The Ultimate Guide To Pinterest & Instagram Advertising

Online or in-store, retailers can use Pinterest and Instagram advertising to drive sales in conjunction with their social media strategies

Did you know that each day, we upload 1.8 billion images to the social web? As of today, Instagram has 500 million users (2016) and Pinterest has 150 million users (2016). Since their inception, Pinterest and Instagram have been driving the rise of visual culture. It is not surprising to see the growth in visual imagery when you learn that 90% of information transmitted to the human brain is visual and that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.

Pinterest and Instagram Drive Online and In-Store Sales

Pinterest and Instagram are two of the most important marketing tools you can use if you own a retail business that caters to home decor, fashion accessories, or anything design related.  Most likely, your retail business is on Pinterest and Instagram, and you have already gotten a good handle on the best practices for each platform. However, you may be wondering if these platforms can drive more sales, both in-store and online. Pinterest and Instagram are no longer big brand marketing tools; they are for everyone. Now you can use these visual platforms to help –– increase sales.

Develop a Visual Strategy

Before you embark on selling on Pinterest and Instagram, you will want to develop a strategy. Imagery does more than just sell a product; it creates an impression and image of your store’s brand. This perception will heavily influence how a potential customer interacts with you. If your ads are intrusive in their social streams, they will disengage, making it very hard to get back into their stream of consciousness. So, you must develop a good strategy. Here are the three steps to developing a visual strategy: Think about the story you want to tell. What story are your images telling? Are they inviting someone into your world in a way that is inspirational, educational, or interesting? Think about your images. What do they convey?li> Think about your story’s takeaway. What message is your viewer, you potential new customer, taking away from your images? According to Olapic, a platform that curates retailer Instagram images, shares that the images that perforM the best are bright, rich in composition, convey interesting imagery, and have longer descriptions. Consider these points as you develop your image and story strategy.


How to Advertise on Pinterest

According to Pinterest, there are four ways for a retailer to drive sales with the platform: by making pins memorable, pinning consistently, learning about your audience and turning your best pins into paid promotions. In order to be successful on Pinterest, here are the five steps you need to understand, along with a few additional mechanics:

Step 1: Understand That Image Layout Is Key to Success

The first step in creating pins that will drive sales is to use beautiful imagery. Next, focus on how you use text overlays and fonts. Use complimentary fonts to accentuate your images if you are adding titles or key statements. Make sure that images are high resolution and attention grabbing.

Pro Tip: Limit the use of people in your images, images without people perform 23% better than those with them. Put your merchandising and design skills to the test!


 Step 2: Add Image Information to Help it Sell

Since Pinterest is not hashtag based, you will need to create detailed product descriptions. Just as you use keywords in product pages to help with SEO on your website, adding detailed information to your pins will help the searcher discover your products. Pinterest offers 500 characters through which you can provide product copy. Remember that pins cannot contain promotional information like discounts, but they can contain the price. If you have the technical capability, you can set up Rich Pins to add extra details like price and stock info to your products that appear when users pin them from your website. Once you have created your Pinterest account, developed your boards and created product pins that you can use to drive sales, it is time to start using Pinterest ads to impact your business. If you are just testing the waters, you might want to start by using Promoted Pins to get in front of a wider audience.

Step 3: Use Promoted Pins to Reach Customers

With promoted pins, you are able to boost your top performing content or product pins to your target audience. Unlike other platforms, Pinterest uses “terms” to target people. With terms, you select the keywords that will trigger your ad. Terms allows you to narrow down your target audience by only showing your ad to someone who is actively searching for a keyword related to your brand. This naturally may give you a better click-through rate. Pinterest advertisers can utilize further targeting to narrow down the audience and reach a more relevant demographic. Additional targeting that is currently available through promoted pins include: Locations (210 U.S. locations), Languages (20 languages), Devices (desktop, Android phones/tablets, and Apple phones/tablets) and Genders (male, female, and unknown). Promoted Pins are impactful, especially for furniture and fashion accessories retailers. For example:

  • Online Future Store Dot & Bo quadrupled the number of people visiting their website, increased repins by 6000% and boosted daily clicks to their site by a whopping 18000%.
  •  Etsy successfully expanded its selling power for its community of 15 million artisans, web page views increased 22%, and sales increased 20% week-to-week.
  •  Wayfair found that customers from Pinterest spend 50% more on average as compared to other social channels. They will also spend 20% more than users referred from non-social channels, including search.
  • Lingerie company Adore Me increased their Pinterest-referred revenue by 4000% with Promoted Pins.

Pro Tip: Remember, the better targeted your ads, the better chance of action. 87% of Pinterest users say they have purchased something they discovered while pinning. Additionally, the average order value of sales coming from Pinterest is $50, which is higher than any other social network.

