as it encourages engagement and interaction with products.
Topshop made customers into brand ambassadors by promoting the users and the content that they curate.
Topshop’s campaign on Pinterest exemplifies the practice of ‘personalisation’, a term Econsultancy’s CEO Ashley Friedlein described as “...email, social, marketing comms, mobile, in-store and the web experience becoming much more laser-guided towards individuals…”, as one of the many aspects of his predictions on trends in ecommerce for 2014.
Statistics from IBM show that 90% of consumers would prefer greater personalisation, and are open to spending time supplying data to retailers to receive a more tailored shopping experience.
With the use of social media like Pinterest, retailers can now invest in web-based personalisation, which can provide a more engaging user experience.
Enter Pin‘interest’ navigation
Pinterest’s blog announced today that it is broadening their category interface via a new feature called ‘interests’.
This will include more than just a few pin categories, which is what Pinterest had before, to enable a wider taxonomical variety of high level topics.
There are currently no sub categories (at this moment), so practically it still makes sense to use the search tool. Coupled with an excellent recommendation engine, it appears that Pinterest is investing further effort and thought into the user experience so that it is easier to browse topics outside of the search tool.
Images and visuals are now an integral part of ecommerce marketing tactics. The immersion of high quality photography coupled with social media commenting, sharing and brand engagement (where the brand itself is promoting the user’s content) can stimulate the customer’s emotions and 'desire' to want a product even more than before.
Persuasion and trust in the brand can be accelerated thanks to more visible information and social proof. So what else can Pinterest do? Besides the ability to embed YouTube videos in pins, one idea surrounds entertainment, and Pinterest has officially declared that it now supports animated GIFs, which has the potential to further entertain users.
Due to technology shifts within social networks, the interaction between the brand and the user is becoming increasingly bidirectional and more intimate, leading to increased loyalty, empowered brand ambassadors and a stronger sense of community.
Ultimately, ecommerce retailers should empower both their marketing teams and customers to take a more visual and creative approach to syndicating brand assets across websites, widgets and social networks to encourage conversations.
As with any form of marketing, using Pinterest‘s own analytics, other social analytics and sales data from your website will be key to measuring marketing success and calculating ROI.