Pinterest Success: Time, Testing & Visuals – @tgammonphoto

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aocp-pinterest-tina-gammonIf you’re looking for a visually creative way to market your business, then look no further than Pinterest. Pinterest offers a visually rich platform that appeals to customers in a way that blogging or other text mediums do not. It’s also a fantastic way to build brand awareness as well as a personality for your company. With a little patience and common sense, you can find that Pinterest offers another playing field to not only reach your audience, but also to position yourself to get more traffic through Google and other search engines.

Tina Gammon uses her Pinterest expertise to appeal to her customers – in this day and age of instant information gratification – and she does it with visuals. Her savvy and creative pins allow her customers to use them like a catalog that they can flip through to find just what they’re looking for. And if you give your customers what they’re looking for, they’ll keep coming back.

Rich: Tina Gammon is a content marketer specializing in Pinterest management, and co-founder at Shopswell. Her passion for Pinterest marketing, content creation and graphic design is clearly evidenced by the enthusiasm and results she brings to each and every project she’s tasked with. Tina, welcome to the show.

Tina: Hey, thanks for having me.

Rich: Now, how did you first develop a passion for Pinterest marketing?

Tina: Oh, good question. I think that every marketer – if you were to ask them – has a platform that resonates with them on some level. And for me, Pinterest just makes sense. I absolutely love graphics and so of course Pinterest is visually forward. I remember the very first time I used Pinterest I thought, why in the world is no one else doing this. In a day and age when we want information on demand, I feel like Pinterest does that, and they do it with visuals. Which as far as I’m concerned, is pretty much genius.

Rich: Alright, sounds good. So you’re the co-founder at Shopswell. First, tell us a little bit, what is Shopswell?

Tina: Ok, so Shopswell is an e-commerce startup that helps people shop smarter by combining the social aspect with real world shopping advice. So users can come to the site and build shopping collections, get buying related questions answered, and even become brand advocates by writing and sharing articles about the products that they love.

Rich: Alright, cool. So when did you first establish the Pinterest account for Shopswell and what was your plans for it?

Tina: I wasn’t with them when they first established it, it was in the summer of 2015, and then I joined the team in December of that year. Primarily coming on as social media management specializing in Pinterest Management.

Rich: Ok. So what results have you seen since you first really took over?

Tina: For starters we’ve seen our follower count grow to over 25,000 in less than a year. And also Pinterest is our second leading traffic driver, and our #1 source of registrations, which was really important for us because we’re not really product based. So we’re looking for quality users, and to see that number was exciting for us. And then just from an analytics side, to give you an idea of the traffic that we’re generating from it – over the last 6 months we averaged about 22,000 visits a month from Pinterest alone.  

Rich: Wow. So when you say “followers”, when I follow your board, am I know a “follower” of yours? This comes from a place of ignorance, I apologize, but Pinterest is still a foreign land for me.

Tina: Totally, yeah. If you follow one of our boards, you’re one of those 25,000+ followers.

Rich: And so then when I log in to Pinterest the next time, that some of your pins are going to appear in my feed. Is that basically the way it works?

Tina: Absolutely. If you follow us in general, as a whole you’re going to see pins from all of our boards. But if you’re just specifically following that one board that interests you, you’ll see pins just from that board.

Rich: And you mentioned some very cool stats that really drive towards your bottom line. Did you choose those key performance indicators before you got started, or were those things that you just noticed over time?

Tina: We really just noticed them over time. I think that’s the great thing about being a part of a startup. For me, I get to collaborate every day with a crazy talented team that believes in putting energy and cash behind what we’re good at. So for me, that’s Pinterest and creative.

So we kind of went into it with what can we do? I knew I could drive traffic for them, but where could this go. And so essentially in the last year the idea was, here is the Pinterest budget, test, improve, get us the best results possible, and as an added bonus you have all the time in the world that you need to do this. So that’s what I went into it with.

Rich: Do you find that certain boards are more or less successful than others? And if so, do you ever consider shutting down boards that are underperforming, or do you put more energy into boards that are gathering more people? Or is it just basically you turn it on and whatever happens, happens?

Tina: That’s a really good question. There’s a process that I have when it comes. I always create a board secretly first based on the demands that we’re seeing from our customers. If I see more things trending on the site, I’ll create a board for it, and I’ll add 15-20 pins before letting it go live.

