How to drive huge amounts of traffic to your website with Pinterest.

  Written by Matt Press

 Last updated: Feb 23, 2017

 12 Comments

 

This might surprise you, but it's possible to grow any business by using Pinterest.

Today, I’m going to reveal how to use Pinterest to earn 180,000 shares from just one piece of content (and drive HUGE amounts of traffic to your website as a result).

This simple, little-known 5-step technique could be the best marketing tactic you ever try.

Now, I’m sure you’ll agree that, unless you’re already a big brand, it’s hard to create content that even gets a respectable amount of shares, never mind the sort of stuff that goes viral.

Yet it’s viral content that we all crave, because viral content wins business. 

Shares give you attention and momentum. They deliver huge amounts of traffic (which means more leads, customers and revenue).

So, the aim is to nail this content marketing thing. The next question is, why turn to Pinterest then?

Using Pinterest for business.

Isn't Pinterest just a place for decor inspiration and jokey e-cards?

Well, actually no.

[At least not anymore.]

As it turns out, there are 3 great reasons why you should consider using Pinterest for your business [regardless of which industry you're in].

1. Pinterest is incredibly popular.

First things first, there are a lot of Pinterest users (which is obviously important). Mashable pointed out last summer that Pinterest had doubled its users between 2012 and 2015.

There are now a reported 176 million Pinterest users.

But here's the thing:

These users seem to be more engaged.

Check this out (via SproutSocial):

93% of pinners shopped online in the last 6 months, so Pinterest traffic is good traffic.

 

With users logging on multiple times a day, Facebook might be the most popular social media platform, but when Pinterest users are active, their actions seem to be more meaningful and deliberate.

According to Shareaholic, Pinterest is already the number 2 social media traffic referrer behind Facebook. 

2. Great content needs good visuals.

In many ways, it's completely logical that Pinterest should at least play some part in a good marketing strategy. 

That's because of the popularity of visual content.

By now, most of us have seen that well-quoted stat about how website users only read 20% of a web page. But we can improve the level of engagement with our content by including powerful images.


 

And if it's images we're talking about, is there anywhere better to go than Pinterest?

3. For business, Pinterest is vastly underused.

Don't just take my word for it.

Brian Dean of Backlinko spoke of Pinterest way back in April 2014 in a guest post on OkDork.

He said:

I guarantee that your competition completely ignores Pinterest.

After all, most people think that Pinterest is nothing more that a place where mommies go to pin shoes and handbags.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Pinterest actually drives more referral traffic than LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.

It seems, then, that we’ve all been missing a trick.

How to use Pinterest for business. 

I've been lucky enough to share some time with someone who achieved some astonishing results by using Pinterest - Katherine Kotaw of KOTAW Content Marketing, a brand storytelling digital marketing agency in Los Angeles.

KOTAW created a piece of content that got a whopping 180K Pinterest shares.

Whoa... 

 

 

Let's slow down a sec and ponder that stat.

180,000 shares...

... from one piece of content.

[Which meant loads of website traffic and plenty of new customers.]

I would bet that there are very few pieces of content, if any, that have earned anywhere near that sort of exposure.

Need to see for yourself?

When you pop the web page in question into Ahrefs, here's what you see:

 

 

Now the eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted something interesting.

Put the astonishing number of shares to one side for a moment.

Look at the URL above and you'll see that we’re not talking about a blog post or an ebook. 

In fact, KOTAW attracted 180,000 shares from Pinterest for their brand story (or their ‘about us’ page).

So they created a piece of viral content that, with all due respect to the KOTAW team, isn't what you'd describe as 'useful' in the popular sense of the word.

That is to say, it isn't some sort of epic guide, in-depth interview or extensive case study.

It's just their story. 

Crazy, eh? That's got to be the Holy Grail of content marketing, surely?

And Katherine was kind enough to take some time out from her busy schedule to explain how they did it. 

Without further ado, here are some brilliant tips for growing a business through Pinterest [from a proven success story].

The need to be different.

The KOTAW team identified that amazing results often come from a bit of lateral thinking.

Quite simply, the stats tell us that we need to be more creative with our content marketing strategies these days.

According to Marketing Profs, 2 million blog posts are written and published every day, so there's a lot of competition out there.

To things even harder, let's not forget that we're trying to create a loyal audience. We don't want someone to share a piece of content once and then disappear forever.

We want people to come to our website regularly.

We should all be striving to build a community of engaged people who believe in and identify with what we stand for. We need people who want to hear what we've got to say.

 

 

Just think of it from a monetary point of view.

Common sense tells us that a visitor to your blog isn’t going to be ready to buy from you on their first visit. You need them to come back a few times.

We all need several ‘touch points’ before we start to reach for the credit card.

