How to Drive Traffic and Dance Retail Sales with Pinterest

Pinterest continues to add shopping features, making this increasingly robust platform hard to ignore for retailers.

A screenshot of DanceWear Corner's Pinterest page; featuring photos of some of their products, information about their website and how many people follow them, etc
DanceWear Corner’s Pinterest page.

As a time-starved dance storeowner, you may be reluctant to dive into yet another social media platform. But if you haven’t looked seriously at Pinterest recently, it’s a good moment to pay attention.

This spring, with people at home because of COVID-19 lockdowns, the platform saw a surge in activity, with searches increasing 60 percent over the year before. “As the world adjusts to a new normal…shoppers are turning to Pinterest for fresh ideas to help them adapt to a different way of life,” commented Amy Vener, Pinterest’s global head of retail strategy, in a Pinterest blog post.

The shopping mindset on Pinterest makes it quite distinct from any other platform. “The consumers who use Pinterest are moms, millennials, high-income households. They like to plan ahead—for back-to-school, for holidays,” says Jill Tirone, of DanceFit Marketing. “That makes it a great fit for retailers.”

DanceWear Corner, an omnichannel retailer with a large brick-and-mortar store in Orlando, FL, started using Pinterest for its business more than five years ago. “Pinterest is bundled in with social media, but it’s really a visual search engine,” says Tonya Denmark, DWC’s content-marketing manager. “So when people start browsing Pinterest with dance or dancewear or ballet shoes or dance advice on their mind, your business can be there to deliver that content to them—and those products.”

While it’s well documented that Pinterest draws people looking for ideas and inspiration early in their shopping journey—long before they’ve made any real decision to buy anything—their engagement doesn’t end there. Weekly “pinners” are three times more likely to click through to a retailer’s site from Pinterest than users on any other social media. For DanceWear Corner, the platform is one of the top drivers of traffic to its e-commerce website. And while it’s difficult to track exactly what brings people into a physical store, a study from consumer-products researcher GfK found that 41 percent of people who shop in-store use Pinterest, looking back at their product wish-list while shopping.

So how does Pinterest drive traffic and sales to your store? The inspiration phase, when shoppers come to Pinterest looking for ideas, “helps [pinners] identify brands they’re interested in buying from,” according to Vener. In fact, 83 percent of weekly pinners have made a purchase based on content from brands they discovered on the platform. That’s certainly been true for DanceWear Corner. “You’re hitting more of that buying funnel than on any other [social media] platform,” says Denmark. “A dancer searching on Pinterest will come across something DanceWear Corner has pinned—the ‘discovery’ stage. They save the pin—the ‘I’m really thinking about it’ stage. And they come back to that saved pin when they’re ready to purchase it.”

Since the platform is based on search—a dancer looks for “convertible tights,” or a “cap-sleeve leotard,” say—there’s always a way for your store to be discovered by new customers, not just visited by people who already follow you. And pinners come to Pinterest with open minds:

  • 72 percent from the GfK study said Pinterest inspires them to shop when they aren’t actually looking for anything.
  • 70 percent discover new products on Pinterest.

Tips to Make It Work

If you’re interested in exploring Pinterest to help drive traffic to your store, here are a few best practices.

Create a business account.

You may already be on Pinterest personally, looking for recipes or home-decorating ideas. That’s great, but Tirone says that to make the most of its opportunities for your store, including access to analytics and advertising, you’ll need a business account. You can convert your personal account, or add a free business account linked to your personal one, so you can toggle back and forth.

Denmark checks analytics most weeks, to learn more about what people are interested in and to track results. “You can see the top pins from your account, how many people are seeing what you have (impressions), how many saves people have done (indicating an intent to buy), and clicks measure traffic to our e-commerce website,” she says.

With a business account, you’ll also be able to get your retail website or blog domain verified and connect Pinterest to your e-commerce website.

Upload your catalog of products.

