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A/B Testing: 10 Answers You Need to Know

July 14, 2020

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A/B Testing is the process of “trying out” elements to see which ones get the most engagement. Have you ever wondered which elements on your pins do better than others? What makes a person click on your pin in the first place? Is it the text size, the colors, the background image? How can you tell what aspects work and which ones aren’t as good?

The simple way to test your pins to see what works and what doesn’t is know as A/B Testing. While A/B testing sounds complicated, it’s not. With a few tips, you can start using it for your Pinterest Strategy.

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how do i create pinterest pins for a/b testing?

1) What is A/B Testing

When starting with Pinterest, we might think saving our best pins is all there is to getting traffic. We focus on design and how to create beautiful pins. Investing in scheduling and creative tools, we might think we have most of our bases covered. We’ve created content, designed amazing pins, and researched keywords for our titles and descriptions. And then we wait.

What if there is a way to know our audience better? Is it possible to understand what pins stand out the most, what keywords your audience will click on, what types of pins do the best and get the most traffic? What if there was a way to test out what elements worked the best for your specific audience?

a person holding a red marker and circling a group of people on a glass screen
Learn your audience by A/B Testing

Testing Your Pinterest Pins with A/B Testing

What if I told you that you could know? It’s called A/B Testing, which marketers use on various platforms, from email marketing campaigns to website usability. Some have jokingly stated that A/B Testing stands for “Always Be Testing” because one test will not do. Testing should be an important part of your marketing strategy, whether on Pinterest or your website.

Your Pinterest strategy will benefit from knowing how to A/B test your pins to see what works the best. Ultimately, you will save time because you’ll gather data from your pins that let you know the best ways to reach your audience.

The main idea of this test is to take one or two elements and test them. In an email campaign, this might look like using buttons in an email instead of text links or using graphics vs. not using graphics.

Hubspot states,

To run an A/B test, you need to create two different versions of one piece of content, with changes to a single variable. Then, you’ll show these two versions to two similarly sized audiences and analyze which one performed better over a specific period of time (long enough to make accurate conclusions about your results).

(Source: Hubspot, “How to do A/B Testing”)

Image from Hubspot - A/B Testing graphicSource: Hubspot – How to do A/B Testing

The best A/B tests focus on changing one variable for a specific amount of time and then using the resulting data to make changes to your strategy. Knowing what compels your audience to click on your pins is a critical component in marketing to their pain points.

2) What Should I Be Testing?

A Note About 2021 Changes

Pinterest made a few changes in 2021 for “fresh content“. They are putting an emphasis on new, relevant content and less on re-pinning. Tailwind, a Pinterest partner, wrote about the changes:

Overall, we recommend focusing your Pinning energy on creating new, fresh content—if the vast majority of your Pinning is re-saving other creator Pins, then we would definitely encourage you to begin shifting some of your effort towards creating more Fresh Pins to maximize your distribution on Pinterest!

Pinterest’s latest best practices recommend avoiding sharing the same Pin to more than 10 different Boards because Pinning the same Pin to too many Boards can actually reduce its effectiveness and limit its potential reach.

Tailwind – What Counts As Duplicate Content?

While they consider fresh content to be more than just a text overlay change, Pinterest says it’s OK to include duplicate content in moderation. How this affects your A/B strategy remains to be seen.

Tailwind suggests making text overlays with the same image to look something like the image below. Notice how the text is much different in each image. Also, the image itself is either cropped or resized. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t help with A/B Testing. Keep this new change in mind, but also note that it’s still fine to A/B test using the directions in this post. This might change in the future though.

tailwind images for pinterest
Image Source: Tailwind

Elements to Test On a Pin

In the post, “AB Test Planning: How to Build a Process that Works,” Jaan Matti-Saul of CXL talks about the main areas of testing:

  • Call to actions – Placement, wording, and size.
  • Copywriting – Value propositions and product descriptions.
  • Forms – Length, field types, and text.
  • Layout – Homepage, content pages, and landing pages.
  • Product pricing – Try testing for revenue by testing your prices.
  • Images – Placement, content, and size.
  • Amount of content on the page – Short versus long.

