Daily Grommet’s Pinterest is Worth One Thousand Words

Pinterest hooked Tori Tait immediately. And because the senior community manager of the Daily Grommet was in charge of the company’s social media initiatives, she signed her company up for an account as well in August 2011. But that’s when the difference between running a private account for fun and a corporate account with strategic initiatives reared up.

While Daily Grommet seems on the surface like an e-commerce site retailing quirky products—or “Grommets”—it’s business is more complex. Inventors submit undiscovered or unique products, which are then launched and offered for sale on the Daily Grommet site.

“Think of us as the next step from a Kickstarter,” Tait says. “They help you fund your business, but we’ll handle the commerce part.”

For a business like Daily Grommet, community is especially important. “We operate on the idea of citizen commerce,” Tait explains. “We look for people to tell us what products we should feature. We don’t do this in a vacuum. We rely on our community to submit to us, or small businesses and entrepreneurs to tell us about products.”

Over the past three and a half years, the site has launched about 1,000 products at the rate of one per day. And these are products that usually don’t appear at your local Walmart. One current hot item: Silpoura, a clip-on spout that hooks onto a canister, developed by an inventor after observing his wife’s futile attempt to pour bacon grease into a jar. “Problem-solvers do well on our site,” Tait says. After she established Daily Grommet’s Pinterest page, she immediately saw people pinning the various product offerings.  

The advantage Pinterest has for marketers over other social media sites like Facebook or Twitter is that it spreads the word through a network while automatically generating an emotional response. “With pictures specifically, the response is visceral and immediate,” says Apu Gupta, CEO and cofounder of Curalate, which provides the analytics that allows brands including Daily Grommet to measure Pinterest campaigns. Because of this, Gupta notes, average order values are higher for image-based conversations. “Additionally, people don’t save what they hate on Pinterest so the conversation is incredibly positive,” he adds.

The Daily Grommet-Curalate relationship developed after an unofficial Pinterest campaign that Tait oversaw one year ago. “It was in all honesty one of those clunky, let’s-just-see-what-happens type of things,” she says. The problem for Tait wasn’t the process of engagement so much as it was measuring the efficacy of that engagement—knowing which customers responded to which products. In the first promotion, Tait was essentially blind to what customers were actually pinning.

Curalate’s analytics were designed to show what people pin and how they’re engaging—it essentially applies image-recognition algorithms to social media metrics. “We read images,” Gupta explains. “We look at every single pixel and every single image and we compare that to every image and pixel we’ve ever seen.” Curalate consumes and processes about 25 million images per day.

As Tait began analyzing the data from the brand’s Pinterest page, she found that her customers often saw products differently than Daily Grommet’s staff. The nature of Pinterest is such that users categorize their image collections on pinboards devoted to certain subjects—food, home decor, or travel, for instance.

“We would launch a product and placed it in a certain problem-solver category,” she says, “But then customers would pin it onto their gifting board.”

This is precisely what happened to the Daily Grommet’s most-pinned product: Cuppow—essentially a sippy cup lid designed for mason jars. Mason jars are a major trend within DIY enthusiasts, as well as among people who don’t mind trying to sip out of a container that wasn’t designed at all for drinking. Hence, Cuppow: the ultimate utility for beverage drinkers who want to look cool, which means without spilling while drinking.

It was a small surprise when Tait realized that Daily Grommet customers thought of Cuppow as gift. “Maybe because it was so unique or maybe because mason jars are so trendy on Pinterest, people were pinning it to their stocking stuffer boards or gift boards,” she says. “We never thought it would have been a gifting item.”

Tait discovered what was popular because Curalate’s dashboard condensed the various pins into a single graphic. “Before, I would have to dig through hundreds of links and count them myself,” Tait says. “Now, I would never do that.”

“Knowing the value of those links is important,” Gupta says. “Pins versus repins is very important, as is organic sharing.” He points out that many companies have a branded Pinterest page, 85% of the engagement happens because visitors later pin images from that brand page onto their own personal pinboards.

In the case of Daily Grommet, this insight has affected other marketing channels, as well—particularly direct email campaigns, which show the top five Grommets on Pinterest. On the weekends, Daily Grommet began sending out collections—influenced by user-designated Pinterest categories. In doing so, Tait could also resurface older products that had launched months ago or even a year ago.

“We learn more about how our customers view or use the products [on Pinterest compared to Facebook or Twitter],” Tait says. “How they see them fitting into their lives, all by having access to what they are pinning. We don’t get that from other social mediums.”

Last November Daily Grommet re-upped with its second Pinterest promotion—a “Pin to Win” two-week campaign monitored by Curalate’s technologies. Visitors to Daily Grommet’s landing page were encouraged to pin three products they wanted to own and the winner earned a $500 gift certificate.

Daily Grommet initially wanted to increase the product images pinned by 10% over the two-week duration of the promotion. Pinning increased by 683%. It also wanted to increase Pinterest followers by 5%; the number instead increased by 14.4%. And referral traffic from Pinterest increased 140%, of which 83% were new site visitors. In all, 2,500 entrants pinned 4,000 product images; this resulted in 644,000 Pinterest impressions.

The way in which Daily Grommet uses images for its marketing reflects a shift in the way brands will need to depict their products. In the past, online product images focused on accuracy—capturing the specific look of the product. “In this new era of sharing imagery, [brands] need to rethink that image strategy,” Gupta says. This means images that contextualize the product, allowing the viewer to envision it in his or her life. He points to Carnival Cruise Line, also a Curalate customer, that held a contest asking users to pin images from their dream destination. This lead users to a board curated by Carnival that was specific to that fantasy vacation—essentially immersing the viewer into his or her locale to inspire the wanderlust.

Ultimately, Pinterest is a social network where marketers can reach customers at the top of the funnel. It’s about creating inspiration and planting the seed that might later lead to a purchase. This means pinning products with discretion and not reckless abandonment. “The sales-y approach doesn’t work,” Tait says. For Daily Grommet, Pinterest has been a medium through which it could learn more about its customers. “We could see how people saw our products fitting into their lives—based on the boards they pinned them into, the comments,and the descriptions.”

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