The world loves stories. It wants to hear more of it. People are inherently bad listeners but get hooked on to something that provides them with a vent. An outlet where they can juxtapose their own stories onto the tale they get to read. This also makes them avid readers.
Any writer worth their salt would tell you how difficult it is to keep the reader engaged after the first few pages. The idea of the storyline and the way it has been portrayed and presented is the key to the success.
Storytelling is an ancient art. From Aesop to Homer, William Shakespeare to every contemporary writer, the essence of storytelling has remained the same. Intrigue and suspense and the art of generating curiosity is the central premise. It has remained unchanged over the years.
With the advent of technology, the mode of reading stories have changed. Books have given way to devices. The ubiquitous smartphone is our current window to the world. The new form of books are images on the screens where we scroll instead of turning pages and gradually turning the edges into dog-ears.
However, storytelling is no more limited online publications. It is a major force to reckon with when it comes to websites and their conversion. Website developers often are at a loss when asked to explain the lack of visitors to their sites. They talk about technology, bandwidth et al. What is overlooked is the content.
What is storytelling?
Storytelling is the art of communicating ideas and information in a manner that connects the reader and make them feel closer to the website or the products it sells. Stories usually come in three forms: Visual, written and verbal.
Most websites will have a combination of Visual and written. While verbal storytelling has the chance to captivate the audience in a jiffy, it is a wee bit tougher to do that through writing.
That is the reason why the content has to be rip-roaring and soul searching.
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Why is corporate storytelling a necessity?
Corporate houses survive on providing services to consumers. If they do not have consumers for their products, then the company will not survive. Hence, they need to connect to their customers. Corporate storytelling is quite an ancient concept though it has now been rebranded in a new bottle. With the explosion of the internet, it has taken another form. It is now the single most important business for the marketing team to gauge consumer mood and behaviour to push for more sales.
This is an important terminology in the world of website storytelling. The content has to be appealing enough to attract most consumers. What will be the outcome, will you have a good eCommerce conversion optimization plan in place?
The greater amount of time being spent on the website by visitors. This is one of the surest ways of website conversions. The more time you spend on a website, the greater is the possibility of a conversion. Even with greater time spent on websites, the google search ranking improves. This is in a way stating that the content of the website is worth spending time on.
Content is the king
It always was and will remain. Under the current scenario, website conversions are extremely dependent on what content is being placed in it. A website may as navigable as a breeze but if it does not provide something worthwhile then visitors will not return. The majority of successful websites rely on repeat visitors. These visitors are not only a major source of revenue but advertising too. They would spread the good word about your website and bring in more visitors. The greater the number of footfalls, the higher the probability of an increase in revenue, which is why a good targeted marketing strategy needs to be in place.
This is only possible if the website has relevant content or at least information that will help the visitor in some way. Please do remember that customers look at benefits first and only. Those benefits can come in the form of features or services. Hence, the focus has to be on providing the consumer with maximum benefits. The success of website conversion increase manifold.
The question is how to advertise the same.
Show me the story
There are many ways of storytelling. There are umpteen creative methods to portray a circumstance. Real-life stories can be put across as situations. Everybody loves a David vs Goliath battle. The world toots for the underdog. Remember, The Pursuit of Happyness. If you haven’t been moved by that story, then you are either dead or non-living.
It gives you an essence of human endeavour. The will to fight. The spirit to overcome challenges.
These are the kind of stories that move readers. They see a part of the protagonist within them and this boost conversions.
Website conversions are a tricky affair. It relies not just on design, product and advertising. The way this entire amalgamation is portrayed is what drives visitors towards it. Ad campaigns run by companies are a huge and costly affair. However, they will only be effective if the stories that are being told through those campaigns exude genuine charm. Many times, the campaign falters because it is over the top and unrealistic. It does not touch the heart.
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The world of the content writer
Content writers are a creative lot. They have to invest a lot of energy and imagination in conjuring up ideas that they think will click with the populace. Something as simple as Aladdin. A poor boy gets magical with his friend and ultimately gets the princess. A classic David vs Goliath feel. Something we all would relate to.
