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The value of storytelling in email marketing

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In the beginning, once upon a time and in a galaxy far far away…

The art of storytelling is as old as time itself. For as long as there have been people, there have been stories. Good stories get passed down from generation to generation. They tell tales of great battles and glorious victories, of good days and bad, but most of all, they inject emotion and make people feel. They connect people, they have marketing magic!
Tell Me A Story


Scientists have proven that, when we are presented with written facts, the part of our brain that processes language and decodes words into meaning gets activated, while we try and comprehend the information. But that’s it – nothing else happens.

However, according to research, when we are told a story, our brain activity changes dramatically.

Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but the area associated with physical experiences, also responds to events described in the story. For example, when reading about delicious food in a food blog, your sensory cortex lights up – and you would be forgiven for feeling as though you were in that restaurant, eating that meal. The same way that no-one would judge you for wiping away a tear during a Budweiser commercial.

This is because storytelling is powerful,  It allows people to dream, to imagine and to actualize ideas. What a great tool for email marketers!

1. Build trust

Stories have the ability to humanize brands. Be authentic with your customers. Be transparent, use your welcome series to tell your story. Tell your customers who you are, what you do and what they can expect from your emails. 

Customers will be more receptive if you tell them what you’re trying to achieve and then carry this theme throughout all your interactions with them.

2. Know your audience

In order to make your emails relevant and valuable to your readers, you need to make them easy to understand. Whilst it’s important not to forsake your brand’s identity, it’s just as important to remember who is reading your emails. Your customers are not your brand custodians.

Stories help turn complex and abstract ideas into relevant, valuable messaging. Take, for example, purchasing a new smartphone. The specs and technology may be amazing, but confusing.

By showing customers real-life examples of how the new features are of benefit to them, suddenly makes it a “must have “ item.

3. Define your main goal

The most successful storytellers often focus readers’ minds on a single important idea. Is your email selling a product? Explaining a service, or notifying a customer about important information? What is the main aim of your email? To help define this, try to summarize your story in six to ten words. If you can’t do that, you have not achieved the main goal of your email.

4. Call to action

Let’s be honest, most email marketing messages are used to incite some kind of action from the reader. Whether we are asking someone to make a purchase, subscribe to a newsletter or read a blog, the call to action should be linked to the main objective of the email. As such, we need to ensure that the call to action instructions tie into our story. For example, avoid terms like “click here” and rather ask people to “continue reading my blog here”.

5. Use data to tell a powerful story

Hyper-personalization allows us to use data to tell stories that are relevant. Use your data gathered from sources to tell the correct story at the correct time. With hyper-personalization, a retailer can send customers the next best offer, a tailored message based on their story of personal preferences or past purchases.

Hyper-personalization ensures that customers are not only buying from you, but that they also remain loyal.

6. Have some fun

Perhaps the best part of storytelling is that it allows the imagination to run wild. Email offers us this same advantage. 

The days of plain text static emails are a thing of the past. Use personalized images and GIFs to help tell your story. Adding videos can increase your engagement rates by more than 50% and they allow us, as email marketers, the opportunity to add the emotion into our emails.

Don’t be scared  to flex your creative muscles and have fun with your email!

Storytelling is a great way to bring people together, to help us communicate effectively. In a world filled with screens, stories allow us to (once again) put people at the center of our communication strategies – where, just maybe, they can all live happily ever after!

Let us help you boost your email engagement with fun, interactive emails that tell a story

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Dori-Jo Bonner

Dori-Jo Bonner

Account Strategist - Africa

Dori-Jo studied a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing Communications. She joined Striata in 2009 as an Account Executive and has taken every opportunity to expand her skills and experience in digital communication. In her current position as Account Strategist at Striata, Dori-Jo is responsible for researching and proposing solutions that add strategic value to our client’s marketing efforts by significantly improving the customer experience. Her years of running email marketing operations and execution means she is also a sought-after advisor to Striata’s email marketing production teams.

Read more of Dori-Jo's blog posts here or connect with her on the following social channels: