Why Storytelling is Crucial for Ecommerce Businesses

People love stories.

It’s why some stories originally told over a thousand years ago endure up to this day.

We’ve loved stories from an early age, back when we barely understood them.

Stories entertain. Stories inspire. Stories fuel the imagination.

Storytelling in Marketing

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It’s no surprise that storytelling has become one of the most effective tools used in marketing.

Its ability to establish a deeper connection with consumers is unparalleled. Storytelling can humanize a brand and make it more relatable.

When done right, eCommerce storytelling can reach out of the computer screen and “touch” consumers.

It can also be the catalyst to mobilizing a legion of loyal fans.

What Is Storytelling For eCommerce?

Marketing is a necessity if you want to succeed in eCommerce.

There are countless competitors selling products identical to yours.

It becomes a race of who can capture their audience’s attention first. When it comes to engaging your audience, few can be as potent a tool as storytelling.

Capture the Imagination of Your Audience

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Online stores can make consumers experience their stores physically.

So you need something else to reel them in. Engage them. Make them understand what your brand is about. Let them know what you stand for.

Tell a story that makes your audience imagine themselves enjoying your products.

Take Consumer on an Emotional Journey

A powerful story can do a variety of things for your brand.

It can compel your audience to trust you.

It can evoke an emotion that leads to a desire to buy your product.

A good story can make consumers feel like they’ve known your brand all their life.

Why do I need to care about storytelling?

Stories make your brand feel more authentic.

Stories can make your audience feel like they are talking to a trusted friend.

Stories allow you to converse with your audience on a more emotional level. Stories add depth.

They can make your brand seem more than just a product or service.

Stories can make your brand an entity that consumers want to be friends with.

Information overload

Let’s face it. Consumers today find most conventional advertising methods boring.

You can’t expect a consumer to read a boring wall of text. We’re in the digital age.

Consumers are overloaded with information:

  • Google receives over 63,000 searches per second
  • The average consumer processes around 100,000 digital words each day
  • A person encounters an average of 5,000 marketing messages per day
  • 3 trillion online ads are sold each year

Most consumers don’t bother with marketing messages. Almost 80% of people scan content and only read the parts that interest them.

Ecommerce storytelling can compel your audience to read every word of your message.

Develop stronger relationships

Communication is a two-way street.

Consumers aren’t content with just listening to you.

They want you to listen to what they have to say too.

Tell a story your audience can relate to. This will make them feel that you understand them.

The more relatable stories you tell, the stronger your bond with them will be.

Make Your Audience Feel They’re a Part of Something Greater

Define your brand with a core set of beliefs. Make sure these core beliefs resonate with your audience.

This will build goodwill between you and your audience. It will add perceived value to your products and services.

This perceived value will allow you to charge higher than your competitors without losing your customers.

Consumers who feel strongly about your brand will also become your brand ambassadors.

For instance, Warby Parker has the mission to solve the problem with access to glasses. Their Buy A Pair, Give A Pair program encourages customers to be part of their initiative and help solve this crisis. This adds to the alure of buying a pair of glasses from Warby Parker.

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Warby Parker Buy A Pair, Give A Pair Program

Similarly, LUSH is an active participant in donating and discovering ways to help solve various environmental and animal crisis. Their strong activist brand attracts those who share similar values and adds to the “feel good” state of customers when they see that portions of sales goes to LUSH’s many ethical campaigns.

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Some of LUSH’s initiatives

Stories are motivational

Stories can move people. A good story can motivate consumers to do what you want them to do. Build a story around these motivations. To do this, there are three factors you need to consider:

  • What you want your audience to feel
  • What action you want your audience to take
  • What call-to-action (CTA) will be the most compelling

How Do I Start Telling A Story About My Business?

1.) Focus on emotions

Most consumers make buying decisions based on emotion instead of logic.

Paint a clear picture of how much they’ll love your product or service. Focus on positive emotions.

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Casper focusing on how they help people get better sleep

Make consumers see themselves being satisfied with what you offer.

