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Storytelling in e-commerce: how will an online store benefit from it?

Storytelling is one of the oldest pastimes known to mankind. Spoken word is also used to convey information and create experiences. All these elements are implemented by storytelling, a marketing technique used on a large scale in e-commerce.
Read our guide to find out:

What is storytelling?


Storytelling in the context of marketing is the art of telling a story about a product, service or brand in such a way as to create a bond between the audience and the subject of the story. That’s why in the commercials we see on TV or the Internet, we don’t just learn that medicine X cures the symptoms of a sore throat. Instead, we learn the story of a man who, through a persistent ailment, was unable to give an important speech. In the course of the commercial, the patient takes the appropriate medicine, so he is able to deal with his problem and everything ends happily.

Such product representation has a specific purpose: to show the problem and present the solution, which is, of course, the advertised product. There are, of course, different approaches to storytelling in advertising. They can be concrete, but also abstract, humorous and maintained in a serious tone. It all depends, as usual, on what we advertise.

Storytelling is most fully presented in the form of video, but that doesn’t mean that with another medium we can’t tell a story. Both audio ads (used at least in stationary stores, for example, in supermarkets, or on the radio) and written ads can tell diverse stories.

Advantages of digital storytelling


Compared to television, radio press or outdoor ads, storytelling in the online space has several additional advantages.

Multiplicity of channels to reach with advertising

Ecommerce brands can tell the same story in multiple ways, combining blog articles, YouTube videos, short videos on TikTok or Instagram photo galleries.

The story can then be continued – for example, on a dedicated sales landing page or product card. This creates a consistent and credible message that can reach different groups of customers (who use different sources of communication with the brand) in a tailored way.

Feedback

This is one of the most essential elements that distinguish traditional advertising from online advertising. By giving customers a platform to speak up about your brand or the products you offer (just a comments section or the ability to leave feedback in an online store) you get to know their thoughts and find out what they pay particular attention to. Careful analysis of consumer statements will allow you to create stories in the future that are even more relevant to your audience’s tastes and relate to their experiences.

Data and analytics

By advertising online, you can quickly and relatively easily verify that the story you want to tell in promoting your product or brand is met with positive reactions. With tools such as Google Analytics or Brand24, you can act in an instant if the ads you run don’t meet your audience’s expectations.

Advertising on the Internet also allows for the fastest possible damage control when something goes very wrong. Your hands are firmly tied when it comes to promotion in traditional media – it’s not so easy to retract a TV ad or make adjustments to a radio spot.

Storytelling in e-commerce – benefits first, features later


While this principle can be applied to many advertising techniques, in storytelling it is particularly relevant. When wanting to tell the story of the new range of products you sell in your online store, it is impossible not to mention the improved elements relative to the previous generation of products (if any). However, this is not the clou of advertising.

What matters most to users is what they will be able to achieve with these products. The important thing is that an e-book reader allows you to take hundreds of extraordinary adventures with you anywhere. Slightly less important is that it weighs 389 grams. A lightweight hiking backpack allows you to fulfill your travel dreams and explore beautiful places – the number of pockets and a waterproof cover are also important, but you’ll need these items later.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should abandon describing product features altogether – you should provide more inquisitive customers with the opportunity to learn about them in detail. Storytelling, however, is largely about evoking specific emotions and consumer interest in a product, rather than presenting detailed tables filled with data.

The purpose of storytelling in sales


The goal seems obvious – to increase revenue. But before that happens, effective storytelling should capture the customer’s attention. This is especially important in the age of social media and ads that “attack” users at every turn. In a flood of similar content, storytelling becomes an effective way to grab the viewer’s attention. Story quality is a separate issue. A well-written story will not only hold readers or viewers to the end, but will also make them feel that they themselves can become characters in a similar story.

The effects of narrative marketing


What can actually be expected from the implementation of storytelling?

