THE BLOG

How We Turned Pinterest Into Our Biggest Traffic Driver

01/27/2014 03:46 pm ET | Updated Mar 29, 2014

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By Joey Nelson, Southern Swim

This past December, we launched Southern Swim on Shopify.

Southern Swim represents the culture and lifestyle of activities around water in the South. We felt most swimwear brands were focused on the West Coast and Caribbean lifestyle, and we wanted to highlight the rich culture of going to the lake, floating the river, or simply hanging out by the pool.

Our collections of highly curated products are tailored to a specific demographic and an engaged online audience.

We felt this Southern Lifestyle around water was an underserved market and began creating visual content in the form of look-books to pique interest across social media. Our pictures represented the lifestyle of our brand, and things we felt people would relate to.

One of our best drivers of traffic early on became Pinterest with its visual content style. In the five weeks since launch, Pinterest has generated over 120,000+ impressions and driven over 40,000+ visits to our website. Currently, social media is our only form of advertising and marketing since launch and we've seen positive results so far.

We began developing our brand's social presence months before our store launched online. This type of marketing proved pivotal for us to quickly grow our followers across all social media channels. One of the early pain points we saw with Pinterest users was when they saw something they liked and pinned it, it didn't have a link back to where you could buy the product. We started out by linking all of our look books back to our website and integrated "Pin it" buttons on all product pages.

Once our products were ready to launch, we created individual boards for each brand that we carry, and those images also linked back to each product page. We continue to add new boards as we get new brands and collections in stock.

Each of our pictures contains somewhere between 20-30 hash tags to describe the product's attributes. For social sharing, we felt this was more effective than a traditional product description.

Immediately, we began seeing traffic back to our website as our images were showing up in users' boards. We continue to pin our product images each week so they stay at the top of users' boards and we're currently gearing up for some unique "Pin-it-to-win-it" Pinterest giveaway contests.

We're staying actively involved on Pinterest since our customers are engaging with our brand so well there and we're seeing great results.

As we were testing and developing our brand, we created our own relevant boards to use as inspiration for our brand and for photo shoot ideas. We use the analytics data to help us in purchasing decisions based on styles, colors, cuts etc. We are constantly seeing people pin and re-pin our images to their boards. We see our images pop up on people's inspiration boards, wish lists, style, bikini, and clothing boards. We use local models in all of our photographs that represent the Southern Lifestyle and we've seen our models being pinned to boards for fitness, nutrition and inspiration.

We've been thoroughly surprised by the amount of traffic we've seen from Pinterest and how we're converting that to sales on our Shopify store. Our bounce rates continue to be below industry averages and people are consuming 5+ page views once they get to the site. We've integrated Pinterest into our emails, and marketing efforts as well.

We knew early on that we were going to use social media to help in the success of Southern Swim. It's where we first tested our idea about the brand and felt we had tapped into a consumer that resonated with our story. We stay pretty active across all our social media channels, and we see significant traffic from all of them.

Being on Shopify has freed us early on to focus on this massive social media push instead of being tied down with development tasks and we've been able to run our store with all the necessary add-ons that bigger retailers use to increase efficiency of our store. This has allowed us to test and prove our idea, and focus on delivering a great product with great customer service.

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Joey Nelson is the founder of BLKBOXLabs, a digital creative agency in Fayetteville, Arkansas that works with global brands to create digital campaigns. Joey is also a founder of Southern Swim, an e-commerce company, which is looking to change the swimwear industry.

Tarah Hill is also a co-founder and co-owner of Southern Swim. Tarah brings apparel business experience, marketing and communication skillsets to the Southern Swim team.

This year, Shopify's Build A Business Competition is bigger than ever. Shopify is giving away more than $500,000 in cash, prizes and mentorship in its fourth annual competition. Contestants create a store and try to sell the most in their category for a chance to win $50,000 and a VIP trip to NYC to meet their mentor.