The BEST Way to Use Pinterest Affiliate Marketing
Pinterest is a social media channel with a lot of underutilized potential.
In their end of 2020 press release report, they announced they’ve gotten over 100 million new users each month throughout the year to reach over 450 million monthly global users.
This is the largest growth Pinterest has ever seen.
Another important fact to note is that Pinterest users are some of the most active consumers compared to other social media platforms. According to their end-of-year report, 98% of Pinterest users (Pinners) said they had tried new products they found on Pinterest, and when window shopping, 89% of Pinners use the network to help them make a buying decision.
Once upon a time, an affiliate marketer could use Pinterest as part of their affiliate marketing strategy, because Pinterest allowed users to use affiliate links in their pins. It meant affiliate marketers had another way to reach their target audience, enhance their marketing strategy, and improve their SEO.
However, a problem arose.
There were spammers abusing Pinterest, which led to a diminished user experience, so Pinterest banned the use of direct affiliate links in a Pinterest pin. Aware of the affiliate sales potential on the platform, they sought to develop a spam detection system to allow them to open up affiliate pins to bloggers.
They have built that system and Pinterest affiliate marketing has since returned.
In this article, we’re going to look at how Pinterest affiliate marketing works, the types of Pinterest affiliate marketing available to bloggers, guidelines for your Pinterest strategy, and why you should be using the program as part of your affiliate marketing strategy.
The Two Types of Pinterest Affiliate Marketing
The two ways to use affiliate links on Pinterest offer different advantages based on your affiliate marketing strategy and how you do your blogging.
Direct Affiliate Links
This is where you add a direct affiliate link to your associated affiliate network within the pin description. Note: you should check the terms of your affiliate network to make sure you are able to do this.
It’s a more direct marketing strategy, because when Pinterest users see your boards or pins, they can click through directly to your affiliate products and make a purchase.
The first step is to create your pin.
When in your Pinterest account, on your profile page you click the “+” icon and select “Pin”.
Then you add your creatives, including the affiliate link that you add to the text bar labelled “Add a destination link.” For EU Amazon affiliate links, you need to include your Associate ID or Tracking ID by creating the link using Amazon Associates SiteStripe.
You then post the pin in one of your relevant boards, or you can create a new board to post it in.
This is one Pinterest marketing strategy to drive traffic to your associated affiliate program. The other strategy allows you to drive traffic to your website and help with your SEO.
Linking to a Blog
This is a more passive strategy.
Instead of linking directly to your affiliate products, you link to your website or articles.
The marketing angle will be different from direct linking. The focus will be more on education and giving value, offering users the chance to learn more about the subject you introduce them to with your pin.
This is where you can use advertorials, landing pages, sales pages, and other assets that you use in your funnels, or you can link directly to your articles. Creating “how to” or “best of” style pins that draw attention and offer a promise of value is the best approach with this strategy.
Naturally, you might now be asking which strategy is the best.
Which Pinterest Affiliate Marketing Strategy is the Best?
If we remember the data points we outlined at the start of this article—89% of Pinners use the network to help them make a buying decision—we’ll note that this percentage is for users getting help making a buying decision, not making a purchase.
The users are in a high-awareness stage, maybe even product-aware if we’re talking in copywriting language, but they aren’t necessarily ready to make a purchase as they’re scrolling through Pinterest. It’s more likely they are looking for that final piece of information that will encourage them to make the purchase.
Offering that information is a great way for you to make a sale. By creating a pin that offers answers to their questions and hesitations about a product, and linking to an article that provides those answers, you are nurturing the leads for a future purchase instead of going directly for the sale when they’re likely not ready. Because you’re nurturing the sale, you’re more likely to get higher conversion rates than with direct linking in your pins.
An added benefit of linking to your blog is that you drive traffic to your site, which is helpful for your SEO. This extra traffic to your site essentially lets you create two audiences: one brand audience that comes from the extra traffic to your site, and one audience from the following you’ll get on your Pinterest account.
Overall, expanding your brand reach on Pinterest can result in you creating a business model that is highly scalable, as you can build and nurture your own audience on Pinterest or with an email list. Having that audience allows you opportunities to scale your affiliate earnings, introduce display ads and earn through those as a secondary channel, or even start selling your own products through dropshipping, traditional ecommerce, or Amazon FBA.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s consider the requirements for carrying out our affiliate marketing on Pinterest.
