PINTEREST: How can Email Marketers pin down their success?

My children tease me about becoming a Pin(terest)-Head. My friends know that any conversation can result in me pulling out my iPhone to show my latest pinned favorites. Fabulous appetizer recipes? I have them pinned. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fingernails? They’re on my My Style board! The amazing rug I covet if only I had the right room to put it in? Yep, it’s there on my Pinterest boards, as well as the dream house I could buy to make room for that rug.

And I don’t limit myself to “girly” things—I gather favorite business infographics, for instance, and fun police blotter items, and tech & gadgets I love or want.

Whether or not you’ve become an addict like me, chances are you’ve been hearing and reading a lot about Pinterest, the social pinboard scrapbooking site that grew an astounding 4,377% in the last year according to the recent ComScore “State of the Internet” report. Other players in the social space are looking downright wimpy by comparison: LinkedIn: 67%. Twitter: 58%. Facebook (in spite of all the IPO hype): 4%.

The “social curation” world is still new and brand marketers are eager to find ways of testing. Early adopters have been put on pedestals as shining examples of savvy Pinterest users. These successful brands include Etsy, Michaels, Martha Stewart and Whole Foods, whose sites and offerings are visually represented, and whose offerings fit neatly into the Pinterest demographics (characterized as “young, upper-middle class, and female,” with the largest age demographic 25 to 34) and most popular kinds of categories (Food & Drink, DIY, Fashion, Home Décor, Weddings).

It’s also no secret that it has been one of the contributing factors driving e-commerce success in spite of the recession that has a chokehold on many segments of the economy. AllThingsD.com called it a megatrend, part of the “3 P’s: Personalization, Pinterest, and iPad” contributing to the channel’s double-digit growth.

So where does Pinterest fit into the world of the email marketer? What can it do for us? And how can we make it work?

One email marketer I spoke with, who requested that his name and company not be used, admitted that they are still experimenting. “It matches our demographic,” he explained. “But we are still trying to figure out what to do with it.”

He knows his dilemma is shared by other peers trying to leverage their brand through this exciting new medium.

So far they have adjusted the email template they use to include the Pinterest button. They are also in the process of changing the way they acquire emails on the site to ensure that when visitors arrive, guided by the Pinterest image they’ve clicked, they are invited to join the email list. “We still don’t know if it leads to a higher acquisition rate,” he said, adding that nevertheless the collection box ties into the best practice of always keeping list growth in mind as a priority.

Edward Hadley, Senior Marketing Manager of Neolane, sees two clear ways for email marketers to take the Pinterest plunge.

“The first is leveraging your existing email list to announce and build your Pinterest presence or following.” That’s what Anthropologie did with an animated GIF of yellow pins forming their message. They included an offer to send recipients a Pinterest invitation. Garnet Hill invited recipients to “Pin to Win” in a “Perfect Summer Style” contest.

“The second is to leverage outbound emails in conjunction with Pinterest to expand THEIR reach,” Hadley continues and gives an example: “In addition to other ‘share with your network’ techniques, you could include ’pin it’ buttons in your emails, encouraging email subscribers to share images from your emails via Pinterest. “

Pinterest is all about the image, however, and Hadley points out that to make this work it’s important to be sure the image to text ratio is still reasonable so that your deliverability isn’t compromised. Keeping the images in the email down to a third or less of the total content is a general guideline Neolane uses.

With a recent survey claiming that 21% of Pinterest users have purchased something they have seen on the boards (according to a widely reported PriceGrabber survey of US consumers), could it be that the Social Goose has finally laid the golden egg marketers have been watching for?

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