Find out how to use storytelling to extend your conversions
In the not too distant past, I've set out on a journey to grow NeilPatel.com to 100,000 blog readers. At the end of each month, I shared my traffic stats and the changes made. This storytelling strategy helped my blog get over 100,000 views per month – in just about eight months.
As marketers, we use storytelling to make our ideas come true. We create stories to help potential customers understand our products, use company stories to build trust and transparency with consumers, and insert stories in sales pitches to persuade them.
Why does it work
Competition in domestic advertising and social media marketing is fierce. And the speed at which great content is produced and published on the web and across media channels is increasing. Our readership is drowning.
Most people scan web content and look for something that stands out. If you don't find it, go.
Visual stories and corporate storytelling can connect the dots and get people to REALLY read your great content and take action. This is the essence of successful media marketing.
If you want to increase your potential customer conversions, start engaging your target market by creating emotional connections through storytelling.
Storytelling is like a vitamin. When it gets into your readers, it permeates their whole being and fights any objection that might otherwise keep them from becoming loyal customers.
In short, it's an amazing secret weapon when it comes to your marketing strategy.
In this article, I'm going to explain the five simple steps you can take to improve your potential customer conversion rate by combining storytelling and data.
The breakdown of the information is as follows:
- What is storytelling?
- The elements of storytelling
- How to use storytelling to drive conversions
- Build authority through storytelling
- Storytelling success stories
Step 1: what is storytelling?
Storytelling is the art of communicating your idea, message or event by creatively using words, images and sounds in a narrative. Visual stories, written stories and verbal stories – this is the content we love.
When you tell a true story, your message will be perceived as authentic. Just as live events on social media channels get more retweets than general tweets, your content affects the life of your target market and improves your credibility.
Why should you use corporate storytelling in content marketing? We breathe visual stories. Even in the Stone Age, people knew how to tell stories that aroused interest and created this emotional connection.
This is one of the most effective ways to convince your audience.
Humans are born storytellers and love visual communication. Storytelling gives life or meaning to a scenario and creates that emotional connection, provoking feelings of ecstasy, sadness or peace and captivating your audience. This is exactly what you need for your digital marketing strategy.
It's no wonder that visual story and visual communication posts generate more Facebook and media channel shares than any other type of content.
As it turns out, visual stories and communication (e.g., infographics, videos, memes, screenshots) are becoming widespread on the major social media channels.
Your prospects aren't looking for another sales pitch or an offer that sounds too good to be true. You have heard enough about it.
For example, as you write, use relevant images and great visual stories that will keep people interested.
When recording a podcast, you can also use music and sounds that trigger emotions. You can use words, images, visual stories and sounds all at the same time to create video.
A study conducted by Forrester Research found that 88% of corporate executives and decision makers look for conversation rather than intrusive sales presentations.
Visual Stories allow you to create and promote infographics over a two year period that together generated over 2,500,000,000 visitors and 41,142 backlinks for me.
I usually post new infographics every Friday and the results have been amazing.
You can also create visual stories and content and send them to authoritative media sites and platforms such as Slideshare, Vimeo, and Animoto. This will help you attract a new target market and potential customers for your company.
Corporate storytelling with conviction
Persuasion is the main key with which you can activate your conversion vault for your potential customers. Robert Mckee was right when he said that "storytelling with conviction trumps statistics".
Marketing is for people and people are emotional beings.
Our brain is wired to respond to emotional connections and triggers. Storytelling is the most natural source of these triggers.
Once you understand how to convince others, you will no longer struggle to get more traffic. Instead, focus on improving conversions because that is what matters.
How do stories convince a target audience of readers or potential customers to take action? This is the goal of developing a content marketing strategy and writing in-depth content.
Moment of truth: What potential customers perceive to be true will ultimately guide their actions and decision-making processes. Consumer perceptions may or may not be accurate, but they will live by them anyway.
What truth do you convey to them when people visit your website or media pages? Are you giving the hard sell to visitors if they're still trying to get to know you?
Instead of starting with "Once upon a time" or a variation of it, weave your story into your content. Stories can even appear in your headline, introduction, and most importantly, on your landing page.
Add experiences, case studies, research studies and key findings that you have helped your clients. These are the basics of your story.
I've used storytelling in the past to motivate my readers too. For example, I shared how I made $ 692,500 from $ 162,301.42 on clothing.
