Storytelling Is the Inside Tip for Building Better Customer Relationships with Email
Seventeenth in a series
It’s a buzzy trend in marketing right now – because it works! So how are you actually supposed to use storytelling in your business emails?
Last time, we provided a few suggestions for the preliminary groundwork of successful email marketing. With that foundation laid, it’s time to focus on storytelling. It’s a term that has been plugged by marketing experts quite a bit lately, but it’s not really new.
Some years ago, a print ad for stair lift chairs ran the headline “Because Carol loves this house.” Those five words tell an entire story: The name “Carol” was more popular in the 1940s, so she must be an older woman. She has lived in the house long enough to love it and doesn’t want to move. The stairs have become a problem for which this lift is the solution. The reader who either knows a Carol or is Carol can immediately identify with the story.
What exactly is a marketing story?
Done right, a story is more engaging than reading a list of features and benefits. You’re still showcasing your product or service, but in a natural, likable way. Since you want the reader to identify with the story, the “hero” should be just like your perfect customer. This is where the work done back when you created a business plan comes in handy. Revisit the buyer persona you developed and use that profile to craft your hero.
What is a marketing story about?
All stories, from books to theatre to business, have three sections: The first section sets the stage. The middle section introduces a challenge that needs to be overcome. The end shows how the problem was resolved. In literature and film, sometimes the resolution is unfortunate, but your business story should always have a happy ending.
Start by deciding what you want your reader to do. Once you have that goal, you can come up with an analogy to relate the hero’s problem and tell what the hero did to have a happy ending. Draw from real life. Your past customers no doubt had problems that you helped them resolve, so tell their stories. Don’t forget to follow up with a Call To Action because if the reader sees themself in the story, they’re going to want to secure the same happy ending!
How long should a marketing story be?
You already know people have extremely limited attention spans these days, so aim for short, punchy stories. That said, you could extend a longer message over several emails. Think of them as chapters in a book. The book has a single theme and an over-arching main conflict to resolve, but each chapter has individual challenges that are also faced and won.
Sending a related series of emailed stories gives you extra opportunities to engage the reader. Maybe you didn’t get their attention until the third one, but now you have a better chance with number four and they might even go back and look at the ones they missed.
As a bonus, look for ways to reuse your emailed stories. Consider posting them on your website, linking to them from your social media, or turning them into videos, memes, and excerpts for other venues.
Telling the stories in which your customer is the hero is intended to encourage sales, but there are other stories you can tell, too. For instance, tell your own story. What challenges did you face? How did you overcome them? The intent of these stories is to nurture a relationship with your readers and build trust so that they continue to let you into their inbox.
Even if you have stories to tell, you may not have the time to tell them and that’s where the Sprocket team comes in. We’re happy to work with you to strategize a game plan for your email marketing campaign and help you realize it. Just give us a call to talk it over!
Photo by Hert Niks