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Brand Storytelling: Why ecommerce brands need to sell stories – not products

You have to be smart if you want to stand out in the crowded, online retail market. And investing in brand storytelling is how to do it.

Why? Because 75% of US consumers have tried new stores, websites and brands during the COVID crisis. There are new pressures on ecommerce brands as more people than ever try to access products and services online. 

For most consumers nowadays, brands need to do more than just simply sell their products. There is an increased importance on giving your business a clear differentiator. Some of the most successful businesses in recent times are using brand storytelling to achieve their goals. 

Ecommerce brands can no longer sit back as faceless entities. There needs to be deeper customer engagement  – to tell a story that communicates brand values and inspires a sense of community. Let’s look at why ecommerce brands need to sell stories – not products. 

How brands use storytelling to communicate with customers

There are a variety of methods brands use to communicate with the consumers they want to acquire. Often, it is easy to understand a company’s aims and ethos through their marketing. 

There is a division between those brands who sell and those who engage in the context of brand storytelling. Let’s look at two of the largest brands in the world: Amazon and Apple.

Amazon is all about selling. They prioritize convenience and accessibility. Whatever product you can think of they can probably sell it to you. Customers visit Amazon’s website when they have a very specific product in mind. 

But on top of this all, customers can’t connect with Amazon on a deeper level. This is by design but it is not the only, or even a preferable, way of communicating with customers. 

On the other hand, Apple has been focussed on the personal. They craft a story and experience that surrounds their brand regardless of the product they are selling. This means they have a well-established community and are always turning fans into advocates. 

As a result, they have a loyal customer base. 

“Apple’s story is its identity. It forms an integral element to the power of its brand.”(CW

Apple is a testament to the power of storytelling and provides an example for how you can optimize your company’s marketing strategy. 

Brand storytelling definition: What is it and why is it important?

“Brand Storytelling simply refers to sharing your company story to connect with your audience. It is the story of how your company or brand came into being. It’s an in-depth exposition of the company’s aspirations, vision and mission.”(Visme)

For ecommerce businesses, like you, this is often achieved on your website, in blogs, via social media marketing or through your ads. 

When LoyaltyLion spoke to customers, 66% of them said they would join a loyalty program to create ongoing relationships with the brands they like. Brand storytelling is important because it creates a connection with customers. 

When you are able to tell an engaging story, customers come back to your brand to see how you fit in with their lifestyle. Edelman’s Brandshare study found that 87% of customers desire more meaningful relationships with brands. Additionally, the study found “92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story when consumed.”

The value of integrating a good story into your marketing is clear. If you are able to grab and keep attention with a story you’ll then be able to retain, delight, inspire and motivate them to engage with your product or service.  

How to tell your own brand story

Here are three key tips to help you tell your own story and enhance your brand value. 

🙌 Show you care about global challenges and practice philanthropy

Going beyond what is expected of you as a company is important. 70% of customers say they would be loyal to a brand if they know it shares their values

This year, show customers that they can give back through engaging with your brand. With a loyalty program, you can allow customers to spend their loyalty points on a charitable donation. 

Edgard & Cooper, a company focused on pet care, welcome their customers’ caring attitude towards their pets and the planet. Through their program, customers exchange points (or “belly rubs”) to feed a shelter dog or to plant a tree. This matches their company-wide pledge to donate 1% of all sales to helping pets in need. 

Watch our interview with Edgard & Cooper to hear more about their approach to loyalty.

📖 Make storytelling the forefront of your brand

Give your customers an excuse to come together as a community and to become part of your brand narrative.  

For 54% of customers, feeling part of a community of like-minded customers is important in securing their loyalty. Additionally, 55% of customers say they’ll be loyal to a brand if they have an emotional connection to it (and this is up 7% from when we asked the same question last year).

To build up your brand story and welcome your community into it, celebrate and reward the customers you have. For example, Annmarie Skin Care gives its members access to an online community where they can trade beauty secrets. This shows customers that they’re at the heart of the brand.

💪 Empower your customers to tell your story

Turn customers into advocates and rewarding them for creating UGC on your behalf.

UGC is a strong social currency: 70% of consumers will consider UGC reviews or ratings before making a purchasing decision. At least 41% of them will read four to seven UGC reviews to gain important insights into a product.

UGC could include social media posts, reviews and referrals. Encourage more UGC by rewarding customers for creating it. Glo Skin Beauty rewards customers 50 points for leaving a product review.

Glo Rewards

Sell stories, not products

Storytelling can help to improve your brand value. To survive the harsh ecommerce landscape in 2021 you should take heed of the points we mentioned above. 

Pay attention to how other brands are communicating their message to customers. Prioritize storytelling and clearly demonstrate your company’s values to make your customers feel valued and empowered. 

These simple tips are the key to enhancing the potential of your company. A good story is all you need!  

About the author

Mollie Woolnough-Rai

Mollie is a Senior Content Marketing Executive at LoyaltyLion. After graduating from UCL in 2016, she has worked both in-house and at marketing agencies providing expertise in content for both B2B and B2C clients. At LoyaltyLion, Mollie manages our content, making sure our readers get the best quality resources about customer loyalty and retention.

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