I’d also add that should try changing colors in text and layouts and see the results. Remember to focus on one element, not all of these at once.

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3) Why Do Marketers Use A/B Testing?

While many marketers have tools and analytical set-ups that would make your head explode, the main reason they use A/B Testing is to see what works and what doesn’t. Some marketers could write books about data, analytics, and complicated techniques that get results, but testing doesn’t need to be complicated. You can start with basic changes and see how your audience reacts.

At the heart of every marketer is a desire to solve a problem. The aim is to find solutions that work for their audience. You don’t need to know head-spinning formulas. You just need to pay attention and track what the best use of your time and money is.

GO FURTHER

You can learn more about creating an overall winning Pinterest strategy with this blog post.

4) What terms should I know before using A/B Testing?

For beginners, I recommend Pinterest 101 and The Pinterest dictionary which has some basic terminology if you aren’t familiar with Pinterest.

Here are Pinterest terms for a more in-depth understanding of Pinterest:

  • Hashtags – Keywords used on pin descriptions by placing a hash (#) in front of the words.
  • Pin Description – 500 characters or less that authentically describe your pin content.
  • Pin Titles – A keyword-rich name for your pin. The title should align with the pin and the URL content.
  • Boards (also known as “pinboard”) – A board is an area on a Pinterest page that allows you to organize your pins into collections for others to find. It consists of several images with the same topic or theme.
  • Smart Feed – Pinterest’s feed, which highlights new content and is based on an algorithm that focuses on quality and relevance. Your pins will show up in a Smart Feed and display to various audiences based on the quality, relevance, and if it is newer content.
  • Product Pin – Similar to a standard pin, but uses the Rich Pin feature available to business users. It shows updating pricing information to users.
  • Article Pin – Also a Rich Pin, this focuses on blog content and shows the author’s website in bold text.
  • Recipe Pin – These pins are like product and article pins, but for cooking and meal prep posts.
  • Video Pin – These are short videos with or without sound that showcase a product. Video pins get more engagements and impressions than standard pins.
  • Pinterest Business Account – A business account allows you to showcase your brand, see analytics, promote your pins, and upload products to Pinterest. You also need a business account to create ads.

For A/B Testing, these terms are helpful to know:

  • Pinterest Ad account – Ad accounts are available through business accounts on Pinterest. You can create up to 10 ad accounts per business account.
  • Ad Campaign – Every ad campaign has three levels: campaign, ad group, and ad. Campaigns house ad groups and each ad group contains a collection of ads.
  • Ad Group – According to Pinterest, an ad group “works as a container for your Promoted Pins and gives you more control over how you budget for, target, and run your campaigns.”
  • Ad – A product, video, carousel, collection, or standard pin that can run as a promotion to drive traffic or sales to your website.
  • UTM Code – A tracking code used on the end of a URL to track clicks and engagement with a pin.

GO FURTHER

Want to set up an ad account on Pinterest? Visit Pinterest for complete instructions.

5) What are the Pros and Cons of A/B Testing?

As mentioned previously, the benefits of A/B Testing is drilling down into what works with your audience. Here are some advantages of testing you should consider:

  • If you can design a pin and post it to Pinterest, you can A/B Test
  • You’ll save time by knowing which keywords and imagery your audience appreciates
  • You only need to change one variable
  • You can do it once a month
  • It can help you save money by using ads that work
  • You can get more eyes on your content by using pins that get clicked
  • You’ll have a better idea of the content that works best in your niche
a/b testing on a phone - image
Get more eyes on your content with A/B testing your pins

While there are many benefits to testing, here are a few disadvantages:

  • It can seem overwhelming at first
  • You need to design more pins than normal
  • Having a basic knowledge of Google Analytics, or in the least Pinterest Analytics is necessary
  • You need to keep an eye on your Pinterest data
  • It requires time to plan and make changes
  • It will take trial and error before you see what works

While you won’t see the time-saving benefits instantaneously, you will eventually have more time when you realize a strategy that works. You’ll also save money on ads, and you can target keywords that work—not just on Pinterest, but elsewhere.