Guidelines for Affiliate Marketing on Pinterest
The first thing you need to consider when planning out your Pinterest marketing strategy is whether your affiliate networks actually allow for leads to come from Pinterest: you don’t want to jeopardize your affiliate accounts.
EU Amazon Associates allows you to add affiliate links in your pins, but the terms for US Associates are less clear.
Pinterest also has its own terms for affiliate linking.
Include Affiliate Disclaimers in Your Pins
It’s actually the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that requires you to disclose the fact that you’re an affiliate whenever you are promoting affiliate products. This law applies on Pinterest, too, so how do you disclose your affiliation?
It’s simple. You just include one of the following hashtags in your pin to let readers know you are an affiliate:
- #affiliate link
The hashtag you choose is just down to your preference.
Don’t Shorten or Cloak Your Links
Pinterest wants it to be clear exactly where a link goes to so the reader knows what type of content to expect.
This is why you’re not able to use link-shortening tools like Pretty Links to make your links shorter or attempt to cloak them.
In Pinterest’s own words: “Don’t attempt to evade our anti-spam systems, for example, by using shorteners, redirects or intermediate websites to obscure a link’s final destination.”
This isn’t a requirement of Pinterest, but it’s part of their recommendations for getting the most out of your Pinterest affiliate marketing.
It’s natural not to want to limit your audience and try and appeal to as many people as possible. Being as broad as possible with your content and your targeting is the best way to reach a wider audience, right?
However, casting a net that is too wide dilutes the strength of your content. If you try to make your content everything to everybody, you end up making it nothing to nobody.
One of the basic rules of content marketing is to ensure that you focus on one niche audience only, and it applies on Pinterest too.
There are many audiences on Pinterest due to the sheer size of the social network, so it’s likely there is an audience on there suited to your affiliate products and the type of content you create. Focus your content on one specific audience and you’ll see higher engagement and ROI.
This brings us to the question of which niches work best on Pinterest.
Which Niches Work Best on Pinterest?
Pinterest is a very visual platform. The content is image- and video-based, so creating visual content that stands out is a must when it comes to producing winning content on Pinterest.
This means that niches that are most suited to visual content do well here, the most obvious examples being health and fitness, travel, food and drink, interior design, fashion, and art.
Notice that all of these niches lend themselves nicely to visual content. You see how much your friends share images of their next meal on social media. This natural consumer trend is what Pinterest is suited to.
You should also consider the demographics of the Pinterest audience. Most users are in high-income households earning $100K+ per year, the majority are women, and a high percentage are looking for purchasing inspiration. Therefore, when consumers are in the shopping phase, they’re looking for visual content to help them make that buying decision.
If you’re in a niche you think could be well-suited to Pinterest, then read on to find out how to make the most of Pinterest affiliate marketing.
How to Create an Optimized Pinterest Profile
There are things you can do to make your profile more visible on the platform and it’s not dissimilar to making a website more visible on Google.
Pinterest is set up just like Google. Its infrastructure for how it delivers its content to its users is based on keyword search. This means you can apply the same search engine optimization methods to Pinterest to rank your content and get it seen by more eyes.
Add Profile Keywords
Including keywords in your profile allows you to get your profile ranked for keywords that your target audience is searching for on the platform. A good place to include a keyword is in your profile name, so that it gets your profile displayed in users’ search results.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that you don’t want to include too many keywords in your profile. You want to focus on the ones that will get you the most views. Plus, having too many keywords means you could end up getting ranked for irrelevant topics.
Utilize Rich Pins
Rich Pins are special pins that allow you to create specific calls to actions (CTAs) for your pins.
Instead of having the generic “Visit” CTA, you can have a more tailored CTA like “Read it” or “Make it,” helping increase the conversion rate of your pins.
You qualify for Rich Pins when you have claimed your website and have correct metadata in your posts.
Optimize for Search
Your board names and pin descriptions have a big impact on your visibility on Pinterest. The content you have in these areas needs to match user search intent as that will determine how relevant your content is.
You can find out what your audience is searching for by conducting some keyword research, as you would for your website. You can look at other pins that are ranking for the keywords you want to target, see which types of pins and content get the most engagement, and plan your pins based on this insight.
