Do you want to write better marketing emails? Brand storytelling is key. In this guide, we'll share 7 top tips for how to tell your brand's story over email.
With email marketing, you have the unique opportunity to speak with your potential customers whenever you want, about anything you want. But to really be effective, however, you'll need to master the art of storytelling.
Storytelling is a universally effective tool– it works to persuade email subscribers to become buyers, no matter what niche or industry you're in.
But as an entrepreneur, incorporating stories into your emails can seem like a daunting or confusing task.
Don't worry– we're here to help!
In this guide, we'll share 7 top tips for using your emails as a chance to tell your consumers a story. Are you ready?
Great! Let's dive in...
1. Flaunt Your Flaws
We listen to stories from our early childhood and continue telling them and listening to them all of our lives. Humans love stories.
When you tell your audience a story, they engage, they pay attention. But one of the most important components of this is that you have to show your human side.
Brands are so often distanced from their audience– this doesn’t work. What does work, and what will make your customers love you, is your casual, human side.
So, be funny–humor never fails!–tell anecdotes from your rough beginnings, tell stories of your failures, embarrassments, and so on. People like this because then you become just "one of them"; you become a person who didn’t just happen to magically create this brand, but a person who struggled and persevered through various obstacles to get there. They will respect you more for this. You will become a friend.
You know what else? They will tell their friends about you! Your brand will become something they chat about with their friends over lunch because they found it interesting that you did all of these things.
And when they need to encourage themselves or someone close to them, they will think about your example.
So, make sure that you tell them stories that show the human side behind the brand. And it doesn’t have to be your story all the time either... someone on your team or your advisory board may have a great story to tell.
The purpose of these stories isn't to sell. These emails are meant to inspire trust in you as an influencer, and build that relationship between you and your potential customer.
2. Hear From Your Customers
Perhaps the most powerful form of brand storytelling involves the customers themselves.
If you are able to share a moving and motivating story surrounding a customer or client of yours, this is a massively valuable way to build credibility. Hearing from your own peers is a powerful thing. It makes you think, "Someone used this, someone found it useful, I might find it useful."
Ask your most devoted customers to share their stories. What was it like before they bought your product or hired you? What did they struggle with? What is it like for them now, after having worked with you or used your products?
Your customers are your biggest fans, and many will love to share their stories for your email newsletter.
Don't forget– you can share social media posts from your happy customers too.
“By doing this, you are doing two things at once. For one, you are providing the ultimate social proof for your subscribers who haven’t yet used your products. And you are also honoring your clients by making them the stars of your email newsletter. You can also allow them to promote their companies or work by allowing them to share their social media links or website links. You get the best kind of promotion and so do they - it’s a win-win,” says Felix Bradlington, brand manager at EliteAssignmentHelp and StateOfWriting.
3. Support the Story with Your Email Layout
The layout of your email not only has to be well formatted to meet with basic standards of email copywriting and publication, but also to propel your story.
Where you put the photos, whether you draw quotes out in bold, and where you position your website links are all crucial to a successful story email.
Some say that a simple, plain text email might work best for these personal stories - this way, the email looks like an email from a friend rather than a promotional email from a brand. In many cases, this does work best.
However, you should keep the personality of your brand in mind when crafting your emails. For some email lists, it may make more sense to add some style to your email. Bold colors, graphics and images can add tons of personality. If you do a good job with your subject line, the email will lead them through the email swiftly and they won’t be able to stop reading.
4. Tell the Story with Images
As the saying goes, an "image is worth a thousand words." But, in truth, its monetary value for a brand using email marketing is much higher.
Images are excellent accompaniments to a story, breaking up text to ensure that readers remain engaged, as well as piquing their attention the moment that the email loads up.
But an image can also tell a story of its own. You can use imagery to evoke emotions. For example, a beautiful beach in the sunset sparks longing for that peace and tranquillity. If you are in the travel industry, this longing is what you can bank on.
If you combine this with the idea of letting your customers be the story, you can also include imagery of other customers.
For instance, you could tell the story of a customer being on that beach, having a drink while the last rays of sun dance with the waves. Show them the picture of that beach to help the reader visualize themselves being there too. You haven’t said a word about your product yet... and they are already hooked. They already want to book a vacation for this beach.
