Email marketing is important to every business. While it is the most widely used communication channel, it isn’t the most easiest to get results from.

Imagine yourself in the daily scenario of opening your inbox – you have received emails from various brands – some you care about, the others you delete regardless of what they might have insider.

Now assuming even your target audience is signed up on various digital channels and with a gazillion business websites, chances are, their day starts the same way as yours.

So how do you make sure that every email from your campaign is opened, read and hopefully converted on?

By leveraging storytelling.

The human brain is no longer receptive to long sales pitches. They no longer want to keep hearing about how good the brand is or how well they have been doing in the market so far. What they want to hear is what it offers, how it has helped people so far and how it would add value to them.

When they see another customer like them, who has engaged with your business, benefit from your products or services, they are more likely to believe your claims and convert.


Now here’s taking another scenario into picture – this visitor of yours has been opening your weekly newsletter and then suddenly your open rate drops. Does this mean that the visitor has lost interest? Or is it that you no longer have something worthwhile to offer?

The answer is, your newsletter wasn’t able to hook the reader. It started with a message and ended with a call-to-action, but gave the reader nothing to look forward to!

When you watch a TV series, you’re always looking forward to what will happen next. So you end up sitting in front of the screen every day at the same time to not miss out even on a minute of what’s happening.

In this post, we’re going to talk about how you use the same storytelling technique in your email marketing campaigns.

Storytelling and email marketing

The success of an email marketing campaign depends heavily on the timing and the copy of the message you’re sending across.

Storytelling is exactly what you can implement in the copy of your email right from the start. You create a storyline based on the customer’s journey and guide him through the script to see the value you offer him, and take him to conversion.

But the trick here is to never let your story end. You need to create an open loop that goes on and on, because there is no satisfactory end to it from the reader’s perspective. And human brains are wired to seek information they like in totality.

storytelling cartoon

Here are a few ways to use the open loop storytelling in your emails:

1. Create a sense of curiosity in your subject line

Want someone to be more attentive? Start saying something interesting and then suddenly cut off. He’ll be so hooked to it that he is probably going to nag you to complete what you were saying for hours together.

Ask a compelling question, give them something to ponder upon or simply create a build up around your product through gradual emails. Remember that your email body copy needs to compliment the subject lines you use.

2. Give them a sneak peek into what you’re going to offer

Want to get your subscribers excited about a soon-to-launch product? The best way is to use storytelling in an email campaign that gives them a sneak peek into what’s headed their way. Everyone likes to know that there is someone waiting to surprise them with something valuable!

But before you start doing so, ensure you have a clear deadline for the product launch. You don’t want to start creating a build up too far away or too close to the launch. Starting too soon might make the reader lose interest and starting too late might not give you enough time to peak his curiosity and interest levels!

3. Ask them a question that is extremely relatable

What’s a good story? One that is totally relatable – right from the start, through the script and till the end. Storytelling gives you exactly that opportunity. So look into the conversations that your audience is engaging in on social platforms and digital forums. Pick out those that are relevant to your brand or can be used to spin a story that promotes your brand.

Use the email campaign to let your subscribers know that you’re on top of what they need or are looking for. This will keep them interested and hooked onto your developments, and what you offer in the upcoming emails.

For example, ‘What if your business was getting more holiday sales like Target?’ or ‘So, how did Joey get more holiday sales for his business?’, are examples of what the subscriber would instantly relate with if your product helps business websites get more conversions.

4. Use a character to narrate the story

Use a character or persona to create a name that the reader can relate with. The story needs to feel like another person like him has already interacted with your business and is satisfied with the results.

For instance, a subject like ‘How David increased his sales by 80%’ will automatically make the reader feel there is someone who has tried your product and has benefitted from it. It would make him want to open the email to read more. All you need to ensure post this is that you carry forward the same tone in the body of the content!

5. Make them an offer they can’t refuse

Another way to capture your reader’s interest instantly, is to make them the offer right in the subject line! But you need to ensure that it is absolutely clear, consumable and still has an open end that lets you leverage the same in further emails.

For example, you can club the character of your storyline along with the offer you have to make. A subject line like ‘Joe just claimed 20% on our product and you could too’ could be a good opening to an email that talks about how the reader can claim an offer on your product.

6. Create a sense of exclusivity

You can use storytelling to create a sense of exclusivity for the reader. Storytelling is a popular marketing tactic because it focuses on adding value to the target market. If you club the same with a value proposition, you’re bound to get a higher open and conversion rate.

A subject line like ‘the secret hacks Gary used to increase his sales by 80%’, lets the reader feel that the hacks are exclusive to those subscribed to your list. It also makes him want to open the email because he expects information that he hasn’t yet discovered on his own. So you would want to make sure you’re offering something really unique in the email body before using this technique!

Over to you

The art of storytelling in marketing has been here for a while. But the one thing that you need to ensure when trying to use storytelling in your email campaign copy, is to not overdo it. Find a balance between emails that you create to generate curiosity or capture the reader’s attention, and those that you directly speak of the value in.

Your readers should not start expecting you to be using this technique. Once they know most of your emails are a hook, they will tend to either trash them expecting nothing valuable or unsubscribing from your email list!

Have you ever used storytelling for email marketing? What impact did it have on your open and conversion rates?

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Vanhishikha Bhargava

Content Marketer at Exit Bee. Most of the times found trying to create compelling copies for blogs and digital campaigns, keeping a watch on what's happening on social media or ranting on Twitter. At all other times, not found.

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