Arrange Your Boards Properly
With your Pinterest profile, you shouldn’t put random pins and boards on your page. You should categorize them to make visiting your profile a pleasant experience.
You have to understand that a member of your audience will visit your profile with a specific type of content they want to see in mind. If you’re able to capture what that is and organize it in your profile to make it easy to find, your audience will enjoy visiting your profile and want to return.
The best way to categorize the content on your profile is to create sections within your boards—especially those with broad topics.
The most important thing to know about your boards is that if you delete them, you lose all the followers from those boards. If you have old boards you don’t wish to show anymore, then you can archive them instead of deleting them altogether. That way, users who have the board URL saved can still access the content, but the board won’t be cluttering your profile since it won’t be visible to visitors.
There are outward-focused things you can do to grow your Pinterest following, however.
How to Grow Your Pinterest Following
Regardless of which Pinterest affiliate marketing strategy you choose to employ, or whether you employ both, you should always provide high-quality content.
Pinterest is growing rapidly, and with that growth comes more competition and higher-quality content on the platform. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out. Your content has to really solve a problem or fulfil a need in order for it to get attention.
If the appeal of your content is big, then and only then should you be focusing on your description messaging, and displaying your solution with attention-grabbing visual content.
It’s also a good idea to diversify your content. Instead of recycling the same pin structure with the same type of content, be creative with it. Test out different content types and creatives and see how they perform. You’ll get a lot of great insight into how your audience views your brand and how it should look to match that vision.
Pinterest is in the early stages of its life, just like Facebook used to be. That makes it a great time to start affiliate marketing on Pinterest, as when you create an account and publish some pins that are of interest to the audience, then you’ll at least get some followers.
The growth strategies are similar, too. You look up boards and profiles that you want to emulate and that are in the same niche, and you gain inspiration from the ones that have a large number of followers. When you see which content is doing well, you know how to appeal to that audience and you can replicate their success in your own way.
Once you have a large enough following, you can start to collaborate with other brands. You can ask them to pin your boards in their profiles in exchange for pinning their boards in your profile. That way, you get your boards in front of new audiences. You’ll probably find that companies will repin your content without you even asking.
A more tactic-based approach to growing your Pinterest following is to keep up with the latest global and niche trends.
Pinterest has even created a platform called Pinterest 100 that allows you to easily see what topics and types of content are trending. Specifically, it shares the top 100 trends and you can search by niche to see what’s going on.
When you’ve grown your following and Pinterest is starting to generate affiliate sales for you, that’s when you can start looking at how to automate your Pinterest affiliate marketing.
Automating Your Pinterest Affiliate Marketing
As with any organic social media marketing strategy, it’s a very hands-on process when you’re starting from scratch. You can spend a lot of time researching, producing, and testing content to grow your following and it’s a very slow process. That’s why you’ll want to automate your Pinterest channel growth as soon as you can.
Social media posting tools allow social media users to automate the posting process and save themselves hours of time. You simply upload the content you want to share on Pinterest into the social media posting tool and schedule it to be released as a pin or board at the date and time of your choice.
Automating your content posting allows you to analyze how your content is performing so you can test it and make improvements.
With most tools, you can schedule the same content to be posted on multiple social media platforms, but it’s best to customize your content to each platform as they all are suited to different kinds of content and have different audiences.
Why You Should Be Using Pinterest
Pinterest is a rising star among social media platforms, and right now it is in the phase where Facebook used to be: low competition and high potential for reward. Even without having any followers, you could quickly start to gain a following and build a presence because of the state of Pinterest at the moment.
The audience is very much a buyer audience so there is more potential to make sales than with other social channels relative to the size of the audience you reach. We see affiliate marketing sites on our platform that have utilized the power of Pinterest marketing and to build traffic streams for their sites.
The beauty of this and appeal to website acquirers is that when a site has Google and Pinterest as traffic sources, it makes the site more reliable as an investment. It isn’t completely subject to the whim and power of Google, through which an algorithm update can sink an affiliate marketing site’s traffic, and thus revenue, overnight.
More than that, it’s a strategy that allows you to put your content right where your audience hangs out, thus growing your brand presence and further establishing your site in the niche.
If you feel you have an affiliate marketing site that buyers would be interested in acquiring, why not submit it for sale on the world’s largest curated online business marketplace today? Otherwise, go ahead and build your Pinterest media empire!