The bad news is that getting someone to come back to your site again and again is really, really tough.

However, once it happens, it's worth it.

Kissmetrics thinks that return visitors look at 5.55 pages per visit

That's impressive. Once people buy into your brand, they tend to be in it for the long haul.

KOTAW started with a basic premise.

At the heart of KOTAW's strategy was a belief that:

NOTHING beats the combination of great writing and stunning visuals.

KOTAW Content Marketing is relatively new (2013).

Katherine, who incidentally has New York Times bestselling status, penned the ‘Our Story’ page in June 2013 and created KOTAW’s Pinterest account at the same time.

Katherine’s background is in newspapers and magazines, so her take on Pinterest strategy was to make their boards look and feel as if they came from a high-end magazine.

The gang at KOTAW saw Pinterest as a good place to showcase their new brand.

Pinterest was a platform that offered them an innovative chance to visually reel in readers.

Also, they hoped that if their story was good enough, Pinterest users would spend time on their boards and subsequently visit their website. 

The strategy worked.

KOTAW get more traffic from Pinterest than from any other source.

Katherine said:

We get more unsolicited leads from Pinterest than from anywhere else.

We build relationships on Twitter and Facebook and derive referrals and sales, but when I hear from someone and ask how they found us, Pinterest is the number one answer.

KOTAW's 5-step Pinterest strategy.

Kowtaw's Pinterest strategy was created and implemented by Kelsey Prooker.

[Kelsey is KOTAW’s Chief Digital Strategist and Katherine’s younger daughter.]

Kelsey took KOTAW’s visual branding to a whole new level in just 5 stages.

Step 1: Find an identity and create a story.

Regardless of whether you're penning a brand story or a blog post, you need to take your readers on a journey.

They must be engaged emotionally with what you're talking about. 

Spend some time thinking about what you want to achieve from your content. There are a lot of content marketing agencies out there, so Katherine knew the importance of having a strong, unique position.

By way of an example, KOTAW leverage their love of dogs and, specifically, pit bulls.

Katherine's oldest daughter, Bri Prooker, is passionate about pit bulls and is the driving force behind rebranding pit bulls as loving, kind and gentle dogs.

So there's much more to the KOTAW 'story' than just trying to hook in people who are interested in marketing or branding; they're also appealing to anyone who is fond of animals.

It's a win-win.

 


Step 2. Find images that convey mood or emotion.

You need visuals that tell a story.

The KOTAW team use lots of dog images with their content (regardless of whether the content in question actually relates to dogs).

But their use of dog images is just one example, so let's use another.

Let's suppose that KOTAW published something on content marketing, such as a blog post on falling in love with KOTAW's content strategy. 

The purpose of this content would be simple: to promote their services.

However, they wouldn't just head over to Pinterest and promote it with plain, standard graphics with unimaginative block headlines.

And interestingly, nor would they use an image that depicted content marketing, storytelling or branding.

[Which is probably the mistake that most of us make.]

Instead, they would create an image about love.

[Because that was the angle of the story - falling in love.]

Katherine rightly thinks that this approach gives content a much better chance of 'sticking'.

After all, people identify with falling in love much more than they do with staid copy about a marketing strategy that they might not have heard of before.

The original pinned image for KOTAW's 'Our Story' page includes the text ‘Fall in love’ and doesn’t say a word about content marketing (apart from within the company name).

Here's another example.

Take a look at the picture below.

Who would have thought this used to advertise content about social media engagement?

[But this tactic works.]

 


Step 3. Ensure your business name is still prominent.

Despite taking this approach to visuals, Katherine says that it's still crucial to feature your business name somewhere on your images.

It’s vital that people know who you are when they’re looking around your boards.

 

 

Step 4. Take care of the back-end details.

When it comes to using Pinterest, your job doesn’t end when you find the right image.

When commenting on the piece of content that earned 180,000 shares, Katherine added:

We gave meticulous attention to the descriptions, keywords… all the things Google loves.

A lot of information that companies stuff into their images (or, conversely, ignore completely), we had in the background. We didn’t lose any relevance by NOT making the image about content marketing.

All the info was there.

Also, ensure that the link you want to promote is live and clear for all to see.

Step 5. Post it up on Pinterest.

Once you've created your story, found some visuals, positioned your brand name and optimised the images, the rest is easy...

... just publish it on Pinterest.

Hopefully, if your story is good enough, the clicks will come rolling in.

Now it's your turn.

And, as always, monitor and analyse your strategy. Use Google Analytics to see whether you're getting more visitors from Pinterest or not.

[Why not use our simple guide to Google Analytics to test the KOTAW strategy out?]


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 Comments

Tom Green

Interesting article Matt!