Personality: Norwegian writer Rune Belsvik once said that the concept of the story was "one of the first things to come into the world".
Our personality arises from stories. We are created to share and listen to stories and fall in love with visual stories. So storytelling is a natural tool to grow your audience and increase your conversions.
In the same way, storytelling will add flavor and benefit to your content because it comes from a "personality" – a set of characteristics that make you special and attractive to others.
Open strong at the beginning of your content and establish your story. Build interest in the message in the middle.
Highlight the benefits of the subject and conclude with a call to action that is persuasive and non-intrusive.
David Siteman Garland, founder of The Rise To The Top, uses this strategy to write his copy. He starts his story on a strong note, gradually arouses interest by showing the results in the middle, and calls his readers to action at the end.
Here is the beginning:
Here is the middle of his copy, where David piques interest through success stories:
And finally, the call to action at the end:
Note: Established bloggers and internet marketers who have built solid businesses are using content segmentation to improve their conversion rate. And because they're creative at storytelling, they can be more successful.
The sooner you master the art of storytelling, the better for your brand and online business. Social media is redefining storytelling in a meaningful way. Know your audience and be authentic in your written and visual stories.
You have been through a lot in life and have endless stories to tell.
I don't think you should make up stories. Instead, take advantage of the wealth of stories from family members, friends, customers, entrepreneurs, and brands.
Then, like the back of your hand, target these stories to the audience you met.
Step 2: learn the elements of storytelling
Whenever you tell or share a story with your prospects, you want to get a specific result.
You want enough general knowledge to take your content marketing efforts to the next level. Then make sure you include the following storytelling elements.
A defined target group
Have you already defined your audience? Before you can successfully tell a story, you need to have a qualified audience to enjoy it. Most people get it backwards, if they do it at all.
However, you need to define your target audience first, as this in turn defines your product both inside and outside of social media marketing.
Over time, you will build relationships and connect with your potential customers and audiences. These send you great feedback that will help you define and improve your product.
How do you clearly define your target group and your potential customers? There are several options, but I've personally found demographics to be the first step.
If I can really understand who my target audience is and where they are browsing my website, then I can target my content and tell a better story.
Your audience demographics is only one segment of the market, but it does give you a good understanding of their full person or profile.
Here are the four easy steps to defining your target audience based on demographics:
Go to Alexa.com. Enter your website URL (e.g. lewishowes.com) and click Go.
On the Alexa results page, scroll down to find your results.
From the screenshot above, it can be seen that LewisHowes.com visitors are predominantly female, have graduated from college, and browse the site from home.
If I were Lewis, now that I know my audience is predominantly female, I would target my content around storytelling nuggets that appeal to both men and women, but are geared towards the women. On the educational aspect, I may not do anything further as college graduates can effectively read and live their dream lifestyle.
However, since the majority of this audience is browsing from home, I would also try to give them worksheets or actionable tips that they can implement right away, as they would not have a boss to check what they are doing.
With your target demographic, you'll want to dig deeper into the subject. Knowing your audience's interests is a crucial step in identifying their biggest challenges and using storytelling to solve their problems.
The following suggestions will give a clearer picture of how best to use any social media channel:
- If you are into fast-paced consumer goods (i.e., not luxury items), Facebook is your ideal social media channel to attract an audience since users are mostly young people.
- Twitter is a microblogging platform for news-like updates. Use the social media channel Twitter to keep your target audience informed about what's happening with your website, your company or your community. It is not for sale.
- In addition to clothing and decorative arts, Pinterest prefers food and drink-related products. Family and relationship products also tend to get more likes and repins.
- Clothing, accessories and entertainment products do very well on Instagram because the users are mostly female.
After all, LinkedIn is the platform of choice for business communication. So if you want to attract business-minded customers, LinkedIn will far outperform Twitter and Instagram.
The second most important element of storytelling is a measurable goal.
Anyone can set a goal, but how many people can effectively measure it?
Smart marketers want to track their progress.
If you set yourself a goal that you cannot measure, you are missing out on the potential for expansion. For example, they don't know what other factors are required when setting a bigger goal.
Here are some tips for setting measurable goals:
Start small: I believe in thinking big, but you should also keep your goals realistic. If you start on a smaller note you are sure to hit the target and know exactly where you are going.
"10,000 visitors per month" is not realistic at first.
