Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash
In this day and age, you’ll find a bunch of tools, software, and options to help you get started with that new business you’ve promised yourself you’d create. But, you also probably don’t have thousands of dollars to dump into a new business as you struggle with the house payment and food bill. You don’t need a fancy office or storefront to get your business started. In fact, you can market a product without leaving your home. I had a college student one year who was making serious bank by selling products from home in his spare time.
Now, we’re well into the quarantine period at this stage, and, even as some businesses cautiously begin to open, the vast majority of budding entrepreneurs are sitting at home contemplating what a future looks like after being laid off from their jobs or finding their job just disappeared. Just because you’re stuck on your couch in your PJs and bunny slippers doesn’t mean you can’t start the new business you’ve always wanted – especially from a marketing point of view. As we mentioned, there are so many different avenues to go down these days and many of them require very little upfront cost. So, turn off Netflix and pay attention to these 3 ways to market a product from home and begin your journey toward independence.
Market a product (or service) from home
If you’re an expert at something, or just a little goofy in a way others find entertaining, there are lots of things to market without leaving your home. Just remember, when we talk about how to market a product, we’re referring to bother goods (tangible products) and services (intangibles).
Market a service
Service options may not be possible for everyone, but you’re probably better at something than you think. And, services have the added advantage of costing nothing, so sales are fundamentally pure profit (after you take out marketing expenses).
Here are some examples of services you can offer for sale:
- Business services like accounting, financial planning (for these it helps if you have a license), marketing, or IT support. Fiverr and other marketplaces exist to market these services.
- Creative services like design or entertainment. For instance, folks produce concerts from their balconies or perform entire plays from home. By placing a sign with Venmo or PayPal account information, these performers turn their talent into profit.
- Maintenance services, like gardening or landscaping. Sure, you want to avoid services inside someone’s home to keep from spreading the virus, but outdoor spaces are much safer places to work.
- Personal services, such as hairstyling, are a no-no during the pandemic, but you can plan ahead for the end of stay-at-home orders. That way you’re hitting the ground running once the pandemic is over.
Market a product
Trying to market a product is a little riskier since you incur costs to acquire the product in the first place and, if you’re unsuccessful, that upfront cost is lost. Still, the tangible nature of products makes them somewhat easier to sell and most essentials are tangible products, unlike services, which are often discretionary.
New tools and inexpensive devices mean anyone can set up a studio at home to capture attention (and make money). For instance, during the pandemic, home cooks made a name for themselves by teaching online cooking classes or, in some cases, selling their goods through low-touch options. A few comedians made money posting daily skits on their TikTok channel.
Bespoke products, such as jewelry, art, masks, and other handmade products are in high demand right now and are easily made from home. Pinterest even has a pinboard of the best products to market from home.
I talked earlier about my student who made a tidy sum by dropshipping products. In his case, he sold miniature football helmets emblazoned with the logos for various professional and college teams. Weird, if know, but folks wanted that kind of stuff and were willing to pay for them. Rather than buy a bunch of helmets when many might go unsold, he arranged with the manufacturer to sell the products. Hence, every time a customer bought a helmet from the student’s website, an order went to the manufacturer, who sent the product along to the buyer. The student then paid the manufacturer and pocket the rest.
Now, this may sound implausible. Why didn’t the manufacturer just set up his own website and keep all the money? Well, it’s a reality that manufacturers are in business to make products not sell them. They don’t have the expertise and don’t want to bother when they can sell through a distributor and focus on their own business. That’s the way almost everything you buy gets to you. So, the student’s idea was a sound one.
Marketing your products
Of course, determining what to sell, developing the products, and setting up your channels of distribution are only one part when it comes time to market a product. The big task, the thing that distinguishes success from failure is the marketing part of the equation. Here are 3 options to use when you market a product from home or anywhere else, for that matter.
