Episode 348

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As agencies, we tend to overlook certain platforms and channels when it comes to their perceived relevance to our audiences or bottom-line ad potential. That bias is one that Lindsay Shearer overcame to help her clients win new business and earn 2-3 times their initial ad spend on what most of us would consider an unlikely platform — Pinterest.

During our conversation on this week’s episode of Build a Better Agency, Lindsay talks about what led her to experiment with Pinterest in the first place and why she quickly adopted the platform into her agency’s diversified ad strategies. If you’re wondering what advertising on Pinterest looks like, how it works, and why you might want to consider incorporating it into your ad strategies, then you’re in the right place. Join Lindsay and I as we talk about using Pinterest — part social channel and part interest-based search engine — to win high-quality, top-of-funnel business for ourselves and our clients.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.
advertising on pinterest

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What led Lindsay to experiment with Pinterest in the first place
  • Why an entire department of Lindsay’s agency is now devoted to Pinterest ad strategies specifically
  • How Pinterest functions as both a search engine and a social media site — and why that’s a game-changer
  • The major role Pinterest plays in consumer behavior and the intentional purchasing decisions of its users
  • What types of brands play well in the Pinterest space — and why
  • How to set expectations for yourself, and your clients, about this channel that plays a bit differently than most
  • Where Pinterest could fit into your current cross-channel ad strategies and how to get started
“If I hadn’t done a bunch of tests myself those 6 or 7 years ago and hadn’t started flooding websites with traffic, I probably would’ve overlooked Pinterest myself.” @LindsayBShearer Click To Tweet “Pinterest is actually a search engine, not just a social media site.” @LindsayBShearer Click To Tweet “93% of people on Pinterest have made a purchase on Pinterest before.” @LindsayBShearer Click To Tweet “40% of new Pinterest users are actually men.” @LindsayBShearer Click To Tweet “It’s going to take 2 to 3 months for you to really start seeing the ROAS you’re looking for, but if you can get over that hump, Pinterest will be a solid, long-term strategy that yields high-quality traffic for you.” @LindsayBShearer Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Lindsay:

Resources:

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Agency Management Institute community, where you’ll learn how to grow and scale your business, attract and retain the best talent, make more money and keep more of what you make. The Build a Better Agency podcast, presented by White Label IQ is packed with insights on how small to midsize agencies survive and thrive in today’s market. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody, Drew McLellan here, from Agency Management Institute. Thanks for coming back. I have a really interesting show for you today, so I’m excited to introduce you to our guest and get right into it. Before I do that, I just want to remind you, we have some great workshops coming up. We have the Advanced AE Bootcamp in mid-June. We have the Selling with Insights workshop with Mercer Island Group in July, and then we have the regular AE Bootcamp in August. You can learn more about all of those by heading over to agencymanagementinstitute.com. And under the How We Help tab, if you scroll down, you’ll see workshops.

So I will tell you, I think we only have maybe five or six seats left in the Selling Insights, because we have to cap that at 50. So if you have ever wanted to hear from an agency search firm about how agencies can show up better and win more often in pitches, big and small, that would be a great workshop. And if you would like to level up your AEs, our advanced AE Bootcamp, we have people there with 20, 25 years of experience and they still walk away with some new knowledge and tricks and tips. And then for the regular AE Bootcamp, that’s for the folks who are more junior in their career, so zero to four years or so, that’s the purpose. So anyway, we would love to have you at any of them or all of them. They are in Chicago, all three of them, and you can learn more about them on the website.

All right, so let me just tell you a little bit about our guest. Lindsay Shearer owns an agency and like many of you was doing a wide mix of things in her shop and began to experiment with Pinterest and their clients and found really some kind of shockingly, amazing, great success. And now, they are known as an agency that specializes in leveraging Pinterest plus other channels to drive leads and sales for clients. And so I think Pinterest is one of those channels that as agencies, we often dismiss as not being someplace where our clients need to be. And so when I met Lindsay and she was telling me about what she did, I thought, “Oh my gosh, I need to get her on the show because I think this is going to open some eyes to some possibilities that we have just not actually considered.” So without further ado, let’s get started. Lindsay, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us.

