Pinterest is without doubt the new hotness on the interwebs. Similar in concept to other social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Sumbleupon, Pinterest lets you to ‘pin’ images of ‘interest’ you’ve found and comment on the collections of others. Opening the site will give you an appreciation of the service as every space of the screen is filled with all manner of knick knacks and items people have discovered and covet.

What has turned heads is the rate of growth Pinterest is experiencing and the demographics using the site. Pinterest reached a userbase of 10 million unique visitors in the U.S. faster than any site in history. It is also driving more traffic to retail sites than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. The site skews towards a female user base and the icing on that cake for savvy ecommerce site owners is that Pinterest generates conversion rates as high as 20%. If your product is pinned to someone’s board there’s a 1 in 5 chance they’ll be purchasing that item.

Pinterest encourages a browsing and discovery orientated approach rather than the specific product searches you’ll encounter throughout most of the web. This mirroring of real-world shopping behaviour is seen in the correlation of pining and offline purchasing which is even stronger than online conversions. If you are an ecommerce site owner then now is the time to get on-board the Pinterest bandwagon. The first item on your agenda should be the addition of a Pinterest button to your site to allow users to easily pin items to their boards. Now would also be an ideal time to get your product imagery in order. Conversion rates have always benefitted from good, large and clear images being used throughout the site but now that they serve as the focal point it is essential you have the best pictures you can.

The next step is establishing yourself on Pinterest. This shouldn’t just be pure self-promotion with all the pins being items from your ecommerce store. Pinterest is about sharing and engaging with the whole community, pinning items from other sources will ingrain a sense of trust in followers. You’ll want to test your site to make sure that items are pinned correctly. Pinterest works by scanning each page to select the image if there are issues you’ll need to get in touch with your sites developers and discuss your options. Also essential is tracking the traffic you are getting from Pinterest through Google Analytics.

Ideas for increasing engagement and conversions through Pinterest can range from having a sale on the most pinned items through to offering a voucher to traffic arriving from the site. You may also want to think about setting up boards that offer a collection of items that go together – think of something along the lines of IKEA display rooms – which serve as a super-sized related items page. Even adding the Pinterest button to your site and an encouragement to pin can help increase the amount of sales you are getting.

Please be aware that not everything is great on Pinterest. It is increasingly being used by scammers pinning items that link to malicious websites but this is activity that Pinterest says it is actively monitoring. Despite this inevitable spamming of the service there are still users coming up with all sorts of creative methods to pin items.

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