Once Upon A Time: Brand Storytelling That Drives Conversions

It’s no secret that today’s online shopper is increasingly dissatisfied with traditional marketing methods. They don’t want to be sold to; they want to be engaged with through exciting narratives and interactive experiences.

Consumers are bored with the typical shopping experience (homepage, category page, product description page, rinse and repeat). So how can brands stand out from the noise? If the popularity of digital apps like Instagram or Netflix are any indication, consumers want stories.

In fact, an incredible 92% of consumers say they want brands to tell a story with their marketing. They want their online shopping experiences to go beyond a category page.

Shoppers desire a level of engagement, entertainment, and connection that can be found in smart and strategic storytelling marketing. Whether it’s a nurture campaign that spans six months or a digital lookbook for a fall collection, you’ll find buyers happily consume stories across every channel.

Why storytelling content matters to your customers

From the first etchings on a caveman’s wall to the rise of the Kindle, humans are naturally drawn to stories. We look for them everywhere as a way to make sense of our world. Stories are a means to connect, to share, and to deepen emotional ties. They inspire us, motivate us, shock us, entertain us — and most of all — they engage us. This engagement is why storytelling content matters to marketers. Engaging customers through stories can transform your website from a simple collection of products or services into a source of real emotion.

This emotion is the key to creating content that connects with consumers. A recent study by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising found that campaigns with an emotional core performed twice as well as campaigns without one. Providing this emotional connection also makes your digital content more memorable, and this stickiness translates to customer loyalty.

From a purely metric-driven standpoint, storytelling content is a clear winner. Content that tells a story:

  • Keeps shoppers exploring your website, improving engagement metrics like time on page and bounce rate.
  • Makes buyers more likely to share stories than products, improving visibility across social media.
  • Makes it easier to justify a purchase that’s tied to an emotional connection than one that is not.

Overall, when your brand invests in storytelling content, you’re also investing in a significant source of revenue.

Storytelling across industries

When you think of storytelling, it’s likely text-heavy editorial content that comes to mind. It’s certainly the most literal form of storytelling, and therefore editorial content is a strong way to begin creating storytelling content.

But any savvy digital marketer knows that while editorial content is great for SEO, large blocks of text can often deter the casual skimming shopper. So how can editorial content be presented in a way that’s both informational and engaging? Simple – it needs a good story behind it. Here are a few great examples of brands that do this well.

1. Citizens of Humanity

Citizens of Humanity delivers this elevated editorial experience through their #WEAREALLHUMANITY content series. Told through a series of interviews with brand ambassadors across all walks of life, shoppers learn not only about the men and women profiled, but also about the brand itself.

As they read the stories of the ambassadors, they are simultaneously unearthing who the “Citizens of Humanity” brand is and what they represent. This is a true example of storytelling content done right, adding a layer of authenticity to the brand.

2. Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols takes the concept of storytelling content to the next level with their innovative and surreal partywear guide. Via one long-form, interactive, and highly visual experience, the brand takes you through an evening of parties and celebrations. But really, it guides the shopper through a night as a Harvey Nichols woman, creating an aspirational fantasy that shoppers want to experience.

Beginning with a literal party invitation via text and then finishing with some late night snacks, the story is simple but high-concept: a group of friends going out for a night on the town. There’s a distinct beginning, middle, and end, making the story easy to follow and engage with. Using interactive features like gifs and lightboxes allow the shopper to engage and play with the experience from start to finish, while an easy “shop-the-look” option makes the content shoppable and profitable.

What truly makes this Harvey Nichols experience stand out is how perfectly targeted it is to their customer. Their customer is glamorous and social, and this storytelling experience perfectly encapsulates that identity. It’s clear Harvey Nichols knows exactly what stories resonate with their audience. To replicate for your brand, consider what stories customers not only want to hear, but also what stories they want to be a part of. These are the stories that will make your content stand out from the noise.

3. Godiva

Marketers know there are many ways to tell a story – through written words, images, or video. And sometimes you can combine all three for a dynamic, multimedia shopping experience. Godiva does just that with their truly unique Chocolate Education experience. Within this long-form buying guide, they tell the story of their brand, their chocolates, and their chefs through a rich variety of visual mediums.

As shoppers scroll through the experience, they are guided through Godiva’s chocolate collections via a truly unique and multimedia educational journey. From learning where the word “ganache” originates to meeting the Godiva chefs themselves, the experience tells the rich history of the Godiva brand. Customers can even click to activate a timeline of the Godiva company.

There’s so much to see and explore, shoppers are sure to stay engaged with the experience. And as an added bonus, ecommerce-enabled lightboxes make the whole experience shoppable. Meaning this beautiful content is not only engaging — it’s also a conversion driver.

Next time you’re creating storytelling content, consider playing with different mediums like video and imagery. It’s a smart and easy way to make content exciting, dynamic, and to tell a story that truly comes alive.

Get Inspired to Tell Your Brand Stories

If your content feels stale and lacking inspiration, storytelling content might be exactly what your brand needs, and what your customers want. After all, messaging that is delivered as a story has been found to be 22X more memorable than just facts and statements alone. And the more memorable and high-impact your online content is, the more likely shoppers will not only buy from you today but will continue buying from your company in the future.

Storytelling content can seem intimidating to dive into, but it’s so versatile that any brand or company can effectively create it. From videos to interviews to images, storytelling content can be delivered in countless formats. What matters is that it feels authentic, has a strong point of view, and reflects the interests and personality for your customers. When storytelling content is done right, it’s more than a revenue generator; it’s a brand differentiator.

This article was originally published by our friends at Zaius and Zmags.

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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of VisionPros.com, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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