People love to talk about the ROI from social media. But ROI doesn’t just fall from the sky. If you want your social media efforts to drive actual sales, you need to understand how your customers and potential customers actually use social media in their purchase process. And once you have that understanding, you need to tailor your social media strategy so that it pushes your customers towards a purchase.
The latest issue of the Harvard Business Review shares research findings that can help you tailor your Pinterest strategy. How Pinterest Puts People in Stores, which I co-authored with my Vision Critical colleague David Sevitt, shows the impact of Pinterest on purchasing. As part of a larger study that compared the impact of Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook on sales, David and I uncovered patterns in Pinterest use that point towards the following best practices for businesses using Pinterest:
Combat showrooming. Retailers often worry that the Internet has turned brick-and-mortar stores into little more than showrooms: places where customers maul the merchandise and pester salespeople for advice before going online to buy the same products at a lower price. But our study of social media-driven purchasing showed that social media sends more customers into stores than the Internet pulls out: 1 in 5 Pinterest users has bought something in a store after pinning or liking it on Pinterest, and 1 in 3 Pinterest users under 35 has done so. If you want more people walking through the door of your store with a purchase in mind, design your Pinterest strategy to send as many people to your stores as to your website.
Drive personal pinning. While 60% of Pinterest purchases were discovered on Pinterest, the vast majority were discovered through the boards or streams of regular human beings: 19% of purchases were discovered through a friend, and 24% through a stranger, compared to just 7% being discovered on a retailer’s Pinterest board, and 10% through Pinterest search. That means you can’t rely on your own Pinterest presence to drive significant sales, and instead need to think about how to drive repinning (where your viewers and customers share items they find on your pinboards to their own pinboards). To encourage customers to pin items from your site to their Pinterest boards, make sure you include a “share on Pinterest” button on every product page, and consider running promotions to encourage pinning (some examples here). To let your customers know that their pinning is appreciated, pay extra attention to the people who share your content the most, by repinning and liking their pins.
Pack images with information. One of the major ways Pinterest influences purchasing is by providing additional information about a product. Any visitor who comes to your site from a Pinterest link should land on a page with relevant information about the product. Better yet, save them the trip by embedding product information directly in the images on your website and Pinterest boards, either with text or (better still) visual cues about product ingredients or usage. For example, compare two images from the Williams Sonoma site, and you’ll see that one of them instantly conveys the utility of a new kind of measuring cup, while the other leaves you wondering — but it’s the latter image that the company features on its own product page. Featuring the image that contains the most information about a product is the way to succeed on Pinterest.
Pin that deal. Our Pinterest data was drawn from a larger study of nearly 6,000 social media users who also told us about the impact of Facebook and Twitter on their purchasing. But where 37% of Facebook users and 32% of Twitter users say that those networks helped drive their purchase by alerting them to a deal, only 19% of Pinterest-driven purchases involved finding a sale or deal through the site. This suggests massive room for growth by incorporating sale notifications into pinnable product images, or conversely, by enhancing the design of online sale announcements so they are charming or informative enough to get pinned.
Engage with recent pinners. More than 40% of Pinterest-inspired purchases are made within one week of pinning, and 80% are made within three weeks. That means your best window for nudging customers towards purchase is within one to three weeks of the moment when they pin one of your products. This is the time to reach out to customers, ask if they need more information, or simply thank them for sharing. If you’re in a business with high-value transactions (like real estate or car sales), it’s well worth following up on the indication of interest represented by a pin by using Pinterest’s own analytics or a third party tool to see who is pinning items from your site or pinboards. If and when Pinterest finally releases its long-promised API, expect to see the emergence of tools that can automate or facilitate this kind of tracking and response.
Talking to Pinterest users about their Pinterest-inspired purchases helped identify specific business tactics that align with the way people actually share and shop online. Explore the infographic for more insight into how people use Pinterest in their purchasing process, and you may find your own proof of social media ROI.
Reblogged from: here