Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Lisa Michaels who is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant.
Businesses who have worked hard optimizing their e-commerce site often feel frustrated when they do not get the results they expected. When profits fall short, companies should try a new approach rather than giving up.
Businesses need to establish a bond of trust with their target market. Doing this requires honesty and a genuine concern for other people. Kishore Hiranand of Lookmatic.com succinctly expresses this concept:
“Find a way to be genuine. There is so much noise out there, and consumers are savvier than ever – you have to really believe in your product and have an honest commitment to your customers to find a message that resonates.”
Storytelling has become an important communication strategy that companies can use to build relationships with their audience, which can eventually lead to higher conversion rates. Understanding the underlying principles of storytelling can jumpstart firms in practically any industry.
For decades, scientists have known that the human brain recognizes stories as patterns. When people hear a story, they visualize themselves as part of situations described in them. Stories help people conventionalize the world, providing frameworks that teach, entertain, and shape thought. When engaged by a story, the brain responds in ways similar to the way it reacts to reality. Princeton’s Uri Hasson put it this way: “By simply telling a story, [a person] could plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into the listeners’ brains.”
Storytelling in Marketing
The ability of stories to simulate reality makes them ideal marketing tools. The emotional engagement of storytelling allows audiences to connect with brands in ways impossible with traditional sales pitches. In the online world, the potential of storytelling gives companies a way to differentiate themselves from the growing multitude of competitors. The Web has seen an explosion of content, as an increasing number of firms try to win the hearts of their audiences.
When browsing the Web, people use the so-called “F-pattern” to search for the best parts. They begin by scanning the top of the page and then by looking down the side. When the eyes see something interesting, they start to read the text, completing the “F” pattern.
Marketing specialists format their texts so that their titles and “hooks” create the horizontal components of the “F.” Each of the first two sections uses enticing keywords to communicate a single idea. By creating content that matches the way people read online content, you improve its attractiveness, causing readers to absorb more information. Content in the form of stories influences the way readers perceive companies, brands, products, and services. The following tips will help businesses connect with their readers through storytelling.
On the Homepage
Businesses should avoid the tendency to use their e-commerce site homepage to bombard visitors with sales and marketing pitches. Instead, the homepage should open with a unique and exciting narrative that tells a simple, attractive, and emotional story in which readers will immerse themselves.
Effective utilization of storytelling requires planning and creative design. The visual elements of the website and its user interface should encourage the participation of the reader. Businesses should deliberately create a unique voice through their vocabulary and sentence structure. The tempo and pace of a story give it added appeal, establishing visual connections to its underlying message.
The Eight Arms website offers a good example of a homepage that sets a visual tone that invokes emotions and prompts the reader to want to learn more.
On the About Page
Companies that deploy a compelling “About” page seize an opportunity to contribute to telling a story. Often, companies overlook their “About” page, focusing on pages they perceive as more relevant to the sales effort. However the “About” page on a website can rank among the top three pages people visit. The traffic volume gives the page tremendous conversion potential, so it should tell a story containing classic elements such as a protagonist, end goal, obstacles, and a moral.
“About” page stories should highlight the history, values, and mission of the business as well as other information that contributes to their unique identity. The story should also include manufacturing methods and a description of company culture. Check out the “About” page for Yellow Leaf Hammocks for a good example.
On the Products Page
Product pages must connect with prospective customers, so companies must conduct research to learn about the habits and characteristics of their target market. The information gained from market research will contribute to the construction of useful product pages that tell stories that resonate and convert.
Essential elements of a product page include:
- Effective design
- User reviews
- Quality images
- Product videos
- A call to action
- Prominent shipping and returns information
Rather than merely describing products, pages should tell stories that help readers understand their need for the product and how the product will meaningfully contribute to their life. Consider Bellroy, a company that sells thin wallets. Their product page helps shoppers understand why they need the wallet, and pitches the wallet as a way to satisfy the need. The page has a simple, interactive, and engaging design that creates an emotional bond with the reader.
Business should begin leveraging the power of storytelling on their websites, as well as in email newsletters and on social media platforms. The proven psychological effects of stories make storytelling an effective marketing tool that causes people to pay attention to and experience what a business has to say. The engagement of storytelling makes companies memorable, so website visitors will often return, even if they chose not to buy on their first visit.
About the author
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to reach her on Twitter or LinkedIn.