You’ve seen tons of articles raving about it.
How it’s driving more traffic than anything in the known universe. How you need to be “pinning” and have “pinnable stuff” or you’re going to fail at this magical new social network. How it’s the greatest thing since, well, the last greatest thing.
And you want someone to be straight with you. So here’s the truth …
Pinterest traffic is worthless.
But so is all traffic — unless you do something with it.
Seeing patterns that aren’t there
The problem with most of what’s being written about Pinterest traffic is that it’s pointing out the wrong things. What passes for “reporting” is someone opening Google Analytics, seeing a spike in referrals from Pinterest, and writing an “OMG! Lots of Traffic” post.
Very few are taking the time to do any due diligence on the larger picture.
Are people clicking through, or is the “traffic” just a remote call to the pinned image? Where are your visitors going? What are they doing? Does the traffic convert?
You have to ask real questions, and look for real answers, not patterns based on what others think they’re seeing.
And the wonderful thing about running a business online is that almost everything is testable, trackable, and adjustable.
What’s really going on with Pinterest traffic?
Data doesn’t lie (at least when you’re using it correctly).
Understanding your data — traffic, patterns, and conversions — is critical to your content marketing strategy. Especially when it comes to a new traffic source.
At Copyblogger Media, much of what we do is guided by data — traffic patterns, market analysis, feedback, customer input, and conversion scenarios.
And the increased Pinterest traffic we receive is treated no differently.
We watch, track, analyze, and correlate to figure out how best to capitalize on this new traffic source. Here are a few things we’ve discovered …
- In the last three months (Jan 1-Mar 28), Pinterest helped traffic grow on each of our sites.
- For Copyblogger, Pinterest was the #3 referring website, bested only by Facebook and Twitter.
- Between January 1st and March 5th, when the 15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly infographic was posted, Pinterest sent close to 15,000 visits. Based on the number of times it was pinned, this told us that fewer than half of the people who pinned the image actually clicked through.
- In the week following that infographic, Pinterest sent 2.7 times as much traffic as the three months before.
- Individual post activity seems to hold a long shelf life when it’s popular on Pinterest. Often, a tweet is lifeless within a day, where a pin can continue pulling traffic for weeks after being published.
- During this same three-month period, Pinterest was the #29 referring site for StudioPress.
- While the amount of raw Pinterest traffic — the number of visits — is smaller for StudioPress than for Copyblogger, visitors to StudioPress stay much longer and visit more pages on average. For example, the average visit duration for a Pinterest-referred visitor on Copyblogger is 0:00:32, compared to an average of 0:05:28 on StudioPress.
- Pinterest visitors check out 1.16 pages on average after clicking through to Copyblogger, compared to 6.34 pages on StudioPress.
- The bounce rate for Pinterest visitors on Copyblogger averages out to 91.7%, StudioPress is 49.9% on average. This is much higher than our site averages, and higher than most other traffic sources.
- Infographic pins have exceptionally high bounce rates and very short visits, usually less than a minute. However, other pins (such as the 56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest post) that led to straight copy had much longer visits and lower bounce rates.
- On that Pinterest marketing post, the majority went on to the main page, followed by the Internet Marketing for Smart People, Genesis, and SEO site quality pages.
- On days when Pinterest activity was particularly high, traffic increased to each of our product sites from Copyblogger.
- 89.6% of Pinterest-referred visitors to Copyblogger were new to the site. Only 44.4% of Pinterest referrals on StudioPress brought new visitors.
- The StudioPress top Pinterest-pulling post included an infographic about How Developers are Driving the Business Adoption of WordPress.
- The vast majority of other StudioPress popular pins were all themes or showcase websites. These pins, on average, showed very low bounce and exit rates, with most continuing on to the themes page, the showcase, the blog, or the features page.
- On average, they also showed fewer new visitors, which historically correlates with low bounce rates on our properties.
OK, so what does all of this mean for you?
In short, it means:
For example, we’ve optimized certain pages on Copyblogger to drive visitors to our list and product pages. We’ve found that the traffic from Pinterest can be also driven to those sources, if a clear call to action is present.
On StudioPress, optimizing showcase pages to drive traffic to the related themes has shown an increase of on-page time and conversions — especially for repeat visitors.
So, even though the traffic from Pinterest for StudioPress was much lower than for Copyblogger, the overall bounce rate was also lower, on-page time was higher, and conversions were better because the path was more predictable.
Armed with that data, we can better utilize the traffic on all of our sites through tracking and testing.
And so can you.
Our analysis shows us a number of best practices for converting Pinterest traffic:
- Infographics and smaller images command more click-throughs because they’re unreadable from the Pinterest site.
- Infographic headlines are key to getting people to click through.
- Compelling subjects covered with too-small-for-Pinterest font choices are ideal.
- People who do move around your site upon arrival will likely follow a predictable path (for example: a showcase theme pin leads to a page path that is more likely to start with the themes gallery than the blog).
- You can control how traffic responds by making a specific call to action on your pin’s landing page.
- Longer visits on pins that bring repeat traffic is an important metric, since on commerce-driven sites you may need to get someone to your page a few times before they buy.
- Pinterest doesn’t sell stuff — you do. By funneling the traffic properly, you can convert visitors into customers.
Traffic from any source is only worthwhile if you have specific goals for it. You can use Pinterest for customer engagement, personal branding, or as an entry point to your conversion funnel.
But you need to understand what your traffic is doing in order to accomplish those goals. That’s where your data comes in. (And if you’re looking for a place to start, try Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics: An Hour A Day).
So is Pinterest traffic worthless? That’s up to you to find out.
Major props to Jessica Commins for her valued assistance with the data recon.
About the Author: Tony D. Clark is the COO of Rainmaker Digital. You can follow him @nestguy on Twitter if you’re into the whole brevity thing.