2.) Talk about how your product makes the customer’s life better

Focus on the benefits instead of the product or service.

Emphasize why your product or service is superior. Highlight why it is unique.

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Casper’s Mattresses
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Bellroy showcasing how their wallets can handle wear and tear through time

Last, clearly define what consumers can achieve by getting it.

3.) Explain how your company solves customer problems

Attack the pain points of your target audience. Describe the problem in detail. Include its causes and its impact.

This will tell them you understand what they’re going through. Then describe how you’ve developed a solution for the problem.

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Bellroy visually showing the difference from regular wallets and theirs – the pain most people have with their wallets.

4.) Make the story shareable

Build a story around the core values of your brand. Present the story in a way that makes readers want to share it.

Create a short hashtag that summarizes your core message or the story.

Encourage your audience to share their own stories using the hashtag.

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Warby Parker’s story that makes you want to root for them

5.) Be more transparent

Consumers tend to assume the worst when there’s something they don’t know. So say tell it to them right off the bat.

Tell them about your company culture and how it’s like for the people working for you.

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Zappos’ perspective on company culture

 

Describe your manufacturing process.

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Warby Parker shows the full process from prototype to completion
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Everlane sharing their factory details for their products

Talk about where you came from and how you got to where you are today.

6.) Be socially conscious

Give back and pay it forward.

Get involved in local community events. Donate to charity. Sponsor a local project. Fund a few scholars.

Any good thing you do can be incorporated into the story of your brand.

Sharing this story will further endear you to your audience.

But make sure to be authentic with this. If you don’t believe in the event or charity, do not force yourself to be part of it. People can sense it.

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Everlane’s ethical approach
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Patagonia’s Denim

7.) Highlight your brand’s origins

People love success stories. It inspires them.

Share a story about the evolution of your brand.

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Highlight the challenges and setbacks you’ve had to overcome.

Talk about the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned.

8.) Humanize your brand

Don’t only talk about your company or your products.

Tell stories about your employees.

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LUSH has video features of their employees that share their work and life

Highlight what they bring to the table.

Showcase the various ways they contribute to your company.

Talk about people who founded your company.

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The story behind Huckberry
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Story of Yeti

9.) Enhance product descriptions

Many Amazon FBA sellers have trouble finding ways to tell their stories on the Amazon.

Ecommerce storytelling is harder to do on online marketplaces. So what should you do?

Use what’s already there. Use visuals and stories to describe what your product is and what it’s like to use them.

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10.) Use real-life stories from customers

Encourage your customers to share their stories involving your company. Offer them a prize to encourage their participation.

This will give you a chance to collect user-generated contact. It will also add authenticity to your storytelling.

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LUSH user-generated content
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Daniel Wellington user-generated content
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Tweets and Instagram posts from Casper customers

Storytelling is vital to eCommerce success. It’s vital for a business’s longevity.

A good story will not only make someone want to read every word of it, but it will also connect with them on a much deeper level. It transcends what the product is about.

The beauty of a well-established brand is creating that connection where what you sell matters less than what you stand for.

And when you stand for something and mean something more than just a product to them, you build a tribe that will root for you in the long run.

What Is Product Differentiation and Why Is It Important?

Today I’m going to introduce you to a very important concept: Product Differentiation.

Knowing how your product is unique and different from your competitors can be the thing that makes or breaks it for your business. Especially in today’s crowded market.

We’ll be going over why it’s crucial for your business and its 3 different types, as well as some common examples.

Let’s get started!

What is Product Differentiation?

Product differentiation is a marketing strategy to show a product’s distinctiveness. How is the product different or unique from others in the same category?

Hubspot defines it as:

the strategy used by businesses to highlight the unique features and benefits of its product or service to separate it from competitors. The marketing team communicates these unique qualities through their campaigns and promotions. And the sales team can use them to demonstrate the product’s competitive advantage.

