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Shoppers aren’t buying on Pinterest as much as Macy’s expected

December 8, 2016 04:50 PM
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While Macy’s Inc. is bullish on social media—and Pinterest in particular—this holiday season, so far it has found that few consumers are transacting via buyable pins. 

“Customer adoption of buyable pins has been slower than we anticipated,” says Serena Potter, group vice president of digital media strategy at the multichannel retailer, which is No. 6 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide. “There’s still a lot of Pinterest users who don’t understand how they work.”

Macy’s has been using buyable pins, which enable users to purchase a retailer’s products directly within a pin, since Pinterest rolled out the e-commerce-enabled pins last year. But while Potter thinks consumers will come to buy directly on Pinterest in time, for now she primarily views the image-focused platform as a place for “discovery and inspiration,” she says.

To capitalize on those existing behaviors, Macy’s created boards focused on “gifts for him,” “gifts for her,” “gifts for kids,” “beauty gifts,” “gifts for home” and “gifts for teens.” Those boards feature a mix of products, gift guides and videos in an effort to “build out the story,” Potter says. “Instead of just saying, ‘Here’s a gift for her’ with one photo, we’re putting several pieces together within a board,” she says. Macy’s then uses Pinterest’s engagement targeting tools to try to drive consumers to interact with those boards.

“We want to start at the consideration phase,” Potter says. “As people are looking for new ideas, we want to help move them into action by presenting them with relevant products.”

As part of that effort to attract prospective shoppers’ attention this holiday season, Macy’s boosted investment in video ads across a number of social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest, making the format an increasingly important piece of Macy’s digital marketing strategy.

Promoting the retailer’s “Celebrate” campaign, for instance, on Pinterest using the platform’s promoted videos ads enables the retailer to lure shoppers just starting to mull over their holiday purchases.  When a shopper clicks on the video it opens Pinterest’s native video player. The video is then presented with the advertiser’s promoted pins featuring products shown in the videos below the video.

The approach “takes people from inspiration to action,” Potter says. While the retailer only began using the ads in November, she expects “strong results.”

Macy’s is also using Pinterest’s cinematic pins to garner shoppers’ attention. The ads move when a consumer scrolls down; if she stops scrolling, the image also stops. If a consumer taps on the promoted pin, it takes over her screen.

Driving holiday sales requires a strong mix of branding ads and promotions, Potter says. “We want to make sure that we’re celebrating the spirit of the holiday season,” she says. “But at the same time, we have a lot of big promotional events that make up our November and December marketing events, so we have to make sure that customers know that we offer key items at great prices.”

This year Macy’s has increased its emphasis on retargeting to drive shoppers who show an interest in a product to click and buy. The retailer is working with digital ad technology vendor Sizmek Inc. to retarget consumers on Facebook and Instagram. Sizmek enables the retailer to dynamically create ads, including a product image and offer in an ad. Before it began working with the vendor, the retailer’s creative team had to build the ad.

Since Macy’s began working with Sizmek in the spring, the results have been “great,” she says. “We know that segmentation works—we’ve proven that with email, display and social,” Potter says. “If you deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time, they’ll respond.” 

 

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