However, content writers would also have to avoid falling into the trap of stereotypes which can damage a marketing content strategy. Stereotyping is one of the greatest pitfalls that is a real challenge in the world of content writing and storytelling. One must break the monotonicity of real lives and create a world where an alternative outcome is possible. A writer will have to outthink the current dead knot and build castles in the air in a manner it looks real.
Stories evoke an emotional response from the customer and lead to more web traffic. It helps them create a visual of the product. The idea that is built around the product through the story helps in the existence of the product. This is the precursor towards building the brand.
Brands are built through a combination of recall value and persistence. Newer stories have to be built and fresh content has to be released frequently to keep the brand in focus. This is important since the attention span and the memory of consumers is short.
To keep the brand relevant in the minds of the consumers, stories have to be stark and hard-hitting. The content creation team have to focus on the positivity the brand elicits in the mind of the reader. Once that task is done, it becomes easier for the organisation to push the product into the market.
Brand building has its challenges too. It has to take care of stagnancy. Times and societal construct keeps changing. One cannot always live in the past. People are aspirational creatures. They aspire to reach the higher echelons of power and fame. Prosperity is what they aim to gain. Brand outreach has to be moulded accordingly.
This is where content comes into play. The creative content team has to apply the philosophies of effective marketing to reach maximum consumers. This can be your base for an excellent social media marketing strategy. They would also have to be mindful of the numerous pulls and pressures a society undergoes. There are invisible fault lines which have to be taken care of too. These fault lines cannot be played around with since they can flare up and cause much distress.
It is within this thin red line that they have to walk.
What do the customers want?
They want to know more about the product. And your task is cut off here. Customers are a whimsical lot. And coupled with a minuscule attention span, the brand has the venerable task of holding them onto the screen. Also, it has to relatable. Storytelling is an art and that has to be performed to the hilt. All within a quick span.
Websites on the other hand have the advantage of being virtual books. People visit a website and browse the pages. They take time to read it. This is a great benefit and has to be taken advantage of.
One of the best ways to capture the imagination of the customer is to make them believe in their abilities. The heroes of the story have to be the consumer themselves, and this is one of the leading methods for conversion rate optimization. The pertinent question could be why?
Unless and until you make them feel part of the product why would they even care? There are thousands of products getting into the market every day. The consumer is spoilt for choices. Why would he or she provide you with the advantage? What benefit would he or she get out of it? The minimal you as a brand creator do is give them their story. Make them happy through the story you tell. Let the product speak for itself but enhance its visibility by making it a part of them.
It is a tragedy that websites often overlook this aspect. They try to make their product the central figure in their stories. This takes the focus away from the real object: the consumer.
Content writers have to be wise enough to understand the market dynamics. Websites aim at providing a kind of service to whoever visits them. It can be in the form of products or information. The kind of services will differ but the quality of service has to remain top-notch. In both cases, the reader will need the feel to get pampered. The content of the website will be doing that.
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Why should the customer pay you?
This is a relevant question which most websites have no answer to. This is also the question that directly influences website conversions. Despite the presence of millions of other websites why would one pay to yours.
This is the best chance to showcase one’s storytelling abilities. You will not only give them the reason why you would but also emotionally connect with them. This way the consumer will unconsciously bond with the product.
Create a journey
We all have a journey to make. This is after the journey we already have made. Likewise, the product too will be making a journey. This has to be linked to the journey of the consumer. Make them feel as if this is the same story as theirs. The upheavals, the challenges, the obstacles, the pain, the dust and the grime.
Once we have been able to establish that connection, the next step is to propose a partnership. This is the first step towards a sales push. The consumer will have to be made to believe that the product is the one he or she would want to have as a part of their journey, which will improve the conversion rate.
The pitfall out here is that one has to tread carefully here. It cannot be too dramatic either too staid. It needs to have just the right kind of emotions to attract a person.
A simple example would be a lotion to cure sunburns. If you just show two separate circumstances, then it will not make any sense. However, if you merge them and show them as a before and after, then a story is being created out there.
The consumer will always appreciate the fact that their struggles have been noted and applauded. This is a personal connect whose output is enormous.
Mistakes websites make
And when I say, I mean the majority of the virtual world. Even I have made these mistakes while managing my websites. I relied too much on fancy SEO and luck. This does not work. You can put keywords and pray as much as you want. It is not going to happen. And even if it does, it will just be a flash in the pan.
