How to Drive Traffic and Sales Using Pinterest

Sure, Pinterest is great for tasty recipes and travel ideas, but the social media platform is a valuable marketing tool. For many small businesses, Pinterest is a major driver behind traffic and sales. It's there to help brands engage with their followers, attract new customers, increase customer retention and up profit--you just have to know how to use it.

The Value of Pinterest

There's no doubt that Pinterest can work as a serious moneymaker for your brand. Here are some of the benefits of Pinterest:

Many of Your Customers Use It

Pinterest is a social media giant. It's currently the third most popular social channel in terms of traffic, and that number continues to rise. Its user base has grown by nearly 150 percent in the past three years, so if you don't already have a Pinterest account, now is the time to set one up.

Pinterest Engages Your Customers and Customers-To-Be

One of the major reasons to use Pinterest is that your audience is already on it--and staying on it. Pinterest's retention numbers are outstanding, engaging users for two to three times the amount of time that they're on Twitter. This means that if you use Pinterest in an interesting way, your brand stands a greater chance of attracting new users who are already big-time Pinterest users.

It Drives Traffic

Many businesses use the social platform to increase visits to their websites, and you can, too. Pinterest is a traffic-driving machine, responsible for nearly four percent of online referrals.

And It Drives Sales

It's not only good for clicks. Many users hit Pinterest to shop or create wishlists. Your company is 10 percent more likely to make a sale from the platform than from any other social media site. Nearly half of Pinterest users end up purchasing five of the products they pin, and shoppers who arrive via the platform spend 70 percent more than those who arrive at your website from non-social channels (such as Google).

Smart Tips for Making the Most of Pinterest

So you already know that Pinterest is the platform for you. But turning your pins into sales and traffic requires a bit of strategy and practice. Here are some tricks to help you build your brand's Pinterest following and use it to your advantage.

Think Mobile

Pinterest is a highly mobile platform, with 58 percent of its traffic coming through tablet or mobile device. Remember this factor when you're pinning. You should make sure to opt for vertical photos, which appeal visually on the long, and often small, screens of tablets and cell phones. For the same reason, you should also opt for large font that's easy to read, even on a tiny screen.

Focus on Your Photos

In addition to shooting for more vertical images, a lot of thought goes into what major brands post on the platform. Images with at least three different dominant colors, no human faces, and featuring the colors red and orange receive the most repins. While it's not necessary to stick to these guidelines for every single thing you pin, keeping them in mind could help you grow your audience faster.

Embrace DIY

Many users visit Pinterest for do-it-yourself projects or recipes. Even if your brand doesn't naturally lend itself to those categories, you can improvise. If you're a retailer that sells women's clothing, you can always create "DIY: The Perfect Outfit" boards or "Gift Guide," another commonly searched term on Pinterest. If you're a restaurant, you can pin your own recipes, perhaps featuring a special sauce or salsa that you sell. The main point is that with a little creativity, you can easily make your own account appeal to the DIY-ers.

Appeal to Women

Pinterest is heavily dominated by women. Nearly 80 percent of its users are female, meaning that it's a great platform to sell feminine products. Even if your brand doesn't cater to women specifically, it's still important to focus on your female audience on the platform. For example, while Target's consumers are both male and female, the majority of the 62 boards on its Pinterest account are geared toward women. Even the men's items are listed under boards like"Gifts for Men." With nearly 350,000 followers, it's clear that this strategy works. Keep your female consumers in mind when setting up and posting from your brand's account.

Put Some Thought Into Your Pin Descriptions

Rather than thinking of Pinterest as a real-time platform, such as Facebook or Twitter, think of it as more of a search-based site. People tend to search more than they do scroll on Pinterest, which is great because it means you could drive traffic and sales using Pinterest content from weeks, months or, in some cases, years ago. But because of this emphasis on search, your descriptions matter. Each pin's description should include a search keyword, similar to the way you'd think about searching on Google. By putting a little thought into the SEO of your pins, you can continue to see a return on them for months to come.

Using Pinterest to drive traffic or increase sales is a bit of a science and an art. While using these tips will give you a major advantage on your account, it's important to remember that each brand is different. Depending on your service or product, you may find your own combination of photo type and description that draws the most visitors. The bottom line? With a little experimenting, you can use your Pinterest account to engage with current and future customers, inciting them to visit your site and invest in your products.