What Hollywood Can Teach Email Marketers About Storytelling

You had me at hello.

As you wish.

It’s the circle of life.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far way.

What do those sentences all have in common?

They’re famous lines from iconic movies.

For many of us, that last sentence in particular is so iconic.

Simply reading it flashes the image of big yellow lettering scrolling across a star studded backdrop with the music that could only be linked to Star Wars.

But what does Star Wars (or any movie for that matter) have to do with email marketing?

Technically, nothing.

But when you strip away the Hollywood lights and the glamour, you can learn one simple truth:

Storytelling is powerful.

And we could say something vague like ‘movies are proof of that,’ but science actually agrees here.

Our brains when we hear stories

When the brain hears a really good story, it lights on fire — almost literally.

Neural pathways start lighting up to make the person feel connected to the story.

The brain releases chemicals to create a lasting memory from it.

And many other “brainy” things happen to solidify the event in the mind of the person watching, reading or listening.

That’s part of the reason why you can walk away from an emotional movie or put down a good book and feel affected by it long after you’re done.

And you know what?

We love doing this to ourselves.

That’s why US Media & Entertainment has become a $703 billion industry.

As marketers, we can’t scoff at the idea of incorporating stories into our emails, or other marketing efforts for that matter.

However, the problem that many run into isn’t that they don’t want to, it’s that they don’t know how.

But, you can learn how to make your message interesting with a story.

And, no, you don’t need to start your emails with “Once upon a time.

Here are some ideas to help you get creative and write stories people want to read.

Let your photos tell a story

While you may not have the budget for video marketing, using photos is something that all email marketers use.

Since our brains digest images 60 times faster than text, utilizing photos that trigger the right emotion for your promo can help your emails get to the point while helping to increasing revenue.

For example, Charmin uses images in their marketing to tactfully play on the humorous side of of a… delicate topic.

The image above is sort of funny, and tells a story so that you don’t have to.

Why not try brainstorming some ideas of how you can take a similar approach in one of your next email promos?

Master these 3 different approaches

When we think about writing a story, we tend to get hung up on this.

Writing a story seems like a big undertaking, and there is only so much room in an email if you want to keep someone’s attention.

Stories don’t have to be long winded.

And incorporating them don’t have to take too much effort.

Here are 3 different types of stories you can tell:


Personal stories are likely the easiest to come up with.

If you take some time to think back to things that have happened to you in the past, you can come up with some good stories that make you and your business more relatable.

You can look at this post here for a good example of how to wind together your personal stories with your topic.

Paint The Picture (but do it quick)

Stories can be short and still be enough to get attention and keep people reading about something they thinking they’ve read a hundred times before.

Read the words in that photo above and tell me you’re not instantly sad.

It’s only six words.

Yet there is a ton of emotion packed inside of it.

The point here is that your story can be short and still have a lot to offer.

If you want some more ideas of how this works, here is an article that tells a story in less than 10 seconds.

Use the H.I.P.S. Framework

This is personally my favorite method because it’s rinse and repeat.

I love it so much that I printed it out and keep it on my desk when I need it.

This is the framework:

  • Hook
  • Interest
  • Parable (the story part)
  • Slide (the sell)

It’s so simple and yet it does so well when it comes to creating emails that people really like reading.

If you have three minutes to spare, I highly recommend you read more about exactly how to use this framework right here.

Use the Hollywood effect in your emails

Stories affect people because they get to us in both the mind and the heart.

They’re human.

They’re likable.

And, they stick.

So the next time you watch a movie, take a mental note.

You may be surprised at what ideas you can come up with to use in your next email.

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Jimmy Kim

CEO at Sendlane
Based out of San Diego, California, Jimmy has been a digital marketer for the past 8+ years. Before his ventures online, Jimmy rose from the ranks, started off by washing cars at a local dealership and eventually ended up being one of the youngest General Managers in the country by the age of 25. After being burnt out working 80+ hours a week, he eventually turned to Internet Marketing. He found a passion in email marketing and in 2013 helped create Sendlane as one of the co-founders. Today, he leads the entire Sendlane team.
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