Lindsay Shearer:

Hey, I’m so excited to be here y’all, with my fellow agency owners, crushing it.

Drew McLellan:

So tell everybody a little bit about your shop and the area of expertise that you guys have carved out for yourselves.

Lindsay Shearer:

Yeah. It’s so crazy, things have evolved. I started Brand Ranks Media, which is essentially an SEO company for e-commerce. And then about six years ago, we started kind of messing around with Pinterest and I noticed that there was all this traffic being driven from Pinterest for our brands. And so, I started getting more intentional with our strategy. And then all of a sudden, we were just getting crazy results on Pinterest. So we developed an entire division of our agency called Pins for Profit for the branding purposes.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Lindsay Shearer:

And so Pins for Profit was born about five and a half years ago. And we’ve just been taking just crazy amounts of success for our Pinterest clients and helping our clients diversify ad spend and all that kind of stuff that needs to happen as you scale and grow.

Drew McLellan:

Right. So I think for a lot of agencies, they don’t think about Pinterest as viable channel. So what made you start there and are there only certain kinds of clients where it makes sense to be there? Debunk the myths for me.

Lindsay Shearer:

Yeah, for sure. So I kind of thought the same way. I always get this funny joke that, “Pinterest isn’t just for wedding planning anymore.” But if I hadn’t done a bunch of tests myself, six or seven years ago and just really started flooding websites with traffic, I probably would’ve overlooked it myself too. I would say the biggest myth is that Pinterest is actually a search engine, not just a social media site. So if you think about that intentional search behavior and how much traffic is on Google and people that are intentionally going and looking for solutions to their problems on Amazon and Google, then you take it a step backwards and you realize, “Okay, before they go to Amazon or Google, they’re planning their purchases on Pinterest.”

The majority of people on there have money, they’re intentionally planning purchases. 93% of people on Pinterest have made a purchase on Pinterest before. The audience is a wealthier audience and they’re looking to make purchases. So you’re not doing disruptive marketing, you’re actually doing more of intent based marketing and people can save images, come back later and purchase. And that’s what they’re doing. Had I not really spent a lot of time there, I probably would’ve overlooked it too. And I think a lot of people do, but they’re just now starting to realize, “Hey, we need to diversify ad spend. We got to find some channels that have our right audiences.”

And to your second question, the types of brands that work on there, I used to really only take brands that serve women or were in the e-com space related to products and things for women. But about a year and a half ago, I had a couple of male- focused clients, some men’s grooming kits and some high end wallets and things like that for men and watches and stuff like that. And I was like, “All right, well, we’ll try some things for Black Friday and the holidays and see how they go.” And because there are so many women searching for gifts for men, our men’s brands did better than a lot of our women’s brands. So it was kind of crazy to see that because 40% of new users on Pinterest are actually men. So you’ve got-

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So you have more men on there then I think people think, it sounds like, right?

Lindsay Shearer:

Yes, definitely.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So do you think it only works on the consumer side?

Lindsay Shearer:

Not necessarily. We do a lot of info products as well, helping our clients. I mean, we generate our own clients agency type clients on there for creative brands, e-commerce brands, info product brands, coaches, those kinds of things, we do some good amount of lead generation. The only thing that I would say I wouldn’t do on Pinterest is really local business. So if you have a local business agency, I probably wouldn’t. Unless you have some kind of an e-commerce product attached to it or an info product attached to it, I probably wouldn’t. It’s just really hard to geo target on there like you would Google or Facebook.

Drew McLellan:

Right. But mostly on the retail side, right, not on a B2B service side.

Lindsay Shearer:

So we do, but-

Drew McLellan:

Really? But for your agency.

