Every brand, every product, and every service has its own story. The brands that are most successful have learned how to use the power of storytelling to further their business goals. They know how to tell the story of their brand and the story of the goods and services they offer, framing that story so that it translates into the benefit it has to offer. It tells customers why they should care about this or that brand, this or that product, over the other alternatives out there.
Why are stories so powerful? They’re powerful because of the way our brains work when we experience stories. According to recent research in neuroscience, stories activate the same parts of the brain as if you were experiencing the events in the story in real life, making the story seem like something you’ve experienced firsthand. Moreover, when a story creates an emotionally charged experience in the listener/reader, the brain releases dopamine, which helps in remembering events.
What does this mean for marketing, specifically email marketing? As a result of how our brains respond to stories, we see four distinct benefits of using storytelling in email marketing:
1. Stories create an emotional connection to your brand.
Stories produce emotional reactions. The story your brand tells, therefore, will produce an emotional reaction in your audience. That emotional reaction then become associated with your brand. It can inspire people to become invested in your brand—or it can drive them away. Consider the emotional connection that Nordstrom inspires with this recent example of email storytelling:
Subject Line: Thanks to the people who matter most.
2. Stories motivate people to act.
Stories inspire others by connecting a hope or need with an action required to meet that hope or need. They don’t have to be complicated to inspire people to act either. They can be as simple as introducing a product in an email and framing that product as meeting some hope or need that your audience has. Maybe the need is to finish one’s holiday shopping as quickly as possible. Or perhaps it’s to find the perfect gift for someone. Sometimes a story can speak to multiple needs simultaneously, as in this build-your-own-adventure story from Icebreaker.
Subject Line: Want to gift some next-to-skin love?
3. Stories are shareable.
Think about the last time you came across an especially apt meme or a video that made you laugh out loud. You shared it with your family and friends almost immediately, right? Because human beings are social creatures, we want to share our experiences with others. And because stories pull us in and elicit emotional responses (which makes them easier to remember—see #4 below), stories are things we readily share with the people we love. Take a look at this example of email storytelling from Sixt, which works to drive subscribers to a longer story it tells via video:
4. Stories are memorable.
People naturally remember a good story. As we mentioned earlier, when a story creates an emotionally charged experience in us, our brains release dopamine, which helps us remember them. As a result, associating your brand, products and services with a story is a powerful strategy for brand recognition, loyalty, and advocacy. Take, for example, this recent REI Black Friday email, which returns to the #OptOutside campaign the company started last year.
Subject Line: How Will You Be Spending Black Friday?
Stories inspire, encourage, and motivate people to act. Some stories are more effective than others, of course, and stories speak to people differently. As you’re crafting stories for your brand, be sure you keep your audience in mind and present your story in a manner that will appeal to them. Then, make the story available in the places they frequent online, whether that’s in email or social media or your web site, or all three. Last but not least, ensure your story is consistent across all of these channels.
Ready to tell your story? Get in touch with Filament for help crafting an engaging story that speaks to your target audience.