Social media is the easiest way to get your message across to anyone these days. Whether you’re using a social platform for personal reasons or business ones, a quick press of the ‘post’ button allows the entire planet to see what you have to say. It’s no wonder businesses are using every big platform they can get their hands on as a tool for marketing.
You should join in, too. Gone are the days of using social media to simply chat and meet people – it’s a lot more advanced now!
Facebook even hosts Marketplace — an online shop where you can sell anything from your old couch to your bespoke products or services in exchange for a small commission.
Build A Pretty Website
Or, be like my student to sell something from a website. Websites aren’t as tricky to create as they might appear at first blush and they’re easier now than they’ve ever been. I even offer a free guide to developing a website that walks a novice through the process screen-by-screen.
Sure, if you want to make the most sophisticated website, you’ll need to know a few tricks of the trade, but simple ones are pretty easy to get your head around. Just don’t be fooled by those drag-and-drop websites like Wix and Squarespace. You’ll find their templates limiting and search engines don’t like them much.
Speaking of search engines, folks use search engines all day every day, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re website shows up high in the results when they look for (or something similar to) what you’re offering. You can find out a lot about SEO (search engine optimization) by reading other posts here or around the Internet.
Work With An Agency
Marketing agencies are great for advertising your business and, newer digital agencies handle everything from SEO to content marketing, to social media marketing. Some agencies are pretty specialized, such as an SEO agency, while others offer a range of integrated services.
The entire reason agencies exist is to optimize your business and make it more profitable. Whether it’s an app marketing agency or one specializing in SEO, they offer services and advice to help your business succeed. You sit back and let them come up with all kinds of strategies and campaigns. Sure, there’s an upfront investment with an agency, but your money usually pays off in the long-term if you choose the right agency.
Influencers are well-connected people and they’ve always existed. The trendsetters who determine which fashions succeed or the soccer mom who started the run to Starbucks after drop-off. Some are so popular we call them micro-celebrities and I recently heard that these folks are forever changing the notion of celebrity.
Influencers drive the behavior of others with their ideas and trends. For some reason, the average human being likes to look up to influencers whether it’s the unboxing kid who goes ape over a new toy or the fashionista who demonstrates the proper technique for smoky eyes.
So, it’s a good idea to consider using an influencer to promote your work. Influencers often work for just the cost of the product (making most of their money through advertising), although some demand a hefty fee. Influencer marketing is an easy method and one that many startups use to get their business started.
AI in martech – Five problems it solves for marketers
- Personalization combined with AI can help you make the most of all the data you are collecting. It allows you to be more strategic with your tactics that will bring you closer to your objectives.
- Social media posts, mentions, reviews can all contribute to the overall sentiment analysis. AI can help you filter all the feedback to organize the themes you need to focus on.
- Instead of looking at different tools in silos, you are able to build a holistic overview of the customer experience. Relationship management can be easier when combining automated journeys, predictive analytics and segmentation that can improve the customer experience.
- The idea of ‘buy-side AI’ uses AI platforms to focus on the key data that will lead to success. In other words, it can analyze consumer data in real-time to improve your bidding results.
- What’s important is to introduce AI to our marketing stack as the solution to several of our current problems. Despite the challenges, having additional help that goes beyond the human eye can lead to many benefits.
We are experiencing a fast era of digital transformation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at the forefront. When it comes to marketing technology (martech), there is a big opportunity to scale your business while keeping up with their latest trends.
It’s not enough to predict that AI will be soon part of your marketing strategy. This is not about the future anymore but about your current strategy and how you can optimize your martech stack to achieve the best results.
This is a good time to explore the pain points that AI can solve for your martech and how to make the most of it.
We are looking at four ways that you can integrate AI in martech to solve recurring marketing problems.
Personalization is important when trying to deliver the best customer experience. It’s equally important when you want to improve engagement to turn prospects into customers.
All stages of the funnel have one thing in common. They appreciate a branded message that seems to be useful and relevant to them.
