A study finds Pinterest is a prime source for original traffic referrals to brands that cater to women, but still a dry well for paid ad clicks.

One of the primary methods for measuring social media marketing success is to evaluate referral traffic. According to a recent Yieldbot study, brands that cater to women can drive visitors to their pages by creating social media content for Pinterest. The report evaluated publishers in verticals such as health and wellness, home and garden as well as food and recipes that identify as creating custom content targeted toward women.

These brands reportedly saw 85.2 percent of their social media traffic coming from the virtual pinboard site.

Pinterest significantly outperformed other major networks like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. While Facebook was the original referrer source for 8.3 percent of monthly Page Views, Twitter was responsible for a minute fraction of that (0.5 percent) and Tumblr contributed just 0.1 percent.

Even though Pinterest appears to be an important source of organic site traffic, it does not currently drive the same volume of visits for advertisers. Pinterest fell behind Facebook and Twitter for sponsored ad clickthrough rates.

This might change in the future, as Brafton recently reported Pinterest is introducing paid content to its network. The site predicts the ads will be featured on the side panels of users’ pinboards and display content that’s relevant to their queries. Marketers who create thoughtful and Pinspiring sponsored ads might soon see realize that Pinterest is driving strong results for their paid efforts as well as organic campaigns.

The findings from this study also prove that the importance of audience targeting can’t be overstated. Marketers hoping to reach female consumers should be on Pinterest, sharing visually striking images of products, projects and ideas. At the same time, an investment in this channel may not prove as fruitful for a brand targeting older men. When companies practice due diligence through social listening, they will determine which channels are gathering places for their ideal prospects and how they can best be reached with custom content.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.