The Pinner Journey: Mapping The Path To Purchase

By JD Prater | @JDPrater | Head of Social Media at Hanapin Marketing

Did you know 87% of Pinners reported that Pinterest helped them decide what to purchase (Millward Brown)? Which is what makes Pinterest such an attractive platform for marketers. It has the unique ability to influence future purchases.


This may explain why Pinterest saw such tremendous gains with advertisers in 2015. Here’s what the growth pattern looked like.




Moreover, I think Pinterest is one of the most exciting social platforms to watch in 2016. Already, they’ve:


  • Introduced new types of Pins
  • Expanded their targeting capability with over 400 interest categories
  • Announced the capability to target uploaded email addresses is coming


It appears the platform is poised to deliver on brand and direct advertising.


Mapping The Pinner Journey


How well do you understand the behaviors of your customers along their path to purchase on Pinterest? Before you start analyzing the data and drawing insights, it’s important to understand the Pinner journey. There’s no one way to pin. People’s pinning habits are diverse and are centered on what they care most about (their interests).


Keep in mind people are in different stages of the buying cycle. Meaning, just because people use Pinterest it doesn’t mean they’re ready or willing to buy from you. However, understanding the Pinner journey may help you craft your Pinterest strategy.


Pinner Journey


Let’s take a closer look at these stages and how to map success.


Just Looking – Awareness


One question I frequently get is, “how do you know where people are in the journey based off of their interactions with your pins?” It’s a valid question. And one I plan on addressing.


The first stage is Just looking. This is the top of funnel on Pinterest. People in this stage are in the discovery phase of their journey. It encompasses nearly every Pinner scrolling through their feed. Measure this phase by looking at your overall profile impressions and audience impressions. These two metrics will reveal how many views your Pins are receiving as well as the number of people seeing them.


Use these as indicators for how well your Pins are doing at creating awareness.


Just Looking
Pin Impressions and Daily Viewers


Maybe I Could – Consideration Phase


Imagine someone sees your Pin and stops scrolling to view it in more detail. The fact you got someone to scroll is already a good thing. But how do you know they stopped scrolling?


Pinners can express their interest in your Pin by liking it and zooming in for a Close Up. A Close Up is when someone clicks on your Pin to expand the size to take up the whole screen. Since most Pinterest activity is done on a mobile device, it’s a really good metric when seeking to understand how many times your Pin made someone stop scrolling. I also like to review how many Close Ups and Likes each Pin earned to grasp how they’re resonating with our audience.


Here are a few other metrics to analyze to better understand audience engagement.


  • Close Ups/Impressions
  • Close Up to Likes Ratio
  • Clicks/Close Ups
  • Close Ups to Clicks Ratio
  • Repins/Close Ups
  • Repins to Close Ups Ratio
  • Repins to Clicks Ratio


Using these metrics helps inform our image strategy on the platform as we seek to test different types of sizes and colors.


Narrowing It Down – Research And Evaluation Phase


Pinterest is a discovery platform. So some Pinners are naturally in a research and evaluation mindset when exploring their newsfeed. There are a few ways in which to measure this phase by analyzing your repins and clicks.


Start by examining the most repinned Pins and boards sections in your Pinterest Analytics. Pins with the most repins often represent content that Pinners find interesting enough to save and share. That’s important because it’s a good indication that someone is probably in research and evaluation mode. They might be saving for recipes to try out later or the latest fashions to shop. Either way, they’re saving and sharing information so they can review later.


Repins play an essential role in driving future conversions due to downstream organic activity. In fact, the half-life of a pin is 3.5 months. That’s 1,680 times longer than Facebook (Social Marketing Writing).




I Know What I Want – Purchase


This phase is more like your typical paid search. People know what they want and are looking for options to purchase. They might not go on Pinterest to buy something, but seeing the right Pin at the right moment could lead to a sale. Plus, consider how all their pinning activity influenced their decision. It’s easy to see how a Buyable Pin or Promoted Pin might lead to a purchase.


Pinterest Buyable Pin - Socks
Pinterest Buy Now Button


As performance marketers, this is probably one of the first metrics we review. Look at which Pins drove the most clicks in your Pins and boards sections. Pins with the most clicks often represent content that Pinners want to learn more about, take action on, or purchase.


Pinner Journey Funnel


Next, analyze the quality of your incoming traffic. We’ve found Pinterest is great at driving new and relevant website traffic, which makes it a perfect choice for ecommerce companies wanting new customers. Review your website engagement metrics to ensure quality traffic.


3 Keys To Mapping The Path To Purchase


First, brands must align their content to the types of information Pinners are looking for. Recently, Pinterest asked Pinners to choose 3 words to describe what content needs to be on Pinterest—they said useful (54%), helpful (50%) and inspiring (45%). Therefore, brands that are able to create high-value pins for their audiences will see the most success.


Second, the customer journey is only getting more complex. The funnel is no longer this linear line where people progress from one buying stage to the next in an orderly fashion. People move back-and-forth and stay in some stages longer than others.


Google customer path
Think With Google – The Customer Journey to Online Purchase for the Food & Drink Industry


There are a variety of metrics to consider when determining ROI. We can’t just hold last-click attribution as the true measure of performance for any platform. This idea of one-size fits all approach is outdated, especially on Pinterest. People can enter any stage of the funnel and move from just looking to buying in a matter of minutes. Just look at the popularity of the Buy Now button and increasing nature of impulse buying.


Third, by understanding the Pinner journey, Pinterest could be a jewel in your social commerce crown for 2016. Experiment with the variety of Pins available to improve your social commerce. Brands that focus on delivering high quality, engaging and inspiring Pins will positively influence the Pinner’s path to purchase in 2016.


Keep in mind Pinterest is all about discovery along the Pinner journey and influencing future purchases, and not necessarily today’s.


How do you measure the Pinner Journey? Do see Pinterest in your 2016 advertising plans? Send us a tweet and let us know.