Personalization combined with AI can help you make the most of all the data you are collecting. It allows you to be more strategic with your tactics that will bring you closer to your objectives.
For example, AI can help you analyse the data from your website visitors to tweak your message based on their preferences and habits. It can also help you improve segmentation to send the right message at the right time.
It’s good to remember that AI is not just about collecting and understanding data. It is also about understanding human behavior and how the next actions can affect a purchasing decision.
Improving sentiment analysis
The best way to stay relevant is to listen to your customers and what they want from you. You need to know what they think about your brand and how to interpret their reviews.
Social media posts, mentions, reviews can all contribute to the overall sentiment analysis. AI can help you filter all the feedback to organize the themes you need to focus on.
It can save you time but also help you uncover insights that you might have missed in the past. The fact that you can dive into data historically gives you a significant advantage to adjust your tactics based on your findings.
Whether it’s a complaint or an emerging trend, social listening combined with AI can be a great ally to your strategy.
Saving money integrating martech tools
A common challenge when managing your martech stack is managing the integrations and whether your tools can work together.
This is a common problem in bigger companies with different teams using different tech. When adding new tools to your martech, it is important to explore how they can work together with your existing stack.
For example, CRM and machine learning can help you save money and resources provided that they are integrated.
Instead of looking at different tools in silos, you are able to build a holistic overview of the customer experience. Relationship management can be easier when combining automated journeys, predictive analytics and segmentation that can improve the customer experience.
Optimizing advertising spend with AI
There are many reasons to involve AI in the management of your advertising spend. As we are increasing our marketing budgets recovering from the initial shock of COVID-19, it is important to be effective with our tactics.
It’s not always easy to attribute a conversion to a specific channel or tactic. Similarly, it is not easy to predict the success of a campaign.
This is where AI can help. Taking aside the human bias and the possibility of an error, machine learning can help you scale your advertising efforts.
For example, it can help you assess the capabilities of different vendors and how they stack up against each other.
It can also help you stay competitive with your campaigns’ performance. The idea of ‘buy-side AI’ uses AI platforms to focus on the key data that will lead to success. In other words, it can analyze consumer data in real-time to improve your bidding results.
There is a learning process involving AI that can maximize your success while reducing the budget you are wasting with no luck.
Using AI as the first step towards business transformation
Adding AI to the marketing mix can help us think of the bigger picture. It’s not just about adding a chatbot to our customer service or integrating machine learning.
What’s important is to introduce AI to our marketing stack as the solution to several of our current problems. Despite the challenges, having additional help that goes beyond the human eye can lead to many benefits.
It’s an opportunity to use data in a way that will make customer acquisition, up-selling, churn prediction, and retention easier.
Thus, it’s useful to explore AI both for the short and long term wins. Look at the technology that will optimize your current struggles.
How can you make the most of what you have with only a few additions? What are the key problems you are trying to solve?
What’s next for AI in martech?
AI is still at an early stage compared to its potential. That’s why it’s the perfect time to explore how you can integrate it into your current strategy.
According to McKinsey & Company, there will be a big performance gap by 2030 between those who are fully adopting AI technologies and those who are still behind. More specifically, AI front-runners could potentially double their cash flow by 20% by 2020.
Thus, it’s time now to bring together the tools and tactics that will help you maintain your competitive advantage over the next few years.
Start with your current team and tools and research on what you need to change to be ready for the use of AI in a more strategic way for your business.
The post AI in martech – Five problems it solves for marketers appeared first on ClickZ.
SEO on a shoestring budget: What small business owners can do to win
- There is a common and long-held belief that getting results from SEO takes at least six months. How true is that?
- SEO can be costly and requires big dollars and a huge team to succeed. Should you ever compete with the biggies at all?
- SEO is highly technical, changes from time to time with Google algorithm updates, hence, making it unpredictable.
- This piece answers those questions in detail and further debunks two common myths regarding the time it takes to get results from SEO and the unpredictable nature of SEO. It is, in sum, about how small businesses can play and win in the big league with SEO on a budget.