Greater coverage

A well-written story is something people like to share. The number of shares of content on social media is one of the most important indicators of the effectiveness of a given advertisement. Also of great importance is the algorithm, which must first “pitch” the content to the right number of people. Hence, it is essential to create storytelling ads in accordance with the platform’s standards.

Realistic ties with customers

Creating credible and consistent stories as part of your brand promotion will make it easier for your customers to establish a simple but positive relationship with your store. Storytelling can be implemented, for example, in email communication with consumers. Instead of a laconic announcement that the package is on its way, a story about a courier making his way through traffic first thing in the morning in order to get the product into the hands of the lucky buyer faster might be better.

Also an element of storytelling are annotations attached to packages, in which the store tells which employee completed and packed the order. It’s to show a human face and part of building the image of a company with a family atmosphere and concern for each customer.

A great example of this is InPost, which in its app in a light and familiar tone informs about the next steps that a package goes through on its way to the recipient.

More sales and higher sales value

The greater the reach and more interaction, the – necessarily – the greater the sales. By reaching a sizable audience, you have a better chance of closing more deals, in turn, by taking the time to build a relationship with users, you influence their loyalty, and therefore the value of sales in the long run.

How and where to use storytelling?


Writing a good story to help sell and then telling it skillfully is not easy. Equally important, however, is the circumstances under which we choose to share it. Just as a joke thrown at a funeral is not always a good idea, storytelling will not work everywhere.

What is worth keeping in mind?

The stories you regale your customers with should:

  • Be consistent – this way you will gain credibility and develop an unmistakable and recognizable style.
  • Interact with emotions – in storytelling, data and parameters are left behind. What matters is to show what positive emotions can be associated with the use of the advertised product.
  • Encourage action – at the end of the story – whether it’s a product description, video or billboard – show what can be done to make it a reality. Ensure a compelling CTA. It doesn’t always have to be an “Add to Cart” button. You can also use this way to ask people to leave feedback or share important information.

Start from the home page

Why is this one of the best places for storytelling? Because it is mainly people who are already interested in buying from your store, and therefore manifesting at least an initial commitment, who end up here. After all, to get here, they had to search for either the name of your store or a specific product on offer. Be sure, however – when trying to outline a story, not to distract customers from their purchases.

You can start the story with a slogan that will be displayed at the very top of the site. It can provide a good starting point. Another option is a background video – one that will not focus on selling, but just on telling a story. Do you run a sports store? You can present a story about crossing borders and climbing peaks. Do you sell handicraft materials? Show how easy it is to create something beautiful from them. Remember – customers should feel that they can become the heroes of these stories themselves!

A subpage about the company

The place where you can write especially strongly about your brand’s mission is the “About Us” subpage. Its undoubted advantage is that only those who are sincerely interested in the issue will get to it, while the disadvantage is that, as a rule, there is little traffic on such sub-sites.

Product descriptions and product pages

There may be a story associated with each product. Ensure that product descriptions are not taken alive from a random description generator (although you can, of course, assist AI when creating them). The key is to have the right idea and tailor the message to the audience.

Here are some examples.

  • A bicycle is not just a means of transportation, but an opportunity to take care of your health and fitness, explore new paths or have adventures.
  • The electric guitar will allow a young music student to feel like Jimi Hendrix.
  • A mechanical keyboard will make working on it more enjoyable, rest your joints, and an evening game with a pack of friends will provide a new experience.

Remember the problem-product-solution scheme. Presenting a troublesome situation from which one manages to recover by using a particular product is a simple but effective way to demonstrate the advantages of the advertised items.

What story you decide to tell is up to you and your customers’ expectations.

Mailing campaigns

Every email you send to your store’s customers is a unique opportunity to tell a story that will make them come back and shop right with you. Free delivery day? A promotion on one of the product categories? New products on offer? Each of these events can provide a great basis for an engaging, even if short, story.

Summary


We all like stories, but not all the same. When creating stories about your brand and products, you must remember that they should be authentic and believable (sometimes even true stories can be unbelievable). Don’t promise impossible things (sneakers won’t make a client a world champion in 100m running), but show possibilities.

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