I think we have over 80 boards, so definitely there’s some that get a lot more traffic than others. Home decor is huge for us, which is not surprising with Pinterest, because home decor and recipes are big on there. But I rarely shut down boards. Sometimes I will combine boards because I see where we could get more volume on one board. But I very rarely shut them down. If I get pins at all, I just leave them be.

Rich: Alright, that makes a lot of sense. So if you had to choose one or two best practices that have contributed to your success on Pinterest, what would they be?

Tina: I would say it boils down to maybe three. It comes down to time, testing, and visuals. In the past year there was a lot of time spent not just in general Pinterest management, but in the pursuit of improvement. So it was, “Ok, this is working. And now let’s make it great.” So there was testing, testing and more testing. A/B testing on topics, images, desktop versus mobile, keywords. You name it, we tested it. And so by doing that, we were able to get our CPC rate down to a mere 20 cents per click, which I was super ecstatic about.

Rich: Alright, let’s take a pause right there because this is definitely an area I’m not so familiar with on Pinterest. So you’re talking about A/B split testing, I’d like you to go into that. And then obviously we must be talking about promoted pins at this point, correct?

Tina: Yes, for sure.

Rich: So walk me through what that might look like for you. Can you give me a recent example of something that you’ve A/B split tested and how you decided to go forward with that?

Tina: Sure. So I always let pins go out in the wild first before pinning them. And then I use repins and saves – or any kind of engagement – as a sign. It’s a great form of analytics, in my opinion. It’s something that’s resonating with the followers and then they want more of it. So once I see the activity, I’ll promote it. I’ll create an image for it. It’s never just a product image, we create something from the site specific, and then we’ll let it go for a couple of weeks at a very low budget, maybe even just $2 a day just to see what happens. And then if we see activity but the rate isn’t really good, I’ll mess with keywords.

We frequently split them between desktop and mobile because there’s no rhyme or reason as to why sometimes desktop performs better, even though the multitude of pinners are coming in from mobile. You just don’t know what’s going to work until you test it.

Maybe a month ago I had a chat with a Pinterest specialist directly, and I asked her how long does it take for promoted pins to populate into the correct search categories. And she said a minimum of 2 weeks. So you really need to give this a little bit of time and test in that process.

Rich: Interesting. So can you give me an example of what was one of the things that you recently tested and were like, “Oh look, there’s a lot of activity around this pin, so I’m going to promote it”?

Tina: So we had a pin that was a home decor based pin, we were seeing a lot of activity on it, so I decided to split it into desktop and mobile. So I took the exact same keywords, pretty much duplicated the same image, everything was exact form the Pinterest campaign standpoint, and then we went with the same budget. And interestingly we saw so many more hits on desktop, and we saw registrations coming from desktop, which was important. Because there was a lot of impressions from mobile, but we were just not getting the engagement that we needed for registrations. So it resulted – in about a month’s work period of time – where we just shut off the mobile campaign and put extra budget behind the desktop.

Rich: Alright, so I don’t have any experience in doing promoted pins, but I do have experience in Facebook ads. So this sounds like the equivalent of I do an organic post on the flyte new media or Agents Of Change page to get some activity and there’s some interest in it, so I decide to put some money behind it and make it a promoted post. It’s the same thing, right, as what you’re doing except in Pinterest?

Tina: Yeah, essentially.

Rich: And then you’re doing some A/B split testing. So you’re testing things organically, and if they take off, then you throw some money behind it – because obviously it’s resonating with people – so let’s get it in front of more people.

Tina: Absolutely. And sometimes that also means if we see something that’s not working, we don’t always just give up on it. If I have a gut feeling that this could really work, I’ll try a different image and we’ll throw it back out there with the keywords that I’ve switched up a little bit. So it really is just testing across the board.

Rich: Ok, cool. And for you, your #1 KPI is getting these online registrations.

Tina: Yes, for sure.

Rich: Good. Because I think it’s important for all of our listeners, what is your KPI, what should you be measuring. So one of the things you mentioned a few times are keywords, and I just want to ask you a little bit about that. So when you say that you’re testing out different keywords or you’re trying out different keywords at different times, what are you talking about specifically? If you’ve got a home decor pin that you’re putting up there, what are some of the things you might be doing with keywords that are going to change the visibility of that, or maybe even change the conversion rate of that particular pin?