Pretty much everything you think you know about SEO today will be out of date tomorrow. This makes the online world an exceptionally volatile environment, where big fishes swallow the small ones.
In spite of this, many small businesses with a small budget for SEO are finding their feet in the online marketing world. How are they doing it?
Research and experience have shown that domain age, numerous (quality) backlinks, and quality content are among the competitive advantages of businesses that are dominating the online marketing world.
And given that getting these things cost time and money, they present a formidable entry barrier to small business owners who want to get into the SEO game with a small budget.
For small business owners with little budget for SEO, chances are their website is relatively new, they do not have a budget for backlink building and even the job of creating content for their websites rests entirely on them.
Before you turn away from SEO, remember the classic of Ryan Holiday,
“The Obstacle is the Way.”
The last decade is replete with stories of how savvy business owners found their ways to go face to face with the giants and, sometimes, defeat them.
The online world is not very different in that aspect. If you can follow the following steps, Internet marketing success, against all odds, can be made-to-order.
In this guide, I will show you what small businesses are doing to defy the stereotype and make SEO success on a shoestring budget, in a relatively short time.
1. The low-hanging fruit strategy
If you have been tinkering around with SEO for a while, you’ve probably heard of the term “long-tail keyword”.
Long-tail keywords refer to the specific keywords searchers are likely to use when they are close to making a purchase online.
To put this in perspective, here is an example.
If you want to start a blog on how to start a blog, for example, chances are you will not get found on Google given that the key phrase is too broad.
But if you break this down a little bit further and try to rank for “How to Start a Blog for Free,” your chances of ranking high on SERPs become brighter because you are targeting a fraction of the audience of the first key phrase.
Another example is, if you are selling shoes, keywords like “shoes” are short-tail keywords, and trying to rank for them means you are probably going to be competing against Amazon and Gucci.
You don’t want to melt away like a snowflake under the sun, do you?
But if you try narrowing it down to more specific keywords such as “mens shoes,” or “best holiday shoes,” you have a better chance of getting to number one on Google SERPs for this kind of keywords.
I ran the word “shoe” on a keyword research website. Here is what the result looks like:
The number in that red shape refers to the level of organic competition of that keyword, otherwise known as Keyword Difficulty (KD).
While the keyword “shoe” has a very high traffic potential, you do not have the wherewithal to weather the cutthroat competition of that field.
Now, look at the image below.
You can see that another keyword “men’s shoe” KD is a little above 32. That is your long-tail keyword and anything that falls into that category.
When you look at the number of organic traffic, you’d find that you can receive up to 38,000 monthly organic traffic for that keyword. For a small business owner with a limited budget for SEO like you, this is not too bad.
All you need to do now is to find as many of these long-tail keywords as possible and use them to plan your content calendar.
Now that you have found the low-hanging fruits, what is it that you are supposed to do with them?
Follow through with the next step.
2. Keyword research
This sounds obvious, or like something you have just done, but wait a moment.
Now let’s take one of our short-tail keywords and plug it back to the keyword finder and see what we’ve got.
As you can see, even under the keyword “mens shoe,” we still find potential keywords that you can place strategically under your post and rank for or use to develop an independent blog post.
That is why it makes sense to do thorough keyword research to further see what other keywords you can place in your blog post for your major keyword and rank for as well.
While it is advisable these days to keep every single blog post focused around one keyword, having two major keywords to rank for in a single blog post is not a bad idea, according to Hubspot.
Well, on certain occasions, I have seen a single blog post that ranks for multiple keywords.
3. Write in-depth blog posts
According to a 2016 research, the average blog posts that rank number one on Google has about 1,900 words.
In the past, what it takes to rank on Google is a string of keywords. In other words, keyword stuffing WAS all it took.
