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Pin It to Win It: The Do's and Don'ts of Advertising On Pinterest

Greg Shuey
Greg Shuey

When formulating a paid content promotion plan, most advertisers turn to the main players: Facebook, Twitter and Google Adwords. But a new kid is in town, and when Pinterest rolled out the beta version of promoted pins last year, it became a game changer. 

Pinterest has a highly active and targeted userbase, and can often be a direct link to a purchase. The only problem? Advertising on this social juggernaut is still new, and is therefore uncharted territory. 

The good news is that with some knowledge and planning, taking advantage of Pinterest advertising doesn't have to be a shot in the dark. 

Overview of Promoted Pins

If you’ve been scrolling through Pinterest lately, you might have noticed three kinds of pins. Most are from people you follow and a few more are pins that are “suggested for you.”

The final type is promoted pins, which are put there by companies who pay every time someone clicks on one of them. They have more capabilities than normal pins that allow you to add keywords and target specifically to increase visibility and conversions for your brand.

Whether you already have access to promoted pins or are still on the waitlist, these do’s and don’ts should help you make your mark.

Related Article: Just Pin It: Harnessing the Power of Pinterest for Your Business

DO Continually Adjust Your Campaigns

Pinterest is a visually driven site, and you never know what images will resonate with your audience unless you try a variety. Once you get your campaigns running, don’t just leave them there. Test out different variations: varied imagery, photos with text or without, new keywords, higher or lower bids and new audiences.

Eventually, you’ll find that sweet spot where you’re getting exactly the return you want.

DON’T Use a “Hard Wall” Landing Page

It’s tempting to send users right to a landing page where they will convert, and you can try it—but Pinterest won’t approve your pin. Their guidelines explain that the platform values the idea that when users click on a pin, they can find the information they’re looking for without having to put in their personal information. Instead of a landing page, try sending them to a blog post where the landing page is easy accessible.

DO Use CTAs in the Description

Pinterest does allow you to use direct CTAs in the description of your pin, so something like “sign up today” or “download the free guide” will work. However, don’t be too salesy, or your pin won’t get clicks. Users come to Pinterest for appealing imagery and creative ideas, not to be slammed with advertisements.

DON’T Use CTAs in the Image

While you can get away with direct call-to-actions in the description, they’re not allowed in the image. However, you can include “soft” CTAs as an overlay on the photo. For example, “check one more thing off your list” or “make today one that matters.” You’ll want to be careful here, because if it’s too up front, Pinterest might not approve your pin.

DO Use Relevant Keywords

The platform allows you to associate up to 150 keywords per promoted pin, but that doesn’t mean you have to use that many. Most users recommend adding at least 30 keywords, and of course, make sure they’re relevant to both your pin itself and the page where users will land if they click. Targeting things that aren’t relevant will not only hurt your click through and conversion rates, but will result in wasted ad spend.

Related Article: Keyword Research Hacks For the Most Important Part of Content Marketing

DON’T Use Horizontal Images

The way Pinterest is designed almost guarantees that if you use a horizontal or landscape image, it will never be seen. Long, vertical images are suited to the design of the platform, so the longer, the better—but make sure users won’t have to scroll down to see the whole thing. Upload colorful, eye-catching photos that communicate a message of what users can expect if they click.

DO Use Targeted Audiences

While not as advanced as some of the other social platforms, Pinterest’s targeting options allow you to show pins to users based on their location, device, gender and language. Take advantage of these different audiences and send your pins to the right users at the right time. Together with the keywords you set up, you’ll be able to appear for the people who are most likely to convert.

Pinterest Targeted Audiences

DON’T Use Redirect Links

Just like with a hard wall landing page, if Pinterest detects that you’re sending users to a page that redirects, they may shut down your pin. The goal is to make the user experience as smooth and easy to understand as possible, and redirects interrupt the flow when someone clicks. Check the URL before you order your ad and make sure you have a direct path to where you want consumers to arrive.

DO Bid Aggressively

Since you only pay for clicks, it’s not a bad idea to bid a little more when you first start so you can see your return. You’ll be able to start out with a higher number of conversions, which could increase your ad’s relevancy even when you do lower the bid. Experiment with a few different options in order to optimize your clicks and conversions.

DON’T Use Hashtags

Even though hashtags are allowed on Pinterest, the platform isn’t a huge fan of seeing them in ads. They look spammy, and since you have the ability to add keywords to your campaigns, you shouldn’t need them anyway. Pinterest will let you have a few, so if you want to add in your company’s specific hashtag or promote one with your campaign, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Pinterest is still a relatively new social platform when compared to Facebook and Twitter, but recently it has seen exponential growth and turned into a type of untapped space, with over 72 million users interested in specific types of content. That number will only continue to grow as the site expands, introduces new features, and improves its capabilities for both advertisers and users.

With promoted pins still in their beta phase, there’s a lot to learn about how to make the most of the platform and drive the results you want as a business. The nuances of this particular social site require an eye for design and an understanding of its users, but by utilizing strategies and tactics that work for them, it can drive qualified leads to your site.

Image Credit: NanoStockk / Getty Images
Greg Shuey
Greg Shuey Member
Greg Shuey is a Co-Founder & Chief Evangelist for Stryde, a content marketing lead generation firm located in Utah. Stryde is driven by a belief that there is a better way to connect businesses and consumers. Through targeted content, they help business create more brand awareness, drive more traffic, educate prospects, generate qualified leads, shorten sales cycles, and increase customer/client retention.