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The only step-by-step guide to Pinterest ads you’ll ever need

Start raking in pins (and purchases) with this digital product entrepreneur’s step-by-step guide to using Pinterest ads to bring in profits.

You’ve got your online business that you’ve started from home up and running. 

Now you’re ready to invest some ad dollars to boost your best-selling digital products

The question that comes to mind is, which ad platform should you use?

After all, there are so many to choose from: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Adwords, to name the most popular.

But there’s an underdog in this race, and it’s got some serious marketing bite: Pinterest.

It’s often cheaper than other platforms, and its user base is comprised of active shoppers who don’t need to be sung the glories of your products to know they want them. 

Today, that’s what we’ll talk about, including reasons to use Pinterest ads, who’s using the platform, types of Pinterest ads, and how to set up your advertising campaign.

Ready to get started? Great, let’s start with the benefits of using Pinterest ads.

Why should you use Pinterest ads?

You should use Pinterest ads because it’s a growing social platform filled with users who are inclined to purchase products they’ve researched on the platform.

More specifically, Pinterest is the third most popular social platform, and 28% of adults use it in the US. 

If 28% doesn’t sound compelling to you, think of it in the sheer number of users who are in shopping mode. 

There are more than 300 million active monthly users on Pinterest, 77% of which have discovered a new brand or product using the platform. 

What’s more, 84% of people use Pinterest to decide what to buy.

On top of that, Pinterest users take the most action and drive the most referral traffic to shopping sites, compared to the other top social platforms.

Like, a lot more -- 33% more than Facebook, 71% more than Snapchat, and a staggering 200% more than Twitter.

It’s little wonder, too, with an impressive 93% of Pinterest pinners using the platform to plan for, research, or make purchases.

They take time for it, as well. Pinners spend an average of 14.2 minutes on the platform for each visit.

That’s quite an attention span for scrolling through screens upon screens of pins.

How does this translate to actual results?

Pinterest ads outperform the overall marketing average by a whopping 45% , and for every $1 spent on advertising, the social network delivers $2 in profit .

The moral here is: it’s worth considering Pinterest ads in your marketing efforts because of the massive (and growing) amount of folks on the platform who are poised to purchase.

Now that you have a better idea of audience size and their behavior, let’s dig deeper into who exactly uses Pinterest. 

What do Pinterest’s demographics look like?

If your target audience falls within the following user demographics, definitely consider using Pinterest ads to grow your online business .

The bulk of Pinterest users are between the ages of 18 to 49. That’s the story in the US anyway, with 34% aged between 18-29 and 35% aged between 30-49.

Pinners have higher income and education levels than average. 40% of them have a household annual income that’s over $100,000 .

As of last year, 39% of US adults who make over $75,000 annually use Pinterest as opposed to only 20% who make below $30,000 per year using the platform. 

At a similar rate, people with college degrees are twice as likely to use Pinterest as people who have a high school degree. 

As far as gender goes, the user base is predominantly made up of women with 79.5% of pinners being female. 

That’s not to say that males aren’t using the platform, however. In fact, 50% of new signups last year were male.

The gender split is forecasted to be 70/30, with 70% female and 30% male, by 2022.

And whether male or female, there’s a good chunk of parents who use Pinterest. 40% of parents use the platform for hunting down parenting tips, inspiration, and advice. 

There’s one final demographic detail to note here: location. 

While the bulk of pinners are located in the US, at 36.8% , more than half of users and 80% of new signups happen outside the US. The next largest user base locations are in Brazil, India, Turkey, and Poland.

In a nutshell, the majority of Pinterest users:

  • Are between ages 18-49

  • Have an annual household income of at least $75,000 

  • Are female (although half of new signups are male, so this is changing)

  • Live in the US

If your target audience fits these demographics, then it’s time to get into the logistics behind Pinterest ads, like the various ad types. Let’s start with how they work.

How do Pinterest ads work?

Pinterest ads are based on an auction system, where you place a bid to have your ad shown to your target audience. Naturally, the higher your bid, the higher your chance at getting your ad placed.

Generally, Pinterest shows your ad to users who are browsing relevant categories. The platform matches your ad with users who may be interested in that topic, based on their behaviors like saving pins and typing in phrases in the search bar. 

Pretty straightforward, right?

The ad types are, too.

Types of Pinterest ads

#1. Promoted pins

Promoted pins are the overarching name for any paid Pinterest ad. It’s basically a paid ad that shows up in users’ feeds as a regular pin. The main difference is you’ll see “promoted by,” followed by the brand, at the bottom of your pin, just like in this Trunk Club pin.

#2. One-tap pins

One-tap pins are what you’d expect them to be: pins that go to your site or landing page with one click.

For example, by clicking on the above Trunk Club promoted pin, I immediately land on their site , which is outside of Pinterest. 

To differentiate between a standard promoted pin and a one-tap pin, hover over the ad. If your cursor turns into a magnifying glass with a plus symbol , it’s a promoted pin. If it turns into a pointed finger, it’s a one-tap pin.

One-tap pins are ideal if you want to send users directly to your landing page to engage with your content off of Pinterest.