Not anymore. Thin content was one of the primary targets of Google’s Panda. For a post to rank on Google, it is well understood that thoroughness is a sine qua non.
Posts that make it to the number one position on Google are in-depth and full of trusted sources. But do not mistake a long post for an in-depth post.
An in-depth post proffers value — every single word in it.
Embedding posts with visuals such as videos, infographics, and photos might mean additional advantages to boot.
While there is no denying that relevancy is what matters, most posts that meet the standard of relevancy required to please searchers are the long ones that offer more than vague answers.
And of all people, a little unknown business owner who wants to do SEO on a small budget needs to offer all the value she can.
4. Keyword related and non-keyword related on-site SEO
The bedrock of your on-site SEO efforts is your content which, I believe, we have discussed as incisive as possible.
However, on-site SEO involves more. Much more.
Let’s look at the most important things you need to pay attention to in your on-site SEO efforts.
5. Keyword-rich content
You know we talked about keyword research earlier in this post. But when I say keyword-rich, I do not intend “keyword-stuffed.”
Assuming you’ve now found the keyword around which you want to base your blog post, it is time to use this keyword strategically in your writing to tell Google what the post stands for.
Lucky for you, this doesn’t have to be much of a struggle if you are using WordPress. All you need to do is install Yoast SEO on your dashboard and it will help guide you in writing a keyword-driven article.
6. Mobile-friendly web page
Do I even need to mention that? Nearly 60 percent of searches made online are now from mobile devices. And that Google continues to change its algorithm to suit this trend in search method is telling enough.
Optimize your site for mobile-friendliness and you are on your way to a better ranking on Google. This article gives you clear steps as to how you can achieve a mobile optimized site.
7. Page load speed
When Google announced their Google Mobile-First Index, they further made it clear that site speed has become a ranking factor. Several findings have since shown that this is true.
If you are going to reap the benefits of your SEO efforts, then your site speed is something you must pay attention to.
How, then, do you increase your site speed? Ways abound, and some of these ways can be dauntingly technical.
So, if you are doing SEO on a small budget and, like me, you suck at coding, I will advise you to allocate a huge part of your lean budget for the technical aspects.
I will, nonetheless, tell you what it takes and my recommendation for you as someone who is doing SEO on a shoestring budget.
Our websites are constituted of some little tiny ugly codes (Sorry, programmers, they are ugly to us).
Those little tiny objects are made up of unintelligible commas, spaces, numbers and all sorts of nebulous characters.
If you are a techie, then it wouldn’t cost you much to remove unused code, code comments, unnecessary spaces as well as other characters.
But for the uninitiated like me, you’d stand a better chance if you outsource this to professional web designers.
9. Image optimization
Image is another element that can take a lot of space and clutter up your website, thereby making the loading time a bit slower than is desirable.
As much as visuals are important for a successful blog post, keep in mind that the average image recommended for a blog post is 1200 x 628 pixels.
To optimize your image for SEO, you want to do it in such a way that it doesn’t compromise the quality of your image neither does it impact your SEO in a negative way.
There are many image optimization tools online. Look them up here.
10. URL structure
When it comes to SEO, you cannot afford to have a URL that looks like an HTML code.
An SEO-friendly URL must be one that’s easy to read for search engines and gives humans the idea of what they are about to click.
Research has shown that URLs are among the key elements searchers consider before they click on a link.
In the olden Internet days, it would not be too hard to see URLs that look like specks of dirt, but such URLs these days are but condemnable heresies in the sight of lord Google.
Take a look at the illustration below to get an idea of what you should and should not do when it comes to URLs.
Source: Neil Patel
Here is a checklist of what you should have in your URL
- Use your keywords in your URL: For example, if you have a blog post about where to find the best dog food, your URL should look like this: www.blog.com/where-to-find-best-dog-food. You can see it looks almost like a complete sentence. Here is an example from a blog I wrote about podcast hosting platforms: https://contentmarketingprofit.com/10-best-podcast-hosting-sites-and-everything-you-need-to-succeed/. Notice how it gives you an idea of what you are about to click.
