Thanks to Rodney Laws of Ecommerce Platforms for this guest post on how sellers can use stories as a sales tool.
The sales funnel can be a tricky thing. It requires constant fine-tuning to ensure customers don’t drop out or choose your competitors over you.
The right content keeps customers in your sales funnel and moves them through toward purchase. Static, lifeless content won’t engage your customers — if you want to achieve that, you need to draw them in with a story.
With that in mind, read on to learn how to use stories at every stage of your sales funnel.
Awareness: spark interest and hook your customers
In the awareness stage of the sales funnel, customers look to a variety of content to inform them. This includes ads, social media, educational content, landing pages, infographics, and offline content.
At this stage, you need to spark your prospective customer’s interest. This means you need a hook.
Use infographics to draw them in
Infographics offer a hook to audiences and reel them into your brand. Through slick visualizations, infographics can turn impregnable data into one or two single compelling stats that give customers a reason to pause and take notice.
Use a good infographic creator to visually highlight a single pain point that affects your audience and ties into your industry. For instance, if you sell interior design and furnishings, your customers will likely be concerned about home aesthetics and styles.
Nail your social ads
Smart social content is a powerful channel for learning about and attracting new customers through storytelling. Use your social content to showcase intriguing elements of your brand.
Paid ads in particular let you target specific audiences so you can tailor your story toward specific demographics. Consequently, you can target elements of your brand toward those customers who are likely to engage.
For instance, if you’re an eco-friendly brand with a range of sustainable knitwear, you could create a series of social ads that highlights why environmentalism means so much to you. You could then target these ads at social users with an interest in sustainability or eco-friendly apparel.
To make sure your ads will resonate with customers, split test your copy and creative in a PickFu poll with a target audience of likely buyers. You’ll receive written feedback along with hard data that will reveal whether your content hits or misses the mark.
Go offline for online results
In the same way, you can leverage online and offline tech to make your story more engaging to your customers.
Create a poster with a hook that taps into your target customer’s pain points. You could then use a free QR code generator and place a QR code on the poster itself for them to scan. The QR code might lead your customers to a dedicated landing page that expands on that pain point, presenting your brand and product as the solution.
At the very least, use this opportunity to gain your customer’s email address and move them further down the sales funnel.
Research: make your customers care about your product
Once a prospective customer is aware of your brand, they will seek out more content to help inform their decision. This includes but isn’t limited to instructional blog posts; e-books or white papers; ratings and reviews; case studies; and comparison guides.
At this stage, your new customers are interested in your brand and are tentatively exploring what you have to offer.
You already know the power of benefits over features. The best way to have prospective customers engage with the benefits of your product is by weaving them into a narrative with them at the center.
Get specific with blog posts for buyer personas
Create a series of informational blog posts that target your buyer personas and explain how your product benefits each persona specifically.
For example, if one buyer persona is a mother named Sarah who wants to save money around the home, your how-to guide could highlight how to use your money-saving app when cooking for children and living on a single salary.
Obviously you can’t write a blog post that targets users by their name (yet), but this approach lets you create broad content that targets specific buyer personas — the next best thing.
Highlight your value through comparison guides
A comparison guide is branded content that compares your product against those of your competitors, naturally highlighting yours as the obvious choice for the customer.
Create comparison guides that highlight different elements of your product’s benefits related to each buyer persona. The key is to ensure your target customer empathizes with your fictional character.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to keep an eye on analytics. Monitor traffic, engagement, and so on for each piece of content at this stage. Use this data to fine-tune your content and improve future blogs and guides.
Most e-commerce platforms integrate with Google Analytics to let you monitor this, although some require you to connect with third-party apps through Zapier, which makes the process trickier.
Purchase: use satisfied customers to convince your leads to convert
By this stage, your prospective customer is locked into your brand and ready to commit. They just need a final push of extra content, such as customer testimonials or in-depth reviews, to confirm their purchase decision.
Customer testimonials are where storytelling really comes into play. These are real experiences from real customers, perfect for sharing as stories that convince customers in the sales funnel to convert.
The best testimonials are those with the reviewer at the center. A brand-led testimonial feels artificial, while a customer-led one offers authenticity and value.
Embrace video testimonials for greater impact
Video testimonials add a human element to content, lifting it beyond the prosaic and replicating as much as possible the experience of human-to-human interaction.
Reach out to a few satisfied and loyal customers — brand advocates play an important role here — and invite them to share their positive experiences of your brand on camera.
If you can record this yourself, great (offline events are a good opportunity to talk to customers in person). If not, a home-recorded video will suffice. Indeed, this informal style can add value to your testimonials by virtue of its authentic feel.
Encourage your satisfied customers to talk about their experience of your product in a personal way. Rather than talking around it objectively, make it subjective. How did it benefit them personally?
Stories are the way to people’s hearts, and that’s no less true than in your sales funnel. Follow the tips above to create a story-driven sales funnel that helps your leads convert time and again.
Rodney Laws is an e-commerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. Find his reviews and tips on EcommercePlatforms.io and connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.