Who doesn’t love a good story? Let me tell you one about creating awesome web content.
This story doesn’t start with Once upon a time.
I recently came across a study that said- Brands that tell stories have 22 times more recall value. And as a website content writer, I knew I had found the secret sauce to creating web content that converts. And I will share the secret sauce with you too.
So get ready for this fascinating story of creating world-class content that sells.
Breakthrough the Content Clutter
A B2C consumer considers atleast 10 options online before making the final purchase decision.
B2B consumers make 60% of their decision about the brand they want to do business with, before connecting with the sales agent.
This data clearly emphasizes the need for inbound marketing.
But in today’s crowded digital content space, how can you make your brand stand out? Tell a story.
Stories help combine data with a narrative that connects better with the emotions of the customer.
Studies show that purchase decisions take place in the emotional centre of the brain. It is then is backed consciously by a rational side to justify it.
Sounds like a fairytale? Well, there is a science to back this claim.
But before that, let’s learn what is business storytelling and why should you care about it?
What Story Does Your Web Content Tell?
Business storytelling is not just about telling your history on your website or in your pitch deck’s ‘About Us’ page. It about building a human connection, by sharing why you do what you do. And sharing in a way that strikes a chord with your audience.
While you have an overall macro brand story, that stays consistent through all kinds of communication, each content item should also have a storytelling format, based on its objective. Each digital and web content piece should eventually fit into the larger brand story that you are sharing. When done well, following this consistency can help boost your sales by 50% and decrease your marketing cost by 33%.
Story Needs to Have An Objective
There is a different objective attached to the story told at different stages of the buyer’s journey. You can use a combination of content types, medium (digital, audio, visual, etc.) and channels to meet the objective.
The below image by DigitalDeepak explains the different types of content you can use, based on the stage of the buyer’s journey.
Source Digital Deepak
Awareness Stage (Top of the Funnel User or TOFU)
Here the aim of the brand’s story is to get the attention of the stranger and turning them into visitors.
At this stage, you talk about a common interest, shared values or define the problems that they are facing.
Stories here should be short and entertaining.
Consideration Stage: (Middle of the Funnel User or MOFU)
This is where you want to turn your visitors who already know what you do, to convert into leads.
Humanise your brand here and help your visitors like you and what you stand for. You can raise the tension here and add the drama to turn in the prospect into your ecosystem.
Brands at this stage often emphasise on the consequences of not solving the problem.
Decision Stage: (Bottom of the Funnel User or BOFU)
At this stage, you help the visitors who have turned into leads to trust you enough for them to take the desired action.
Use testimonials and customer studies to show social proof so that the lead sees you as an authority and is open to mirroring the actions of the social group.
You can read more about the different buyer’s stage and the kind of content to be used at this Hubspot blog.
The Science Behind Storytelling
Do you remember as a child when you were in school and some teachers would tell stories to explain difficult concepts and your brain would be most attentive and be able to retail the concept better?
Our brains love stories. The upcoming neuroscience studies prove that all centres of our brain start lighting up upon hearing a story that we can relate to.
This TED video by Karen explains the science of storytelling.
But to cut the long story short (pun intended!), neuroscience studies show that
- Listening to a story that has characters, helps our brains relate to the content better.
- A story that has tension and conflict, leads to the release of cortisol hormone, which leads to better attention
- More and prolonged attention to a story helps in building familiarity and empathy, and understanding of shared values, which in turn, leads our brain to release a hormone called- Oxytocin.
- Oxytocin makes us more compassionate, generous, charitable and trustworthy.
Qualities of a Good Busines Story
From the above studies, it is easy to understand what kind of stories work.
- The story needs to be relatable and should be in sync with the needs of the buyer persona and the prospect’s stage in the buying process.
- It should have continuity and consistency to create an impact on the readers.
- Make sure that your is authentic, yet fascinating.
- Spruce it up with an element of entertainment, education, surprise and novelty.
- Your stories can be topical, seasonal or evergreen.
- Make the buyer the hero of the story, rather than your product.
- The story should be authentic and not a “me-too” story. It should help you stand out and not blend in.
Elements of a Brand Story
Every brand story should have character, conflict and resolution- in that order.
- The character of the story can be the reader or someone else. There can be multiple characters in a story. The more the buyer will relate to the character, the higher chances of the reader to mirror the character’s action.
- If there is no dramatic arc in your story, it will be a flat sales pitch and not form an emotional connection with the audience. The conflict should relate to the buyer’s problems and emotions.
- You need to have a storytelling point of View- First-person, second person or third person. Use the First-person when you have a personal brand ( like Elon Musk) and have authority on the subject. But don’t brag about yourself in the story. Don’t let yourself be the hero. Make your struggle or values the hero of the story instead.
- Use the second person when the consumer is the principal character or hero of the story. You can use the third person point of view while sharing case studies.
Get the Ball Rolling
Writing your brand story starts with knowing your own purpose and values, and finding a match with the values and aspirations of the target group. This will help you define your core message in 2-3 lines to present the larger picture of the brand.
Then decide on the story elements, formats ( visual, digital, audio) of the stories for different stages of the buyer’s journey, along with the channels of distribution. There are 7 basic plots that can be used in a story.
You can read about them in this blog at Content Marketing Institute.
Once you decided on the story framework, add details including facts and data to make the story authentic. However, keep it crisp and do not give too many unnecessary details.
Whether you create the content in-house or hire a web content writer or SEO copywriter, make sure that the content creators infuse both your larger brand story as well as stage-based stories in your content.