In the world of eCommerce, the simple act of storytelling delivers a wealth of benefits for your business. From engaging new customers with your brand in a memorable way to increase your product’s perceived value without you barely lifting a finger, storytelling is a valuable asset for a growing eCommerce brand.

This piece will show you why storytelling is so important for eCommerce, and provide you with the storytelling techniques to win new customers and keep them returning time and again.

What is Storytelling for eCommerce?

When we’re talking about storytelling for eCommerce and why it matters, it’s helpful to identify what it isn’t.

What eCommerce storytelling isn’t is generic sales copy that pushes a product in a prosaic way — highlighting special offers, product specifications, discounts, and so on.

Ecommerce storytelling adds poetry to a sales strategy. It creates a narrative that puts the customer at its core. The customer becomes the main character in their own story, compelled to make a purchase as a consequence.

Storytelling is the foundation of effective content marketing, connecting customers with your brand on a personal level as a result.

How Can You Make Storytelling for eCommerce Work for You?

Storytelling for eCommerce is a powerful strategy. Read on to learn how to get it right, with examples of real-world storytelling to inspire you.

Have Awareness of your Brand to Express your Story

Every story needs an author and in this case, that’s your brand. Your brand embodies the character and personality of your business, from its values and ethos to its tone of voice. All this coalesces in your brand story, and it is this that makes you stand out against your competitors.

Your brand story informs the way you tell customers about yourself. Beyond simply listing your history, purpose, staff, and so on, it engages people with your brand on a human level.

Take the example of SoulCycle, below:

The language used is dynamic and inspiring, and the repeated use of “we” creates a sense of community around the brand. And combined with the bold grayscale font, it’s a story with impact.

This story embodies SoulCycle’s brand. Consequently, it resonates more with its target audience. When you know your brand inside and out, it permeates your storytelling to land with your audience with more impact.

Know your Audience and Speak to Them

While it’s important to have a solid grasp of your brand to succeed in eCommerce storytelling, it’s equally important to have an understanding of your target audience too.

Your audience is the main character in your eCommerce story. They are the people who will buy your products, and your story should compel them towards this goal.

The key to this is comprehensive audience research (Hotjar has some useful pointers on eCommerce customer research here).

Strong audience research flags the following:

  • Personality types
  • Personal income
  • Language and vocabulary
  • Pain points
  • Interests and hobbies

These are just a few results of customer research. This, in turn, helps you determine a customer’s potential lifetime value by identifying those who are most likely to engage with your story.

For instance, a customer who most aligns with your ideal target buyer persona is likely to be more valuable than one who doesn’t. Once you find what matters to your customer, you can use that in your eCommerce storytelling strategy. You can craft your story in a way that most resonates with them — more on this later.

As an example of a brand whose language perfectly matches their customers, check out the below from apparel store AYR:

AYR’ customer base largely consists of stylish, hip women. And it reflects that with a carefully-crafted air of cool irreverence. The product description above is humorous, a little sassy, and paints a picture for the customer of the woman they want to be.

Rather than saying “this dress is perfect for wearing to the pool”, AYR places the customer in the story, as a leisurely lady who puts herself before all else and doesn’t care who knows it — all achieved through language that resonates with AYR’s audience.

Your Pain Points are your Story

Think of a good story you recently read or saw. What makes it memorable? It likely pulled on your heartstrings, making you feel happy, sad, nostalgic, fear, or another strong emotion.

Your eCommerce storytelling should do the exact same. Remember those pain points your customer research highlighted earlier? Your story should leverage those to compel your customer to purchase.

The key to this is to show, not tell. When you tell your audience how they should feel, it won’t land. But creating a situation that naturally elicits these emotions from your audience? It’s impactful, immersing the reader in a situation organically.

There are some fine examples of ‘show don’t tell’ from Jericho Writers here. See how much more effective copy is when it immerses the reader in a narrative that creates feelings naturally, rather than simply telling them to feel.

The apparel brand Patagonia is an excellent example of this. On its website, where most brands would include photos and links to their best-selling products, Patagonia adopts a different tact.

While it does include some images of products, most of Patagonia’s homepage is devoted to beautiful images of the natural world and the perils it faces. From the decline of Europe’s rivers to the decreasing population of fish in the seas, Patagonia makes its eco-friendly commitments clear.

In doing so, Patagonia implicitly shows its customers that it has the same sustainable ethos for its products too. Its customers are typically eco-conscious fashion lovers, and when you shop Patagonia, you know that the products you buy are good for the planet from the homepage alone.

Increase Conversion Rates through Storytelling

To some, storytelling might seem like a fluffy concept that doesn’t drive hard, calculable sales. But it’s possible to optimize your conversion rates through customer-driven storytelling.

This is achieved by creating a structured content strategy. Start with a goal: what specific type of customer do you want to connect with and why? Do you want more sales or more newsletter sign-ups?

Once you’ve identified your goal, work backward. What kind of content leads to that goal and how do your customers fit into it? Put simply, you need to create story-driven content using the tactics listed above, promote it across your channels, test each campaign’s success, and monitor your progress.

For an example of this in action, check out the video from diaper brand Huggies, below:

Huggies’ goal for their ‘Delivery Hugs’ campaign was to connect with pregnant mothers to build engagement with their brand before their baby was born. It created a narrative around expectant mothers that elicited a strong emotional reaction by playing on their own situation as mothers-to-be.

It’s emotional and engaging, and because Huggies was able to track shares and engagement on the video, it provided a fine opportunity for conversion rate optimization and campaign monitoring too.

Storytelling for eCommerce is an effective strategy that connects customers with your brand and products on a personal level. Follow the tips above and craft a compelling story around your business that engages your customers and works for your brand time and again.

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