The consumer journey is hardly a new concept: It’s long been at the academic backbone of advertising and promotion. But the conventional funnel we designed to engage consumers across their journey no longer works.

The digital revolution disrupted its system of reliable touch points, from broadcast to print, with an overabundance of search and social channels—channels that now play an increasingly significant role in influencing consumer opinion, choice and behavior.

Since then, content has emerged as an unrivaled way of engaging consumers along their journey. Unlike traditional advertising, content empowers marketers to do more than pitch value. It allows us to actually add value by helping consumers accomplish a goal, solve a problem or express an opinion. And there’s no better content marketing channel than Pinterest.

The promise of Pinterest

Pinterest, the world’s most visual search platform, draws more than 200 million people monthly who want to curate new ideas for their lives. Pinners create boards around specific goals and aspirations. They seek out content—including from brands—that helps them discover, plan, shop for and share products and services in line with their vision. And they find it useful that Pins act as bookmarks that help them keep track of their dreams by linking off to other sites.

This offers a huge opportunity for brands looking to bridge the gap between consumer interests and brand offerings with content that’s useful to Pinners at every stage of their journey—especially for brands in high-involvement purchase categories like fashion, cooking, crafts, home decor, renovation, wedding and travel.

Take travel, for example: 68 percent of Pinners have built boards for “places they want to visit,” and 46 percent have searched for accommodation options for upcoming trips. On Pinterest, the destinations, hotels, activities and travel tips they browse can be saved to as many dream vacation boards as their imaginations can handle. Each Pin acts as a bridge to a brand site or booking engine.

Pinning the path through travel

Creating highly engaging Pinterest content requires an understanding of what’s helpful for consumers at each phase of their journey. Continuing our example, here’s how we can translate those needs into content designed to resonate with the travel-minded Pinner at each phase in their journey.

  • Discover: According to Pinterest, more than 40 million people use it every month to discover new travel ideas. To connect with those who aren’t aware of your brand, create Pins that extend beyond just your category into trending topics and Pinterest-popular mediums such as do it yourself and recipes.
  • Learn: As consumers seek out destination specifics, capture their attention with visually stunning content that differentiates your brand and prompts them to learn more. Promote wanderlust with photography-cased Pins they can project themselves into, or feature a popular influencer or artist who’s relatable to your audience.
  • Evaluate: Once consumers move from desire to evaluation, help them narrow their consideration set with content that focuses their choices, such as “top” listicles, infographics and decision trees. Make it personal by highlighting offerings that speak to specific audience segments.
  • Book: When consumers are ready to book, facilitate the best purchase experience with content that links directly to the booking details they need. Sweeten the deal by highlighting special packages, promotions, or events—as Iconoculture reports, six out of 10 millennials would rather spend their money on travel experiences than material things.
  • Prepare: The consumer journey doesn’t end at purchase. Help travelers prepare to jet-set by arming them with the right information to craft their best personalized trip experience: packing tips, dos and don’ts, city guides and itinerary plans.
  • Travel: When bags are packed and travelers are out the door, your brand can act as an experience concierge by recommending in-the-moment engagements. Equip them with must-do checklists, hot spot maps and opportunities to engage while on the go.
  • Share: What people share during their travels becomes organic discovery content for their friends and followers. Help them make it Insta-worthy with suggestions on when and where to snap the best photos and videos during their trips—whether that’s selfie backdrops or photo ops for the family.

A latent opportunity

Ironically, most brands are either neglecting or underutilizing Pinterest. This means that there’s an opportunity to take advantage of building out content on the platform before your competitors do—because the last thing you want is some other brand diverting your guests after you’ve spent millions of dollars to grab their attention on other channels.

Unlike social audiences elsewhere, Pinners are using the platform to plan their best lives, and according to the research, they plan early. By joining the conversation early with relevant content for all stages of their journey, your brand can stake a place in a Pinner’s future consideration set before they’re ever ready to buy.

Tim Washburn is managing partner and creative director of creative agency Nomadic Agency.

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