However, you can set a smaller, specific, and measurable goal, such as: B. "Generate 1000 blog visitors per week by choosing 25 long-tail keywords and spending an hour a day building relationships on discussion forums and social media platforms."
This latter goal is measurable because you can use Google Analytics to determine which keyword phrases are performing well on the search engines. You can also keep track of your marketing activities on social media and understand the best times to tweet.
You'll also want to measure your progress when using storytelling to meet marketing goals. Otherwise you have no way of knowing if or how your conversion rate will increase.
Set a schedule: In order for your goals to be measurable, you need to set a schedule. What will you do every day to achieve your goal?
A schedule keeps you organized and increases your productivity.
Your schedule should match your deadline and help you focus on the most important tasks.
For example, if you have a measurable goal of generating 1,000 search visitors per week by targeting 25 long-tail searches, your daily schedule might be as follows:
- Do your research and choose five longer keywords: If I was in the weight loss / fitness niche, I could pick these easier to target keywords: How to Lose 20 Pounds, Want to Lose Weight, Best Weight Loss Exercise That Works, Top 10 Fat Loss Programs, and Help Me Lose Weight Fast.
- Read books, blogs, watch videos, etc.: I want to learn as much as possible about the subject before writing. There are helpful resources that I can easily access with a quick google search.
- Write my headings: This is important if you want users to click, read, and share your content. Spend 20 minutes to an hour on your headline because if you don't hit the headline you are wasting a lot of potential. To save time writing headings, find a headline in each industry that will grab your attention, then use it as a model to create a better one that is relevant to your own industry.
- Write the content: First, create an outline for your content, then expand it to create your content or video.
- Set a deadline: According to Nolan Bushnell, "the ultimate inspiration is the deadline". Without a deadline, you are not inspired to act now to get a significant result because the clock is not ticking.
If you're using storytelling to increase your conversions, every piece of content you write and every landing page you create should have a measurable goal with a schedule and deadline.
Attributable data: The grudge game between storytelling and statistics rages on. But instead of choosing one or the other, you can combine the two when creating your content.
I rarely write content without using data to back up my claims. Personal opinions can only create limited trust in your target group. However, if you can prove what you say with statistics, you will get loyal customers.
Check out my last post to see how I've positioned myself as an authority by referencing something Google said:
Sharing a story about how you went from broke to millionaire can't do much for your customers unless you use data to prove it.
If there isn't any data or case studies on the story you're sharing, you can share your own data.
Make diagrams and make it clear that after a series of experiments, you found this.
The fourth element of effective storytelling is belief. You can't influence people if you can't convince them.
In his bestseller Influence, Dr. Robert B. Cialdini states that reciprocity, commitment, social proof, authority, sympathy, and scarcity are the strongest factors in the psychology of belief.
The focus is on the following: These six factors cause people to change their behavior, follow the course you set, subscribe to your email list, and buy your product even if they don't necessarily need it right now.
Let's look at an example of how social proof can increase sales.
Cialdini defined social proof as "the art of doing something because you see others doing the same". You just follow the crowd.
Here's an example of how Social Proof drives conversion: Modcloth is a clothing store website.
It's a great community where buyers vote on the styles they think the website should sell more in the future. Such styles have a "Top-Rated" badge.
The evidence of this unique form of social proof is that products with this badge sell twice as well as products without.
Here are more examples of top brands using social proof:
In Peep Laja's imaginative post, you'll learn how the other five Persuasion Principles Boost Conversions and how to use Cialdini's 6 Persuasion Principles to Boost Conversions.
Use storytelling to increase conversions
I'm amazed at how Huggies used storytelling to increase their conversion rate. Huggies and Ogilvy had a clear and measurable goal – to bond with expectant mothers and to deepen their relationship. They wanted to build engagement even before the baby was born.
To achieve this goal, Ogilvy decided to include expectant mothers. With their “Delivery Hugs” campaign, they created a powerful video that triggered a strong emotional response from people, especially mothers and expectant mothers
The video has been viewed by millions of people. When these people shared the video and the story behind it, people were moved to tears.
Here are actionable ways to increase conversions through storytelling:
Develop a content strategy
Your content strategy simply refers to a structured plan that you use to create content, promote it, test your campaigns, and track your progress.
The content structure gives you ample opportunity to increase the effectiveness of your content strategy.
And you can easily achieve this using social media. When developing a content strategy, it's important to take stock of the leads you've acquired, the sales generated, and the underlying trends in your industry.