Once you have a business account, Pinterest lets you upload a catalog of products so you can establish a product feed. If you’re a Shopify merchant, its Pinterest app simplifies the uploading process, turning products into shoppable product pins.

With a product feed, you can apply to become a Verified Merchant (much like Twitter’s blue check), which establishes you as a vetted brand and increases shoppability on the site for you, with a “Shop” tab and wider distribution through organic search on Pinterest.

In late October, Pinterest announced a set of new tools for merchants in time for the holiday season, making it simpler and faster to upload catalogs and activate shopping ads.

An updated merchant profile page lets you transform your “Shop” tab into a storefront with featured in-stock products organized by category, featured product groups and dynamically created recommendations. 

Updated merchant profile page. Courtesy of Pinterest

When pinners search for shopping ideas, they’ll now see recommended merchants based on the product category.

Courtesy of Pinterest

And an improved product tagging tool that’s being tested lets merchants tag their own scene—a group of dancers wearing your newest fashion leo arrivals, say—with exact products.

Courtesy of Pinterest

Arranging product pins into boards is most useful for the storeowner [to keep track of what’s been posted], Denmark feels. “Most people find us through search,” she says, landing on individual pins when they search a specific term, rather than heading for a store’s boards as a destination. Simple names for the boards work best so they are visible in searches: “Ballet Shoes,” “Dance Leotards,” “Dance Gifts.”

Map out a consistent strategy for pinning.

“My number-one piece of advice,” says Denmark, “is to post content consistently. Otherwise your audience won’t grow.” DWC’s product pins are based on what’s available in inventory, so Denmark can’t plan exact content six months ahead, but the store does commit to adding content consistently.

As for deciding what to post, “Think like the dance customer,” she suggests. What do they want to see right now? What are they searching for on Pinterest? That should direct your pins more than any other factor, even analytics, she says. “By putting yourself in their shoes, you can reward that customer with a positive experience.”

In addition to straightforward product pins, consider creating pins from blog posts to give background info on a product, or adding a video post to demonstrate how a product works.

Don’t forget SEO.

In the store description or bio that goes on your cover board and other board pages, use keywords that people might search for. Adding the store’s location—the town, but also perhaps a regional description, like “northern Virginia”—is great for increasing your discoverability in local searches, Tirone points out. Denmark feels it’s most important to pay attention to keywords in your descriptions on product pins—but not to the point of keyword stuffing, she warns. “Use natural language, the terms that people would be most likely to search on if they were looking for a particular product,” she says. And, of course, your store branding also belongs on all your pins and boards.

Remember, it’s a visual search.

High-quality photos, graphics and videos are especially important on this very visual platform. Vertical images with a 2:3 aspect ratio are ideal. Simple type overlays can convey your marketing message. “For instance, a pointe shoe event, or inspiration for costuming, will draw people,” says Tirone. To assure high image quality, you don’t need an expensive camera, she says, and you can always hire someone to properly crop, size and brighten up a batch of photos and add the text overlay. Canva, PicCollage and Rhonna Designs are DIY graphics tools she likes.

Commit for the long haul.

Decide up front why it’s worth your time—and set specific goals. For instance, DanceWear Corner’s main aim is to drive traffic and sales, and then secondarily to increase general brand awareness. The key to Pinterest, says Denmark, is longevity, even if you start small by adding just a few product pins a week. “Know that it takes time to grow the traffic,” she says. “But once it starts growing, it keeps on going. It’s like a snowball.” DanceWear Corner now has 15,000-plus product pins, 6,000 followers and 848,000 monthly views.

Promote your Pinterest presence.

Don’t miss any opportunity to do this. Post a sign and a mention at the cash wrap. Or include a mention in your e-mail newsletters, adding a special incentive, or on other social media.

Need help getting started? Check out the Pinterest Academy for useful how-tos.

Basia Hellwig is former editor-in-chief of Dance Retailer News and founding editor of Dance Business Weekly.