Former Global Head of Customer Success and Operations at Pinterest
Dutta is the Former Global Head of Customer Success and Operations at Pinterest. He was responsible for all Post Sales and Customer Experience Departments, driving customer satisfaction and retention. Dutta was also heavily involved in launching the Verified Merchant Program to incentivise online shopping on Pinterest. Dutta previously spent 6 years at Google as Director of Customer Success for the Americas where he was responsible for $1.8bn revenue target and all post-sales organizations across Google’s advertising products. Read moreView Profile Page
Dutta, could you provide a short introduction to your background please?
I have a diverse background. I first trained as an engineer then took on different types of roles. My personal objective was to see how things got done. I spent time in product management, marketing, mergers and acquisition integration, operations and ultimately, customer experience at Google, where I had the opportunity to get my hands dirty transforming organizations with an objective of keeping the customer first.
At Google and Pinterest, I saw a holistic view of the end-to-end customer journey. I built teams that could grow and scale in terms of footprint and international expansion. In addition, from a cost perspective, we drove sustainable growth more profitably.
Before we dive into customers, how would you describe the typical Pinner?
A typical Pinner is anyone engaging with the platform to find inspiration and things to do. Pinterest's mission is to help people discover inspiring things they can do in real life. Most Pinners engage with Pinterest to find novel ways to explore. Pinterest is an interesting platform because it is very visual.
We have over 450 million users, a good number of which are international. When the platform started it was mainly women but is more gender balanced today. A large proportion of the audience are millennials.
What drives younger males to Pinterest?
Some Pinterest categories, such as good eating and lifestyle, also concern men. A great example is the food category and with COVID keeping people home, one can only do so many protein shakes. So a Pinner asks what other healthy alternatives can I make, taking an existing recipe and substituting ingredients to alter the fat or protein content? Those are questions both sexes ask and what they look for on Pinterest.
Many people search for Keto recipes and seek out which aspects they can swap to create new things. Another gender-neutral area is gardening which may not be an activity they have engaged in before. If they want to have freshly grown tomatoes on their small patio, how do they do it? Pinterest excels at helping you figure out how to articulate that idea into an actionable set of steps to enact in real life.
How do you compare the Pinterest user journey versus a Google Search?
A typical Google Search has, on average, 10 keywords, which implies you know what you are looking for and are trying to make a last-minute decision and look for options. The user is at the end of their purchase journey, almost ready to buy, which is why Google advertising focuses on last click attribution and what happens at last conversion.
Over 96% of all Pinterest searches are unbranded. This implies customers are still in the consideration phase. They know that want a Keto recipe but are unsure if it is plant-based or one they want to modify. Brands have not come in yet so it is more mid-funnel. They are aware but they have not made a decision yet, which is amazing from a user's perspective; we help them make their vision a reality. On the flip side, it also provides our customers, the advertisers, an opportunity to present their products more neutrally.
Once you are looking for a Nike shoe you are deciding which style you want for exercise. If you are looking for fitness routines however, then many more companies could choose to offer you their product.
There was a comment in the S-1 that the engagement on Pinterest is the equivalent of searching through 50 pages of Google Search and, therefore, a much deeper, longer engagement from users on Pinterest versus Search.
Our engagement is on average 10 minutes per session whereas most other platforms have a rapid news feed scroll based approach. Users constantly flick through ideas and each creator or influencer attempts to grab their attention with something which will pause the scrolling action. Pinterest users are there with an intent to look for ideas to make real.
Could you describe the middle part of the purchasing funnel which seems to be quite opaque?
From an advertiser perspective, at some point, somebody buys something. At the end of the funnel everyone competes in an auction where competition drives prices. The best way to look at things is return on ad spend. Are you getting incrementality and can we prove those elements through either first or third-party information?
Pinterest operates in this less competitive mid-funnel position for advertisers where they can bid much cheaper on keywords or spaces where the consumer lies, rather than at the very competitive end of the funnel?
Exactly, similar to distributing fliers near your favorite coffee store offering $2 off a cup of latte. They are literally on the block and would probably walk in and grab the thing anyway, but now every transaction you lose $2. If you spread those $2 in a different way by attracting people in other areas to entice them to your coffee, you get new customers who were not already in line. That is the difference between a mid-funnel and bottom of the funnel markets.