6) What’s an example of an A/B Test on a Pinterest pin?

For the test on my Pinterest pins, I chose to take one blog post and create two pins. I kept the text and colors the same and used light images on both. My focus was on testing an image with a person in it vs. a background that was more symbolic. I used an image of a woman using a laptop and a picture of a maze.

Pinterest suggests not using photos with faces on it, so I wanted to test that theory. It also says not to use abstract images, but to use lifestyle photos. In future tests, I might want to try to find a suitable lifestyle image and test that. For your pins, swap out the photos as a test and run it for 30-90 days and see which ones get better results.

image of pinterest stats
It’s important to watch the analytics on Pinterest

I’m still running this test, so I can’t offer results. However, based on the engagements, clicks, and activity, I will most likely pick one type of image to use on my pins. I might even test out the winning image here with a better lifestyle image. Based on those two tests, I’ll decide to stick with photos that work well with my audience. Then I’ll try something else, such as text size, color, or layout.

7) What steps do I need to take to test my pins?

Set Up Analytics

To track your data, you need to have a Pinterest Business account. You also need a Google Analytics account. Instructions for using Pinterest Analytics can be found here.

In addition, I highly recommend you download the Pinterest Dashboard by Kristie Hill. It’s a helpful tool to set up Google Analytics with your Pinterest pins. You can even email a weekly report to yourself!

Smart Tip!

Grab the free Pinterest Dashboard at https://kristiehill.com/pinterest-dashboard/ and use it to track your A/B Pins and overall pin strategy.

Plan Your Pins

Before you can run a test, you’ll need to consider what to evaluate. Take an image that has good results or at least some engagement. Pick one element and test it. Start with something simple like the image. Since Pinterest is a “visual search engine,” find two different photos to assess. These photos will go on 2-4 pin images and tested.

Research Keywords, Titles, and Descriptions

Your next step is to look at your content. Your pin will direct to a blog post, product, or recipe. Based on your content, write your pin title. The title should be concise. Use the Pinterest keyword tool (aka search bar) and start searching up keywords. The results you get from the keyword tool can assist you in coming up with words or phrases that you’ll use on Pinterest.

If you want to get into the rankings, go into your ad manager and pretend to create an ad. Select “traffic” as your objective. Follow the steps to create an ad, and on the next screen, scroll down to the keyword area. Type in any keywords and see how they rank. Use the most ranked terms for your pin title and description as well as when pinning it to Pinterest.

Create Pins

While I created only two pins, here’s another way that Pinterest experts suggest doing it.

  1. Pin Image A with Description 1.
  2. Next, pin Image B with Description 2.
  3. After that, pin Image A with Description 2.
  4. Finally, Pin Image B with Description 1.

In the above pins, “Image A” would be the maze, and “Image B” would be the woman at the laptop. I’d create 4 pins altogether, 2 of them with Image A and 2 with Image B. Then I’d create a description that I’d use on the first Image A and the first Image B. Then the second description would be used for the second Image A and the second Image B. The “description” refers to the keyword description you use on Pinterest, not the titles and headings on the pin design.

Upload Pins to Pinterest

If you have Tailwind, you can schedule your pins and spread them out, so it doesn’t look like spam. Pinning all your images at once doesn’t bode well with the Pinterest gods. It’s best to space them out, so you avoid annoying your audience. Another idea is to use Tribes. Tribes is a feature in Tailwind that allows others to share your content with their audience. Post your 2-4 pins in Tailwind Tribes and see which ones get shared and re-pinned.