- Keep it short and simple: Keeping it below 60 characters has always been the recommendation. Short and sweet doesn’t mean you should overdo it though. Always try not to go beyond 60 characters.
- Hyphens are better used as a separator in a URL than an underscore according to Google.
11. Link internally (with caution)
Linking to your other blog posts from a relating one has become a rule of thumb in writing blog posts.
And in case you don’t know, it isn’t just a fad designed to make you look like a professional blogger.
Its benefits include delivering link juice to other pages, showing Google the relevancy of posts to one another, making it easy for Google bots to crawl and index your pages and of course, keeping humans on your site longer.
But the “with caution” above means, when cross-linking internally, be wary of using too much exact-match anchor text in your links.
If you do, Google might think it’s an attempt to manipulate and penalize you for it.
12. Copy: Good, relevant, great copy
Yes, I know I’m supposed to write that as “metadata” here, but metadata isn’t particularly a ranking factor.
It’s just a clicking factor which, indirectly, makes it a ranking factor.
What you put in your metadata matters. Bear in mind that aside from your title, your metadata is what tells users whether to click or scroll down.
As such, do your best to ensure that your metadata hits home. Create short, concise, quality descriptions that convey value to the user searching the internet for either information, purchase, feedback, or any other reason.
13. Go for the big link
It’s been many years since Google started using link signals as an important ranking factor. Links are still the most important external factor in SEO, and they aren’t about to go away anytime soon.
Now it’s time to start building backlinks, first, for your site as a whole, and, second, for your money pages in particular.
While this looks like a straightforward venture, be careful and observe the following rules in building links or you might run into a problem.
But before we go into the rules, let me quickly take you back to our first step in this journey.
Remember I clearly stated that you must find the long-tail keywords around which you are going to build your blog posts? Now, it’s time to hit your competitors where they are most vulnerable.
What this means is that for every least competitive keyword you find, your competitor has the least number of backlinks going to that.
Analyze their link profile using tools like Ahrefs and try outdoing them with backlinks on those ones.
To put it this plain text, if your shoe-selling competitor has a blog post about “mens shoe” just like you do, and the number of backlinks that goes into that is twenty, to outrank them at that one on Google, all you need is twenty-one backlinks to a similar blog post on your site.
If you have nailed your on-page SEO already, consider this a silver bullet on outsmarting your competitor.
Now let’s quickly run through some link building best practices.
A. Quality, not quantity
If you go after low domain authority sites in the interest of haste, you risk hurting your SEO.
While it’s not necessary to only go after sites with the highest domain authority, learn to go after sites with great domain authority. Anything from 60 DA and above is okay.
But even sites with 40 DA are also useful so long as they aren’t too many. Your best chances though lie in getting sites with 60+ DA by your side.
B. Have a healthy mix of anchor text
For someone who wants to rank a site for a keyword such as podcast platforms, for instance, you may be tempted to want to build a link profile with those two keywords: podcast platforms.
But I guarantee you that there is no faster and surefire way to get your site penalized. Google suspects an unnatural amount of links with the same anchor text pointing to the same source.
If you must build a link profile, then have some diversified anchor texts.
C. Avoid black hat link-building no matter the glamour
And I can’t stress that enough.
There are many link vendors on the Internet who sell you on quick generic links that will get you penalized rather than rank.
The struggle to build links can be overwhelming for someone on a little budget and the lures are all there. But patience to do the right thing never gets too much. Don’t be in a haste to rank a rank that will truncate your well-planned efforts.
Even if those generic links work for you in the short term, what it will take for all these gains to disappear is Google penalizing you.
Avoid buying links, PBNs, as well as all other kinds of black hat link building that are being touted on the Internet.
In the end, build a huge and healthy link profile around your low-hanging fruits. This can be achieved by becoming a guest post rockstar and willing to withstand a lot of virulent rejections.