There are many ways for a business to highlight their product’s unique features. For instance:

  • It can showcase the brand symbol and quality
  • It can boast on specific features and style or
  • It can emphasize the unique aspects that make your product superior against specific competitors

For example, Casper, a mattress company, highlights a combination of their product’s features and benefits like comfort and manufacturing right on their homepage:

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Why is Product Differentiation Important?

Think about the times you go to the grocery store. Each aisle is filled with products from different brands. There’s 5 selling the same type of yogurt.

If you’re not able to inform the consumer HOW you’re different from the rest, there’s no reason to buy your product over another. And in many cases – especially for more established brands – the differentiation comes from their name alone. This mainly comes from their reputation for consistently creating products that may be high quality (or low quality).

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Safeway Orange Juice vs. Tropicana Orange Juice: People are willing to pay double for Tropicana

So in a world where we have so many choices, having a product differentiation strategy sets the foundation that defines your business and how other’s perceive your brand compared to your competitors.

But of course, saying you’re high quality doesn’t exactly mean much, since anyone can say the same. Finding the characteristics that are important to your target market is then crucial to showcase your differentiation.

This means spending the time to research the behaviors of your target market to uncover their specific pain points and what they truly desire. With that information, you can formulate the features and benefits that potential customers actually care about and perceive as value. This would provide the basis of your product differentiation strategy and direct all marketing and sales messaging.

What Are The Product Differentiation Types?

There are three types of product differentiation: simple, horizontal, and vertical differentiation.

  1. Simple Differentiation makes a certain product set apart from the rest. The difference can be easy for customers to determine because it is obvious. Think of a regular rice cooker versus rice cooker with a removable steamer lid.
  2. Horizontal Differentiation focus on a single feature. The price may be the same as the competing products and doesn’t focus on the superiority of quality. Yet, it offers a different feature or functions. For example, think of a digital camera and a film-based camera. Both can give you a good quality photo but has different features.
  3. Whereas, Vertical Differentiation shows a product’s single characteristics. Customers are aware of its unique quality. It stands out among the rest even though there is a great difference on the price. A Levi’s 101 jeans stand out from the rest even though the price varies between other jeans in the market.
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Examples of Product Differentiation

Let us take a look at some product differentiation examples.

Apple Macbook Pro

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Apple is a multinational technology company (you may have heard of them ;)) that produces super popular products like the iPhone and MacBook Pro laptops. Apple has been highly touted for its sleek ergonomic designs and simple Operating System (OS). That is their differentiation factor.

People know that buying an Apple MacBook Pro won’t get you the most ram or processing power for the price you chalk up, like you would from another brand. Nor will it have the most advanced technology built in or varying customization capabilities.

But certain students, video editors, businessman, and creatives choose to purchase the MacBook because of its form factor and an intuitive OS. And those who do require top of the line processing power or customization, they tend to be the ones who build their own computers.

And in recent years, Apple has attempted to increase the power of their laptops to cater to some of the professionals who do require the extra oomph. This makes it more attractive for potential customers who may be eyeing at the Microsoft Surface.

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Razer

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Razer is an award-winning gaming accessories brand that is well known for its keyboards and gaming mice. Their DeathAdder mice recently reached the 10 million milestone and has been one of the hottest gaming mouse for the last decade. Razer continues to release new iterations of the Deathadder and continues to boast the very qualities that made it so famous: its sleek design, comfort, and optimum performance.

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These qualities define their differentiation strategy. They are the very characteristics that are heavily sought by their target market: casual and hardcore gamers.

As a cherry on top, Razer uplifts the credibility of the Deathadder by mentioning how League of Legends pro, Faker, uses their mouse and has won championships. This acts as social proof and truly cements the quality of their product and difficult for other gaming mouse brands like Logitech to compete.

Takeaway: Find the pain points of your customers. Then create your product features and marketing around how your product solves those frustrations.

In business, competition is hard. It is important to think on product differentiation strategy. It is a key element to market the product, create a longstanding brand, and capture a segment in the market. Otherwise, you’ll have difficulty in connecting with potential customers who are busy looking for a product that truly speaks to them and gets their attention.

 

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