P-Tailing: Pinterest Tips for eTailers

P-tailing using Pinterest to Drive Ecommerce

From a personal perspective, I’m a fan of Pinterest. From a business perspective, I am a HUGE fan of Pinterest. Why? Well the stats are staggering on how much the site, while still in beta, has grown to the point where it drives more referring traffic than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined!  Pinterest is becoming an increasingly important tactic for all of the social media strategist of ecommerce sites and retail brands.

Armchair Psychology behind the Pin

To understand the success of Pinterest you have to understand the psychology behind the act of “pinning”.  Pinning is a declaration.  A declaration that the Pinned image (ergo the object(s) in the image) is worth sharing.  It could simply be beautiful photograph or work of art but most of what you’ll find are objects of desire. When Pinners create Boards (collections of Pins) they become a collage of that pinner’s visual representation of their personal brand crafted (intentionally or subliminally) for public consumption. Public, mind you. Not just for friends. Pinners are curators of whatever they deem shareable. There’s even a gaming mechanic the comes in the reward of having their Pin “repinned” by as many people as possible. Repinning is not exactly a follow of Twitter and it’s far from the Friend on Facebook. It’s more like a hat-tip to say thanks for sharing. Eventually, the hat-tips become follows of a pinner’s board or entire collection of Boards.  Because the act of Pinning and Repinning is so effortless and visually driven it becomes in some ways more of an act of lust rather than a gesture of love or even a “Like”.  But that’s the secret sauce of Pinterest – we as marketers can turn that lust into sales and brand equity.

Purchase Intent and the Pin

There are many adjectives that can explain reasons behind a Pin such as “cool”, “interesting”, “amazing” but I’m more interested in one verb – “Want”. It’s easy for eTailers to be fooled by the visceral, lustful and even passionate act of thousands of Pins as a love of the brand. It’s not. It’s a collective of individuals declarations of “Want” of the brand’s object. Remember, they’re going by visuals alone. The difference between converting a Pin to a one-off sale versus converting the Pinner to a lifelong customer is still driven by the immutable laws of branding. Lust, love or like, the act of Pinning speaks volumes on purchase intent. And it’s because of this, that Pinterest is a game changer for eTailer and retail brands.  Our challenge create catalyst that drive conversion in their moment of attraction.

Turning a Pin into a Win

So in the end Pinterest is going to be force to be reckoned with.  What do you do? Pinterest does not yet have any kind of advertising model that we as marketers can leverage to reach our target audience. So how do you turn a Pin into a win?  Here are just a few quick ideas to get the Pinning started.

  • Ask for Follow
    This may seem obvious, but invite visitors to follow you by adding a Pinterest button on your site.
  • Find Influencers on Pinterest
    Sign up for PinReach to discover, follow and engage Pinterest influencers in your category.
  • Search for Your Brand’s Wants
    In the Pinterest search box, type in the word “Want” and your brand/product and follow those who have mentioned you then repin their Pins.  For example, type in “Want Victoria’s Secret” and you’ll see a cavalcade of Pins.
  • Reward your Frequent Pinners
    Reward your frequent Pinners. To find them, type http://pinterest.com/source/YourDomain to see who your most passionate Pinners are and reward them in them in a big and very public way.  Promote your Pinterest campaign across all channels.
  • Make your site “Pinterest Friendly”
    Turn Pinterest into a powerful branding and PR tool. Make your site Pinterest friendly by peppering it with imagery that is “Pinteresting”. Invest in photography, create stunning visuals, get creative with your product shots but think about what that image will look like as a 200×200 pixels.  Most importantly, be sure the images are recognizable by Pinterest.  Flash content, for example, is a no go. Look what happened when I tried to Pin the Nike+ Fuelband!
    Nike's Not So Pinterest Friendly Site
  • Create “Pin Farms”
    Yes product shots should be beautiful but why not create a what I call a “Pin Farm”? What’s a Pin Farm? It’s an easily browsable gallery of photos of really Pinteresting shots with your products featured in them. Design the page(s) to drive Pins. Five word, keyword rich captions and an easy way to convert to a sale.
  • Mobilize the Pin
    Don’t forget about Pinterest’s mobile app!  Put some “Pin This” calls to action on your displays and encourage real-life pins. Better yet, use QR code to drive to the Pinterest page of the real life object and ask for the Pin.
  • Architect Your Boards’ Information
    Organize your Pinterest Boards to align with your product categories. If they don’t align with what is organically happening on Pinterest, you may want to rethink your site’s information architecture.  As people browse your brand’s Pinterest page, they should be able to find accessories for example, as quickly and easily as they would on your site.
  • Tagging for Dollars
    Be sure to put a “$” and price for your Pinned products. It will show up under the “Gifts” tab and SCREAMS “buy me” in the process.
  • Pinteresting to SEO
    You can leverage Pinterest to drive traffic to your site if you optimize your Pinterest brand page for image search. Here’s a great post I found on Google+ with nice tips.
  • Ask for the Pin
    Along with your Like, +1 and Tweet buttons on each product on your eCommerce site, be sure to add your “Pin This” button.

