How to Set up and Run Profitable Promoted Pins for Beginners

Promoted pins (aka Pinterest ads) are one of the best strategies you should implement for your business TODAY! Read below why this is true and how to set up and run profitable promoted pins campaigns.

Pinterest has gone through quite a few changes in the past year. One change some have noticed is Pinterest now promotes their ads to business users. Some accounts have also noticed a slight decline in organic visibility as well.

Yes, promoted pins/ads are the future of Pinterest. But, this is good news for you! I'll share later in the post why this is such great news!

Have you ever caught yourself thinking (like many of us!), "I wish I used Facebook ads when they were cheap?" If yes, this is the time to hop on-board with Pinterest ads because they are still cheap compared to any other platform.

You need to first cover the basics with proper account set up before you start running ads. 

Get your account set up prior to running any ads. This is important!

There are a couple of key steps to take when you look to create your first ad:

Before anything else, make sure your site has Pinterest tags working 100%. (Use the Chrome Pinterest Tag Helper extension to verify your tags. 

You are able to re-target a visitor at a later stage when you use event codes on your website. This is most likely where conversions will happen!

First Campaign

Once your account is set up, it is time to set up your first campaign. This will be your test campaign to learn more about your audience and what makes them "click." Literally.

To start, I recommend creating one campaign with two ad sets - one for interest and another for keywords.

Start the campaign with a low budget of $5-10 per day. The final amount depends on the number of ad sets and variations you'll use and the niche you are in.

Run the test ads for at least for a week to get enough data. This will give you a general idea how ads are performing. 

Keep reading as I explain details about all of the above steps.

Step-by-step guide about setting up Pinterest Ads / Promoted Pins

So now it's time to set up your first campaign. I'll go through the set-up process step-by-step and explain what to choose and why.

Campaign Objective

So the first decision you need to make is to decide your campaign objective.

You have six options:

Brand awareness ads are great for a top-of-the-funnel strategy to capture a brand new audience and get them to know you. This is generally the most affordable ad option. You pay for visibility rather than a click and it's great for a beginner learning more about your audience.

I normally start with Brand Awareness for brand new client ad accounts. This step is perfect for getting my client's products/website seen by the target audience. The data I get from the brand awareness activity determines my next steps.

Campaign Details

The next step is to name your campaign. I recommend you change the suggested campaign name into one that is more descriptive. The more ads you run, the harder it will be to separate each ad. So get into habit renaming them for clarity.

This is also where you set up your daily or lifetime campaign-level Spending Limits. Add your $5-10 per day limit here or leave empty for now and set the budget on Ad Set Level.

You also have an option to "Pause Campaign" if you are just getting to know the platform. Only unpause when you know all your settings are correct. 

Next it is time to set up the first ad set.

Ad Set Up / Ad Group Details

I mentioned earlier you should set up one campaign with two ad sets. This is important! I see too many businesses put a single ad (just one image/video) and then use all of the possible variations for that single ad.

Sure, that might work out for you, but it won't help you know what worked afterwards

It is better to split the variation into separate ad sets. This allows you to learn about your audience and get a better return for your investment.

I also recommend that beginners create one ad set for Interest and another for Keywords. Though this is something you NEED TO TEST yourself as you move forward. 

My experience has been that keyword ads are FAR CHEAPER than interest for many businesses.

But, as always, you should test this for your business.

Interest based ad set

Keyword based ad set

At this point, your focus is on creating your INTEREST-based ad set (I'll show you later how to set up additional ad set for your KEYWORDS-based ad set).

Interest-based ad

You might run into an issue when you are looking at interest-based ads. There may be times when there is no suitable category for you to choose. If that happens, choose one that is nearest by typing your main keyword in the search box and see suggestions. 

You can also just skip an interest-based ad altogether and only use keyword targeting.

I use Keyword-based targeting for the most part unless I want to target the masses and get my client seen by a new audience. This would be the "top of the funnel" group. 

Audience targeting

I recommend for beginners to use the default settings below if they don't have a clear idea who their ideal customer is. (You really should know this, though.) 

However, use the setting options to target your particular audience if you know your audience well and have a clear idea who purchases from you.

When it comes to selecting Location options, you can now target users in the following countries:
United States, Canada, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg.

Start your campaign with a location where you get the most sales activity, but consider testing other locations later on. I've seen fab results from countries the client never thought about targeting!

You now have an option to select specific cities if you are targeting the U.S. 

Budget and Scheduling

This is the area where you set up your daily or lifetime budget. I always recommend starting with a low budget, as you are testing the market with your first ad. Important note: Go with a daily budget!

I normally start with $5-10 per day for clients and then adjust as I get more data and learn what works.

Bidding

Your ad visibility competes against everyone else running ads and the highest bid wins. This does not mean that you should follow the recommended bid!

Always start your bid as low as possible. You can always increase the bid later if you do not see results.

But most likely, you will even get results at the lower end of bids!

This is one of the first things I check when working with a new client on their ads. More often than not, I find clients are paying TOO much for results!

Below you can see one client's maximum bid is $0.85 when Pinterest says a bid higher than $0.38 will be competitive. In this case, the client doesn't end up paying $0.85 per click. They paid $0.59 per click on average, but even that was too high for their audience.

