Ecommerce Storytelling

Ecommerce Storytelling: Using Your Story To Sell Products

AJ Saunders profile picture

By on 08 Feb 23 | Filed: SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

I'm a former ecommerce founder turned growth agency owner. When not helping our clients grow, I enjoy automating my home, dogs, and architecture.

You’re more likely to remember a heartwarming or funny story than the last meal you ate. Mastering the art of ecommerce storytelling will help drive more revenue, increase customer retention, and turn buyers into raving fans.


Ecommerce storytelling is a highly effective marketing tactic that helps elevate your brand, create an emotional response with your target customer, and present your brand’s values in a meaningful way.


Without a captivating narrative, you become just another option in the sea of many. Luckily, we can refine how we talk about our brand so that it resonates with our target market and moves their emotions.


Here are some tips on how to master storytelling for your ecommerce brand and build raving fans who enjoy repeat purchases.



What’s Ecommerce Storytelling?

Storytelling is as old as time itself. It’s the art of engaging with and entertaining people with an account of an imaginary or real set of events. Many of the best stories are fictitious. Yet that doesn’t matter as we’re entertained by them.


We’ve also used storytelling to preserve culture, educate others, and instil morals. It’s a powerful device for communication.


These ideas can extend to cover your brand and products. Ecommerce storytelling is the art of creating and conveying a compelling narrative to your target clients that inspires them to take action.


The real magic is being able to sell someone a product without selling! That’s the art of storytelling, we’re trying to master. To be effective at ecommerce storytelling, you need to fully understand your customers.


You must know their likes and dislikes, what motivates them to buy your product, and how they’ll use it. It’s important to know where in the buying journey they are, so you can tailor the story to where they are.


The most effective stories are personal. The listener or reader instantly places themselves in it and fully embraces the story as if it’s happening to them. They are the main character, and the spotlight’s firmly on them.


The best brands weave storytelling into every stage of the buyer’s journey. Doing so promotes their unique voice, values, and ideals. Authentic storytelling elevates your brand from just the products to one that evokes an emotional response that delights.


Mastering the art of ecommerce storytelling won’t happen overnight. But there are some ideas you can incorporate into your current messaging that will make your brand more memorable, foster customer loyalty, and generate more sales.



Successful Storytelling for ecommerce



What’s At The Heart Of Successful Storytelling?

Compelling stories capture attention and move emotions. They raise your brand from being an option in a sea of many to being the only solution.


Competition is fierce amongst ecommerce brands. The game has changed. Having a good looking website, one-step checkout, and free delivery alone is no longer good enough.


The brands that win are creating excitement across multiple touch points using stories that resonate with the customer. It doesn’t matter the medium (blog, email, website, video), the experience feels seamless and like they are the most important customer.



What Emotions Do Customers Feel When Using Your Product?

It’s easy to get caught up in what our product does but not fully appreciate how it makes our customers feel. Granted, understanding emotions is difficult and complex but is essential for us to weave stories into the buying process.


Experience over things

Many consumers, especially millennials care more about having a memorable customer experience than buying items, according to research by the Harris Group. Yet many brands and retailers don’t focus enough on the complete buying experience and delighting the customer at each step.


Watch shopping

About 18 months ago, I purchased a Swiss watch. As a fairly expensive item, I wanted to view the timepiece before buying. A national Jewelry chain stocks this particular brand. I convinced my nearest branch to have one delivered, so I could view it.


As the branch doesn’t stock this brand, the staff didn’t have any knowledge about the watch, nor could they be fussed to learn about it. I left feeling disappointed by the overall experience. Safe to say, I purchased it elsewhere and probably won’t go back to that shop.


It wouldn’t have taken much effort for the staff member to learn a little about that watch, the brand, and delight me during my visit. They didn’t even offer me a drink!


Use stories to reimagine the buyer’s journey

Your customers aren’t short on options. But this creates the opportunity for you to reimagine the buyer’s journey and use stories to paint a picture that moves their emotions throughout the process.


Creating a positive emotional reaction doesn’t mean only talking about the product. You can focus on the brand’s values, how the customer will feel being part of the club, and of course, you can illustrate how they’ll feel after owning the product vs before.


Show don’t tell

It’s better to show the customer than tell them! Use well-crafted stories that enable them to paint themselves into the story. You could try to trigger their FOMO (fear of missing out), aspiration, or need to be an early adopter.