Tina: Well there’s a couple things that we’re looking at when we look at keywords. And obviously we want the impressions, but we want them to be as affordable as possible. I guess every brand is probably looking for that. So your ad price is going to go up drastically depending on which keywords you use. Some are just more trendy than others, so it’s going to cost you.

Pinterest has a great search engine built in for keywords. We use Google analytics for keywords, but Pinterest itself is pretty fantastic. If you type in a keyword into the search, you’re going to see a bunch of topics populate on the top for you about that, and I use those frequently, because that’s what pinners are looking for. It’s what Pinterest thinks is related to us, so it’s a really great place to start. 

Rich: Alright, so when you promote the post, one thing you might be doing on terms of A/B split testing is trying out different keywords to see which ones provide the best ROI?

Tina: Absolutely. And I’ll go in and look at pin analytics and see which ones are getting the most amount of clicks and see from the backend what that’s turning into for registrations. And so we’ll change it up accordingly.

Rich: And when you mentioned you go in and take a look at the pin analytics, is that Pinterest sharing with you analytics across the board or just specific to the pins that you’ve posted?

Tina: Specific to the pins that we’re posting. We’re using Pinterest analytics for that, but we’re also using UTM codes on every single one of our promoted pins, so we can take a peek at Google Analytics and combine both to see what’s really working for us.

Rich: Alright, that’s pretty cool. So this sounds like it’s a full time position. How much time are you spending on the account each week?

Tina: I would say I spend a minimum of 10 hours a week for Pinterest management. And that might look like 5-15 images created each week, monitoring and tweaking 15-20 promoted pin campaigns, scheduling 10-15 pins a day, and then pinning from our site daily, and of course saving content for other pinners right on Pinterest so that we’re active there.

Rich: Right. So it’s not just self promotion, sometimes it’s about taking a look and curating other people’s work?

Tina: Yeah, for sure. I think I firmly believe that the more active you can be on Pinterest – not just scheduling, which is great – but in the smartfeed it’s an important component for sure.

Rich: Are there specific times during the day that you go to pin things, and are there tools like Hootsuite out there to help you pin things at specific times of the day?

Tina: I love Tailwind. I just think it’s the best thing going for Pinterest. So I use Tailwind, I even look at some of their analytics in there as well as far as times. They’re great on the analytics side of things. Part of it is just I do this so often and in working Pinterest all the time, so I can see where there’s better interaction. As a whole for us, weekends are horrible. You would think people are home on the couch on their tablets surfing Pinterest, but not so much for us. Evenings between 7PM and midnight are huge. 

Rich: So you make sure that you’re active there using Tailwind, which is like a Hootsuite app for Pinterest?

Tina: Yes, for sure.

Rich: Ok, cool. So what does your weekly Pinterest workflow look like?

Tina: It comes down to probably there’s a lot of image creation.I’m very passionate about graphics, probably as much as I am about Pinterest, so there’s a lot of time that goes into creating graphics for each one. I found that combining lifestyle images with multiple product images is where our click through rates went through the roof. So they take time to work on that.

Rich: Are you talking about a montage image, or using multiple separate images?

Tina: No, a montage for sure. That is pretty much all we do now because nothing else has compared to that.

Rich: Interesting. It seems like tall images do better on Pinterest, or at least that was what I heard  a couple years ago. Is that still the case?

Tina: Yeah. It’s interesting because I think that when it comes to shopping and e-commerce, the specs are a little different. The age old specs for Pinterest images were right around 735 x 1100 pixels, and I still think that’s great for blog posts. But when it comes to these montage product images, I just think they’re too small.

So personally, here’s me sharing my secrets after a year. I have found that the best click through rate for us – when you’re using multiple products on a page – is right around 735 x 1800 pixels. So longer, taller.

Rich: Alright, good to know. So you were saying that you were spending a lot of time on creating these graphics. So you’re creating graphics that don’t appear on the website. Because somehow in my mind, Pinterest is always about finding images that already exist on the web and I’m just kind of bookmarking and organizing them for later. Although that’s probably a very user-centric perspective. You’re coming at it more from the marketing side of things, so are you creating fresh graphics for all the different pages and products that you have on your website?

Tina: Yes. I mean, not for everything because that would be out of control, but as people are building shopping collections if I see something that I think will really work on Pinterest, then I am putting the time to create a graphic. It might take me half an hour to create a graphic image of each shopping collection. So yes, they’re not just images from the site. Of course we do that, but something that we’re going to promote is going to be an image that we create.

