Incorporate Storytelling for Killer Content Marketing

Which is a more interesting form of website content?

“We help businesses with their accounting.”

“We helped 1,275 businesses generate 20% more profit using a tactic that our founder learned while running another business.”

Storytelling is a critical component in any marketing strategy, whether it’s for B2B, B2C, or eCommerce. Here’s why:

A B2B is run by people. As cheesy as it sounds, they have hearts. They’re curious. They’re humans. They want to be treated as such. They want to work with other humans.

Between two equally qualified accounting companies, they’ll pick the one that uses storytelling every time. The latter example not only shares solid, authoritative information about their qualifications, they also hint at this mysterious “tactic.” That stirs their curiosity.

Everyone loves a good story.

B2B writing does not have to be like writing dry reports in college. In the 2016 B2B Content Marketing report, the authors surveyed several content marketers and found that writers are wising up.

Why storytelling is critical

An average blog article takes three hours 28 seconds to write. Incorporating storytelling adds to that time. Whether you’re writing the content yourself or have hired someone, it’s essential to understand why the extra time is worth the expense. The main reason?

The ROI is high.

Storytelling evokes emotion

If your goal with B2B or B2C marketing is to boost sales, storytelling should be a key part of your strategy. Studies show that buying decisions are 20% logical, 80% emotional. Creating a sense of urgency can also boost sales.

Building a brand or authority: A NY Times study found that emotional articles are shared more often.

A good story makes people feel something, whether it’s curiosity, anger, or happiness. When people feel something, they’re more likely to take action. The type of action depends on your goal. It could be to share the content. Or to visit your website. Or to make a purchase.

Storytelling spurs engagement

When you write a feature-rich, meaty article or piece of content, people are more likely to engage with it somehow, whether it’s in the form of a like, comment, or share. They’re also more likely to read the entire article and stay on your website longer.

Groove ran an A/B test to compare results on two blog posts. One had straightforward content that was delivered in a practical, straightforward way while the other had the same information, but written with storytelling in mind. The result? The article with storytelling was an astounding success.

Source: Groove HQ

Storytelling boosts your brand’s relatability

Customers want to believe that they’re interacting with humans, not robots. Whether you’re writing white paper reports, blog articles, or sales copy, they want to believe that you know what you’re talking about. That you’re a trusted resource. That the person behind these articles understand what the customers want or need.

A Penn State marketing study found that people are more likely to remember and internalize information that’s presented in an interesting storytelling format than in a dry, boring report. Some schoolteachers understood this. This will be familiar to many people:

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

Thanks to this form of storytelling, which is remarkably catchy, nearly every adult recalls Columbus sailed in 1492 and some of the details about his journey. In contrast, many former students would be hard pressed to explain the intricacies of the Civil War’s politics.

Storytelling and good content marketing helps your audience internalize the content you’re sharing and to remember your message.

What makes a good storytelling?

To write great storytelling content, you also have to understand what makes it valuable. What makes content resonate with your audience? The content needs some of the following elements:

  1. Entertainment value. The content should be interesting enough to keep your audience reading all the way to the end. It needs to evoke some kind of emotion in your audience, whether it’s humor, curiosity, or even rabble-rousing grab-pitchforks
  2. Relevancy. The storytelling content needs to be related to your message or to your company somehow. If you tell a funny story about your child in an article about your company’s product, it needs to be relevant or somehow tied into your company in a meaningful way. Otherwise your readers will wonder: “why does this matter?”
  3. Unique. It does not benefit your company if you “respin” content (rewrite someone else’s content).
  4. Memorable. If you’re telling the same story as your competitor, you’re not going to stick out in your customers’ minds.
  5. Relatable. Your audience should feel that you understand them and their needs. If I have a tech app product that’d designed to help fledgling startup ecommerce companies, I shouldn’t write a story about how I secured $3 million in investor funding. Instead, I’d deliver a story about my own struggles with my company’s early days.

Fusing storytelling with marketing

Storytelling and marketing goes hand–in-hand. Naturally, to effectively use storytelling, you need to develop a strategy.

  1. Know your audience. What makes them tick? What are their needs? What problems do they have?
    If you haven’t already, make a buyer persona that describes your target customer. It’ll include information like (feel free to add or subtract any criteria as needed):
    • Job titles
    • Company size or revenues
    • Qualifications
    • Location
    • Industry
    • Goals and motivations
    • Pain points
    By understanding your audience, it’ll help you figure out what kind of storytelling content to create. A high-level CEO, for example, won’t necessarily have the time or inclination to read content about your child. Every piece of content you release needs to be tailored to your customer. Otherwise it’s waste of time and money.

  2. Mapping the buyer’s journey. By understanding the steps your customer takes (eg: from arriving at your website toward clicking the “confirm purchase” button), you can tailor the content for various stages in a customer’s journey. A commonly overlooked application is the post-purchase stage, where you can convert a buyer into a repeat buyer.
  3. Treat your customers like humans to keep their attention An average web user spends just 37 seconds reading a piece of content. Good content will win over keyword-stuffed articles every day. To be clear, SEO is important, but it has to be utilized in an organic, natural way.
  4. Incorporate solid and relevant data. Data builds authority. It shows that you’re not pulling facts out of the thin air. It also shows that you’ve done your legwork.

Want to build an audience of potential customers and buyers? Storytelling is where it’s at.