 Step 4: Understand How to Use Buyable Pins

Once you have successfully tested promoted pins you have an idea of what your pinterest-advertisingaudience responds to, and where your sweet spots are, it may be time to make your pins shoppable with Buyable Pins, given that you have an e-commerce site. Buyable Pins enable shoppers to purchase items without leaving the site. If your e-commerce site is powered by Bigcommerce, IBM Commerce, Magento, or Shopify, you can use them. Buyable Pins are focused on mobile devices and monetizing mobile e-commerce, as Pinterest found that customers were willing to pay higher price points on mobile devices. According to Pinterest, many retailers are acquiring new customers both in-store and online. Spool No. 72,  an online clothing boutique, said 84% of their Buyable Pins customers are new. Madesmith said that Buyable Pins are driving 7% of all sales, and 100% of these sales are coming from new customers. Best of all, Pinterest is not currently charging for Buyable Pins, so retailers keep all the sales money.

Step 5: How to Set a Budget for Pinterest

You will set an advertising budget for how much you want to spend on any one promoted piece of content. Once you launch your Promoted Pin, you will be able to see how many impressions your pin gets, your click-through rate (CTR), and your average cost-per-click (CPC). That information will help you find your overall CPA (cost per acquisition). For your first campaign, start with $50-$100 over the course of a week and see what happens.  Depending on how advanced you are with paid ad conversions, you can benchmark your CPC and CTR against your standard goal set. Like AdWords or Facebook, you set your maximum CPC. Start your bids las low as $.10-.15, and then gradually increase as more data comes through on your customers.

Pro Tip: While CPA is important, do not let it be the only factor driving
your ads. In e-commerce, CPAs vary between $25.00 to $300.00.
Use this CPA calculator to figure out your customer acquisition cost.


Look at Your Data to Make Improvements

To start to use your Pinterest audience insights, check your analytics to see how your Pins are doing. In this area, you can also get data about your audience and what interests they have in your content. This will help you understand who your customers are and what makes them respond. This will help you refine your imagery and make better use of your marketing dollars. Once you have a baseline of success, then you can build other campaigns from the data found here.

Pro Tip: Use Google UTMs in your pin links so you can track the engagement of your pins in Google Analytics. If you have conversion goals set up to track leads or sales, you will be able to attribute those goals to your Promoted Pins campaign, which will really help you identify success and ROI.

Want to know more, check out Pinterest’s best practices in this video series:


How to Advertise on Instagram

As a retailer advertising on Instagram, you are going to want to set up a successful campaign from the beginning. First, you will set up a business account, then you will choose the ad form(s) (clicks to websites, app installs, or video views) you want to use. There are five steps to setting up your advertising budget, utilizing Instagram’s self-service ad platform: 

Step 1: Decide How to Reach the Right Audiences

Once you have set up your account, you are going to have to choose your target audience. Reaching the right audience on Instagram is not difficult. Instagram uses Facebook’s DIY ad interface, Power Editor.This tool allows you to:  Target existing customers.You can upload your existing customer list and target customers who may not have purchased in a while. You want to send a social incentive for them to engage with. Target new customers. You can target new customers using their demographic, geographic, and interest-based information. Create look-alike audiences. You can create a new customer base using look-alike audiences within Power Editor. To create a look-alike audience, you upload the e-mail addresses of your current customer base. Then, with the Facebook/Instagram precise targeting insights, you are able to target new people with similar behaviors and attributes as those on your list.

A photo posted by etsy (@etsy) on

Step 2: Test Different Formats

Instagram has three types of ads: video, photo, and carousel. Clicks to websites and video views are most important for retailers. Usually only larger brands have mobile apps, so we will focus on creating campaigns based on video views as well as clicks to website pages. Video, photo, and carousel ads are great for using single or multiple images to drive likes, increase followers, and also send people to key pages on your website. You can also use videos for customer engagement on top of possible clicks to your site links. Instagram also offers a mass awareness feature, which is available through special orders only; and most often, these are reserved for brands with big spends.

Step 3: Test Different Creative

Engagement with Instagram ads are starting to outperform website traffic and other advertising tactics for many retailers. In a 2015 study conducted by Iconosquare, 67% of consumers consider detailed images to be more valuable toward making their purchase than the product information or even ratings from other customers. Lighter, brighter images generate 24% more likes than dark images. To figure out what will work best with your audiences, it is important to test multiple images and video. Creatives should show different actions, settings, and product merchandising groups. Test creatives with people and without people. Test creatives with lifestyle themes and collection themes. You will then be able to see what is working best with your audience and serve more ads that drive the most engagement or sales.