Rich: And I see a lot of images with words on top of them or words part of the image. Is that something that you regularly do, or do you mix it up?

Tina: I do. I am a big fan of text on image. There’s a couple best principles or best practices for that though. I think a lot of times that text is too small, people really should be going for mobile friendly. So if you do have text overlay, it’s important for it to; #1) tell your followers what they can expect when they click on that, and #2) make sure that that is mobile friendly text.

Rich: Ok. And when you’re creating your own graphics, is everything branded with a Shopswell logo or something, or do you not worry about that? 

Tina: There’s a logo on everything that’s promoted. It’s very subtle, it’s usually down in the right hand corner, but it’s always there.

Rich: Ok, for some quiet branding going on. Now you mentioned earlier that competitive visuals are key to success. What creatives do you find are working in the world of e-commerce?

Tina: So again I think that longer, taller than the average image – that 735 x 1800 – is excellent. And for me, I really like…Pinterest changed things a little while ago in the feed, so kinda when we first saw it everything was just hanging there dead space. So some of our product images where I was using a white background and it was just looking like it was floating, they were getting lost in the feed. So now I’m adding a background to almost all of them, or overlaying the products right on top of it, because they stand out more in the feed. And the click through rates are supporting that that’s a good way to go.

Rich: Alright, makes a lot of sense. Now I’m sure you’ve made your fair share of mistakes, I’m sure you don’t make any anymore. But what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see marketers making on Pinterest as you’re out there using it both as a marketer and as a user?

Tina: I have a fair amount of pet peeves when it comes to Pinterest marketing.

Rich: Oh yeah, let’s get into your pet peeves. That’s what I came here for.

Tina: Similar to best practice, I think it often comes down to time and visuals. In my opinion – and so many of the studies show – Pinterest is a long game. You have to be in it for the long haul to see results. There was a study published a few months ago that showed that 30% of clicks happen a month after the pin is uploaded, and so between that and having that chat with a Pinterest specialist, she said it takes 2 weeks for promoted pins to populate into the correct categories. If you pull the plug too soon – which in my opinion a lot of people do – they deprive themselves of results. So that’s one of my pet peeves.

And again, visuals, it’s huge. You can be the best blogger and have the best product out there, but if you’re not using a quality and competitive visual on PInterest, Then they’re going to scroll on by you and go right to your competition that’s capturing their attention. So you need to stop selling yourself short with subpar graphics and hire a pro, or find a way to upgrade your graphic skills.

And I guess my last pet peeve would be hashtags. They just don’t work there, we’re not Twitter. So I’d like to just stop that already.

Rich: So you don’t use any hashtags on your posts at all?

Tina: No.

Rich: So you mentioned that this person that you were talking to said it takes at least 2 weeks for your promoted pin to get into the right search category. So I’m assuming that if you don’t go the full 2 weeks and you pull your promoted pin, that you have no chance of getting into that, that you’re promoted pin only exists as long as you’re paying for it, correct?

Tina: Yes.

Rich: So that’s the importance of you can’t run that promoted pin for really less than 2 weeks and expect to get much out of it.

Tina: No. And in fact we often see pins ramping up a month – and even sometimes 2 months –  after, which is why we’ll use a low daily budget so that we can afford to go for the long haul with these pins.

Rich: That makes a lot of sense. So spend a little bit of money up front, because you just kind of have to stake out your ground, and then after 2 weeks you can start to up it as you start finding yourself in the correct category.

Tina: Yes, totally.

Rich: Awesome. Well this has been really great. So Tina, where can we find you online?

Tina: So I am on Shopswell at shopswell.com. You can find me just under my username, Tina Gammon. Also on Pinterest, of course, at stgammon. And then I am also on Twitter at tgammonphoto.

Rich: Awesome. Well Tina, I want to thank you very much for educating me and everybody else on how best to use Pinterest, and I appreciate your time.

Tina: Thanks so much, Rich.

Show Notes:

  • You can find Tina on Pinterest and follow her on Twitter, to find information and great examples on successful Pinterest marketing tactics.
  • Looking for an app that’s like Hootsuite for Pinterest? Tina recommends Tailwind.
  • Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, and the founder of the Agents Of Change Digital Marketing Conference. It’s not too early to get your tickets to next year’s conference, where you can get a front seat to some of the most influential speakers in the areas of search, social and mobile marketing. aocp-fb-tina-gammon

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