Advertising: Explore the Blue Ocean of Pinterest Ads with Elle McCann (episode 018)

by April Buencamino-dy

Elle has been helping eCommerce stores grow for over 10 years at her business Curious Themes, both building over 150 Shopify stores and as the host of the Curious Themes YouTube channel where she has over 30,000 subscribers for her Shopify training videos. Well, Elle’s not just awesome at Shopify – she’s also a dab hand at online advertising, and this year she’s turned her attention to mastering Pinterest Ads both for her business and the many eCommerce stores she helps.

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About Elle

As Elle began focusing more on teaching people how to use Shopify she began looking for the best ways to advertise her own new products and services.

She really saw how powerful Pinterest is and how undervalued it is for business.

Pinterest Opportunity

Most people aren’t using Pinterest, so there is less competition and way less cost associations. Elle recommends starting by simply pinning to start organic growth.

Right now, most platforms have skyrocketing CPMs with no sign of slowing and Elle points out that people are much happier seeing ads on Pinterest than they are interrupting their feeds on Instagram and Facebook.

And, bonus — Pinterest is a search engine people are actually looking for what you’re selling. Another great perk of Pinterest ads is that, ad pins have a life beyond your campaign.

If you’ve set up your pin with some organic reach it can continue to snowball even when you no longer are putting money into it. 

Go Organic First

A big key difference with Pinterest ads is that they are much slower. Elle says that it takes a couple of weeks to see anything, so if you are just trying to get traffic and sales right away Pinterest might not be great.

If you have something coming up, Elle recommends making around 5 creative ads and pinning them to your boards and then watching to see what does the best. 

Best Ad Types for eCommerce

When it comes to making ads, Elle says to cast a wide net. It’s beneficial to do everything from email signup offers to product ads in order to see what gets more traction.

It’s always best to test and see what works. Working backwards from your shipping timelines, you still have time to get ads up for the busy Q4 shopping seasons.

No matter your content, it’s best to remember that Pinterest is a very visual platform and it’s important to do lifestyle ads. A person holding a coffee mug is going to do much better than just a photo of a mug on a white background. 


Keywords are essential for successful pin ads and should be in the pin title, in the description, in the board etc.

And don’t forget to add in product information in the pinterest rich pin data. 

Pinterest Conversion Tag

Make sure you have tracking set up so you can see what’s happening in your sales channel.

You’ll need to have a Pinterest business account to do this and can be done on Pinterest back end or through Shopify

Who is Pinterest For?

Most Pinterest users are women, and while t’s important to make sure you are aligned with the platform’s audience, Elle points out there are work-arounds — like targeting peripheral consumers to your target audience who may not be themselves on the platform.

Besides physical products, coaching and education are great for Pinterest.

Gift Guides

Creating gift guides is a great way to get traction on Pinterest near the holidays.

Being friendly and helpful is a great way to up your traffic any time, but during the holidays, everyone is looking on Pinterest for inspiration. 

Ad Spend

Elle recommends starting with $20 and letting it  sit for a week to see what keywords are doing well before sinking more money into your campaign.

Once the analytics are back you can turn keywords off and put more money towards others to make your ads more efficient.

Insider Tips

If we’ve inspired someone to take their first step with Advertising Marketing – what do they need to know to give themselves the best chance of success?

You have to test — you will fail and you have to keep going for the long haul. When you find a winning ad strategy, you’ll see the rewards. 

Once you’ve started of course you’ve got to ‘keep optimising’! So what’s your favourite way to improve advertising marketing performance?

Great images can make or break your ad. Try new images, change them up seasonally and keep experimenting. Pinterest is also a great opportunity for remarketing. 

It’s impossible to improve our marketing unless we’re monitoring the performance – but the list of stuff we could monitor can be overwhelming. So what, for you is the number one advertising marketing KPI?

ROI — A lot of people are overwhelmed by the amount of money they are spending, but being able to see that you are getting your money back + makes it all ok.

Crystal ball time – what’s coming up in the next 6-12 months that we should be getting ready for in advertising marketing?

Increased competition, but at the same time, more customers online. Great opportunity to engage and build your audience with all the new online shoppers

Interview Links

Elle on Social media:

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