Are you running your venture single-handed and getting frequent calls from your clients asking for the same information you have painfully put of on your own website?
Do they prefer talking to you instead, even after you have shared the FAQ, narrative case study, or a specific page with them?
If YES, then congrats for waking up to this fact –
“On the average Web page users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely” – Nielsen Norman
So, we need to make the most of the 20% of attention! Convince the visitor that your website caters to the client’s specific problem.
And to achieve this, we have an age-old, but effective weapon up our sleeve.
Personalization through Narrative Storytelling
And to explain just how effective the art of storytelling is, I will tell you a story that my grandfather used to tell me when I was a child.
There was this mighty Persian king Shahryar who was cheated on by his wife with his brother.
To make sure this does not happen again, he started marrying one virgin girl each day and then executed her the next day.
On a side note, it seriously doesn’t make sense how killing girls were part of a solution to his pain of betrayal! As a child, I would be too enamored by my grandfather’s expressive gestures to think about these details.
This only goes on to show that when the storytelling is good you choose to miss the small parts because there is already something else that interests you.
Anyway, back to the story, this ritual went on for a while, till it was Scheherazade’s turn. She was a quick-witted minister’s daughter, exceptionally beautiful, with a treasure trove of stories she could narrate at the drop of a hat.
Each night she would tell the king a fascinating story and leave it halfway for the next day. The king, as anxious as ever to finish the last night’s story and so wouldn’t execute her.
See, that’s the power of an engaging story! It can save lives!
Scheherazade strategy is a popular Inbound Content Marketing strategy our team swears by – an unending 1-on-1 engagement with a potential client.
Good stories keep your audience hooked and always come back for more.
Storytelling is not actually a new concept; it dates back to prehistoric times. Hard to imagine our hairy forefathers sitting around in caves telling stories, right?
But it isn’t that weird, our human brains are deeply rooted in the need for stories.
We are obsessed with stories because it allows us to feel or live an experience without risking anything of our own. Good stories engage the emotional part of our brains.
For, you see, people don’t tune in for the information, they tune in for the drama. Be it entertainment, sports, lifestyle, or politics. This element of recall factor makes your content Unforgettable.
Even if your reader doesn’t realize it, the engaging content/videos/posts they see online sticks in their memory.
Your job as a blogger is to make the best out of that distraction, make it an informative story. Pack any information that you want to be passed to your audience in form of a story and it will stay with them.
At Page Potato, we bring holistic content marketing solutions to revamp your brand. Let us help you tell your story. Our niche-based writers encapsulate the essence of your brand, finding unique ways to keep your audience engaged.
So, if you are a blogger and are wondering how could you possibly put storytelling to use in your blogs, keep reading.
5 Ways Narrative writing has helped in Inbound Marketing
- Stories make your blog seem real and credible
- Stories help you bond with your audience
- Stories make you unique, your story will be different from the blogger in the next block.
- Stories grab your audience’s attention and keep them hooked
- Stories are a very smart way of encouraging audiences to take the desired action.
As I have told you earlier you can make a story out of any topic once you relate it to people.
The art of storytelling lies in the simplicity of the plot. Be direct, be creative, be descriptive– that’s all.
A technical topic like Artificial Intelligence can be made engaging if you choose to narrate it in an interesting way.
A fun way to express the idea of AI to a layman, is: You can make up a story about Sophia, the Robot who has funny conversations with Chrissy Teigen
10 Best Formats where narrative writing can help personalize your content.
Ultimate Guides (to a Narrative story)
These are the fundamental “How to” and “Why to” blogs that you write in areas of core expertise. Though very old school, these type of write-ups gives you the best chance to write a narrative story.
Make the best use of these by talking about your experiences or about someone else’s experience that you read on the internet. Or just frame up a story with the ideal scenario.
Trust me, that’s okay.
When I first wrote my guide blog, I just wrote it as if you are talking to readers helping them through all the steps 1-by-1.
It helps you strike an informal and more real bond with the readers by walking them through the tips & tricks that you have to offer from personal experience.