Use a story that people already know
You don't have to reinvent the wheel. You can use others' stories to create powerful, high quality, and evergreen content. Stories are the secret recipe for other people's success.
In All Marketers Tell Stories, Seth Godin asks every marketer three key questions:
- Do you have a story?
- If the right people hear the story, will they believe it?
- Is the story true?
The harsh reality is that if your story is great but you can't tell it well, no one will believe you. All marketers tell stories, but only those who have mastered the art of storytelling catch our attention.
Millions of other people's stories are available online. All you have to do is find one or more, tailor content around the stories, and link to original content.
This has nothing to do with duplicate content, plagiarism, or content curation. You create unique content based on other people's stories.
For example, I'm going to create an in-depth article on how Shopify tripled its sales. I'll give Shopify all due credit and appreciation, but the content will increase my search traffic and likely attract customers.
You can read people's stories on blogs or listen to their presentations, read their books, or involve them in one-on-one conversations.
There should be a beginning, a narrative that shows what happened and what lessons were learned from it, and a conclusion that shows exactly how the same story can change the reader's life for the better.
Lead with dialogue
Storytelling that focuses on two-way communication leads to faster growth.
Seth Godin says that "rapid growth comes from overwhelming the smallest possible audience with a product or service that they are so excited about that they insist their friends and colleagues use it."
I have to agree because if your product is not worth talking about, then marketing won't help. Both the content and the product must be very useful first, then everything else follows. It's about getting feedback from your target audience.
Vanessa Van Edwards, the founder of The Science of Things, uses dialogue in storytelling.
Vanessa understands that if her audience provides honest feedback through a quiz, she can use the body language data of 5,000 readers and create quality information products for them.
It even goes a step further by accepting research studies from readers. This single act gives readers a sense of belonging. They look forward to receiving Vanessa's newsletter and participating in anything body language related as they are part of the community.
QuickSprout also offers an interactive tool. It literally speaks to you as you paste your URL into the search box.
Sonia Simone tells thought-provoking stories by engaging with dialogue. A few years ago she asked a simple question that got my neurons going:
If you already have an audience through social networks, an email list, or a mastermind group, you can get feedback from them by submitting questionnaires through SurveyMonkey.
Focus on emotions
Our brains respond to stories more than anything. Robert Plutchik's "Wheel of Emotion" reveals some of the underlying emotions that affect your customers and which, when used, can increase your conversions.
Lisa Feldman noted in her book The Science of Emotion that, for the most part, people have little control over their emotions. Often they are automatic responses to our experiences. What we like or hate, and what we perceive as pain or pleasure, are just two types of emotional triggers among many.
Happiness is an emotion that makes us share. Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott noted that our reaction to our mother's smile with a smile of our own is usually the first emotional reaction we make in life.
When your content puts people in a state of happiness or joy, they automatically respond to your offers, feel obliged to share your content, and stop at nothing to tell others about you.
This is because happiness is tightly linked to the human brain. When it is experienced, it resides in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain.
It literally works from there. But it can rest until something – like a story – triggers it.
A baby's social smile further tells us that when happiness is shared, it ultimately increases and creates an atmosphere that encourages more happiness. What you share will actually come back to you multiplied.
Talk to your customers' thoughts, but address both logic and emotions.
Measure the impact of your story
If you've ever wondered why most brands have no problem doing media advertising while others stay on the sidelines, it is because they were able to take full advantage of storytelling. You need to measure your success – this is critical to making smarter content marketing decisions.
Planning, execution, and consistent learning are key factors that can help you increase your conversions. However, you need to measure the impact of your brand story.
Measuring social media activity is easy. However, measuring the impact of storytelling is a little more difficult because it has so much to do with emotional communication.
Step 4: Building Authority Through Storytelling
Social networks influence almost 50% of all IT decision makers. Verily, the world as we know it is changing.
In the past it was all about mass media. But today social media are taking over. We live in the age of authority. Traditional media may still be popular, but they lack effectiveness as it is a one-way communication channel.
Social media is different. When you send a tweet, you can get a retweet or comment from a follower and build trust over time.
When it comes to building authority through storytelling, you need some leverage in your business, family, society, and contact areas before people can trust you.
What you believe can be amplified if you can convince a select group of people.