Storytelling paired with high quality images is a powerful thing, especially if the customer is the star. Even if this doesn’t convince them to buy, it will put that thought in their head. The next time they think of a vacation, they will think about that beach and your brand.
5. Edit Yourself
This may seem obvious, but it's surprising how many people miss this important step of editing.
Your email copy has to be professional if you want to come across as a credible authority on your topic. So you need to ensure high quality copy, good spelling and grammar.
Here are some tools to help you with editing yourself:
Studydemic and Academ Advisor – Both of these sites have lots of suggestions on improving your email copywriting generally. Learn some new writing and editing tips to stay on top of your writing style.
Academized - This is an editing and proofreading tool, great for helping you ensure that your content is perfect before you send it out.
MyWritingWay and PaperFellows- Two formatting guides which give specific advice on how to make your email content better for its purpose.
AustralianHelp - This is an editing and proofreading tool, great for helping you ensure that your content is perfect before you send it out, as mentioned here.
ViaWriting - A very handy grammar guide. Good grammar is often overlooked, but its importance can’t be stressed enough.
BigAssignments and OxEssays- Two proofreading/editing sites for email copy.
6. Tell Stories Regularly
Don't just tell one story and be done with it. For best results, start making storytelling a regular and consistent email marketing activity.
Maintain the consistency with which you put out stories, or updates on stories you have previously released. Make sure there are tangible links between your promotional material and your story content. Consistency is really important for reassuring your readers that they are not being duped by more flimsy marketing content.
For example, you can create a weekly newsletter where you feature your clients and their success stories. You can also serialize your personal success story and tell a part of it each month or each week, or create a different schedule that works well for you.
Consistency is important because you want to stay at the top of your user’s minds. You don’t want to send an email and then send none for weeks. You miss an opportunity this way. But by staying present in their inbox and their life, you will be there when they are ready to make the decision to purchase.
You will also be there for the users who have already purchased something from you, to remind them that you are still a good option!
7. Make Your Stories Interactive
Standard emails still work– this is what people are used to and what will probably work well for you too. But don’t be lulled into this false sense of security when the world is changing at a fast pace... sooner or later, you will have to embrace new things.
One of the new things that you’ll need to embrace when it comes to email is interactive content. Interactivity makes your emails something of a game that your subscribers enjoy and look forward to.
Just imagine, what would you rather do– just read an email, or play a video, move the slide, click on things to discover new elements, play a game and so on? My guess is probably the latter.
Interactive emails trigger curiosity, and your subscribers will gladly open your emails because they know there is going to be something fun in there.
So, when telling a story, use these interactive elements. The simplest one would be the video. You can integrate a video in your email and let your readers experience a story from a different perspective. This allows them to either opt in or out of revealing the story. If you do a good job with the headline and surrounding copy, they will click.
You can also create an interactive infographic where the users can move things around, click on different elements to see more of the story, or see less of the story. This way, they have the option of controlling the story, in a sense. All of these different features make them feel like they are in a game - it makes your email interesting and fun. In the process, they connect these emotions of wonder to your product or your brand.
Another great way to tell a story is to allow your users to take a quiz. This way, they are telling you their own story! Create a personality quiz where their answers would lead them to the results. If you have multiple products, you can, for instance, include one of your products that would suit them best based on their answers.
You can also create a simple choice-based story where you would present your readers with several choices and allow them to choose which one they want to see. In the above example of the travel industry company, you could put four images of different destinations in your email and allow your users to choose which one they want to see more of. By clicking on one of them, they reveal a story about that destination, and you could tag them to receive specific emails automatically thereafter based on which choice they picked.
All of these types of interactive content have a power to attract the reader’s attention, engage them with your emails, and help you to send them more relevant content in the future, automatically.
Now you have 7 ways to tell brand stories over email. But if there is just one thing that you take away from this guide, please remember this:
Reality sells, while falsified corporate marketing does not. So don't be afraid to relax and be yourself when writing your brand emails– doing this one thing will pay off in spades!
Freddie Tubbs is a communications manager at UK Writings. He regularly attends marketing and business events, and writes columns for Essay Roo and Boom Essays blogs.