The success of the website is based on the number of repeat visitors. A repeat consumer would mean; the earlier visit was a success. There is a chance that this visitor will also be bringing in a few of his or her friends too. Great content is also a great advertiser. A visitor will keep on revisiting because he or she will always find something relevant there.
The same should be the case for advertising the website. Many times we provide great content on the website but miss it while doing the same while promoting it on social media. There is also another grave mistake that is committed by website owners, targeting.
The wrong aim
The brand should always be focussed on the target market. Do not waste time and energy by putting it in places where there would not be any scope. Creating a market takes time and effort. However, in a non-existent market, it is would be a foolish decision. An example would be how high-end cars position themselves. They do understand the tag that comes with them and they make the best use of them which is why you should look at their landing page optimization. They would not be showcasing their wares in a market where demand would be next to nothing. This way they can put in their entire energy into places where the rewards are guaranteed.
Websites need to brand position themselves. A normal website will remain one of the creators who do not understand the importance of positioning it. Websites which talk about technology and the premium stuff available in the market understand the importance of their existence. They have a niche market and their content creators are some of the best in the content writing world.
We are bad listeners. We truly are. We love to talk and hear our voices. However, the moment somebody else speaks we lose focus. This is disastrous whilst running a business and why we will lose a website conversion every time we do not listen. To improve one needs to improve and that improvement can only come if you are listening to the consumer.
I have always surmised that the most important section of the website is the feedback form. You think you have the best content but your readers may think otherwise. You need to listen to them. An unbiased opinion is the best feedback, even if it is downright negative. Good writers have gone through the feedback phase over a long period in time and they still do. They keep evolving with time. It is important to keep the ears stuck to the ground. The noise coming out of it will tell you about an oncoming train, long before you would see it.
Once you have got the feedback, it matters to respond to it. This is a two-stage process in which it can be done. Respond to the query and be detailed while you do so and work on the feedback.
Anyone of them will not be sufficient.
An effective response will elicit greater interest amongst the consumer community and increase the conversion rate. It would also be held high. A consumer whose feedback gets responded too will always feel important. This is a kind of connect websites should strive to attain.
Stop being overly promotional
You have visitors to the site because of the service you provide. You know it and they know it too. Do not push those promotions into their faces. Too much of promotions are detrimental to the prospects of the website. Visitors will get irritated if all that they see on your website are advertisements and promotions. It is akin to a movie which has loads of ads running at all times and the one which provides ad-free viewing.
Promotions should be subtle and be done through stories, the main highlight of this article.
Tell the visitors how much the website owes to the for its success and how the journey it has been thus far. That you do wish to continue it with them needs to be the selling pitch.
Cater to the Consumer
I would repeat it; the consumer is the deciding factor. If they reject your product or service, then there is no scope of revival. The brand value diminishes and the brand recall gets hit adversely. It will take quite an effort to revive it. Hence, it is always advisable to cater to the audience. The sole aim of the website content is to cater to visitors. It, any point in time, should not deviate from there.
The question of loyalty too comes in at some point in time. Websites with a loyal community are successful ones. This is the only reason why Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et al are such huge brands today. They have a loyal consumer base who lap up anything and everything that these websites come up with which works toward increasing the sales.
So huge are these companies that they are in a position to sway public opinion. Seeing from the point of view of a content creator, it is heartening to see that the scope of good content is big, even though these websites do not own a single world of content.
The first aim is to create a loyal fan base. A community that is going to root for you. This group of people will back the website through and thin. That is how Wikipedia survives. It has a huge fan base and is a much larger community-driven currently.
A website with a loyal fan base will spark brand consciousness and website conversions would be easier.
The content strategy
We have come across a wide range of ideas and discussions regarding storytelling but there is still one final point that needs to be touched. A content strategy is nothing but a plan in which the storytelling has to be structured and what the focus should be. Would it be marketing, selling or just a brand awareness program? All this has to be factored in before the content writer sits to create dreams with words.
Storytelling, as said before, is an ancient art. It has come down the ages and is used as a powerful weapon to influence minds which leads to CRO conversion rate optimization. It is just that the amphitheater is our smart devices and not a stone and brick structure.