If you like Pinterest, You may Also Like…

If your in the fashion arena, I highly recommend Pose.com. It went live around the time of Pinterest and has a eerily similar user interface. The main difference is this is consumer generated content where “Posers” snap photos of themselves wearing their favorite fashions then post to Pose for peer review.  Follow the influencers including Rachel Zoe and engage.  Heck, might as well Pin your Poses!

Are Microsoft Tags the “go to” 2D barcode for major publishers? Allure’s $725,000 give away is compelling.

Allure to Give Away $725,000 Worth of Beauty Products via Microsoft Tags

Allure magazine has partnered with Microsoft Tag for its annual Free Stuff issue this August, allowing readers to use their smartphones to participate in $725,000 worth of beauty product giveaways, which are awarded on a first-come, first-win basis.


In years past, readers could log on to Allure’s website to enter the contests and sign up for text alert reminders. This year, however, the promotion is moving to smartphones.

To take part in the contests, which begin August 2, readers can type gettag.mobi into their mobile browsers to download the Microsoft Tag Reader. Using the app, they can scan the Tag in the magazine or on Allure’s Free Stuff page to register. Users can also opt to get text message alerts 15 minutes before each event occurs and then scan the Tag to enter.

For those unfamiliar with Microsoft Tag, the product is Microsoft’s version of the QR code, a 2-D barcode that can be scanned using a QR reader app to pull up images, video and a range of other interactive features. Although there are a number of QR code readers available in smartphone app stores, Microsoft Tag requires its own reader app.

Of course, I love 2D Barcodes. Microsoft proves that it can swing its weight to get major publishers to use their proprietary Microsoft Tag. Using 2D barcodes for contests is a GREAT application of the technology.

QR Codes Presentation: IRL to URL

Here’s the long form presentation of the presentation I gave the the Columbus Social Media Club back in 2010.  With iOS11 supporting QR codes in the iPhone camera, I thought it might be good to resurrect this as marketers will be looking for information on how to leverage this old/new school tactic of connecting in real life(IRL) to URL landing pages.

Acappella Media presentation at Social Media Club Video.5 Minute Power Preso

QR+RETAIL=Killer App or App Killer?

Is anyone old enough to remember Merry-Go-Round clothing store? If you are old enough to remember, you’ll probably chuckle when I say it was my first job right after I quit Burger King at the tender age of 16.  I LOVED working in retail. You should have seen my skinny tie and bandanna collection!  I went on to manage Benetton stores all through college (this is the 80’s folks – United Colors of Benetton, remember?), then later worked for The Limited stores.  I STILL LOVE RETAIL!  In fact, I can outlast my tween daughters on a day at the mall!

I also LOVE digital.  So a couple of years ago, when I first heard about Augmented Reality(AR) apps and saw QR Codes and glyphs in action, my first thought went straight to how they can be used in a retail environment.  What is commonplace today in Japan is shaping the vision of the future in the U.S. with great videos showing  how the analogue and digital worlds can be integrated into a unified user experience.  Great right? Well not exactly.

