Using Pinterest Ads to Drive Sales

For many Springers, Pinterest is a go-to tool for design inspiration and niche research, but few have managed to tap this booming platform as a viable sales avenue. This page will teach you the key features of Pinterest ads and how to leverage them to help high-quality campaign get off the ground and continue selling over a long period of time.

Pinterest ads are still in beta, so not everyone will have access off-the-bat. We are trying to help as many Springers as possible get started. If you want access put your information on this form and we will try to get you started ASAP!

what is pinterest?

Pinterest is an online photo-sharing platform which allows its users to “pin” (upload) images, browse other users’ pins, and “repin” (share) their favorites on their own profiles. Pinterest is a heavily visual platform with a dedicated community of enthusiastic users looking to find inspiration and discover new things. Pinterest allows its users to collect images that express their personal tastes and interests, as well as save and share items that they want to own. This makes it a fantastic place to advertise products in a highly visual and engaging way.

Here’s a sample of one of our Pinterest boards:

sample pinterest board

Notice how pins emphasize images over text, and how boards are formatted so that images fill the whole page. Try a few sample Pinterest searches and you’ll see that pages are often crowded with visually striking images from many different sources. The site layout and content might present a different aesthetic from what you’re used to on other ad platforms. In contrast to the fleeting and often “spammy” content that performs well on Facebook, successful pins on Pinterest are generally high quality and trendy, yielding long lifecycles within the pin-o-sphere.

Read more about it here.

advertising on pinterest

Aside from higher quality content, Pinterest ads stand out because:

  • You’ll bid on keywords and pay only per clicks- similar to Google Adwords!

  • Your pin’s half life will be much longer than any other social network. Even when your Pinterest ad campaign is completed, you’ll still get residual, organic sales over time.

The principle of Pinterest ads is simple: you tag your bid on keywords relevant to your campaign, and when a Pinterest user searches one or more of those keywords your ad is displayed. Pinterest ads, like Pinterest posts, are dominated by a single large image with a small text caption, and if a Pinterest user likes your image, they can re-pin it, sharing your ad and spreading your message.

Keyword based bidding allows you to laser-focus your targeting on terms that buyers are searching for. Although you bid on specific queries you want your ad to show up for, Pinterest bidding uses broad-match targeting which means that you can plug in highly specific terms without worrying about eliminating relevant traffic.

For example, if you made a fitness shirt with a squatting pun on it you would want to bid on a variety of specific terms related to squatting fitness tanks like: “fitness tank top,” “funny squatting puns” and “workout motivation tank top.”

One of the best things about Pinterest ads is their long tail. Your pin can keep generating sales even once your ad campaign has ended. Once your pin gets its first re-pin, it starts its journey through the “pin-o-sphere”, where hundreds or even thousands of pinners will re-pin your design. Sales from re-pinned pins are organic and come at no additional cost to you!

Check out these two Teespring tees that went viral organically. Pay close attention to how they got thousands of free views weeks and even months later!

Compare that to a Twitter ad:

The Pinterest Demographic

So now that you understand how to target your Pinterest audience, let’s talk about who you should aim to target. The large majority of Pinterest’s audience is female, and they tend to like quality garments and designs. Keep this in mind not only when you are creating your design, but also when you select the perfect product to print it on.

This audience is trendy and fashion forward, so reflect that demographic in the product you choose! The Bella Flowy Tank and the Teespring Women’s Private Label tee are good choices as these stylish brands may be more appealing to pinners than a Hanes Tagless or Gildan product. Tank tops have also been a huge hit on Pinterest, so don’t forget to add one as an option to every campaign.

How to Target

Campaigns that do well on Pinterest tend to be fashion forward, specific and topical, often with a focus on lifestyle. Good Pinterest campaigns target specific groups or interests and timely events, though they do not need to be as specific as Facebook-driven campaigns or as timely as AdWords-driven ones.

Here’s an example of a great Pinterest campaign that did well by appealing to a niche audience via their affinity for a lifestyle.

“I love naps, movies and long walks to the fridge.”