How do you start building your own authority? Here is a simple three-tier game plan that has proven itself:
- Validate that you are an authority in your industry
- Focus on your creative voice
- Share stories that pull people instead of pushing them
Affirm You're an Authority in Your Industry
There is power in affirmations. When you affirm to yourself what you want to happen in your life or business, you can see it come to pass when coupled with smart action. Of course, you can’t just fold your arms and expect miracles to happen.
But, if you think you’re not qualified, competent, or decisive enough to influence people, it’ll show in your conversation.
Affirmations are positive statements that describe or convey a strong desire to achieve a specific goal or state of being, which is then repeated consistently until it’s imprinted on the subconscious mind.
For example, you can wake up every day and affirm, “Today will be an awesome day.” And, it most likely will be for YOU (though maybe not for EVERYONE).
Affirmations work because when you continually repeat a statement verbally, it influences your thoughts and actions.
For example, repeating to yourself, “I’m increasing my sales this month,” plants the thought into your subconscious mind, which then begins to imagine the amount of money that you’ll make.
Repeat to yourself, “I’m telling better stories” and again, your mind will call you to order and nudge you to search out a powerful story for your next blog post or product.
In his bestselling book, You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One), Jeff Goins said that “becoming a writer starts with a simple, but important belief: you’re a writer and you’ve got to start writing.”
And today, Jeff Goins runs a successful online self-publishing business. Even if no one ever believed in him, he affirmed it to himself repeatedly and it became so.
Jeff’s latest book, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do, is also full of affirmations. Goins’ work has been endorsed by the biggest names in the internet marketing world.
If you want to truly become good at something, you first have to believe in it.
Focus on Your Creative Voice
Storytelling is an art and therefore requires uniqueness and creativity. Your creative voice is what sets you apart from the crowd, just like your Unique Selling Point.
A post on Oprah’s website suggests that you find a quiet place to meditate and assimilate all of the information that you’ve accessed during the day.
When everything else fails, your creative voice will give your story a rhythm. It’ll alleviate boredom and take people on a journey of experience.
I love how the creative Gary Vaynerchuk builds authority through social media and blogging. He even advocates growing your brand by leveraging someone else’s.
In summary, here are a few ways to discover your creative voice and focus on it:
- Heed Oprah’s advice. Set aside quiet time to meditate.
- Learn from other people. Position your brand to benefit from their own.
- Know your target audience inside and out.
- Use storytelling to express your worldview, not to impress anybody.
Share Stories That Pull People, Instead of Pushing Them
Storytelling is meant to pull people in, not push or repel them. It’s about helping people become better.
Your story shouldn’t just be about you. Instead, it should relate to your audience and customers. It should pull them in and retain them.
When using stories to capture an audience, keep in mind that they may not necessarily want to know every detail – the outcome is what counts. Many people don’t want to know how painful giving birth to a child is, but we all want to hear the cry of a baby, right?
Seth Godin has authored over 20 books. His style of writing, which incorporates storytelling, pulls people in. Godin has many brand associates, who regularly refer clients to him. Take a look at this opening in a post:
As a content creator, writer, and business owner, you’re in this world to make a difference.
It’s not all about the money that you’ll make, but the joy of seeing your target audience and customers improve their lives, meet their goals, and smile again.
Step #5: Learn from Storytelling Success Stories
I’ve shared several success stories of how brand distinguished their products, customer service, and relationships with customers, all by telling real stories.
But, there are more storytelling success stories left to tell.
ITV’s Storytelling Launch
ITV had plans to create a new multi-screen ad format, which could be synced into other platforms. Their audience was mostly composed of smartphone and tablet users.
When ITV combined this innovation with visual storytelling, they were able to merge the benefits of broadcast TV advertising with modern tablets and smartphones.
During the X-Factor finale last year, the ad format was launched and it resulted in over 1,300,650 page views, with an average click-through rate of 8.75%
Jon Morrow is one of the bloggers that I deeply respect.
Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News, a regional media company in the U.S., wanted to expand its reach through social media. They understood that traditional media is fast becoming tiring for viewers and fans unless it’s integrated into their social lifestyle.
Using Hootsuite, they were able to control their social activities from one portal, streamlining their endeavors.
They empowered and persuaded their team to cultivate the habit of sharing news and updates on social media platforms. This strategy increased the company’s engagement with a growing local readership.
And, they succeeded. Here’s the result of their social media integration: