It’s a term that you may have heard quite a bit over the last twelve months: ‘Story based marketing’. It sounds like many other fads – slowly floating in and out of the industry like so those before it. QR codes. Keyword stuffing. The Yahoo! Bing Network. All fallen soldiers for our brave and noble fight against low conversion rates.
But storytelling in marketing has been proven to be hugely successful. Marketers and advertisers have realised that the emotional engagement of a story – as opposed to a statistic or study – is the holy grail for modern branding.
Storytelling is powerful
Take this study by Nielsen. It’s clear that ads with personal relevance, rather than just facts and figures, are far more effective. Plus, the brands that use story based marketing, generate more trust with their audiences. It’s hardly surprising. What would you rather read about? The sorbitol, mannitol and humectants that make up your chewing gum? Or the man who fearlessly ordered garlic bread on the first date thanks to his trusty Spearmint sidekick?
Storytelling is perhaps humanity’s oldest tradition. Ask a Professor of History, like Yuval Noah Harari, how he reckons primates went from flinging poo at one another to the Manhattan Project, and he will explain simply; ‘Stories’.
In fact, our history is so steeped in recounting stories, that it can be seen in our evolution. Scientists have discovered that when we’re enjoying a really good yarn, areas of the brain responsible for empathy, compassion and cooperation light up, and our levels of oxytocin rise dramatically. This is your brain on fiction. We’re not just curious beings, we’re hardwired for stories.
It’s clear that all modern brands need to be harnessing the power of narrative to connect with their customers and prospects. We won’t run through the minuities of telling a good story – the secrets of writing are better left for another article. Instead, let’s focus on how best to deliver stories to our audiences.
Automation and storytelling – a match made in heaven
We all know good stories needs a hero, setting and a bit of conflict. We all know (with the exception of my in-laws at a Christmas lunch) a story needs a beginning, middle and an end. However, one thing that we often forget to consider is the context of our stories.
A joke, for example, might be absolutely hilarious when you hear it at the pub. Barry tells it like a professional and the entire bar roars with laughter and applause. But when you retell it a few weeks later, it falls flat. No-one even smiles. You’re left wondering what you did wrong, and why everyone is wearing black and the ladies all have veiled pillbox hats.
If content is king, then context is his throne.
When and how you tell your story is just as important as the story itself. You need to ensure it’s reaching your customers at a time when it will be most effective. Luckily, we live in the future.
Two words: marketing automation.
Marketing automation, in a nutshell, allows you to send the right customer the right message at the right time. It gives brands the ability to target their content to each individual, and make your marketing as relevant as possible.
You know the type of stuff we’re talking about. The ‘people also bought’ product catalogs you get in your inbox after you’ve bought something from Kogan or Amazon, for example. But can we put this incredible technology to work for our storytelling?
The answer is, of course, yes. We absolutely can.
Creating the perfect introduction
Once you’ve written a killer brand narrative, it’s time to figure out how best to deliver it – and to who.
First things first, how do you know who wants to hear your story?
Marketing automation should always be permission based. By allowing people to ‘opt-in’, you ensure your audience is eager to hear what you have to say.
Secondly, if your narrative is long form, don’t deliver it all at once. You might risk people not reading it all, or skimming through it absently. Instead, for the best engagement, and to keep your brand at the top of your customer’s mind, you might like to set up a flow that delivers your story, chapter by chapter, over the course of a week or so.
This allows you to build up a complete picture of your brand, your products, and why you do what you do. Plus, by putting your brand into the form of a narrative, you make it far easier for a prospective customer to remember you. Six to seven times easier, apparently, as shown by this experiment.
In the world of ecommerce, you need a damn good welcome series to introduce your brand and engage your customers. A proper brand narrative is the perfect way to stand out above the competition, and a welcome series is the perfect way to deliver it. Just remember, no matter how tempting it may be, don’t start yours with ‘Once upon a time’…
If you have any questions about marketing automation you need answered, get in touch with us! We’d love to show you the wonders it can do for your business.