Lindsay Shearer:

Yes, for our agency. Yes. And then for Facebook ads, we do it for email marketing, some other things, SEO, for sure. So it just really depends if you are international, multinational, but yeah, I would say there is a certain market for creative services on there, for sure.

Drew McLellan:

So interestingly, this has now become sort of a depth of expertise for you. I mean, this is now a lot of what you guys do.

Lindsay Shearer:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

So talk a little bit about the strategies that you bring when you add Pinterest into the mix of other channels. What’s the cross channel strategy and how to make all this out.

Lindsay Shearer:

So Pinterest is really good for quality, top-of-funnel traffic. You can also retarget on there just like you would on any other channel, which is really nice. We usually only take on brands that are semi established with their offers. They have a tested KPI set of metrics that they’re looking for. I don’t recommend Pinterest also as your first line of defense, if you have a brand new product, a brand new funnel, a brand new offer, and you haven’t run traffic to it. You could do that on organic on Pinterest, for sure, but I wouldn’t. If you’re ready to run ads and that kind of thing, I would suggest a Facebook or TikTok or something that’s going to give you a little bit of faster results, because Pinterest has this delayed attribution factor.

People see an image, they save it, they come back later and purchase. That’s just the general nature of the search engine, visual search, so it takes longer. The attribution windows that we start with on ads and things like that, take longer. And then eventually you can get those closer to what you’re working on with Facebook, etcetera. But the average purchase time on Pinterest is 20 days. So if you’re setting up your ads, if you’re not getting results right away, a lot of people panic. And that’s why we have to… It’s so important for us, as an agency, to set client expectations.

Drew McLellan:

Oh, my gosh, yeah.

Lindsay Shearer:

This is a huge problem with a lot of agencies, it’s setting client expectations and really reinforcing those. The first couple months with us is generally a little bit of an uphill battle because you’re having to keep reminding them, “You signed up for this. We talked about all of this ahead of time. Very clear with you that it’s going to take two or three months for you to really start seeing the [inaudible 00:09:23] ads you’re looking for. But if you can get over that hump, it’s going to be something that’s a very good, solid, long-term strategy with high quality traffic for you.” So just setting those expectations and really just being patient.

Drew McLellan:

And helping the client be patient.

Lindsay Shearer:

Yes, and helping the client be patient and helping them understand the platform. We do all the creatives and stuff for them, so there’s a lot of things happening in the background still. So they can see those things, but sometimes the result… And then some of them hit it out of the park right away, if they have a more established brand usually, and they’re already getting a good bit of traffic, then we can start retargeting some people on Pinterest and get some low hanging fruit and things like that. So it just depends, but there’s always a delayed factor that has to be addressed.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I think that’s probably true to a certain extent with every channel. I think clients think the minute they give you their money, that cash register’s going to start ringing tomorrow, right?

Lindsay Shearer:

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It would be great. Yeah. That would make us magicians, but, okay.

Lindsay Shearer:

Yay.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, right? I know there are some cross-channel algorithm issues at Pinterest. So talk about what your work around is with that.

Lindsay Shearer:

Yeah. So we essentially had to develop reporting solutions for this because they didn’t exist. And thankfully, I’ve been in cross-channel marketing forever, so I know what the triggers are and all this kind of stuff. And we have custom reportings and some that we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building to create and deal with some of the delayed attribution issues. And we also generally don’t recommend a weekly…. I have a weekly reporting structure that we use for Pinterest, but in general we do end-of-month reports because we’re looking at longer data, we’re looking at other metrics. But yeah, we can pull in everything, your keywords, your interest categories that people are searching, obviously your general ad data, the best performing images, those kinds of things. We essentially run a custom report.

