PINTEREST gives marketing data a hug The socialists: a pov whitepaper

TLDR: Pinterest, the image-based social network with 100 million users, now lets marketers match their CRM data to the platform to improve targeting. Since users there are in the mood to shop—more than two-thirds of Pinterest ‘pins’ come from brand sites—this will accelerate the use of Pinterest as a direct-sales platform.

The idea of shopping inside social networks—without clicking away to a company’s “real website”—has been slow to gain traction. Pinterest may soon change that. Of all social platforms, Pinterest seems best suited for immediate commerce. The site, after all, is designed for consumers to “pin” images of the beautiful purses, cameras, duffel bags or sports coats they hope to buy someday. Adweek has noted that since Pinterest launched in 2010, the platform has “collected a trove of data on the products people search for and when they search for them.” In other words, Pinterest is building momentum to become a viable ecommerce platform.

Which brings us to Pinterest’s latest innovation: Pulling in data about marketers' own customers.

In March 2016, Pinterest announced brands could match their CRM data, or house files on customers, to Pinterest users. Pinterest product manager Nipoon Malhotra told AdExchanger they hope to “massively expand the categories for product targeting” from 30 today to more than 400 via this CRM matching, because more data on customers will create more opportunities to segment Pinterest categories.

OK, what does this mean? Basically, taking the list of customers that marketers already have, and matching it to users of Pinterest for better profiling. If you like to buy specific camera equipment at a certain store, Pinterest can now pick up that signal to serve you better, more tailored camera results.

Let's break down how “CRM” really works. Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is a marketing strategy that evolved in the 1990s focused on treating different customers differently. CRM migrated to be known more as a software solution (see:, because software made it work, but really CRM is about identifying individual customers or prospects, learning what they need, estimating their value, and then interacting with customers based on that knowledge in a way to improve sales. Business-to-business salespeople have used these tactics for centuries (a lawyer pitching a new corporate client better dang well know the CEO's name and if he or she likes to play golf); in the 1990s, the expansion of data systems allowed B2C marketers to use the same personal tactics with thousands or millions of customers.

CRM is all about identifying customers with data.

Now, CRM matching is when you take a list of data – say, the 250,000 customers who bought from your business last year – and “match” it to online data or social media platforms. There is always a slight falloff in matching, since 100% of the records in your company database won’t match 100% of the users in digital, but once paired, you can do a much better job of targeting. CRM matching is now possible in Facebook, Twitter, and across most online banner advertising using services such as LiveRamp.

Pinterest now puts a pin on all your shopping behavior, even when you are in stores offline.

For instance, Orvis, which sells hunting, fishing, outdoors, travel, and clothing gear, could upload data on its customers to Pinterest to mass-customize marketing offers based on the known products its past customers have shopped for, so a frequent business traveler doesn’t get a wasted ad impression for a carbon fly-fishing rod. This targeting won't just be based on web behavior, but also on catalog sales and in-store purchases—providing a true view of each customer's entire purchase history at Orvis.

Neutrogena recently won a “best media plan of the year” from Adweek by using shopping data in a similar way to tailor digital banner ads to customers, promoting the next-best product to meet their needs. Now consider doing this with Pinterest, with its thousands of lust-worthy product images, and the impact on product sales could be enormous.


Pinterest wants in on this race. Social media is still expanding, with user growth anticipated to be 8.7% globally this year. Social platforms will continue to experiment with new ways to sell directly to monetize these user bases.

All of this bodes well for Pinterest. Marketers have known for decades that the best data for targeting comes from their own customers. Now, think of the power of this "CRM data" if you can deploy it against millions of people on Pinterest who are hungering to shop.

Pinterest has a vast inventory of product images, and 100 million users pinning what they covet. Pinterest’s head of integrated marketing, Eva Papoutsakis Smith, has said that “two thirds of all pins come from brands or business websites.” CRM data will make matching consumer desire and marketing image so much easier.

So next time you feel the itch to buy a leather jacket, don't be surprised if Pinterest anticipates your needs ... and serves you up exactly what you want.

Created By
Ben Kunz

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