Humans love stories. From an early age, we’re told stories to entertain and inspire us. It’s no surprise the marketing world has embraced storytelling; it’s one of the most effective ways to connect on a deeper level with consumers and humanize a brand.
In ecommerce, storytelling is vital, because brands need to cut through the barrier of the computer screen to connect with strangers. But when it’s done right, any brand can stand out online.
What is Storytelling in Ecommerce?
Storytelling is simply building a narrative around your company and its products. Everything you tell readers about you, your company, your products, and your services is part of the story.
You can use storytelling on your homepage, about page, product pages, and across your social media accounts. It all helps to create a context in which potential customers can understand who you really are.
For example, if you’re selling a brand of coffee, you don’t just say it tastes good; you talk in detail about how your company founders travelled the world, looking for the perfect blend of coffee beans. It can add a sense of adventure, credibility, and exclusivity to your brand.
Why Storytelling is Important for Ecommerce Brands
Stories add authenticity to your content. They grab the attention of readers and help you communicate on a more emotional level. They’re a crucial part of developing a memorable brand, attracting new customers, improving your credibility, building customer loyalty, and driving sales.
Storytelling can give your brand depth. It shows that you offer more than just a product or service; you have values that people can relate to and be a part of.
It’s no wonder most “tune out” of traditional advertising methods. The volume of data consumers is exposed to is overwhelming:
- Every minute, more than 2 million Google searches are performed
- Every day, consumers process around 100,000 digital words, and see approximately 5,000 marketing messages
- Every year, 3 trillion ads are sold online
Ignoring marketing messages has become almost automatic; around 79 percent of people scan content, rather than read every word. But storytelling has the potential power to stop people from tuning out.
Develop stronger relationships
To make your marketing messages more effective and to strengthen the bond you have with customers, you need to make your audience feel like you understand them.
The most successful brands build relationships with their audience by defining their brand with a core set of beliefs. This adds a perceived value to the products and services, makes consumers feel a part of something great and can create brand ambassadors.
The most obvious example of this is Coca-Cola. People don’t mind paying a higher price for the product because they feel an emotional attachment to the brand. In the same way, Nike uses storytelling by associating its brand with star athletes – it’s not just selling the shoe’s features, it’s selling the feeling you get by wearing the shoes.
The trick is to select stories that potential customers can relate to and speaking the language of your target audience to connect with them on a more personal level.
Stories are motivational
The best stories motivate people to take action more than a standard sales pitch. Before you share a story, think about what you want your audience to feel and what you want them to do next. When you weave into your story a call-to-action, people that relate to the story are more likely to take the desired action.
So how do you harness the power of storytelling? Here are 10 ways to make your stories more captivating and hopefully give you the competitive edge.
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10 Ecommerce Storytelling Strategies That Work
1. Focus on emotions. What do customers experience when using your products? Explain how customers accomplished a task before they had your product and how they felt. Then describe them using your products and how they will feel. Use words and phrases that focus on positive emotions.
Casper, the mattress company, does a good job of reinforcing positive emotions on their website.
2. Talk about how your product makes the customer’s life better. In other words, sell the benefits, not the product. What makes your products and services unique, and what do they help customers achieve? Perhaps your product allows people to spend more time with their family. Use images and videos alongside your copy to bring the ideas to life.
3. Explain how your company solves customer problems. State the problem, show that you understand the problem, and then explain how you developed a solution to make customers’ lives easier.
4. Make the story shareable. What is the core value of your brand? Build your messaging and imagery around this, and create a catchy hashtag that summarizes your core message. Encourage customers to tell their story using the hashtag, and use social media polls to promote your campaign.
Have a look at this print ad from 1990 by Nike. This is copywriting and storytelling at it’s finest.
5. Be more transparent. You could explain your manufacturing process, describe your company culture, explain product costs, or describe company setbacks and how you overcame them.
6. Be socially conscious. Can you give something back to the local community? You could donate your time to a local event, donate gifts to a charity, or sponsor a local project. Whatever you do, it can be built into the story of your brand which you can share with your audience.
TOMS started with a buy-one, give-one system where every paid of shoes purchased meant that a pair was donated.
7. Highlight your brand’s origins. If you have an interesting story to tell about the evolution of your brand, share it. What setbacks did you overcome? You could bring your location into the story.
8. Humanize your brand. Talk about individual staff members and the many different ways they contribute to your company. How did you become who you are today?
Frozen-foods company Amy’s Kitchen nails this technique on their website. They tell readers how they sold handmade pot pies out of the family kitchen during the early days of their business and never imagined the enormous success that lay ahead.
9. Enhance product descriptions. In the final stages of the buying process, storytelling can push the customer toward a purchase decision. Use product descriptions to build authenticity. How was it made? What unique materials do you use? Again, you can highlight how a product will improve the lives of consumers.
10. Use real-life stories from customers. Either interview customers, or ask them to share stories about your company, products, and services. User-generated content adds authenticity to your storytelling. Connect with your followers on social media. You can even offer prizes for the best story or picture.
CoSchedule does a great job of incorporating real-life stories on their website. The callout below is from a quote from a solopreneur and includes a link to a blog post that tells the story in-depth.
How to Tell if Your Story is Good
If you’ve put together a brand story and aren’t sure how effective it is, here are a few things to look for:
- Publish stories that are relevant to the time of year and current events.
- Craft each story from the perspective of your ideal customer.
- Find new or unusual ways to tell your story. Surprising stories are more memorable than predictable ones.
- What is the challenge your customer has to overcome or the problem your product can solve?
- You’re not trying to sell a product or service; you’re selling the results you offer and the feeling people get from using your brand.
- You’ll lose credibility if your audience thinks you’re being dishonest. Don’t appear evasive in your motives and avoid using jargon.
In a crowded ecommerce world, companies that use compelling and emotive stories are often the ones experiencing greater brand loyalty and increased profits.
It may take more effort to weave stories into your ecommerce content, but when you get it right, it can be one of the most effective ways to connect with customers, strengthen your brand, and drive sales.
What stories can you use to make your brand stand out online?
Interested in using storytelling to elevate your brand? Our copywriting service connects you with professional writers able to create copy that sells.