Storytelling began thousands of years ago, and today, stories are infinitely more impactful than advertising and brand marketing. In June, BusinessWeek wrote about the power of stories: “If you want to connect with your audience, inspire them, and motivate them to action, start telling stories.” The internet lets us share them globally in an instant.
In the age of user-generated content, we know that customers’ stories are even more compelling than a brand’s story (which may carry the taint of advertising). And while reviews generally focus on products, stories can focus on more broad-reaching topics and overarching themes. Reviews capture opinions; stories capture experiences.
We’ve seen different types of stories drive a variety of success metrics over a diverse client base.
Brand association stories engage readers and writers around topics that are relevant to consumers and brands, without being brand-specific or exclusive. This tangential approach lets customers – and, more importantly, non-customers – participate in topics that are important to the target market or community as a whole. For example, the beauty brand philosophy ran a Mother’s Day campaign that asked visitors to share “Your Mom’s Philosophy.” A voting component to this campaign encouraged writers to share their stories with friends, driving more traffic to the site. That month, 39 percent of Philosophy’s site traffic for May originated on a Mother’s Day-themed Stories page.
Brand stories let consumers express their overall experience with a vendor or brand – speaking to how the brand as a whole has had an impact on customer lives. They also focus on what sets that brand apart – customer service, quality, value, or comfort, for example. La-Z-Boy consumers tend to have a lifetime of La-Z-Boy purchases; they have specific reasons for buying that brand year after year. La-Z-Boy capitalized on this by asking customers “How has La-Z-Boy been a part of your life?” This campaign drove more than 2,700 stories and 38,500 registered visitors over a three-month period, with 33% of those opting in to gain more information from La-Z-Boy.
Product stories give customers a chance to share their product experiences, not just their opinion. Also, stories address a critical time element with product experiences – over time, they’re able to give more insights into how the product impacted their life or drove a great experience. CyberSwim, which claims the world’s largest MiracleSuit selection, encourages its clients to open up about their “Miracle Moments.” Women rave about their own experiences with these products, from vacations to post-natal bodies, and even include photos of themselves in the suits.
We continue to see more and more brands adopt and use customer stories in a variety of ways, supporting a number of business goals. Like all user-generated content, stories engage contributors and consumers, and drive natural search with their continuously-updated content. More than this, though, stories help brands understand and build personas based on real customer input.
Keep an eye on this blog for more ways stories drive business. And check out the webinar that highlights what jeweler James Avery learned from stories.