3 Email Storytelling Techniques for Business

By Rhonda Bradley / 8 August 2018

Discover 3 storytelling techniques that help keep subscribers engaged with your marketing emails.

Have you ever forgotten to include a human element in your emails? It’s easy to do. When you’re trying to include a lot of information to convince and convert your readers, storytelling can be easy to overlook.

Telling stories, however, is a powerful way to connect with your readers and create lasting memories.

A recent report by OneSpot technology platform revealed that 92% of consumers “want brands to make ads that feel like a story.”

In this article, we’ll show you how to use 4 different types of storytelling in your marketing emails. We’ll also explain how to use these techniques in a way that’s appropriate for business. 

Use these four techniques to increase your email marketing campaigns’ engagement:

  • Share Images and Videos That Tell Stories
  • Share Other People’s Stories
  • Use One-Line Stories to Promote Your Products and Engage Readers

1. Share Images and Videos That Tell Stories

Videos can be a powerful way to tell big stories in a short amount of time. 

By incorporating human emotion and smart background details, you can tell an entire story in seconds.

For example, Tomorrow Networks, a location-based mobile advertising company, tells a collection of stories in their company promotional video.

The video opens with a room full of toddlers dressed in ballerina attire, getting ready for a performance. 

Tomorrow Networks screenshot 1

Seconds later, the camera zooms in on two grandparents smiling joyfully, recording the performance with smartphones.

Tomorrow Networks screenshot 2

One of the reasons the storytelling aspect works so well in this video is because the images capture moments of emotion that don’t need to be described with words.

During the first 7 seconds of video, we clearly see parents who are invested in their children’s future and grandparents using technology to capture these special moments. 

The entire Tomorrow Networks video takes the viewer through a collection of different stories that also include a woman crossing the finish line of a running event and a set of parents celebrating the fact that their daughter just learned how to ride a bicycle.

Tomorrow Networks screenshot 3

Using short videos or images that show human emotions is a powerful way to tell stories in emails without having to fill the page with text.

Videos offer the added benefit of an audio voiceover. In the Tomorrow Networks video, the announcers’ words are simple yet moving:

“What if we knew what motivates people? What if we knew what was most important to them? And what if we knew how to use that information to help people before they even knew they needed it?”

Using videos and images is a smart way to tell stories in email marketing because it only requires a small amount of space and time to tell an engaging story. By complimenting your visuals with the right voiceover, you can conjure even more stories in the minds of your readers.

2. Share Other People’s Stories

Sharing the stories of other people can be a refreshing break from promoting your own brand. When done well, it can also make for compelling content that keeps readers interesting in receiving your emails.

You can share stories written by other people in a way that relates to your users and your company.

For example, user-generated content includes:

  • Reviews
  • Images
  • Questions
  • Written stories

Or, take a cue from this Contently email, which focuses entirely on telling the story of another company.

Contently email screenshot

The company mentioned in the example above isn’t related to the Contently marketing team. However, it is of interest to their target audience, and they wisely created a blog post around it that fares well in email marketing.

3. Use One-Line Stories to Promote Your Products and Engage Readers

According to a recent survey of over 500 marketers, the majority of businesses use email to send company and product updates.

Email marketing graph

When talking about your own products instead of focusing on the reader, storytelling can be a great technique to help you avoid sounding self-centered or overly-promotional.

One-line storytelling isn’t limited to pain points and benefits. There are many things you can do with one-line stories, and a great way to learn is to explore what other people have done with them. 

In fact, there are entire forums dedicated to the art of telling a story with just one line of text.

For example, the Facebook page One Line Stories shares one-liners on a regular basis.

Reading non-business one-line stories can be a great source of inspiration to marketing writers. 

By exploring other genres of writing, you can learn how other people incorporate emotion and events into one line of text.

For example, Quote Catalogue shares moving one-liners in a collection titled “33 Of The Most Hauntingly Beautiful One Line Stories.”

Tweet screenshot

The one-line format also makes it easy to share your content to social media platforms.

Discover 8 examples of effective calls to action for email marketing.

Include Compelling Stories to Make an Impact on Your Email Subscribers

Storytelling for business emails must always include discretion. You don’t want to overwhelm your readers with emotions, but you can use these type of stories to trigger urgency and create lasting impressions.

However you choose to tell stories through email marketing, strive to produce them in a way that’s short and to-the-point.

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