If you don’t have a scheduling tool, you can manually pin your images. I suggest you save your pins in the evening when most people are doing their pinning. Again, spread this out over time. You can use the Pinterest scheduler. It’s not as full-featured as Tailwind but will allow you to schedule your pins to post at a designated time. If you pin to more than one board, make sure you pin all your images equally.

Watch the Video: How to Use the Free Scheduling Tool on Pinterest

Optional: Run an ad campaign

If you have pins that are doing well and you want to test out different images or elements, you might want to run ads on your pins. You can promote your pin by going to “Ads” at the top of your Pinterest profile page. Then click on “Create an ad.”  Pick a business goal such as conversion or traffic. I usually stick to traffic. You can read more about selecting business goals on Pinterest. Then fill out the campaign details and click the “Continue” button.

On the next screen, you can target your specific audience, use keywords, and set up how long you want your ad to run. Then you will select a pin or upload a new pin using the red plus (+) button. Run your ads for each pin without changing too many variables. For instance, keep the same keywords and audience instead of selecting different ones for each ad.

Watch Pins for 30-90 days

Most A/B Testing performs best within a short time frame, such as 30 days. With Pinterest, you might want to give it more time. If you are running an ad, a shorter time frame would be best unless you plan on running the ad for several months. For standard pins, you could watch the results at 30, 60, and 90 days and see what you find out. Take note of what you learn from how your audience interacts with your pins.

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8) What should I do with the test results and data?

To know how your pins are doing, you can watch your analytics on Pinterest (in the Business Hub) or on Google Analytics. After you gather your results, you’ll want to adjust your pin design strategy. For instance, if your pins did better with clean, minimalistic images, you’ll want to start using those types of images going forward. Then you can try testing something else, such as text size, colors, or layouts.

It’s critical that you give your test enough time to see real results. If you are just starting out on Pinterest, this might mean a longer time frame. Instead of 30 days, try 90 days. Definitely go back to the pins that aren’t running ads and see how they are doing in 6 months, or even a year. Since you don’t delete pins, you will be able to keep tracking the data even after your time frame has ended.

GO FURTHER

Create several pin images for every page/post/product (your content) you have. Post those pins to grow your traffic. If you use Tailwind, be sure to schedule them out and use Tribes for even more traffic.

9) What are UTM Codes and How Do I Use Them in A/B Testing?

Hubspot describes UTM codes this way:

UTM codes are snippets of text added to the end of a URL to help you track where website traffic comes from if users click a link to this URL. Marketers can customize this text to match the webpage this URL is linked on, allowing them to attribute the success of that campaign to specific pieces of content.

It seems complicated, but it’s merely adding a bit of code to your Pinterest URL to track who is clicking on it and engaging with the post or product. To begin using UTM’s, plug in your data for the URL using Google. Then paste the code from the results into your pin URL area so you can track it. Note: Be sure to paste the full link into Pinterest. Shortened links aren’t allowed on Pinterest.

image of a touch screen with analytic tools
Keep and eye on your analytics

To learn more about UTM codes, I suggest the following resources:

10) What other websites do you suggest for A/B Testing Your Pins?

A/B Testing

Tools for Testing Headlines

Tools for Testing Visuals

Understanding Analytics

Closing/Conclusion

A/B Testing isn’t rocket science. It requires changing up one variable in a pin image and testing it out for a length of time. Based on the results, you can make conclusions about your audience such as images they are attracted to, colors they prefer, and layouts that get them to click. Instead of guessing on what works and what doesn’t, you can investigate and find out for yourself. Apply your test results to future pins and get more traffic and engagements.

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Join the list and get access to my Pinterest Resource library which contains guides, cheat sheets, templates, and more!

 

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About the Author

Pinterest graphic designer and digital strategist for business owners and change-makers who want to be seen and heard.

Michelle Buck

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