Fueling eCommerce success with brand storytelling - Retail Council of Canada
Marketing & Merchandising | Digital Retail & Technology

Fueling eCommerce success with brand storytelling

August 17, 2021

This article is provided by Reshift Media, a Canadian-based digital marketing and development organization specializing in retail businesses.

Brand storytelling is exactly what you might think – telling a story with your brand. However, to effectively do so, there are several factors to consider in order to be as effective and authentic as possible. How your brand tells a story translates directly into how a prospective customer will perceive and form opinions about your brand, which automatically factors into how they will engage (if at all).

Connecting with consumers from the second they visit your website is extremely important; capturing their attention in those first moments is what will carry them through each stage of their buying journey. Think of it like greeting a customer when they walk through the door of a physical store – you want their experience to be positive and memorable from the start.  

This blog post will review some of the reasons why storytelling is such an important tool, particularly in the eCommerce space, and explain how it can help fuel greater success with your brand.

What is the Goal Behind Brand Storytelling?

There are several ways a brand can choose to tell their story; some may want to formulate their marketing strategy to emphasize the journey of creating their brand, others may want to highlight what they are doing now and how they are fulfilling their brand’s mission and values, and often you will find a mix of both.

How your brand decides to market to the public is unique to you, but the common thread within brand storytelling is the emphasis on the human aspect, which allows consumers the opportunity to connect with your brand on a deeper level. Storytelling in eCommerce shows customers that there is more behind the items or services being sold to them, and your company’s mission and values are what brands should convey to make the buying experience that much more memorable and fulfilling. 

Storytelling Builds Emotional Connections & Relationships

Without an added element of brand storytelling, eCommerce brands may find it difficult at times to connect with customers – mainly because there’s a physical barrier (a device’s screen) getting in the way, but also because brands can never be 100% sure how a customer will perceive them or what opinions they will form about them.

Although there is no crystal ball to determine those kinds of factors, there are some ways to solidify a connection with customers to form long-term relationships, and that includes storytelling.

Storytelling in eCommerce brings out emotion. On the brand side, creating a narrative provides the opportunity to express the values, mission, or identity to customers; what makes your brand your brand? Even if you think your story is not “exciting” enough to tell customers, it is important to remember that it’s not entirely what you are telling them, but how you are telling it and how you are including them in the story.

For example, providing a background on why you created your brand, your goals in the industry, and why customer experience is a top priority, are components to your storyline that customers will likely connect with it – it doesn’t have to be an Oscar-winning plot. Highlighting who you are and showing customers there are humans behind all that website coding is what consumers are looking for.

From a customer side, finding out more about a brand can help them feel as if they are contributing to something greater than the purchase itself, and this stems largely from an emotional connection that forms. Research conducted by Forrester Consulting and FocusVision found that the way customers feel (the emotions they feel while engaging with your brand) is 1.5x more impactful than what they think (although, how consumers “think” and “feel” are both good markers to consider when crafting a brand story). As well, the study found that 93% of brands agree consumers are more likely to spend money on a brand they feel connected to.

Consumers Value Authenticity

Did you know that 90% of consumers believe that authenticity is a key factor when they decide which brands to like and support? Although brands might think they are authentic with their content, 51% of consumers say less than half of brands create authentic content, and this is likely because user-generated content sits higher up in the authenticity scale than brand-generated content – 2.4x higher to be exact!

Since consumers can sense when content feels forced or too obviously branded (which is why they prefer user-generated content), personalized brand storytelling can be a significant improvement. If you, as a brand, can create an experience that is personal to the customer so much so that they feel you are talking directly to them, you can yield much greater results. In fact, 80% of consumers are likely to purchase from a brand if they provide them with personalized experiences. Personalization can improve an experience so much so that 83% of consumers say they would agree to share their data if it meant they would receive a personalized experience.

Remember, brand storytelling is more than an About page; there are added elements like your brand’s values, motivations, and beliefs that you can share with your customers that can help them feel like you as an individual are authentic, making your brand authentic at the same time.

Storytelling Creates Trust

Trust is not something that comes out of thin air – it is earned. However, finding ways to build trust takes an immense amount of consideration and effort on the brand side to make their prospective customers feel comfortable enough to purchase with them. Just like you didn’t build your brand overnight, you can’t expect trust to form immediately.

That said, there are several ways to build trust, and brand storytelling is one of them. It is important to keep in mind that elements such as design, brand voice (such as in your copy), and consistent branded imagery and content across all platforms are all components that add to your brand story. These added elements can show your customers that your brand is committed to providing a great experience.

Adding customer reviews to your website is another way you can tell your story, especially since your existing customers have direct experience purchasing from your brand. Good customer reviews provide that user-generated content that consumers are seeking out, which can help boost purchases; 79% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations that they receive from friends or family. Adding elements into your brand story that put the customer first will improve the buying experience overall. 

Highlight What Your Customers Needs Are

Although it is important to tell your customers (existing and prospective) about your brand and what you stand for, the most important person in the equation is the customer. They are the ones engaging with your brand, purchasing, and telling their friends, so it is essential to incorporate them into your brand story. But in order to do so, you need to first identify who they are and what their needs are in relation to your brand.

Do you sell items that are for specific audiences? For instance, if new parents are a key audience for your brand, it is important to consider how you include them in your storyline, as they are the ones engaging with your website. When creating your brand’s story, ask yourself, Can my customers see themselves in my brand’s story?

Attention to detail and cultivating creativity in your brand’s story is what is going to create an experience that goes beyond who you are as a brand, and transform it into a story of how your brand can offer a shopping experience like no other.

About Reshift Media

Reshift Media is a long-time partner of the Retail Council of Canada. The company is a Toronto-based digital marketing and development organization that provides leading-edge social media, search and website/mobile development services to retailers around the world. Please visit www.reshiftmedia.com to learn more.