Curation site Pinterest allows users to create virtual pin boards. Although still very new, the startup has attracted a lot of attention lately, as its pin boards are becoming a major source of traffic to retailer websites.

Pinterest Becoming A Serious Source of Referrals for Brands and Retailers

Pinterest is a curation platform with an interface built around the concept of pin boards. Each user can create one or several pin boards around a specific topic – jewelry, interior design, colorful wool… – and pin images to illustrate their topic. Each image is actually a link that redirects the user to the original webpage containing the image. When users pin a retailers’ product, the image therefore redirects directly to the individual product page on the retailer’s website, turning their virtual pin-board into a source of referrals becoming more and more interesting for retailers. A number of retailers themselves have been starting to create their own pin boards for Pinterest users to share pictures of products across the social platform. Recent infographic from Monetate showed that in terms of driving traffic to retailers’ websites, Pinterest does a better job at doing so than Google+. From September to December 2011, non-subscribed Pinterest users went from 1.68 million to 7.21 million people, an increase of 329% in only four months. The infographic suggests Pinterest might have built a new model for social media referrals.

A major source of referral to retailer websites

Social networks have been a major source of online referrals for retailers. Facebook leads the pack followed by YouTube, Twitter, and Yahoo. Pinterest comes in 5th position, though the website was only launched in March 2010. However, search engines still remain the biggest driver of referral traffic. In December 2011, search engines represented 29% of the total online referral traffic to retailer websites. Google was responsible for 62% of the traffic leading to retailer websites, Yahoo! 14% and Bing 10%. The second source of referral traffic comes from other retailers’ websites. Social Networking and Forums come in third position, followed by emails and rewards/directories. A number of brands have already been using Pinterest to build a community and feature products. Among the top brands on Pinterest are home and decoration themed TV network HGTV with 8.248 followers, department store Nordstrom (6.730 followers), furniture chain West elm (6.414) and indie retailer Mod Cloth (4.801).

Virtual pin boards can be used in multiple ways by brands

Aside from creating their own pinboard on Pinterest, a growing number of retail websites – large brands’ e-commerce website as well as small independent Etsy stores – have been adding Pinterest’s “Pin It” button next to Facebook’s “Like” button. It allows users to easily share products they like and “pin” them on their virtual board for followers to discover. But aside from simply showcasing their products, brands or organizations can build a more complex brand image by curating pin boards on relevant topics. For instance, Amnesty International has an “Inspiring quotes and people” board, a “Fair Trade” board with fair trade products, a board where it collects human rights related posters, etc. In other words, Pinterest is useful for retailers to promote a lifestyle, a general aesthetic. As the analytics show, retailers or brands can also use Pinterest for internal purposes by using pin boards as focus groups or as a source of inspiration for a team. 

By Marcus Burke