A photo posted by Get the Gilt look (@gilt) on

Step 4: Test Different Calls to Action

If you look at some of the best examples of retailers using Instagram to drive sales, there are two very clear things they do well in conjunction with beautiful images or video. They have a strong incentive and a clear action. For example, look at Bloom & Wild’s video, which features a discount on a first order, a product delivery incentive, and a clear message that they want customers to purchase with their “shop now” button.

A video posted by Bloom & Wild (@bloomandwild) on

From GAP’s #SpringIsWeird  to Marc Jacobs’ #CastMeMarc, retail brands can get creative with Instagram in ways others cannot, and have the data to prove sales success. By testing creative formats, Bloom & Wild reported that they increased their bouquet orders by 62%, and saw many new customers buying bouquets from their shop. Online furniture shop saw a 10% increase in furniture order value.

Step 5: Set a Budget for Instagram

With Instagram, you control what you pay in the same way you do for Facebook ads. Keep in mind that the average CPM on Instagram is $6.70. So, you are going to want to spend a bit more on promotions in order to see better results.  

Look at Your Results to Make Improvements

In any advertising situation, looking at your results is an important part of measuring your campaign success. Depending on your goals, your campaign results will show different information, which you will want in order to determine success.

On the back end of your Instagram ad interface, your account will show you how many impressions your ad had, how many people you reached, and how many people engaged.  From those numbers, you will see how many of them clicked through (CTR) on your paid ad, and how many converted, and took the action you wanted them to, giving you a conversion rate (CPC). The conversion rate, once factored into what you spent, will give you your overall cost per customer acquisition (CPA). That means that from the total money you spent, it cost you a $X dollars to acquire a customer. CPA for gaining followers will be lower than the CPA for sales.

How to Use Pinterest and Instagram to Drive In-Store and Online Sales

“I think brick and mortar is an amazing opportunity to use stores and staff as a vehicle to truly engage with the community in a way no other retailers are doing,” says Jeff Brett, president of West Elm. This belief holds true for any retailer who likes to bring people through their doors. Because of that desire, Pinterest and Instagram are complementary vehicles to help drive in-store holiday and year-round traffic to create multiple streams of revenue. Here are six steps for success in regards to using Pinterest and Instagram to drive sales:

  1. Continue to Focus on Relationships. The best stores with the most loyal customers have great service. On Pinterest, repin your followers’ images that work on your boards. Let them know that they can always come in and compare something they are interested in or try it out. On Instagram, translate that service to engagement. When you post to Instagram, answer questions and respond to comments.
  2. Leverage Your Location. For Instagram, not only do you want to hashtag your images for location, but you also want to show local residents and visitors the products you offer. For Pinterest, leveraging their location features on your pin boards will help in this same way. Make sure your images link back to your contact information.
  3. Use Tags Appropriately. On Pinterest, use your audience terms in your paid promotions to target followers and users that would be interested in your products. If your items are seasonal, make sure they’re related to holiday or events people may be purchasing for. Search on Instagram is hashtag based, so by using 3-5 key hashtags, you can help people discover your store or increase interest in your products. It’s important to note that people search location hashtags more than any other type.
  4. Feature Customer Images. If your customer shares a photo of his or her purchase, feature it. This is another area where showing the use and purpose of your items will help drive additional sales.
  5. Utilize Influencers. Pinterest and Instagram users have a lot of power over their audience’s buying habits. Work with local or industry specific influencers to feature products. Do a search on influencer programs before you create them, as there are FTC guidelines that all retailers must be aware of in order to avoid hefty fines.
  6. Run a Contest. Use contests and promotions sparingly. Shopify advises that you choose the right incentive by giving away something people want. That doesn’t always mean discounts; it could be a limited edition piece. You can use other forms of advertising, including print ads and email, to drive awareness of your contest, as well.

There are many ways you can use social to drive in-store sales and vice versa. A little research and preparation is all you need to make Pinterest and Instagram work for you. Who knows, you could be as lucky as Fox & Fawn who reports that around 40% of daily store sales now come through Instagram because of the discovery tactics outlined above. Another retailer seeing great results with this platform is Apolis with its Global Citizen and Advocacy campaigns.

Use Pinterest and Instagram Ads for Holiday Retail Success

Do you feel ready to take on the not-so-intimidating world of paid Pinterest posts and Instagram ads? As the holiday seasons approach, now is a great time to explore cost effective ways to drive additional sales revenue.

Advertising Resources for Retailers

For those without e-commerce: It is okay if your store does not have e-commerce. There are services that allow followers and customers to shop your feed. Services like Like2Buy and Soldsie can create e-commerce functionality out of your Instagram stream. Also, put your location and phone number in your profile URL.

Instagram: Follow the Instagram business account @instagramforbusiness and read their blog for great small businesses ideas.
Pinterest: Download their best practices and visit their knowledge base for in-depth information.