Paying too much for a click without split testing their ads meant this particular client was not getting a decent return on ad spend (ROAS), aka cash in bank account.

Why pay more for ads than you should, right?

Do you remember the line earlier about missing out on cheap FB ads? You can still enjoy very cheap ads on Pinterest if you start now! Do not miss this opportunity!

The Ad

It's now time to choose the ad you want to use for your campaign.

You can select a pin you already pinned to Pinterest or you can upload a new pin.

IMPORTANT: USE THE RIGHT IMAGE/VIDEO RATIO FOR PINTEREST! 

Further Reading (opens in new tab): Pinterest Ads Specs – Promoted Pins Specs

Another important item is to select the pin from a KEYWORD OPTIMIZED BOARD! The other option is to upload a new pin and SAVE it to a KEYWORD OPTIMIZED BOARD.

The ad examples below are from my Pinterest Ads library of fantastic (and not so fantastic) real live examples of Pinterest ads. I've collected over 900 live Pinterest promoted pins in my ad library to help me and my clients get better results.

And I can't wait to add your ad to my library as a great example... 🙂

Pinterest is mostly used on a mobile device with a small screen. So your ad should make the most of the available real estate. A vertical format is almost always the way to go.

Hot tip: Some users like me use Pinterest with a black background, not the normal white. Make sure your image looks great with both backgrounds.

Do not waste your money by using horizontal images like examples below:

The above examples are way too common on Pinterest. 

The one on the left is... well, I don't even know what is being promoted. So this one is complete waste of money.

The one on the right does not stand out at all. Organic pins near the ad are much better and would get the viewer's click. 

Both examples suffer from an incorrect ad ratio, too.

You can create pins on Canva for free if you do not have a graphic designer. Canva templates are a great way to get started.

Split testing (aka A/B testing)

I've been mentioning split or a/b testing in this post. This is where you get your first chance to test something.

So add at least two pins to your ad!

This means crafting two pins promoting the same product or post, but with a different look. It's important to just split test one thing at a time.

Examples:

  • one image with text overlay, another without 
  • one image with white background, another red
  • same image on both, different text overlay
  • and so on

Don't ever split test different posts or products within one campaign. Better to keep these as separate campaigns.

OK, so now you've created your first INTEREST-based ad campaign.

Now it is time to create your KEYWORD-based ad campaign.

Duplicate Ad Campaign

Duplicate your INTEREST-based ad set to create a KEYWORD-based ad set.

Select your newly created ad and click "DUPLICATE".


Keep everything else the same except for changing the following:

  1. Remove: INTEREST 
  2. Add: KEYWORDS
  3. Adjust: BID

Ready to look for keywords? Pinterest is going to help you out. It will tell you what people are searching for and share the monthly volume.


Both Pinterest and I recommend having at least 25 keywords, but the more the merrier!

So you can get a bit creative with keywords. You are in a testing stage, so you want to see what makes people "click." At times that can be something quite different from what you thought! 

If you need ideas for keywords, head to the Pinterest main page and type in your main keyword and see suggestions like those shown below:

Run the ad for few days and check your analytics to see which keywords have performed the best.

Once you've edited the second ad set, click "PUBLISH" and wait for Pinterest to approve your ads. This is normally done under 24 hours.

Why Pinterest Ads are Good News

I promised to share why Pinterest ads are good news for you. Well, ads provide easily trackable ways to market a business. When you use ads and have tags set up correctly on your site, nothing stops your from re-targeting time and time again.

I always use special tracking links that allow me to review clicks at an even more targeted level when doing ads for my clients or my own websites. This allows me to split audiences in many ways to ensure I capture each and every one. I highly recommend you do the same!

Lastly, not many Pinterest ads are very good... and yet they still work OK! This means you don't have to create fancy and expensive ads to make them work on Pinterest. Of course it helps, but you can get started with a really small budget and SEE RESULTS.

If you are still on the fence, check out this screenshot of my client's ad account on Pinterest. 

How would you like to get 687 CONVERSIONS for a mere CA$52.42 (roughly US$68) ad spend? 

Nice, heh?

This Canadian client is in a very competitive niche on Pinterest, so these results are pretty impressive. I also should share that this ad set was just a quick test to get some base numbers.

Action time

If you have not taken action at this point, NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME!

Take action now and you can still enjoy affordable ads - just like Facebook ads were a few years ago 🙂

If you'd love to use Pinterest ads but don't have the time to DIY, I do offer ad management via my Pinterest Marketing Agency at Profitablepin.com

  • Kenzi Green says:

    I ran a pinterest ad once and some how I accidentally spent $50. The pin did get a good amount of clicks but I definitely lost money!

    I recently started working with a Pinterest manager and upgraded tailwind for her usage, I can’t wait to see the results. How do you feel about Tailwind?

    ~ Kenzi

    • On the ads, that’s terrible! Maybe you can recover some of the money spent when you retarget website visitors.

      Tailwind is an awesome tool to help grow traffic from Pinterest. I use it on all of my accounts and all client accounts.

  • Courtney says:

    This was a very detailed and helpful post on Pinterest Ads! You did a really great job of explaining the dos and don’ts of making an ad. It will definitely come in handy for me this year. Thank you!

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