In their targeting, this seller used a creative keyword list in order to generate thousands of repins over 7 days. The advertiser then paused the Pinterest ad, re-launched the shirt design, and captured the residual, organic sales for free! This product has had 64 sales so far ($638 payout over 2 campaigns) on $483 spend. We predict it will continue to get free organic sales.

To create this highly successful Pinterest ad, the seller used 10 different terms. Some of the most clicked and repinned searches were “lazy movie night outfit”, “funny movie tshirts”, “girls night in outfit,”“outfit ideas for girls night,” “funny lazy quotes,” “lazy day outfit ideas” and “lazy day tshirt”, but the seller also included dozens of other terms. Some of the specific ones and related to the design, like “movies”, “naps funny”, and “clean eating”.

If utilized wisely, Pinterest Ads can provide an unchartered surplus of traffic to your campaign and help you break into the realm of everlasting campaigns with residual sales. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

1. Catchy Ads. Ads on Pinterest aren’t like ads on Facebook. Create an ad with a high aspect ratio (longer) and with a white or neutral colored plain or textured background. This will produce a beautiful pin and encourage repining. Take some time and search around Pinterest for what gets repined to get a sense of how to make great content.

WARNING: DO NOT put a price anywhere on your ad asset or your pin description! The same goes for “Limited Edition,” “Limited Time Only,” or “X hr./days left.” Pinterest will quickly disapprove your ad and pinners will not engage because it is perceived as spammy and low quality. Your ad should emphasize the visual appeal of the product.

2. Tag Your Pins. You can tag the original pin and the promoted pin so you can track organic vs. paid sales. In order to promote a pin, it must have a source URL so make sure you assign a UTM to that source URL to distinguish it as ‘organic’ after pinning it. Then when you promote the pin in the ads dashboard, input a new source URL with a UTM to distinguish it as a ‘paid click.’ If you don’t input a new URL, it will inherit the original source URL with your ‘organic’ UTM.

3. Target Relevant. When choosing your keywords be sure to include everything that is relevant to get as many repins as possible. For example, in the “I Love Naps” example, ‘food’ was one of the keywords.

4. Targeting and Bids A-Hoy. Pinterest recommends starting with a max cpc bid of $1.20 and we have seen good success with this starting bid. We have also seen success starting bids as low as $0.80. Generally, we do not layer on any location, device or gender targeting. However, the option is there if needed. After your pin has a few days of data you can begin optimizing by pausing keywords that are performing poorly and lowering your max CPC. How low can you go?

5. Impressed With Impressions? Be prepared to see a lot of impression volume and a lower CTR when compared to Facebook. This is totally normal with Pinterest and they acknowledge it. A 0.1% CTR is not bad at all.

6. Quality Over Quantity. The main key to Pinterest is high quality designs and garments. Always use trendy, fashionable designs that look more designer-ish. Always use the higher quality garments like American Apparel and Bella. Pay attention to trends and trending garments as well, Pinterest users are very fashion forward and would prefer to pay a little extra to purchase something of quality.

7. More Repins, Less Problems. The more repins your promoted pin receives, the higher the chance it has of bringing you residual sales over a longer period of time. Pins tend to last a very long time and travel throughout the “pin-o-sphere” via repins. Pinnners repinning your campaigns has the ability to provide you with sales, even after your ad campaign has ended - turning a profitable campaign into a really profitable campaign. You can do this by making sure that your image and ad looks great. If you really want to play the repin game, you can experiment with running ads with broader keywords.

8. Negative ROI - Not So Fast! Although we would never recommend running a negative ROI campaign, using point number 7 above, we have seen campaigns run a negative ROI in the first 7 days using ads that turn into a positive ROI campaign the second 7 days without ads. 

And there you have the key features of Pinterest ads, what sets them apart, and what they can do for your Teespring campaign.

In the coming weeks, Pinterest will be debuting a number of new features. Pinterest ads are fairly new and using them is an evolving field. Check back soon for more info on this new features and what it means for your Pinterest ad campaign.

For now, you’re ready to use Pinterest ads for successful campaigns. Keep Calm and Pin On!