5 Powerful Ways To Increase Conversions With Story-Based Emails

When it comes to marketing, you generally have two main ways to approach your audience.

The sales approach or the story approach.

And while a hard sales pitch may be the best option for some, most customers don’t like being sold to. And can’t stand marketing that has a sales-y feel.

That’s where stories come in handy!

Storytelling can trigger multiple emotions and sensory areas within the brain that help you connect, relate, and engage with your readers:

In a world that’s becoming increasingly digital, now more than ever, we want to feel connected.

As an email marketer, it’s your job to actively create connections with your audience and make them feel like they’re part of something!

So what makes a great story?

We’ve all read at least a few stories lately.

From books to blogs to news reports, there are stories everywhere.

So you know storytelling is not just a case of saying “I did this, and then I did this. The end.” That story would be a snooze.

When you’re telling stories, you need to evoke emotions in your readers.

The best stories take readers on a wild ride – building trust, stirring up drama, drawing people in and sparking their interest before ending.

But when you’re crafting a story for your marketing, you don’t need to overdo it and create elaborate worlds where your product awkwardly fits in.

Instead, you want to share real stories; stories that delve into the values of your business and share who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing.

So let’s dig into the different ways you can weave stories into your emails!

1. Remove the salesperson barrier

If your emails are constantly a sales pitch, you’re known as a salesperson.

And if you sell, sell, sell right off the bat how will you ever even begin to form a connection with your contacts?

After all, no one wants to feel like they’re being sold to.

Providing your audience with a story removes that salesperson barrier and gives you the upper hand.

Take a peek at this email from DigitalMarketer CEO, Ryan Deiss.

While this might not be your typical story from beginning to end, there’s something unique and intriguing about this message:

WHy THIS WORKS SO WELL

  • The introduction grabs you, sets the tone for the rest of the email and most importantly, keeps you reading!
  • While this isn’t a story about a personal experience, that’s just fine! By presenting a current event in a “story-like” format rather than a list of facts, it keeps the copy fresh and exciting.
  • Digital Marketer has clearly considered their target audience (digital marketers of course!) and has carefully chosen a topic that is sure to pique their readers’ interest.
  • Links to relevant podcast episodes are sprinkled throughout the content of the email and presented as a helpful resource rather than a pushy sales pitch.

Remember, taking out the salesperson barrier doesn’t mean you’re not selling.

It just means you’ve stripped things down, presented yourself as a real person and made an effort to connect with your readers!

2. Create empathy

Wouldn’t you like all your first-time customers to become repeat customers?

Relationship marketing is what keeps customers coming back for more.

Storytelling does just that by providing an emotional attachment to the story you’re sharing.

If your audience can relate, or better yet, see themselves in your story, that’s a huge marketing advantage… where you’ve created a connection based on empathy and real sentimental attachment!

Brian Dean, CEO of SEO training site Backlinko includes stories from personal experience to sell to his audience:

WHY THIS WORKS SO WELL

  • One of the first things you notice about this email is the formatting. It’s simple and resembles a more personal, informal email. You’re much more likely to read an email from a friend than a business, right?
  • The message touches on a major struggle in Brian’s own journey to success. Since his readers are business owners themselves, they’ll relate to this struggle.
  • The empathetic message eventually leads you to Brian’s conversion goal. Signing up for an online course, downloading an ebook or joining a webinar.

When it comes to creating that emotional attachment with your reader, first reflect on yourself, your values, and your experiences.

What skill set do you have to share with your audience, what obstacles have you overcome and how can you apply what you’ve learned to better connect with your readers?

3. Share a simple experience

Stories center around an experience.

But that doesn’t mean you need to write a novel about your entire life story.

Instead, keep it simple!

What did you do recently?

Where did you go?

Who did you meet?

This is your time to shine!

Share your personal stories, whether it’s the inspiring woman you shared a conversation with at the coffee shop that morning or the story of how you started growing your business online.

This email from Designer, Kory Woodard focuses 100% of her email on a personal story:

why this works so well

  • There is nothing at all that resembles a sales pitch here. It feels more like an update from a good friend. Even the intro, “Hey There” sets a casual tone for the rest of the email.
  • The story is simple. The writer didn’t overthink what they were writing about, they used an everyday experience and transformed it into an intriguing piece of content for their audience.
  • Ultimately, this email sparks the readers’ curiosity and encourages them to continue reading to discover the outcome of the story.

Even a simple story can provide your audience with a lasting impression.

And the experiences you share might even be something that they will remember you, your brand or your company by. 

So leave them with a memorable experience that represents your brand well!

   4. Explain your offering

What you can do for your readers?

It’s your job to convey your offering in an effective way with your emails.

But that doesn’t mean you need to send out a bulleted list of each and every feature you offer or all the different ways your product can change their life.

Often times, simply providing a story can help remove doubt.

They don’t have to think about why they should stop and pay attention, why they should buy from you instead of someone else, or why you are important.

This email from Marketing Profs tells the story of how a Disney movie came to life as an introduction to their new training course:

why this works so well

  • This email isn’t focused on a story about their business, but instead, they choose to tell the story of how an iconic movie overcame obstacles and was brought to life.
  • At first glance you might wonder, What does Mary Popping have to do with anything? But it keeps you reading, doesn’t it?
  • Eventually, you find out that Marketing Profs is offering to help their readers by adding “a little dash of Mary Poppins magic” to their content marketing with their newest online training course.

So what does this mean for you?

Storytelling doesn’t always mean it needs to be your story.

It means that you’ve developed a creative way to share with your audience what you do and encourage them to click-through and find out more!

5. Share a customer experience

Can you take the story of a previous customer and narrate their experience from start to finish?

Perfect!

Highlight what they were struggling with at the beginning of their journey and why they wanted or needed to overcome that struggle. Then move onto the journey they took (with your product or service) to get to the place they’re at today.

This is a screenshot from an email from Navid Moazzez with a case study of one of his students:

Why this works so well

  • Numbers, numbers, numbers! While your customers might have experienced outstanding results from using your product/service, your readers want to know exactly what those results were and the numbers behind them!
  • The email is merely the first page of the story. To hear the rest of the story, readers are encouraged to click-through to watch the full video.
  • Lastly, this customer testimonial adds to Navid’s credibility. You might be able to write email after email about yourself and why your readers should trust you or purchase from you. But it’s always much more credible coming from someone else, isn’t it?

While this story is focused on the customer’s journey it’s also focused on their product experience.

That’s what makes a story, and you’re putting the spotlight on your product at the same time.

Start telling your story

Start gathering some of your ideas and collect stories that you are willing to share with your audience!

Every story has a goal or a destination.

It is up to you to control the outcome.

And once you’ve gained your audience’s attention, you can steer them to the destination that you want them to go.

Be it a motivational outcry, an opportunity you are passionate about, or a product that means something to you, lead your audience and guide them in the right direction with your stories.

These days, people actively seek out authenticity, and by sharing stories in an honest and open way, you’re increasing your chances of building a huge tribe of loyal contacts.

Kristen Dahlberg

Content Manager at Sendlane
As a member of the Sendlane content marketing team, Kristen focuses on everything from organization to content curation and process improvement. She enjoys variety and the challenge of learning the best way to accomplish each new goal.

Outside of work, Kristen spends as much time as possible at the beach, soaking up the San Diego sunshine!
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