Or better still, create likeable assets in terms of valuable articles that bloggers may naturally want to refer to.
Need an example? Link Building for SEO: The Definitive Guide
Another thing that will help you in your link building campaign is bloggers outreach. Heaps of articles exist on the Internet teaching you how to go about these things in detail.
As you build this up, your domain authority significantly improves, arming you with the experience and money to go big and eventually share the field with your big competitors.
And from the very beginning, the purpose of this blog post is to teach you how to start small and go big with a thin budget for SEO.
It is a piece of article written with a simple philosophical understanding in mind, that is; sometimes, you have to take one step back to potentially take two forward.
If you’ve been searching online to seek answers for how long it takes to rank on Google, you might have come across articles that saunter a little bit around and end up saying six months.
That might have been true in the past but not anymore. Whenever Google updates her algorithm, there will be traffic losses and gains. Most times, these are not due to correctness or error from your end.
But SEO has lived long enough to have fundamentals and so far as we know, the things identified in this blog post have stayed long enough to become hard and fast rules in search ranking efforts.
If there is anything we’ve learned in the past decade, it is a simple truth that big dollars are not always the sole winning ingredient — anymore.
Will, innovation, grit, unceasing creativity, and a touch of luck are all you sometimes need to win. When you plan to use some SEO marketing for your business but you have a little budget, you aren’t expected to exit the stage.
You can still win, but only if you try.
The post SEO on a shoestring budget: What small business owners can do to win appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Pinterest links visual search to Shop tab to ease purchasing
Earlier this week, Pinterest launched the Shop tab in its Lens visual search results options.
This means users can now open the visual search tool in Pinterest and search for shoppable Pins by uploading an existing photo or “scanning” an image via their phone’s camera.
Shoppable Pins are in-stock products Pinterest software identifies in the image that can be purchased directly through a linked website. Shoppable Pins link directly to the product page on the retailer’s site so users can easily complete their purchase.
For example, maybe you’re at a friend’s house and you see the perfect insulated tumbler exactly like you’ve been wanting. Instead of typing in the brand, color, and style in a new search, you can just open up Pinterest search and place the tumbler in front of your camera’s lens.
Pinterest will pull up shoppable items based on the image and link you directly to a page where you can buy the tumbler right away.
These shoppable pins are created via a rich integration that makes it easier for merchants selling through Shopify to upload product catalogs to the platform and have them appear in Pinterest Shop search results.
While options for visual search and Shop were already available in the app, what’s new now is the ability to use Lens to search from an image stored on your phone or by using your phone’s camera.
Why is visual search so well-suited for Pinterest?
Google’s visual search tool, Lens, was rolled out in late 2018. But even now, nearly two years later, visual search is not yet a common method of finding a product online. We’re still more used to typing in names of brands, product categories, colors, and styles using words rather than images.
However, Pinterest realized that its users are already finding things they want in an image (as opposed to text-based search results) and then having to type a description back into a search tool to purchase it.
For instance, this weekend we decided we’re going to update our little condo in Wisconsin.
In addition to redoing the bathroom we’re going to get some new bedding and I’m going to make new curtains.
I was looking for log cabin-esque decor on Pinterest for inspiration for all of these projects when I stumbled upon a set of towels I absolutely loved. From there, I searched on Amazon, hoping to find a “red and black buffalo plaid hand towel” of my own.
Sadly, the journey from Pinterest-perfect bathroom design to actual purchase online can be a long and convoluted one. I rarely end up finding the item I fell in love with — and worse, I get frustrated in the process. After adding and removing words in my search to no avail, I eventually gave up and decided I’d just get plain towels.
Using the visual search and Shop options in Pinterest, I could have clicked on the pin with the towels I loved and hit the search button, and then used the Shop tab to find exactly what I was looking for.
I could even drag the search box to specify a specific item in an image or pin.