Returning to my watch buying experience, they failed to trigger my emotions at all stages. Yet, with a few carefully crafted messages, they could have created a positive buying experience that ended with me walking out with it. Instead, I turned to an online retailer.


Review your messaging often

If you haven’t reviewed your pre, during, and post sales messaging in a while, this is your notice to do so! When reviewing your materials, ask yourself if they inspire and delight the customer. If not, time to tweak things.


You can always talk to your top customers and gather some primary research. Use these conversations to ask them what emotions your brand and products trigger (or should trigger). With this information, you can ensure your future copy hits the marks.



branding stories



Do Your Customers Think And Feel Like You?

As the founder or marketing manager, it’s easy to be so heavily involved in the marketing process that you forget the customer. Yet our jobs depend on serving the customer and inspiring them.


We’ve already talked about having meaningful discussions with customers. But that’s only part of observing how our customers think and feel. Spend time daily looking for User Generated Content (UGC) around your brand and product.


UGC could be an Instagram post or story, a Facebook review, a thread on Reddit, or a funny TikTok video that features your product. Your customers are out there talking about you and sharing their insights. But are you listening?


UGC can be positive or negative. It’s important that the brand support UGC with meaningful interactions as part of their customer support strategy. It can be as simple as liking a post or leaving a comment.


There are plenty of reasons to engage with UGC and the people who create it. According to a survey by Stackla, consumers are 2.4 times more likely to consider UGC as more authentic compared to content created by brands.


80% of consumers say UGC highly influences their purchasing decision and journey. Nothing is as powerful as the customer promoting your brand and products. It’s far cheaper than buying ads, investing in SEO, or trying to boost your organic social media reach.


Plus, UGC is fantastic for market research. You can see how customers feel about your brand, the buying experience, and what products the end user feel are missing from your offering.



Selling Your Products With A Good Story

After talking with customers and observing the content they create around your brand and products, you can start to craft effective stories.


Combine how your customers talk about you with what you want to be known for (I call these brand word associations). Consider what makes your brand unique and memorable, and then create a compelling story around this.


Make the customer the hero of your brand’s story. They are the reason you continue to exist. Build your story around the message you want to deliver, the emotions you’d like to trigger, and the phrases you want to be remembered for.


Bentley is a great example of this. They build superb cars with a storied history of supporting the underdog, daring adventure, and are the stylish choice whatever the journey.


These stories didn’t happen overnight but make the brand easier to sell as you’re buying part of the history and not a hunk of metal that helps you get from A to B.


Choc on Choc is a niche chocolatier based in Somerset, UK. Founded by a father-daughter team, their unique and interesting products are available in major retailers and from their online store (a Magento website, if I remember correctly!).


Being a family business has a unique appeal that only enhances their quirky products. Plus, as a female-led company, they have lots of stories that make you want to engage with them, and not mass-produced chocolates.


Just like with Bentley, Choc on Choc offer a widely available product. But they’ve crafted a compelling story that elevates them beyond being a generic brand or product. Both are in noisy categories, but stand out.



Simple sharable storytelling



Simple And Sharable Messaging

The best stories are simple, timeless, and most importable, easily shared. They resonate with your target customer while reinforcing the brand’s values and uniqueness.


Complex stories are hard to project constantly and authentically. So simple is the way to go. It might take you a few weeks or months to refine the key stories that help you sell your brand. But that’s all part of the craft involved in ecommerce storytelling.


Again, it’s worth thinking about the brand positioning and word associations you want to create in your customer’s mind. From there, you should be able to wrap stories around these key elements.


The only missing part is telling your story a hundred times to different customers, partners, and strangers. Next, use the feedback (often non-verbal) to strengthen your stories and create something highly compelling and targeted.


The best way to illustrate simple storytelling is the following:


Yes, they are all advertising slogans. But they invite you to recount stories involving your life. You easily write yourself into these tales, yet the hook is always the advertising slogan.



Where To Start With Storytelling and Ecommerce

Stories are a highly effective way of marketing your ecommerce brand and driving new sales. The best stories are short, unique, and make the customer the hero. It’s not about flogging products but stirring a person’s emotions and inspiring them to buy.


By using authentic stories, you develop a stronger relationship with your customer, build a more powerful brand, and create more brand loyalty. All while standing out from your competitors.


If you’re not using ecommerce storytelling, you should be, and now you have a starting point.

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