Marketing on Pinterest Requires a Plan

Pinterest for Brands

By now, you’ve heard Pinterest is the latest big deal in social media. You’ve heard the numbers, too:

You’ve also seen the inevitable articles about using Pinterest for marketing and other ways to use Pinterest for business. Here are some good ones:

Pinterest can absolutely fit into your marketing. First, though, you need a plan.

Let Business Goals Determine Your Pinterest Strategy

I was inspired to write this post by JackB, a former Pinterest skeptic and now convert. Jack’s sees Pinterest referral traffic as a way to raise his blog’s profile and help achieve his goal of writing for a living.

Kudos for starting with a goal. And I like Jack’s instincts about Pinterest driving traffic. But my first question was “Is it the right traffic?” And what happens after all that traffic gets to my site?

Marketers need to ask these questions, too. “Pinterest drives tons of traffic” isn’t a strategy. And what if “tons of traffic” isn’t one of your goals? First, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are my business objectives (think beyond just marketing/sales)? What are my marketing goals?
  • Who are the audiences I need to connect with (not just on Pinterest)? Who are the Pinterest users I want to connect with?
  • What do I hope to accomplish with Pinterest (ex., blog traffic, brand awareness/visibility, sales)?
  • How are my customers using Pinterest? Are they Pinning? Are they following other Pinterest users? Are they looking for inspiration or ideas?
  • What outcome do I want to achieve from my interactions with Pinterest users?

Pinterest for Brands: What to consider

Your Pinterest strategy will vary depending on how you answer those questions. Here are some things to consider as you lay out a Pinterest plan:

Pinning vs. Following. Which is a better use of your time: Pinning photos or following other Pinterest users? Nothing says you have to Pin things to use Pinterest. Consider whether sharing content is a necessary part of your strategy.

Pinterest Referral Traffic. Marketers and bloggers are giddy over the amount of traffic Pinterest drives to their websites. Traffic is good…qualified traffic is better. Pinterest referrals are valuable because those visitors who are visually attracted to your brand. Still, watch your analytics to see whether the surge in traffic leads to a similar uptick in conversions and sales.

Your Website Images. Is getting visitors to share your images on Pinterest one of your goals? This is an important strategic question. If so, does your website have enough images? Are they share-worthy? Nobody shares boring images. Do you include the “Pin It” button on your page to encourage Pinterest users to share your images?

Engagement Strategy. What do you do if a Pinterest user pins an image of your product? Will you follow them? Like their Pin? Repin it? Comment? Will you connect with Pinterest users on other social platforms like Twitter and Facebook?

Branded Pinterest Board. Should you create a branded Pinterest board? How well known is your brand? Why would someone want to follow your brand’s Pinterest board? How will you promote your Pinterest boards? Will you re-allocate marketing resources to promote your Pinterest board instead of your other social media pages?

Pinterest has tons of potential for brands. A little planning will let you focus on using Pinterest in ways that best align with your business goals.


  • Callie Ferman

    Good article.  It’s true you can’t just jump in willy nilly and expect it to solve your traffic problems.  These are all great ideas to start evaluating your Pinterest presence with.

  • Scott Hepburn

    Thanks, Callie. As a photographer, I assume you could use Pinterest to showcase your work, find inspiration, share other photos you admire, etc. I also noticed that you work for an engineering firm — Pinterest might be a way to create a visual showcase of projects the firm has worked on. You could then email a link to existing clients and prospects to help showcase your brand.

    The potential is unlimited — glad to hear you’re keeping goals and objectives in mind.

  • Gini Dietrich


    I’m like Pavlov’s dog.

    I tried something last week for a friend. She makes really high-end shirts for men and women. They’re super nice, but carry a $200 price tag (per shirt).

    So, I created a clothes board (which I didn’t have before last week) and I pinned a couple of her shirts, along with some shoes and other things I like from other retailers. 

    Then we watched. Within an hour, it was the number three traffic source. Then she sold four shirts from that traffic. Considering she sells only 40 shirts a month (online – 99% of her business is specialty retail stores), a 10 percent is pretty darn good.

    So guess what? She’s going to use Pinterest to build her online business.

    It took us all of four hours to test it. And about five minutes of my time to pin a few things.

  • Scott Hepburn


    I think this illustrates how important it is for your marketing plan to be flexible and able to turn on a dime. If Pinterest is driving sales today, hit it hard. But by next month, it could fade and it’ll be time to reallocate your resources. Marketers who stay agile will be best prepared to profit.

  • Gini Dietrich

    Really great point about staying agile. It’s impossible not to do that, with technology changing so quickly. 

  • Dawn W. Bertuca

    Great article – I totally agree marketers need some guidance – and fast – for this hot SM vehicle. There is a typo in line 5 of your article – “goon” instead of “good” – oops ;)

  • Scott Hepburn

    Typo? Pshaw! Those ARE some “goon” articles ;) Thanks for the heads up, Dawn.

  • Donna Maria Coles Johnson

    This is a cool story, Gini. So glad it worked out that way for you and your friend. Scott, you are making an interesting point here — “by next month, it could fade and you’ll be time to reallocate your resources.” This is one of the things that is frustrating about all of the new technologies. You can invest a lot of time learning how to use them and get some success on the front end. But knowing that it can be fleeting and you’ll have to invest in something else next month can be daunting for some small business owners.

    What do you have to say about this perspective?

    Thanks for your social wizardry and feedback!

  • The JackB

    I meant to comment on this a month ago. You make a good point about the metrics so that you can determine what results you are getting from your efforts.
    Ideally there would be a plan in place ahead of time so that you maximize your time and efforts.

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