My visual search for red buffalo plaid hand towels vs. my more specific cropped search from the pinned image. Note the shoppable item in the image on the right side.
With this new update, users can now spot items they love out in stores, at a friend’s house, or even on other websites, and use Pinterest’s visual search option to find and purchase the item all within a few clicks.
This means you don’t have to find something scrolling through Pinterest to use this new search functionality to buy the thing you want. No matter where you spot something you may want to buy, you can pop open Pinterest’s handy search tool, open Lens, and boom: the Shop tab will give you links to buy what you’re looking for.
I snapped a photo of my lotion today using the new search options and Pinterest found the exact same lotion in different scents (mine is discontinued) with a link to purchase.
How well does Lens search and Shop work in Pinterest?
While the point-at-something-and-be-told-where-you-can-buy-it idea seems really convenient, it also felt a little too good to be true.
I’ve used Google’s image search tools before and know it doesn’t always nail what I’m looking for.
For instance, once I searched an image of a frisbee and it gave me bowls as a result. So, I was wary of Pinterest’s new update as well — but it does actually work pretty well. This is because it’s pulling specifically from the Shopify-integrated catalog of products and not the entire internet’s worth of results.
I tried searching for a candle I already own. When I clicked on the pin it did indeed take me to the item’s exact page (not a similar candle — the exact one), which was pretty impressive.
The only thing that seemed to need some work was the price listed on the pin. For instance, this candle was priced at $4.74, but was shown on the pin as $1. It did also show as out of stock, but that it would be returning at some point and was not completely discontinued.
My candle showed up as a linked shoppable pin, even though it’s out of stock. It took me to the item’s page on the retailer’s site, but with a difference price than shown in the original pin.
Will users actually buy things on Pinterest?
While Pinterest is often shoved into the “social media” category, it actually functions much more as a search and, even, note-taking tool.
Users turn to Pinterest to find inspiration for projects, discover new products and creative recipes, and explore ideas for themed parties, build outfits from pieces they already own, and of course, plan weddings.
This means users on Pinterest are often already in a shopping-mindset or are looking for things to eventually purchase related to their search. This is exactly why shortening the distance from pin to purchase is so important.
Previously, I would save items in Pinterest to a board that I would later use as a shopping list for Amazon. If I was planning a birthday surprise or baby shower, my boards were often private, which meant I wasn’t even using the limited “social” aspects of the platform.
Now, I don’t even have to save the pins for later. I get ideas, find one I like, and make a purchase on the spot.
And I’m certainly not the only one who will do this.
Don’t believe me? According to Pinterest, there are three times as many visual searches happening via the Pinterest camera than there were a year ago. Plus, the number of users engaging with shoppable product pins has increased by 44% since last year.
Plus, online shopping frequency has increased during COVID-19 with Pinterest reporting spikes in searches for home office as well as at-home beauty products, backyard furniture, and grocery shopping lists.
While these specific categories may be seeing a surge in search due to the effects of the global pandemic, the increased comfort and frequency of visual search and online shopping is here to stay.
What does this mean for your product marketing strategy?
This update shows that Pinterest is putting even more emphasis on shopping within its platform.
As people get more comfortable with visual searching as part of their online shopping experience, brands that optimize their product catalog to show up in Pinterest’s Shop tab can easily convert ready-to-buy users right from the Pinterest app.
To get started doing this, you’ll want to install the free Pinterest app in Shopify. It’s pretty quick and easy to get started, but they do note that it can take up to 48 hours for the product catalog to sync the first time.
The integration will automatically pull your product information, including the product name, image, description, and price, from your Shopify product catalog. Once this is complete I recommend navigating to the “Shop” tab on your profile and scrolling through your items to make sure all the pins look accurate.
Once the app is installed, you’ll have access to features including automatic daily updating of products based on your Shopify catalog and an ads buying interface.
Plus, your products will now show up in the Shop tab as users search for similar items using the visual search tools in Pinterest.
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