Your customers are constantly bombarded with corporate promotions and marketing messages. As a result, customer retention has become increasingly difficult.
Retaining customers takes more than just high-quality products and a smooth user experience. Customers buy — and continue to buy — from brands they’re emotionally connected to. In fact, 70% of emotionally engaged consumers spend up to two times more on brands they are loyal to (source).
So the question is, how do brands create emotional connections with their customers? While there’s not one simple answer, there is one method that stands head and shoulders above the rest: storytelling.
Keep reading to learn four different ways to build stronger connections and retain more customers through storytelling!
1. Tell your customer’s story.
When we have an emotional connection to a story — whether it’s fact or fiction — it’s likely because we relate to the story’s characters. The same concept applies to brand storytelling. Elicit an emotional response by making your customers the hero of your stories, or by giving them a hero they can relate to.
Start by considering your ideal customer’s needs and pain points. Why would they buy a product you sell? What problem do they need to solve? Then, create content that illustrates these needs and pain points as part of a narrative.
Let’s pretend you sell sales prospecting software— although it may be tempting to produce a video showcasing the various features of your product through a screen recording, instead, we recommend telling the story of the typical user. Perhaps you show a day in the life of a sales rep who isn’t meeting quota, then using your product, you show the same sales rep hitting his goals without a problem.
2. Humanize your brand.
With so many options available to the average consumer, brands often become indistinguishable from one another. As a result, customers have no real attachment to one particular brand over another.
Through storytelling, however, you can help your customers understand more than just what they’re buying, but also who they’re buying from.
We recommend placing an emphasis on your actual staff in your branding materials. Feature your employees on your social media profiles, highlight their accomplishments, even celebrate their birthdays and personal milestones.
One example leveraged by companies all over the world is using storytelling techniques within advertising and marketing content to depict the story of your company— how it started as a small team of individuals and grew into what it is today. Although this example has clearly been done before, everyone’s origin story is different. Telling your own story will set you apart from similar companies and humanize your brand in a way that other marketing tactics can’t.
3. Show your company’s values.
Studies show that only 13% of consumers cited frequent interactions as a reason they have a relationship with a specific brand. Although this statistic may come as a relief to marketers who are frankly tired of the fight to get in front of consumers, it also poses more questions than answers. If interaction doesn’t contribute to customer relationships, what does? According to 64% of consumers, that answer is simple: shared values (source).
Whether through video or a written narrative, discuss the values that drive your brand. Beyond selling products, what does your company stand for? What positive change do you want to make for your customers, and for the world at large?
With that being said, resist the urge to manufacture values for the purpose of increasing customer retention. Brands often latch on to trending social issues and hot-button topics not because of strong values, but because they want to cash in on some favorable attention. Your customers know the difference between genuine virtues and virtue-signaling, so make sure the brand stories you tell are honest and authentic.
4. Promote user-generated stories.
Customer retention hinges on two factors above all else: trust and authenticity. And, it’s been proven time and time again that customers trust user-generated content much more than traditional marketing content. In fact, 92% of consumers trust other customers more than they trust advertising from brands (source).
Retain more customers by encouraging your existing customer advocates to tell their own stories. While this might seem like a difficult task, there are plenty of ways to involve your customers beyond simply asking them to talk about you. For example, you might interview a lifelong customer about their experiences with your brand. Then, transform the interview into a narrative-driven case study.
The best part about user-generated content is that your customers are probably already creating it— search social media for your brand name, hashtags associated with campaigns, or posts your company is tagged in. You’ll be surprised by how many customers are already telling their own stories about their experiences with your brand!
Of course, no matter how great your branding is, you’ll only retain customers if they truly love your products. But, given how crowded the ecommerce space is, forming meaningful connections through brand storytelling can be a brand’s competitive edge.
Sam Holzman is a Content Marketing Manager at ZoomInfo, a leading B2B contact database that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. He regularly covers topics related to sales, marketing, and recruiting and likes to write about sports and travel in his free time.