Matt

Thanks Tom.

Bri Prooker

Hi Matt, Thank you so much for writing such a comprehensive guide on how to use Pinterest for business, using KOTAW Content Marketing as an example! Before you wrote to my mom on Facebook asking her how the "Our Story" page of KOTAW got 180K shares, my mom and sister and I were completely oblivious to this fact. As a creative marketing and brand storytelling studio, most people gawk at the fact that we don't focus on metrics or analytics. Our goal has always been to tell good stories, create amazing visuals and make a difference in the world along the way (particularly with our passion project to rebrand Pit Bulls as the sweet and loving dogs they are). So how do we know we're doing a good job if we don't measure our success with numbers? The answer is: any time someone writes to us to say we changed their mind about Pit Bulls. And any time someone writes to us to say they adopted or fostered a dog because of our stories about our 3 fur baby rescues (KOTAW's Pit Bull Brand Ambassador Ivy, our sweet tap dancing Poodle Doodle LuLU and our magical kitten-cat fairy Doosis). Also, any time someone writes to us to say we empowered them or gave them the courage to leave their abuser by sharing our story of surviving domestic violence and giving them hope. And any time someone writes to us to say our words and visuals made them laugh, cry, remember something precious from their childhood or feel inspired to do something good in this world. That said, 180K shares from Pinterest to the "Our Story" page of our website is KOTAWesome. I love how you say "That's got to be the Holy Grail of content marketing, surely." Because when my mom and sister and I started KOTAW, our goal was never to get the most likes or to be the most popular social media figure - it was to stand out. And you can't stand out if people aren't finding your content and actively engaging with it. Which is why our 180K shares from Pinterest to KOTAW's "Our Story" page (without any advertising or promoted pins) is pretty wonderful proof that we are meeting our goal (and that we get KOTAWesome results like this for our clients as well). Thank you for sharing our story and for writing to tell us about our 180K shares in the first place! :)

Matt

Hi Bri. No worries! Thanks for helping me out by providing some of the content. I think Pinterest is one of those platforms which is underused by many people, including myself. So it was great to hear about a success story and, more importantly, hear about exactly how you achieved such an amazing share count.

Katherine Kotaw

Thank you so much, Matt, for including KOTAW's story in your well-researched and informative post about finding marketing success in social media's overlooked platform: Pinterest. My approach to marketing has always been to trust my gut first, then find out if the numbers back up my intuition. It's thoroughly satisfying when they do. For business owners whose expertise lies in areas other than marketing, I'd recommend that they zig when others zag. Use Pinterest (or any other platform) if it's NOT the one most of your competitors use. And, if your competitors are spread pretty much equally among the same platforms, develop a strategy different than theirs. If you don't want to get lost in social media, you have to work hard to stand out. Matt's well-researched piece tells you how and why. Congrats, Matt!

Matt

I think that's a great point Katherine. Sometimes it's about finding the confidence to zig when others zag. I think your strategy should serve as an inspiration to all of us!

Geraldine

Really informative article Matt, thanks! I've been a keen pinner for a while (I have two accounts – one for Every Word Counts & one for me on a personal level). But apart from simply pinning a link with feature image to my latest blog posts, I've not really known how to make the most of Pinterest to drive traffic to my website. This has given me lots of food for thought :)

Matt

Hey Geraldine. Thanks for your kind comments. Well, I'm in exactly the same boat, so I'm completely new to this way of using Pinterest for business too. Don't forget to let me know whether you get any great results!

Jenny Brennan

Hey, Matt! Great post about Pinterest. I see the ads are now available in the UK. Haven't tried them in Ireland yet ;-) I sent you an email today in relation to your great content, would love to connect. Cheers! Jenny Brennan

Matt

Hi Jenny. Thanks, that's really kind. Yup I definitely want to have a look at using Pinterest ads, once I get more familiar with the platform. And yes, I saw your email - sounds great. Kind regards, Matt

Cat Payen

Thanks for the article of great content and the comments are priceless!! Yes always have your eyes on the metrics, there's even a plugin now so at a glance you can see your website's metrics - but that aint Pinterest. I do have a question regarding all the info one can put on the image that's Google compliant etc - how do we get that info? Thanks Cat miaow

Matt

Very kind of you to say so Cat. In terms of the meta data that you should incorporate into your Pinterest images [which is what I think you're referring to], I would advise looking at the meta description and user experience articles on the Splash Copywriters blog. There are loads of tips in both of those pieces on meta data. But to answer your question quickly, your meta data should ideally contain relevant keywords. However, you should always create meta data as if you were writing for a human. In other words, don't keyword stuff or create copy that doesn't read well. Hope that helps; give me a shout if not.


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