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Pinterest is growing at a rapid pace, closing in on the number two spot behind Twitter as the second most popular social networking site.  At the same time, a number of Pinterest analytics companies have emerged in attempts to measure these statistics.  But the million (or perhaps, billion) dollar question remains, how can Pinterest traffic be translated into sales?

Companies attempting to harness Pinterest’s popularity are trying a number of different tactics to increase traffic and drive sales including getting feedback on upcoming product lines, promoting products, getting social recommendations and running contests.

Contests have become increasingly popular, especially because running contests on Pinterest are subject to fewer guidelines than on Facebook.  There are hundreds of contests and sweepstakes on Pinterest to drive traffic and sales, with “Pin to Win” contests of particular favor.  These types of giveaways encourage Pinterest users to create a collection by pinning a grouping of their favorite products from the site.  The winner of the contest gets prizes including gift cards, products, and trips.

Pinterest Contest

Is Pinterest Driving Sales?

But do these giveaways translate into sales?

According to Rich Relevance, when users follow through on a purchase originally encountered through social media, Pinterest users put in an average order value of $170, which is higher than Facebook’s $80.

The key here is “when users follow through.”  What’s the follow through?  Well, according to research by Prosper Mobile Insights, people simply are not motivated to buy things based on what they see on Pinterest.  They asked users whether Pinterest influences their purchasing decisions, with just 13% reporting that it did.

If companies can increase that follow-through, they can drive bigger numbers on Pinterest than on Facebook.  And that is one of the reasons why there has been an influx of Pinterest analytics and marketing companies entering the space including Pinfluencer, Socialrithmic, Pintics, HelloInsights, Pinalytics, etc.

Socialrithmic, a social analytics company founded by ex-Microsoft Bing engineers, recently moved away from its focus on Facebook and Twitter and onto Pinterest as its growth continues to explode.

In fact, Pinterest may actually be the second largest social network in the world behind Facebook.  According to Pew, Pinterest was the third most popular social network with 15 percent, just one percentage point behind Twitter.  But with a margin of error of 2.6 percent, Pinterest may actually be in second.  Pinterest is also the fastest growing social network, so it’s likely to overtake Twitter shortly.  If companies can harness that growth, Pinterest could be the next e-commerce giant.

Socialrithmic recently launched Pinster, an analytics platform to help brands using Pinterest to better target their campaigns.  This comes at an opportune time because Pinterest currently doesn’t offer an API for third-party developers, which makes it difficult for brands to track usage of the service.

Which brings me back to Pinterest traffic: does it translate into sales?  Zappos recently told Bloomberg News that even thought Zappos users were 13 times more likely to share a purchase on Pinterest than on Twitter, posts on Twitter brought in the most revenue.  In fact, Twitter brought in an average of $33.66 an order, while Facebook posts garnered $2.08 per order and sales from Pinterest were 75 cents on average.

Zappos recently created a service called “PinPointing” that recommends purchases based on what users post on Pinterest, a move to help parlay traffic into sales.  The company has yet to release any data on how well that tool is working.

So, it appears that there’s a lot of analytics being created, but whether they can turn traffic into sales is still yet to be seen. But more analytics means more data, so we will soon find out.

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