If the blog topic has complicated steps that an average audience cannot follow through a 10 min read, it makes all sense to create a video to sell your narration through all steps.
Videos are a great narrative medium to get your point across. Visuals are far more engaging than text. It also brings a lot of clarity to your story.
People might not want to read a long story, no matter how well-written it is. However, you can get a lot of people on board with an engaging video.
Our team of creative content marketers can create short explainer videos, whiteboard animations, and video ads.
These are basically well-framed stories, that have beginning-middle-end and a protagonist. Good case studies are your customer’s journey and not about a company.
And this is the very reason why most company case studies are bland.
The more compelling the story the better a case study it is.
Let me illustrate my point with an example. We have a case study on Bronte Price, a gay wedding celebrant from Australia.
In this case study, we explain our marketing strategies to boost Bronte’s online presence and get him relevant leads.
A tip: Case studies should include loads of infographics, graphs, charts, visuals, and graphics. These graphics are usually self-explanatory and require
A well-written case study should make the reader feel like the protagonist. They should be able to imagine that your customer and he are alike and have similar problems.
Only then will he choose you as the protagonist (customer) in the case study.
These are about experiences in life that led you to make an opinion. Similarly, brands can have opinions too and can take a stand based on their argument.
It is one of the best types of content which helps bring a soul to a brand, makes it human.
The screenshot below is of the Melbourne Law School Blog on the Opinions on High Court Rulings. Students and professors speak on this platform to share their opinion on the latest rulings of the High Court.
You can always state how a specific perspective on a present issue that concerns your target customers and be vocal about how it matters to your brand as well.
This will make the audience connect with you.
Typical topics that are related to the millennials would be Gender inequality, the right to sexuality, Gay Liberation, Privacy on the Internet, and so on.
Please note that the opinion pieces have to be based on issues not necessarily a part of your industry but about what matters most to your clients.
Narrative accounts of past experiences help the brand pitch as a human so that your audience can relate more to it.
These type of write-ups if written well can get you very strong sentiments from your target audience.
Personal Account/Experience Blogs
These are the type of write-ups where you write about your own personal experience.
A childhood story, a travel blog, or an experience you had with a charmer from the transgender community. It is upon you how to make the story more interesting.
Also, the audience is more interested in your own experience instead of the facts and methods of the process.
The screenshot below is of a popular travel blog by Matthew Karsten, where he shares an account of observing the San Yak tattoo among Buddhist monks.
I personally ask my friends/close clients if they would want to read about my opinions on a specific topic and think about its relevance to my audience before I go ahead with it.
Confessional & Reflective Narrative
These are personal life experience blogs and are very dramatic and confessional in tone.
The blogs are dramatic for a reason though; they focus on highlighting a shock value to captivate the attention of the audience. The intention is to instigate and shock the audience.
These write-ups aren’t always entirely true; they are simply written to rope in the reader and evoke a strong emotional reaction.
A quick tip: If you want to create content along the same lines, ensure that you have a catchy headline. The headline is the first thing a reader sees that effectively catches their attention.
Include numbers, positive/negative words, descriptive phrases, in your headline. The Headline Analyser tool by CoSchedule is a reliable platform to check the effectiveness of your headlines.
There are motivational reflective narratives as well like the one featured in the screenshot below of Adriel Booker’s Blog
Here, she shares her thoughts on postpartum depression and how to get over it.
Investigative blogging involves writing about sharing first-hand information about a topic that is otherwise not available elsewhere.
Here, they have undertaken a comprehensive investigation into the Labour laws of the state and how it fails to address the gender gap in the government positions.
Even if your brand/personal blog does not cover such disputed topics, you can use Google search to find topics that the audience in your niche is interested in.
Any information which helps the audience make a buyer’s decision will help you nail it with tons of information supporting your observations.
Getting a first-hand response from your audience would give you an idea of sub-areas that your followers want to know more about or want solutions to.
These write-ups are framed in a manner that the audience follows the clues interlaced in the issues they have faced and is led towards the solution in the end.
Product or Service Landing Pages
Firstly, it is very important to know what you are trying to achieve with this landing page.
