By Matt Bertram, Enterprise SEO Consultant at EWR Digital and co-host of the SEO podcast “The Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing.”
Have you heard marketing analysts talk about using more informal ways to market products and services?
Perhaps one that involves creative narratives instead of line-by-line scripts?
Chances are you have, and it’s called brand storytelling.
Brand storytelling has been around for years, but its popularity is skyrocketing as digital marketing overtakes its print-form predecessor.
Storytelling in digital marketing addresses the needs of a fast-paced society in which people cut through the fluff and look to receive information faster.
How Does Storytelling Impact Digital Marketing?
Digital storytelling is no different than its traditional counterpart — other than how those stories are delivered. Nowadays, many people use online platforms to develop and convey their messages to others.
Storytelling in digital marketing combines these various forms of communication and marketing strategies to form persuasive selling points.
Here are three ways storytelling impacts digital marketing:
1. It Helps You Connect With Your Target Audience
These days, people are inundated with marketing ads.
You can hardly click on a website link without a barrage of pop-ups cluttering your computer screen or advertisements cascading down both sides of any article you read.
This has conditioned the brain to skim information and dismiss anything simple and mundane. It takes a creative story that goes above and beyond the vanilla to catch the eye of a reader.
2. It Builds Trust
Cookie-cutter marketing materials do not help you form a bond with consumers. Instead, it is informational and bland content that often reads like assembly instructions.
Storytelling is much more profound. It addresses consumer pain points and does not give off the cold and impersonal vibes of a hard sell.
People want to know that you have their best interests in mind.
3. It Feels Less Pushy
Consumers tend to shy away from aggressive, in-your-face hard sells.
In today’s world of online shopping, people can easily avoid those confrontations and uncomfortable conversations by clicking the “x” of their browser.
You should look to draw in a consumer by asking them questions and relating to them on a more intimate level.
How Is Storytelling Used in Marketing?
Once you understand how storytelling impacts your digital marketing approach, you should next look at how storytelling in digital marketing can convey your story to target consumers.
Three of those approaches are as follows:
1. Customer-Generated Storytelling
Nothing sells better than customer approvals.
As communications technologies continue to advance, consumers have more platforms to share their reviews of products and services. For obvious reasons, people tend to trust their peers more than they do corporate marketers.
As such, it is essential to provide a similar platform for your clients and allow them an opportunity to tell their stories.
2. Data-Driven Storytelling
Digital data is everywhere and continues to grow in waves. Leveraging any data available to you that develops engaging stories is crucial for keeping pace in the ultra-competitive digital marketing world.
People process images much quicker than they do text, and by utilizing digital data to create visually impactful stories, your ads will attract more attention.
It is important to remember that an ad (or a story!) does not always need to rely on words.
3. Mini Ads
A side effect of advancing technologies is that the average person’s attention span is getting shorter.
The more traditional, drawn-out forms of advertising are losing ground to “mini ads,” which are short snippets of teaser information.
They do not say much, but they are just long enough to trigger a consumer’s interest without dragging on to the point of boredom.
Five Ways To Use Storytelling In Digital Marketing
Behind effective digital advertising is a series of proven strategies that help you connect to the customer.
Five of those strategies are:
1. Know Your Brand Story
Traditional advertising is rather formal and procedural. It outlines what a company is selling, provides information on that product or service and explains how consumers can obtain it.
A brand story is a narrative that connects with a consumer emotionally while also providing information. Rather than inundate a consumer with details, it answers the most critical question of all: Why is your brand on my screen?
2. Show, Don’t Tell
This concept is a time-tested and effective method used by creative writers to draw in the reader. Rather than come out and say what a character is thinking or feeling, the author makes specific implications that allow the reader to interpret and experience the thoughts and emotions for themselves.
The concept works similarly in digital marketing. It helps your audience recognize the value of your product or service through a descriptive story instead of a hard sell.
3. Keep Your Story Consistent
When you are looking to sell a product or service to a consumer, you should never change the narrative. Your message should remain consistent throughout the advertisement.
Otherwise, a consumer may smell a bait-and-switch or another type of false advertisement. This is an easy way to lose a consumer’s trust.
4. Create An Emotional Connection
People tend to be emotional, and that often affects purchasing patterns.
As the name suggests, emotional marketing targets a consumer’s emotions via subtle yet powerful and persuasive messages. These messages trigger (what many marketing analysts believe to be) a consumer’s subconscious purchasing urges.
This develops an intimate connection between the brand and the consumer.
5. A/B Testing
A/B testing refers to a randomized test where multiple variables (such as a webpage and specific page elements) are presented to different webpage visitors at one time.
The objective is to determine which version of that webpage or page element results in the most “click-throughs.” A click-through means that the advertisement generated enough interest for the viewer to click on the advertisement link and visit the next page.
In a world of overflowing data, fast-moving information and short attention spans, storytelling in digital marketing is essential to connecting with potential consumers.
Gone are the days of boring scripts and information overload. Instead, people seek advertisements that cut out the digital noise and resonate with them on a personal level.