May 2019 saw the television phenomenon, Game of Thrones, reach its conclusion. It’s fair to say, the final season has split audiences, with some bemoaning the rushed pace and others revelling in the culmination of eight seasons worth of quality television drama.
Without giving anything away, there’s a line uttered towards the end of the episode by one of the central characters, Tyrion Lannister. He says: “There's nothing more powerful in the world than a good story.” And, for about the only time in the final season, everyone’s favourite dwarf was right. Stories link us with their universal threads and are uniquely human. They hold an innate power, they are the oldest form of communication and the best stories resonate with us, move us to action and are the ones we tell others.
From a business perspective, powerful storytelling in your marketing can build better relationships with your customers, build brand loyalty, trust and respect, and be the catalyst for growing your business. Good communication is about what we say and how we say it; this is what storytelling is. And you can use the different content you create to paint a picture of your business. Are you factual and concise? Are you personable and friendly? Are you funny and informal? Are you thought leaders? Your brand’s story permeates through all your different digital channels - and email marketing is one of the most powerful tools you can use to tell your story.
How to use storytelling in email marketing
As we explained in a previous article, email is one of the best channels for building relationships with your customers. When it comes to using email marketing to tell better stories, here’s where to start:
When someone purchases something from you for the first time or signs up to your mailing list, they should receive a welcome email. In this email you have the opportunity to do so much more than simply say ‘thank you.’ It’s a chance for you to start telling your story, for getting your values across and to lay the foundations for the relationship you want to have with your audience.
Behind the scenes stories
People relate to people and using your emails to tell the story of what happens behind the scenes in your business is a great way to put a human face on what you do. Maybe you have unsung heroes you want to celebrate or you want to bring to life the process of how you create your product or service - whatever it might be, behind the scenes stories always have great engagement.
Going back to pop culture, if you saw the latest Black Mirror on Netflix, you will have had the chance to decide which direction the story goes. Interactivity in media is something we crave and, thanks to advances in technology, you can now use these kinds of elements in your email marketing campaigns. As an example, here’s something we created last year for Tom Raffield which brought interactivity in email to the fore.
Case studies and success stories
Letting your customers or clients tell their story, especially if it involves you helping overcome a problem, challenge or obstacle, is another technique you can use. Success stories and case studies are perfect for doing this. They also bring with them the added benefit of having your customers tell your audience how good you are rather than you having to do it yourself.
Make your customer the hero
The Hero’s Journey is a staple storytelling technique and something we all recognise. Never forget the customer is the hero in your story, not you. Your role in their story is to be their mentor and guide; you’re the Yoda to their Luke Skywalker and your job is to help them overcome a problem they’re facing. Great email marketing campaigns can perfectly position you as one of their valued ‘mentors’. This matters because, when your customers love you, they’ll stay with you, they’ll tell others how great you are and they will be the catalyst for your growth. Your email marketing strategy should be designed to help you build, nourish and grow these relationships.
When telling your story think about the language and images you use, be authentic and honest, relate to your audience, be personable and don’t always try to sell. Craft your stories in a way you know people will love.The very best stories stay with us. Sometimes they hit us like a sledgehammer and other times they creep up on us, sneaking under our skin when we least expect them to. But they stay with us because of the way they make us feel.
Your challenge is to find the heart underneath your communications, underneath your stories. Tap into the feeling and the emotion. Tell your story in a way that communicates this feeling to your customers because everyone, whatever their age or their demographic, loves a good story.