While writing a landing page I personally suggest getting into the user’s shoes.
One of the best service landing pages is that of Neil Patel’s marketing blog, where a useful blog has been cleverly used to make the audience believe that he is the best guy for the job.
The storytelling journey goes ahead with the step-by-step process that would follow once the prospective client fills up the details on that page.
So, to make one such a hell-of-a-landing page, you would need to know – What would a user want to know here?
Keep checking with all sections and sub-sections and slash off anything that doesn’t help in achieving that goal.
I follow these steps that work flawlessly.
- Introduce (Problem faced, specific details of what all went wrong, symptoms of the issue in hand)
- Seduce (Show evidence, trust-building collateral, share the solution to the problem, make it sound very doable)
- Convert (Share professionalism, introduce transparency in the ordering process, implicit Call-To-Action form or bot chat)
Personal Interviews & Expert Round-Ups
Expert Roundups are aggregated format write-up that can be written after carrying out personal interviews of each of the experts covered for your story.
For example here is an insightful interview on The Medium featuring Tim Soulo, the mastermind behind AHREF. Here, Tim shares his expertise and experience in the field of content marketing, offering simple hacks for beginners to get started.
You should really check this out.
The quoted content in these blogs gives the opportunity to use narrative writing to make it appear as if all these experts have together written the blog for the audience.
Like I was worried about how to have more followers on Instagram when I started. And then I did a roundup on that topic with certain experts that I follow and believe in.
These types of write-ups can be very useful to your audience.
Be sure of the topic or genre you are doing your interview/round-up about and how it can be relevant for the experts as well and to their reputation.
Put extra effort into sounding genuine while writing these. They will help you gain lots of good recognition among viewers and experts.
These are usually known to incorporate personal insults and that’s why they get tons of eyeballs if put in the right words.
Open letters are usually intended for the general public to read while giving these blogs a sense of shame or encouragement. They usually call out a personality or brand for something they have done or said in public.
That’s why social media platforms and third-party blogging platforms like Medium are best suited for writing an open letter.
Here is a sample of an Open Letter by Mitch Joel aiming at all the brands that are neglecting the mobile experience of their websites.
Another effective example of an open letter you can check out is of Jamie Dimon, open letters floating on the web for him.
A word of caution: Writing fake testimonials is clearly unethical and will not help in the long run.
Keeping it aside, we must make sure we are listening to our clients and capturing feedback from them through all channels – chat, email, phone calls, comments, and the like.
The best testimonials are those from repeat clients who have been ordering with you for a long time. Only they can tell, as to what makes them order every time.
You must reach out to them if they have not shared their feedback already.
Looking up for Brand mentions across the internet also helps in spotting testimonials across multiple platforms.
This is a sample testimonial layout developed by CodeCanyon and it shows how the reputation of the clients sharing feedback is important to make an impression.
The chosen testimonials should be linked to a wide variety of products & services through case studies, products, Web pages, Social media, Blog posts, and Podcasts.
Testimonials are usually written in the first person by customers as a review, which could be either good or bad.
Sharing a mixed bag of such responses is always preferred. It sets a very realistic, right expectation for the visitor. It also adds more credibility to your brand
As these testimonials are in the quoted text and speak the customer’s requirement, they help in on-page optimization for all long-tail keywords that your potential target audience searches over the internet every day.
It is also recommended to add a testimonial section to each landing page instead of only a dedicated web page for testimonials.
And what happened to Scheherazade – the storyteller?
She made it through every night, talking about stories revolving around the practices carried out in the rule of the king.
Through several stories, the king was able to look into what’s expected out of him as a king. Those relevant stories made him reflect on his deeds and soon he stopped the practice of killing his newlywed brides.
Definitely, she would have used one form or the other or even more formats of narrative storytelling in her stories.
You too can use the above formats of narrative content in your blog for your audience.
It is highly recommended to learn from those who have successfully executed each of the narrative content forms as stated in the examples above.
Please do share any other narrative content format which has helped or can help a brand improve over personalization and be more of a human to their audience.
Moral of the story – Keep it real, thread it in a story and be human!