#3. Promoted video pins

Another Pinterest ad that’s exactly as it sounds is the promoted video pin, which features an uploaded video pin. 

An example is this video pin ad promoted by payment solution company, Moneris .

#4. Promoted app pins

If you have an app that you want people to install, promoted app pins are a great option. If your users are on mobile devices, they can click on the “install” button below your ad and directly install the app. 

You can follow in the footsteps of Ibotta and use a promoted app pin to get users to start engaging with your app straight away.

You can take it a step further and combine ad types, just like Pixite does with a promoted video and app install pin combined. 

#5. Buyable pins

Also known as “shop the look” pins, buyable pins display as standard pins in your feed but with the addition of white dots that indicate products for purchase. 

For instance, this home office pin displays four white dots that coordinate with matching products for sale on the right. The prices are even published, resembling a true shopping experience.

If you’re a browser who’s looking to spruce up your zen home office, you can click on the items on the right, such as the $259.99 chair, which brings you to this Best Buy pin featuring a similar product for sale.

#6. Promoted carousels

A promoted carousel ad is a paid pin that features more than one image in your pin, indicated by the dots directly below the main image window. To view the various graphics, you simply click on the dots like you would any carousel viewer.

For example, on the same topic of fashionable chairs, this promoted carousel pin by Joybird displays two angles of their featured furniture piece.

OK. Now that you have six ad types to choose from, let’s step into setting up your ad campaign, starting with officially opening your business account. 

10 steps to creating your Pinterest ad campaign

Step #1. Open a business account

First things first: you’ll need a Pinterest business account to create promoted pins. To open your business account, simply go to Pinterest’s business creation page , fill out the few form fields, and click “create account”.

Another option is to convert your personal account to your business account, which you can do by navigating to their account conversion page and filling out the same form fields. Once you click “create account,” your account is converted.

While this first step is straightforward, the next one takes a bit more patience. 

Step #2. Install a Pinterest tag

Installing your Pinterest tag is more of a pre-step to creating your campaign, where you install a pixel code onto pages of your site. This allows you to track your visitors’ behavior and ad performance. 

To install your Pinterest tag, it’s helpful to understand the two parts of your pixel, which are the base code and the event code. 

Your base code basically identifies your unique Pinterest account. It’s generated in the Conversion Tag Manager , and you simply click on the red “create Pinterest tag” button to access it.

This brings you to a screen where you can copy your base code, which you’ll want to paste onto every page of your site.

Your event code gets installed on specific pages of your site following your base code, to record certain actions such as “checkout” or “add to cart”. You can copy your event codes from the same page in your dashboard below your base code.

Choose from nine standard events, including checkout, add to cart, page visit, signup, watch video, lead, search, view category, or define your own.

Basically, add your base code to every page of your site and add your event codes to the pages where you want to track specific conversions. Be sure your base code runs before the event code.

Then, once your Pinterest tags are installed, you’re ready to create your campaign.

Step #3. Select your campaign objective

To start your campaign, simply click on the “ads” tab at the top left menu and hit “create ad”. From there, you can choose from six campaign objectives.

  • Brand awareness - Choose this one if your goal is to help your audience discover your products and services as an intro to your brand. You pay for every 1,000 impressions (CPM) of your pin.

  • Video views - For a campaign goal of getting as many views on your video ad as possible. You bid on video viewers who watch your ad for more than two seconds, which counts as a cost per view (CPV).

  • Traffic - Select this option if you want the most clicks to your site. You pay each time someone clicks on your ad, a.k.a., cost per click (CPC).

  • App install - This one is for the goal of getting as many app downloads as possible. You pay per thousand impressions (CPM), while you target a cost per install.

  • Conversions - Go with this objective if your goal is a conversion action (i.e., sign up, register, checkout, add to cart). You pay per action (CPA). Caveat: you need at least 50 conversions from one of your traffic or brand awareness campaigns in the past seven days to use this one, which makes it a good option for scaling your campaigns.

  • Shopping catalogs - This one’s ideal for a goal of helping people discover your brand as they’re researching the platform. You connect an online product catalog to promote product groups to relevant users. You pay per click (CPC) or per impression (CPM) based on your target CPA.

There’s also a spot below your goal selection to name your campaign.

It’s worth noting, though undoubtedly seems obvious, that your campaign goal should fall in line with your chosen ad type. For instance, a “video views” goal nicely matches the promoted video pin format.

Once you select your campaign objective and name your campaign, hit “continue”. Next, get ready to create your ad group.

Step #4. Create your ad group

Your next step is to simply fill in your ad group details, starting with your ad group name. 

Give your ad group (and everything else within your campaign) a name that’s obvious so you can easily reference it later. Then scroll down to complete your targeting details.

Step #5. Select your target audience

Your fifth step is to choose your target audience, which you can do by clicking on the plus symbol in the audience field.

From there, click the red “create audience” button and choose from four self-explanatory groups to target:

  • Site visitors

  • Customers or subscribers that you upload

  • People who engage with your pins

  • An “actalike” audience that resembles your current audience 

After you click “next,” another modal form pops up, where you fill in the name and description of your audience and choose how recent you want your audience’s behavior to be. You can also add a tag, in case you want to track themed groups. 

