Hi, I’m Ezra (that’s me holding the baby) and I want to share my story with you of how I made 520 eCommerce sales that generated $41,254.34 in revenue from $775.50 in ad spend….
…with Pinterest Advertising.
Pinterest, the world’s fourth largest social network, announced September 19, 2013 the impending rollout of their advertising platform.
At that point, I’d already had my eye on them for quite some time — with warp-speed growth, a user base of 70% women, and an average user household income of over $100,000, Pinterest was shaping up to be an eCommerce marketer’s dream!
The whole point of Pinterest is for users to search and make lists (boards) of the things they want.
For an eCommerce retailer, there’s nothing better than that: a large group of people with disposable income telling you exactly what they want by searching for it. It was only a matter of time before Pinterest monetized their platform by letting advertisers display messages to their users.
Pinterest Launched An Ad Network
There were two aspects I was especially stoked for when the ad network rolled out (as any business owner and marketer would be). The network would be a combination of:
- Query based visibility (people seeing ads based on what they’ve searched — a la Google) and…
- Contextual visibility (people seeing ads based on demographic data points like age and gender — a la Facebook).
Unfortunately for me, Pinterest was only letting in a few fortune 500 retailers to test, so I was going to have to wait.
Disappointed as I was, it gave me time to consider the new opportunities; the eCommerce business is a long game where patience and consistency pay dividends, and I’ve been playing for a while. I remember when Google AdWords were 3 cents a click; I remember when Facebook launched and we were able to generate full price eCommerce sales for under $5 each.
What’s The Pattern?
If you’ve been in the game a while, you may have noticed there’s a pattern with the launch of these social ad networks: traffic starts off cheap and gradually gets more expensive.
This has to do with targeting.
When a new platform launches, they are still working out the kinks in the system and dialing in its targeting capabilities and platform functionality, so ads are cheap. As they hone the targeting and tracking, it becomes easier to show advertisers a positive return on ad spend, and as a result — ad prices go up.
Basically, new social ad networks use cheap ads to attract advertisers as paying beta testers for their fledgling platforms.
Okay, now back to my story. Fast forward to the big news of early 2014: Pinterest opened a waitlist!
You’d better believe I jumped on that thing QUICK. I’d already seen several case studies they released with data from the lucky few Fortune 500 brands that got access right off the bat in 2013.
The results were phenomenal: I’m talking SIGNIFICANT ROI.
At this point, I was chomping at the bit to get my campaign going! This was the email I got letting me know that I was on the list…
All my excitement was for naught; they left me out in the rain for 9 whole months! But then one day I received the email I was beginning to feel would never come.
I WAS IN! The party had officially started.
(NOTE: You won’t have to wait this long to get access, as they are opening up more accounts every day. I applied for another business and was approved in less than a month.)
I was like a kid in a candy shop as I began to check out their system.
Sure enough, it was query based targeting combined with contextual data points. This means I get to choose the keywords for which I want my ads to show up AND I can set:
- CPC Bid
- Campaign Daily Budget
- Campaign Start & End Dates
On top of all of this, Pinterest is a native advertising system — the advertisement blends in with the platform so that the user can’t easily tell the difference between an ad unit or paid placement and any other piece of content on the platform.
Consider me beyond stoked!
What Were My First Questions?
Okay, so I was in, and the platform was amazing. Now what? I had some BIG questions to answer:
- How was I going to use this platform?
- What sales funnel should I test?
- Should we just send people directly to our eCommerce product detail page?
- How much was it going to cost?
And the list went on . . .
My go-to sales funnel for this type of situation — creating a new ad campaign on a new platform — is a lead generation funnel.
This is where you use your advertisement (in this case a Promoted Pin) to send someone to a page where your only goal is get their email address (generate a lead).
These pages can be contests or Lead Magnets like…
- Photo contests,
- Free PDF,
- eBook downloads
…where the user must enter their email address to access the content.
It’s just like it sounds; the goal of a lead generation campaign is to generate a list of leads.
Houston, We Have A Problem!
Lead generation campaigns are usually at the top of my arsenal for several reasons.
- They provide quick insight into how much traffic (clicks) will cost on a new platform
- They generate a list of subscribers that you can follow up with
- They are easy to create
But here’s the thing: Of course, you can create an automated sales sequence that follows up with your prospects and turns them into customers by sending them content, offers, webinar invites, and the like. But all of that takes time, energy, and effort.
Since time is of the essence when engaging with a new platform, I decided NOT to use a lead generation campaign for my first promoted pin test.
