Let me tell you a short story: once upon a time there was a guy that wanted to prove the disadvantages of eating fast food regularly. Instead of writing down stats and facts he had an idea. He created a film script where he would show himself eating fast food every single day for a month and this would influence his health and everyday activities. What happened next? His film was a hit with more 22 million dollars at the box office. What Morgan Spurlock did is storytelling.
Storytelling is the key to boost sales. Simply because deals with emotions. Functional MRI neuro-imagery shows that, when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts). But what this means? That our brains are designed to understand and retain stories.
A story is a journey that moves the listener, and when the listener goes on that journey they feel different and the result is persuasion and sometimes action.(Jennifer Aaker)
As a marketing professional, you have to take advantage of storytelling to create news and catching strategies to acquire, engage and retain your customers. Marketing is too noisy and the number of marketing messages keeps growing every day. To leave your mark and don't let your brand get lost in the marketing overload consider creating stories to improve your email marketing strategies. How?
We will guide you through that:
- Storytelling rules
- How to optimize email marketing with storytelling
- Storytelling on emails: best practices
Even when the human race couldn't write they could tell stories. Children learn moral and social rules though fairy tales stories. So why would it be different with marketing? If you manage to create powerful and catching stories chances are you will easily engage your customers.
80% of people want brands to tell stories and 66% want to hear stories of regular people.
Although marketing professionals have been telling stories for decades, the variety of media options available to create and distribute the stories keeps raising. Social media, blogs, websites, video, infographics, photo-sharing, podcasts and much more enable brands of all shapes and sizes to tell their stories and entertain their customers.
When it comes to storytelling it won’t come as a surprise that you should focus on what people want to hear and share. Whether your are telling your brand's stories or using user-generated content to gain your customer's mind and heart you will sure benefit from the initiative.
In fact, we have listed few benefits of using storytelling as a marketing technique.
- Show your brand personality: storytelling is the perfect opportunity to showcase your brand's personality. Share your uniqueness.Your personality has a huge impact on how your customers will perceive your business and on how they will refer to you later on.
- Make your brand stands out: storytelling can make a difference. The most successful companies in the world use it intentionally and are always investing in a better way to tell stories. P&G, for example, has hired Hollywood movie directors to teach its senior executives how to lead better with storytelling. That is how important storytelling has become for marketing. So if you want to play with the champions you better start creating your own stories.
- Evoke emotion: people do want to feel connected to the brands that they use. If you tell true stories or stories based on true life facts you will probably touch your customer. Evoke feelings and emotions. Bring up memories. 55% of customers are more likely to buy a product in the future if they liked your brand's story.
- Engage and retain customers: storytelling is a great way to engage, delight and retains your customers. Start by telling your own stories and then invite them to be part of it. User-generated content can help you build trust and let your customer feels that they are part of something. Remember that different stories will resonate with different people, so use as much user-generated content as you can.
Stories give life to our experiences. Let your customers do the talking.(Shayla Price)
Storytelling is nothing like the obvious, sometimes invasive sales pitch that consumers are accustomed to. Instead, it builds loyalty and confidence while simultaneously entertaining your customers.
We already know that customers get hundreds of emails every day from most different sorts of companies. Not to mention business and social media emails. So it does come as a relief when an email is entertaining, fun or even emotional. If you haven't considered telling a story in your email marketing strategy you should.
By telling stories in your email campaigns you can help your customers to truly understand the pain your product or service solves, and increase their desire to purchase. There a few ways to do that.
The first idea is to use your own product or company's story. For example, why have you started your business or created your product? What problems were you trying to solve? What niche were you aiming? What's your vision? Mission? This story can be sent in a welcome email series. You can include a short video to back up your story.
Another idea is to use case studies. Contact your customers and find out interesting and helpful stories that can be used to motivate future customers. Does any company have or customer has something useful to share? You can share these stories on abandoned shopping carts emails, for example. It could be a sutil way to encourage your customers to purchase something that they left behind. If you are a B2B company you could send the email with an offer for a free trial.