Once you hit create, your audience is built. Your next step is to assign relevant interests by checking the boxes next to related topics.

You also have the option of adding keywords that you want to target. Pinterest recommends adding a minimum of 25 keywords to increase your ad impressions that show up in users’ search results and “related pins” feeds. 

There are five match types that you can use when targeting your keywords:

  • Broad match - The default type that shows pins generally related to the keywords

  • Phrase match - Shows the entire phrase that you include in quotes

  • Exact match - Shows results for the exact phrasing you use in brackets

  • Negative phrase match - Excludes general keywords

  • Negative exact match - Excludes exact keyword phrases that you include in brackets

After entering your keywords, your final targeting detail is to choose demographic info, such as gender, age, location, language, and device.

While this may seem like a lot of choices to make in defining your target audience, it’s worth the input. You can deploy the most compelling marketing message in the world, but if your ad goes to the wrong audience, it’s all for not. 

Bonus tip: Incorporate your audience’s behavior into your targeting strategy. If you do, you’ll be miles ahead of the curve. 

In fact, a staggering 76% of marketers fail to use behavioral data for online ad targeting.

Regardless, with your audience well-defined, let’s move onto your next step of placing your ad group.

Step #6. Choose an ad placement

Your next step is to decide where to place your ad group. You have three options here:

  • All - Just as it sounds, you can place your ads everywhere.

  • Browse - Your ads will show up in your audience’s home feed and related pins.

  • Search - Your ads will display in your audience’s search results and related pins.

In the same section, you also have the option to track specific URLs by either impressions or clicks. This is a more advanced tracking option where you use third-party tracking providers such as Adobe[DTM] and Flashtalking to measure your campaign performance.

Once your ad placement is selected, you next need to set and schedule your budget.

Step #7. Submit your budget and schedule

To set your budget, simply choose between a daily or lifetime budget and input your dollar amount. Then define a start and end date for your campaign. 

Doesn’t get simpler than that, right? Your next step is just as straightforward. (So close to the end!)

Step #8. Select optimization and delivery options

Following your budget details, it’s time to optimize your delivery options and input a maximum CPC bid. 

Pinterest recommends bidding at least $1.98 for competitive bidding.

The final detail in this section is to choose between “standard” and “accelerated” pacing, which assigns how quickly you want to spend your ad budget over the length of your ad group campaign.

That’s all there is to it. You’re now ready for your final step in the ad campaign creation process, which is choosing your pin.

Step #9. Pick your promoted pins

The final step in creating your Pinterest ad campaign is to select the pin you want to promote, which you can do by simply clicking on your pin of choice. Your pins are conveniently displayed here as you scroll down the page, so it’s easy to access.

Once you do that, enter your promoted pin name and destination URL and -- voila -- submit your campaign. Pinterest will then review your campaign, and if it’s approved, your campaign will start running on your scheduled start date.

Congrats on setting up your ad campaign. 

Your work doesn’t end here, however. We’ve got one final step for you today. 

Step #10. Monitor your campaign results

While you’ve technically finished setting up your ad campaign, we recommend monitoring and tracking your results. 

The reason? You can check on the progress, edit them if needed, and optimize your campaign.

More specifically, head over to your reporting dashboard and check out metrics and graphs in your ad manager to view progress for impressions, saves, clicks, your click-through rate, average CPC or CPM, and total ad spend. 

By analyzing your campaign data in real-time, you can pause the ad campaigns that aren’t performing well and add more budget to top-performing ones.

Phew -- if you’ve made it this far, you’re well on your way to creating optimized Pinterest ad campaigns that will grow your customer base. Job well done!

Pin your way to your newest audience members

While there are several marketing channels for online products and many ad platforms to choose from, Pinterest can prove to be a profitable one if your audience matches the demographics on the platform. 

To recap:

  • Pinterest is a great option for purchasing ads because users on the platform are actively researching and ready to purchase. The platform is also continuing to grow its user base.

  • As far as demographics go, most Pinterest users are female, aged 18-49, affluent, and located in the US. 

  • There are six types of Pinterest ads to choose from, which are based on an auction system and matched to users’ interests and behaviors. 

  • To create your Pinterest ad campaign, you need to open a business account and install your Pinterest pixel to your site. 

  • Once that’s set up, you just select your campaign objective, create your ad group, and choose your target audience. 

  • Then, pick your ad placement, enter your budget, and schedule your campaign. After you optimize your delivery options and select your promoted pin, you’re all set with a created campaign.

  • To get the most out of your ad budget, monitor your campaign results and edit as needed.

Ready to leverage the actively researching and shopping-ready audience that lives on Pinterest? Great, we’re in your corner as you do so. 

And if you need more support on the product side, our all-in-one platform and team are here to help with that, too. Just log in using this 14-day free trial , and, as they say, put a pin in it!


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About the author

Cyn Meyer was a content writer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and communities scale with their creators. Cyn also enjoys playing music, helping retirees live active, healthy, engaged lifestyles, and hopping into the ocean.