No story, no sales. Think it’s an exaggeratedly bold statement? I dare not. In fact, according to Arianna Huffington, “People think in stories, not statistics, and marketers need to be master storytellers”.
Moreso, statistics have it that storytelling can boost conversion rates by 30%. Even 62% of B2B marketers hold storytelling in high regard as an effective content marketing tactic.
Since marketers trust the power of storytelling so much, there must be something to it, right?
This article will be aimed at studying exactly what makes storytelling an insanely effective content marketing tool. In the process, I’ll also share some practical ways content marketers can weave in stories to their content that will drastically improve their conversion rates.
Storytelling is part of the human framework. The history of storytelling helps us know that telling stories is how we have been passing valuable information for centuries. Our ancestors were smart. They knew that there was something about the power of using stories to pass across information to their audience, and they made the most of it. That is why folklores were very popular in many cultures. And in the Bible, Jesus made most of his illustrations using stories, or what we call parables.
So, what makes storytelling so powerful? Stories make it easier for people to relate to your content. Why? Because a story told well creates a picture in the mind of your target audience and they see things play out in their mind.
For instance, after reading “There was this playful dog wagging its tail in excitement” you won’t be able to stop yourself from creating the picture of the dog in your mind. There is nothing hypnotic about that, it is just how our minds work.
So when you’re talking about a product or service and you start describing the experience in the form of a story, your audience sees it play out in their minds. They feel the same emotions they would have felt if they had the product or experienced the service. And if they can picture themselves having a great experience from what you offer, it creates a longing to buy from or hire you.
How can storytelling change the game in content marketing?
If storytelling is that powerful, imagine infusing it into your content. As content marketers, we’re constantly looking for ways to develop content that can efficiently reach the target audience and obtain the desired results. And judging from the statistics in the introduction, storytelling seems to do the trick.
Chris Haddad is an interesting case study. He was able to get his conversions up 400% just through the use of stories in the landing page of his product.
How did he do it?
Chris sold information products that taught women how to attract the perfect partner. Initially, the landing page of his product listed the benefits of buying his product. That was responsible for the two percent conversion rate. That wasn’t good enough. So, he switched his strategy.
Instead of just listing out the benefits, Chris shared the story of how his wife (who was his girlfriend at the time) was able to get him interested in her and keep him. That simple adjustment resulted in an eight percent conversion rate.
Three ways to introduce stories in your content
Chris is just one out of several other people who were able to do wonders to their conversion rates just by using the art of storytelling or what I call “story-selling”. Now that you know what storytelling can do to your conversion rates here are some ways you can weave a story in your content.
1. Let your customers tell their story about their experience with you
A research conducted by Nielsen revealed that 92% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they know while 70% will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t know. This means that we’re more inclined to believe what other people say about a product or service.
So, when a client shares their experience with your product, service or brand, then it will have a great effect in influencing the decision of your target audience.
Patagonia does a great job of sharing their customer’s testimonials. Former customers are encouraged to share their stories around WornWear clothing and it makes the reader all warm and fuzzy inside (pun intended).
2. Make your ideal client the hero
Did you know that you can use a story to get your target audience to play a more active role in the use of your product or service?
Every story has a hero and most times the hero is the most loved character in the story. You can create a story that paints a picture of your customer’s journey to solve a problem they’re facing and make that customer the hero in the story.
This will require you to take the focus off yourself and your business and put the spotlight on your potential customer. You’re only a partner to their success and not the one who “did the work” that contributed to the success of your customer. (I know you know the truth. Just don’t tell anyone.)
Salesforce captured this reality when they shared the story of how Room & Board, a brick and mortar furniture business was able to give their own customers a more personal in-store experience online.
3. Take them on a journey
Take the hand of your potential customers and lead them on a journey. There are different journeys you can take them on. You can take them on the journey through their problem and show them the path to finally solving the problem they’ve been battling with.
As they follow you on that path, your ideal customer will be able to identify where they’re at in the journey and see you as the bridge to where they want to be.
Another way is to take them on a journey through your story. How did you start the business and why? What challenges did you face and how were you able to surmount them? This can inspire a sense of purpose and meaning in such a way that they will associate your offers not just with what they gain from you but with a greater cause.
Where can you place your story in your content?
Now that you know the ways to introduce stories into your content, as a bonus, let me give you a quick hint on where exactly in your content you can insert your story. There are three places your story can show up:
1. At the opening
This is one that’s quite common. As you start reading, watching or listening to content, it starts off with a story. In this instance, the story is the hook that will get your audience wanting to read, watch or listen to all your content.
A classic example of this is Jon Morrow’s article titled ‘On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas’. It perfectly captures the attention of the readers and reels them in.
2. At the closing
After dishing out great value to your target audience, you may decide to end your content with a story to clearly illustrate what you’re talking about. Stories that you put at the end of your content should be one that practically shows how the value you shared comes to play or gives a picture of why you shared such value to your audience.
3. As part of the explanation
This may be more common than the other two I just shared with you. While sharing an important fact in your content, you may want to give it a bit more context with a story. The story helps explain the concept in such a way that your target audience can relate with the explanation you shared.
For example, the screenshot above is an article I wrote on how to turn your hobby into a profitable business, I made five points and weaved in a different story in each point. And using those stories my readers found it easier to understand the point I was trying to make. And by understanding these points, I could take them on the content marketing journey that ultimately converts readers to leads.
Check out this other example by Neville Medhora from his blog post titled ‘How to Publish Your Book Online for Free’. In this blog post, he shares how he was able to write his own book. You’ll see him refer to how he set a completion date for his book.
Wrapping it up
Storytelling is an age-old tool that was used to educate, entertain and encourage anyone who cared to listen to the stories. These stories were shared with others, thus increasing the pace at which they were shared.
Now that you know the power of storytelling, you can replicate the same effect when you work stories into your content. Because according to Brian Eisenberg, “Effective content marketing is about mastering the art of storytelling. Facts tell, but stories sell.”
It will take a lot of practice to be an expert storyteller, I know, but you’ll realize it’s worth it in the end.
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