A lot of it is still manual though, they don’t really have a… They say they have an open API, but it’s not really like a fully open API because we created some apps, they blocked them. So essentially we had to do a mix of a manual reporting system and then also pull in as many metrics and data as we could get. So it’s a little difficult. You have to look at a longer window, for example, attribution wise in the beginning, at least at starting to run ads, because you want to make sure you’re giving the algorithm enough sales, that it’s not going to shut down your spend because it doesn’t think it’s finding the right sales right away. So if you go in and you’re trying to hit just the seven day window on Facebook, you’re not going to give Pinterest enough time. Because like I said, “The average buying cycle is about 20 days.” So you’ve got to give it at longer time.

I just had this discussion with a client yesterday. He’s like, “Well, we have a smaller price product.” I was looking through his windows. I’m like, “Oh, okay, so we’re two weeks in to new ads and we actually can run on a seven day window for him because we’re getting enough sale.” So it’s not going to shut the algorithm off, essentially. That’s one of the big issues that I would say. But fitting into the cross-channel strategy, usually really good, high quality, top of funnel, we do a lot of shopping, that kind of thing does really well on there.

Drew McLellan:

So how sophisticated is the targeting in terms of placing the ads?

Lindsay Shearer:

It’s not as sophisticated as Facebook, for sure. I would consider it very broad. Also, the keyword side is broad as well. So like with Google, sometimes you’re looking at these long-tail keywords that are very descriptive and depending on the strategy you’re using, you’re bidding on a lot of long-tail keywords, just small bids. With Pinterest, to get results really and not spread your budget too thin with it, you have to do less keywords that are broader. But in general, people are searching broader terms, so that works fine there. And then the interest based side, which is the mix of social media plus search behavior is also broader. They have level two and three interests they’re called, but they’re not the same as granular data, as you can select on Facebook, for sure.

Drew McLellan:

So I’m curious your thoughts about why Pinterest all of a sudden is attracting? My assumption, going into this conversation was you can only use this for retail, you have to be targeting women. It sounds like there are some misconceptions [inaudible 00:13:56], right?

Lindsay Shearer:

Yeah. Well, you’re not alone. I think their whole business model is really built on this idea. Which is kind of crazy that I suddenly became the Pinterest expert overnight, but I think that’s just because of the results that we were getting. I didn’t apply my own boundaries, I guess, to it when I first started. I was like, “You know what, we’re just going to try it. Let’s try a million things and see what happens.” It’s funny, I asked my husband this and he’s like, “Oh, I’m planning my haircuts.” And he’s looking for jackets for when we travel. And he’s looking for travel stuff for his suitcase and his bags and all this kind of stuff and coats. So it just has become more of a fashion inspired place for men.

I think the cool thing is that you can save things and come back later. So even if you’re just on there browsing or whatever, if you were on Google or Amazon… I mean, Amazon is a little bit better, but you’re still not really saving things. Maybe you could add them to cart on Amazon. Google, for sure, no. So you actually have this cool visual search that you can save them. And then, oh yeah, for example, we’re remodeling. And so I always say, “Think about it, before you go to Amazon, you’re going to Pinterest.” And you’re like, “Okay, I like this rug. I want to see this color wall. I want to see this color couch,” whatever, before you actually go to Amazon or Google to buy something, you’re trying to get inspiration and ideas and you’re saving all these ideas and then you can come back later. And so he’s doing that for his travel purchases for all of that kind of stuff is happening.

Drew McLellan:

What about age? So if it’s still predominantly women, although it sounds like men are making a rush over, what are we talking about in terms of how old are… What else do we know about the Pinterest user?

Lindsay Shearer:

Yeah, it’s crazy because it used to be mostly older women, like 35 to 65. And now, the largest-

Drew McLellan:

I love that you call 35, older women.

Lindsay Shearer:

I know, I’m over 35. Well, that’s-

Drew McLellan:

Geriatric crowd, 35 up, plus.

Lindsay Shearer:

That’s considered an older demograph.

Drew McLellan:

I know, I know, just makes me laugh.

Lindsay Shearer:

But the 18 to 25-year-olds is now the largest market of women.