If your customer has purchased your product you can send an authentic thank you email. Take the example below from Marriot Hotels. They have sent an email campaign that resulted in 86% increase in revenue. The thank you email featured a personalized video showing the Marriott Rewards members the number of nights stayed, cities visited, points earned, points used and more, during the year. They shared their customer's testimonials and experiences with their audience to encourage more people to take part in the Marriot loyalty program Rewards. The strategy worked not only because it's relevant but also because it brings back the customer's memories of the travels. Good memories usually increase the desire to repeat the action.
A similar idea was used by JetBlue. They sent a re-engagement email reminding customers of their last trip. By using personalized data they were able to create a history that connects the customer and the company.
If you want to go further and make sure that your customer will keep coming back for more create email sequences. Drip marketing alone increases open rates by 80%. Imagine if you add storytelling to the equation. Creating stories that are going to to be sent in parts to the recipients gives you full control over the context of what your customers are seeing and you can even consider changing the content of the emails if your rates are not as expected.
Consider using open loops to create engagement and excitement and get people wanting the next email. Imagine that you are in fact conditioning your customer: when they see the email hit the inbox they want to open it because they just know there’s going to be something interesting inside there.
Emails open rates are about trust and attention. Trust is something that you build over time with you customer over and over again by showing that your company is an authentic source of information. The attention you can get using storytelling on email sequences.
We might all be storytellers at heart, but of course, there are some tips that can improve the technique, especially when considering marketing storytelling. So we have selected some guidelines to make your storytelling on emails more trustable and persuasive. Check it out:
- Narrow your audience: use your customer's data to target the right audience. Basic demographics such as age, income, location and behavior can help you craft the right message to your personas. Find what's important to them and make your stories more relevant.
- Keep it real: we've mentioned before but this is the most important rule to consider when creating your story. Tell real stories or at least based on truth facts. Use real photos from your own company or customers. Never, ever consider buying photos. People know when a smile is fake.
- Left something for imagination: you have to make your customer wanting more. Stir their imagination. Leave your audience wanting more. How? You can use video teasers, for example, or divide a great story on 3 emails creating an email sequence. Your customers will be eager to see more.
- Visual, visual: who says you only need to write down your story? In fact, you have to add some visual in your storytelling strategies. 83% of human learning is visual. So do Include images, gifs, and videos in your strategy. Need more reasons? 75% of viewers visit a company's website after viewing a branded video. Videos are an easy way to create emotional connections. Focus on stories that your customers can relate and most of all, remember.
- Encourage user-generated content: create contests, interview customers, ask for testimonials on social media. User-generated stories will only increase your credibility and create deeper connections. Coca-Cola is always creating strategies to invite customers to participate in their marketing strategies. They've created the Share a Coke campaign where customers were encouraged to post pictures on social media with the hashtag #ShareACoke. The results were outstanding. More than 500,000 photos were shared using the hashtag and gained roughly 25 million extra Facebook followers as a result of the campaign.
- Test, test and test again: the old same rule applies to all your marketing strategies. Test your stories. See if they give the results you were hoping for. Did your click-through rates increase? Did you feel any difference in revenue? Keep testing and make as many changes as you can to achieve better metrics.
This is a new era for marketing communications – and I think storytelling (and the skills that are needed for that) will become an increasingly important skill for businesses. (Robert Rose)
Unlike other marketing trends, storytelling never goes out of style. The channels might change but the goal is the same: engage customers. Engaged customers are likely to become loyal customers and loyal customers are the most valuable asset a company can have. They usually have higher overall lifetime value and are more likely to be your brand's evangelists.
Emails don't have to be boring pieces of plain text. Create fun, catching and compelling stories where the ultimate plot is: “Why buying from us is a good idea.” Consider telling your own company story. From blog posts to transactional emails to social media posts, your brand story is made up of every interaction between you and your customers. Your job as a good storyteller is to make the pieces fit together in the best way possible.