There once was a marketer that churned out copy all day. Despite all their hard work, the business struggled to convert readers into clients.
If this story seems a little too familiar, you’ve come to the right place. The secret to writing winning copy is to create an emotional connection with the reader. The most effective way to do that is through storytelling.
When people are emotionally engaged with a piece of content, they’re more likely to remember it. Harvard Business Review found that human brains naturally favor narratives, and therefore, people are more likely to respond positively to content with a storytelling component. For example, you likely empathized with the marketer’s struggle as a content creator because you instantly related your personal experience to their predicament.
But how do you leverage this powerful technique to create engaging and persuasive content? Here’s why B2B storytelling is so powerful, strategies for incorporating storytelling into content marketing, and how to avoid common pitfalls.
The Power of Emotional Storytelling in Content Marketing
In fact, 92% of people prefer ads presented as a narrative, and 68% say brand stories influence their purchasing decisions. Storytelling can boost conversion rates by as much as 30%, and 62% of B2B marketers consider storytelling in content marketing an effective tactic.
To pull the right levers in B2B storytelling, you must first understand why narratives are so powerful. What will make your audience tick?
- Storytelling attracts people: We’re drawn to stories that help us connect with others, learn about their experiences, and see how they overcome challenges — that’s human nature. Storytelling in content marketing taps into this natural curiosity to help you engage with your audience at a deeper level.
- Emotions are motivating: When people engage emotionally with a piece of content, they’re more likely to remember the brand and buy more often. A study by Motista found that emotionally-connected customers have a 306% higher lifetime value and rate brands more positively than satisfied customers.
- Stories and emotions build trust: Giving your audience a glimpse into your worldview, values, brand personality, and origin story can help you build trust and credibility with them — the key ingredient for driving conversions and improving customer loyalty.
Top Strategies For Using Storytelling in Content Marketing (and Examples)
B2B storytelling content should have a structure and a plot. Instead of being overly promotional or only focusing on information, your narrative should form personal connections with the audience by being authentic and relatable. Take the following actions to make your stories shine:
Craft Relatable Narratives
Use characters and situations that your audience can identify with. Make your ideal buyer persona the hero of your story, paint a picture of the customer journey, and show how readers can succeed by using your products or services. Shine the spotlight on your customers, and portray yourself as the partner in their success stories.
Example: Salesforce captures the reality of many click-and-mortar merchants with this client story of how Room & Board, a furniture business, created a personalized in-store shopping experience online.
Leverage Emotional Triggers
Make your content memorable and engaging by tapping into emotional triggers like fear, joy, anger, sadness, and surprise. Personal accounts and stories about individual experiences are most effective in eliciting emotions and leaving an impression on your audience. You may also add a human dimension to your brand by featuring the voices of individual employees.
Example: Microsoft’s Story Labs feature the stories of its team members to show the company isn’t just a faceless corporation. The collection of narratives adds a human element to the brand, helping it to form tighter bonds with its employees and customers.
Use Visual Elements
Visual storytelling incorporates illustrations, infographics, photography, videos, etc., to connect the audience to the story. Since 65% of people are visual learners, adding these components can help engage your audience and keep their attention. You can also use images to provide context, illustrate complex concepts, and help readers internalize your message.
Example: Cisco’s Sea Change is a yacht-racing story illustrating the company’s mobile asset management capabilities. The multi-media approach combines photos, video, and a written narrative to create an immersive experience, keep the audience interested, and tell an exciting story about the products’ impact.
Conclude with a Compelling Call To Action
To drive conversions, you need a powerful call-to-action (CTA) — but you must walk the fine line so it doesn’t feel disjointed from the narrative or appear overly promotional. For example, you can summarize the results, link the CTA back to the challenges faced by the protagonist (i.e., your ideal audience,) and end with a positive note to inspire action.
Example: In its client success stories, Zoominfo ties the outcomes to the CTA by highlighting the results in a callout box on the right side of the page, connecting the readers’ desired outcomes with the next step to drive conversions.
How To Avoid Pitfalls in Content Marketing Storytelling
Successful B2B storytelling has many nuances. Here’s how to avoid some common pitfalls that could reduce the effectiveness of your narrative and undermine your credibility.
- Making your story to complicated: Don’t fall into the trap of using jargon and adding complexity since they can make your story less accessible. Remember, your goal is to build trust and connection with your audience, and simplicity and authenticity always win.
- Making your story unbelievable: Don’t embellish your narrative so much that it becomes unrealistic and unrelatable. A protagonist who’s “just like the audience” (instead of being portrayed as a superhuman) can help create more meaningful connections with the readers.
- Being too sappy: Overly-sentimental content can feel fake, turn off your audience, and even impact your credibility. Strike a balance between emotion and logic by supporting your narrative with facts and statistics.
- Coming off impersonal: Don’t hide behind the corporate veil — human emotions spark imagination and inspire action. Emphasize the human angle in your stories by helping the audience connect with the protagonist and inviting them to embark on the journey of transformation together.
Drive Conversions With B2B Storytelling
Storytelling in content marketing is a powerful tool that can help brands stand out in today’s noisy marketplace, build genuine connections with their audiences, drive conversions, and improve customer retention. Persuasive and engaging narratives are a critical component of B2B content marketing. To maximize its effectiveness, you must support the big picture with a robust content plan that aligns with your overall marketing strategy.
The good news is that you don’t have to navigate the shifting trends alone. ClearVoice gives you access to a team of content experts to craft compelling narratives to increase your reach, connect with your audience, showcase your products, and drive conversions. Book a strategy session to see how we can help you create converting content written by industry experts.