Instead, I used a traditional direct response advertising campaign, with the goal of generating customers right away.
Direct response campaigns are a little simpler because the basic ones don’t require long-form follow up sequences. I’ll show you the funnel in just a minute and you’ll see that I ended up doing a bit of follow up anyway but first…
Let me show you the results…
My Average Cost Per Click (CPC): $0.17
Not only that, but the number of visitors I received from Pinterest ads is DOUBLE what Pinterest says they sent me, meaning I’m actually getting 9 cent clicks.
As you can see, I’ve spent $775 from which I’ve generated $21,969 in revenue.
I used Google Analytics tracking parameters in my promoted pin so I could track back exactly how many visits and sales came from Pinterest ads. The results are ridiculous!
We have not seen this level of high quality traffic since Google Adwords way back in 2003.
Here’s another interesting tidbit for you: the traffic I’m getting from Pinterest ads is spending nearly 3 times as much time on my web page as my Facebook ads traffic, and it’s converting 5 times better.
You may be wondering why I said I made $41,254.34 in sales from $775 in spend but my analytics only shows $21,000.
Here’s where it get’s really interesting…
Take a look at my direct sales and Google organic sales: I had NO direct traffic or Google organic traffic before I turned on this campaign. None. Zero. Nada.
Now I’m getting 5-10 sales per day from each source. This means people are seeing my ad, remembering it, and then coming back later to search for me and buy from me.
Compare these stats from before and after I turned on the campaign for Pinterest. In the month before I had ZERO traffic and sales. In the month after I have TONS of traffic and sales!
My other revenue sources have more than doubled as a result of Pinterest…
So what was the direct response funnel I used?
How did I actually do this?
Hint: I did not send people from Pinterest directly to my website. Instead, I sent people from a promoted pin to an article engaging them in a story about my brand and products. From there, the interested prospects clicked through to my eCommerce store.
Here’s The Funnel I Used…
You’ll notice I’m not even sending people to a long form sales page after the article; I’m sending them directly to my eCommerce store.
This is straight-up direct response; from an ad right through to a sale with no followup sequence in place whatsoever. NO email opt-ins, retargeting ads, nothing.
It’s just a simple article engagement page to an eCommerce store.
What Do The Results Say?
This traffic source is EXTREMELY profitable.
There’s a HUGE opportunity here for eCommerce retailers. The Pinterest ads network is just starting out, and it’s only going to get bigger and more robust. If Facebook and Google are any indicators (and they usually are) we have a year or two of extremely cheap, high quality traffic in front of us before Pinterest becomes expensive.
What You Should Be Doing Right Now
The Pinterest self-serve ads platform is available for anyone in the UK, Canada, and the USA! Here are some things you can do to get yourself bumped to the top of the list:
- Sign up for Pinterest as a business (or convert your personal account into a business account.)
- Go through and fill out your profile completely. (Add your logo, add a blurb about your business, connect your social accounts, etc.)
- Verify your website. Pinterest will give you a meta tag to place on the home page of your website – make sure you do this and then go back to Pinterest and verify that you have done so. You will not get access without this.
- Sign up for Pinterest Ads.
- Create 10 boards related to your customers interests. Pin 10 items to each board to start. Then go in and pin 15-20 pins per day (all on one board or spread across all your boards). Don’t pin more than 20x each day and do it between 6pm-12am in your time zone. (NOTE: Most people use Pinterest at night. The goal is to get as many re-pins and followers as possible so that you get some engagement going on your account.)
- Make sure to connect your social accounts and ask all of your friends to follow you as a way to kick off getting your initial followers. So get out there, get pinning, and get access to ads! I hope you have as much success with it as I have.
Pro Tips to Pinterest Ads
Pro Tip #1:
Need a good source for pins? Use https://www.pinterest.com/source/domain.com/ to find pins relevant to your market (it shows a list of all pins from that domain). So for example, I am in the makeup market so I might go to https://www.pinterest.com/source/sephora.com/ and re-pin some of the items to a board on my profile.
Pro Tip #2:
Create a “Popular” board and re-pin things from here https://www.pinterest.com/categories/popular/ this is a list of what is currently popular on Pinterest …it’s content that is already proven to get engagement. So if you pin it, it’s very likely one of your followers will re-pin it.
Lastly, Pinterest recently released some new features that make their platform even more powerful! They now have custom audiences and interest targeting. We’re now testing these features, but I can’t imagine them doing anything but helping, as what they are doing is giving us even more detailed targeting for ads.
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