Drew McLellan:

Really?

Lindsay Shearer:

For men, it’s kind of across-the-board, so it’s a little bit less. There aren’t as many peaks and valleys on age range on there. So you’ve got a lot of younger men. You’ve got men in their 30s and 40s. And so it’s less granular on that end. I think most men like high end things, I guess, when it comes to watches and-

Drew McLellan:

Well, I was going to say, gadgets and electronics.

Lindsay Shearer:

… yeah, gadgets.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Lindsay Shearer:

Totally.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, it makes sense. I think once they get over the bias, then it’s not a club they should join.

Lindsay Shearer:

Right.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. They probably would find it super useful.

Lindsay Shearer:

Yeah. It is very useful, for sure.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. All right, I want to take a break. But when we come back, I want to talk about creative on Pinterest and sort of how you think through the campaigns and all of that sort of stuff. So we’ll get back to that, as soon as we take a quick break.

Hey, I promise we will get right back to the conversation, but I wanted to make sure you knew that we have two AE Bootcamps coming up, two live workshops. The first one is the Advanced AE Bootcamp, that’s going to be for folks who have five years or so of experience being an AE in an agency. That’s going to be in Chicago, June 16th and 17th. And you can register by going to the AMI website and going under the, How We Help and finding the work workshop tab. And you’ll find the Advanced AE Bootcamp there. So again, it’s two full days of learning and sharing. So the AEs not only learn from us, the instructors, but they also learn from each other throughout the workshop. We get rave reviews and it’s a great way for your AEs to really level up and become a leader inside your organization.

So again, June 16th and 17th for the Advanced AE Bootcamp. And then, August 1st and 2nd, the regular AE Bootcamp, so that’s going to be for folks with less than five years of experience, account coordinators, project managers, AEs, anybody who is kind of new into their career and still trying to figure out what the AE thing is all about. Honestly, it’s about helping them understand that they need to move from being an order taker to helping grow your client’s business and growing the agency’s business. So again, August 1st and 2nd, also in Chicago. Hopefully, we’ll see some of your folks there. All right, let’s get back to the conversation.

All right, we are back and Lindsay and I are talking all things Pinterest. As she told you at the top of the show, she and her agency started experimenting with Pinterest and were pleasantly surprised with the results, started bringing more and more clients into it and have developed a depth of expertise in this particular channel. Since it’s a channel, I think we often disregard. It makes sense, I think, to have her come on and tell us a little bit about it. So before the break, I said to you, “Let’s talk a little bit about creative and campaign strategy.” So pick either one of those and walk us through that and then we’ll get to the other one.

Lindsay Shearer:

Yeah. So for creative, it’s interesting, it really depends on the market. They can definitely do videos, images and now we have this idea pins they’re called, which is essentially like an Instagram story or like a little TikTok video where you can now promote those. That literally just came live yesterday, so I’m so excited about that. Essentially, now in the US market, static creatives are still winning for 90% of our clients. We have a few here and there. We always try video just to see it and clients are used to using video, so we want to make sure and at least test it. Now Australia market, French market are crushing it with video.

Drew McLellan:

Really?

Lindsay Shearer:

Yeah. It’s so random. Canada is 50/50, so is Europe, the rest of Europe, so it really just depends. I would say, you definitely have to test some things. The videos are much shorter, so they’re really like Instagram story, like the little 15 second or less or a TikTok, a little TikTok type video. And then you want to have your products featured and all of those kinds of things. And then for the images, we use a ton of text, call it action, promo codes, all those kinds of things. I am a fan of making things bright. I want them to stand out in the scroll and people to really engage with them. And so we test it. Sometimes the clients are like, “Oh, we have a very clear brand strategy.” And I’m like, “Yes, if you’ve been running Facebook ads for long enough, you know that, that doesn’t always work. Sometimes you have to go outside of your general norm.”

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, your graphic standards, right?

Lindsay Sh