As I was shopping with my daughters today when we stumbled into The Gap.  Much to my surprise I see a QR Code on a display (only 1 in the entire store).  I of course was curious and got out my favorite QR reader on my  iPhone, NeoReader (try it, it will work from this web page). First of all, the display was on a table that was about 2 feet high.  I debated internally if I wanted to get on a knee in the middle of The Gap to scan, but in the end, my curiosity got the best of me. It took a second to register the QR tag on my screen but I finally got the happy “ding” and my browser launched!  My excitement was completely squashed when I saw this…

NooooOOoooo…. what a let down and major #fail.  So we’re not quite here yet are we?   But it did start my wheels turning?  What are the killer apps for QR codes in a retail experience?


Engage me

It’s easy to go with a simple link to a product page.  But what are you going to ask me to do next? Give me social tools to share my adoration for this product.  Let me save this in a favorites list that I can refer to later or email to my Aunt Helen as a hint for my birthday. Think and engage!

QR Codes Clicks = Purchase Intent

Don’t use QR codes to show them 5 angles of the product they can hold in their hand.  Give them details that will help inform their decision and feel smart about their purchase.

Listen to Your Customer

This is your chance!  Your customer clicked on the QR code indicating interest.  100 clicks on product A, but only sold 1 today? Why?? They are holding their mobile device and in the perfect scenario to provide you feedback.  Ask one question – “do you like this? yes/no”. Feeling lucky? Ask “why/why not?”! Feed this data back to your buyers.  Just imagine the data you could capture if this was a branded app where you know the demographic profile of the respondent! WOW this can be powerful.

Make it Easy

It was interesting to me that I had to think before I scanned! Me, the uber geek was contemplating NOT scanning a QR code.  I have to admit, I felt like a dork scanning a QR code and it was only worse that I had to kneel down to do it. Place codes at eye level for signage.

Commit to the QR

Train the staff on what the QR tags are.  Give them talking points at two levels for the novice and the expert.   This becomes part of your brand experience. You NEVER want to have your associate say “I don’t know” even if it’s NOT a sku.

Cross-Media Optimize the Campaign

Use the QR Code to launch to the video of the TV spot that features the product their holding in their hands and vice versa.  Use QR codes on print ads with a call to action the rewards the customer with a promotional offer then list nearby stores based on their location.  And if you REALLY want to get crazy think about linking  location based systems (LBS) such as Foursquare, Gowalla and even now Facebook Places.  Why not have them checkin via QR code?

The QR Opt-in

Email marketing is not dead! Ask for their email address and reward them with an offer that they can redeem in the store at that moment!  What do you think the redemption rate of that coupon would be?  What was your cost of acquisition and the lifetime ROI of that one simple click??

Beyond the Sign

Think of new places to put QR codes.  Put them on the price tag with product specific information.  Heck, put them on the LABEL.  When that tween goes home after a day at the mall, they invite their friends over for an impromptu fashion show! Empower their friends to scan the tag then snap photos of their friend wearing that item to share.  Just imagine them posting their new outfits on DailyBooth.com holding the price tag w/ the QR code. Their friends can instantly scan and engage the exact product with the nearest store location.

Educate Me

Most people will walk by and never notice the squiggly squares.  Talk up the codes!  Tell your customers about QR codes and why they will enhance their shopping experience. GONE is the day of “can I help you find something?”!

Inform Me

When I was in the dressing room today, I needed a different size shirt.  How amazing would it be if I could scan the QR code on the price tag to see if the RIGHT size was even in stock? Make the QR code a customer service tool, NOT just a marketing tool.


  • Don’t put you QR Codes knee level!!
  • Broken QR codes are NOT good for  your brand
  • Don’t link a generic webpage.  Create an in-app experience designed specifically for mobile browsing
  • Commit to the QR code or don’t do it

Admittedly, QR Codes can be borderline gimmicky.  Think gimmick, you’ll get gimmick.  But on the other hand if you can think of ways that ENHANCE the brand experience in a very simple way you can bridge the analogue world with the digital to build loyalty, engage, spark dialogue and spread word of mouth.

What do you think? Are there any great application of QR codes you can share?