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3 Ways to Integrate Visual Storytelling Into Email Marketing

By: Lucy Kaplan

January 22, 2019

We are living in the opt-in age. Our inboxes are getting more cluttered by the day, and it can give a person serious anxiety to look at their phone and see a “50” next to their email app. So how do you break through?

The key is by providing people with emails that draw them in. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. We’re down to around 6 seconds. That’s barely enough time to read an email from a friend, let alone one trying to sell something. That’s why photos and videos do so well. And you’re not just limited to photos and video.

Visual storytelling can take many forms in email: images, GIFs, infographics, and graphic text are just a few visual items available to you. As humans, we process images faster than we do text and remember photos more often than we remember the written word. In fact, according to Syndacast, simply using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19 percent.

While we don’t always remember stats and numbers we read, we do remember stories we’re told. We are drawn to stories even more than we’re drawn in by a great sale. While a sale might get us to open an email, we will tune those offers out after receiving more than two or three each day. Even an email with a great sale can come across as a bit, well, salesy.

But if we open an email and we get entertained by it, or it causes us to recall a memory that made us smile, we’re more likely to begin to trust in the brand sending the email. And who do we buy from? People that we like. People that we trust.

Here are some ideas for how to use visual storytelling in your email campaigns:

Photos and Videos
Simply inserting a photo or video into an email wouldn’t make much sense without some content behind it, right? That’s where storytelling comes in. We know that the best way to draw someone in is by reaching them emotionally. The best way to build an emotional connection between your customers and your brand is through storytelling.

If you share photos or videos that tell relevant and engaging stories, you can keep your email recipients from hitting that dreaded “Unsubscribe” button. We recommend using your own photos as much as possible. The more “real” your photos are, the more people will relate to them. That’s not saying there aren’t any good stock photos out there, but your customers are more savvy than often given credit for. They can spot a staged photo from a mile away.

Just like with any other content marketing, the key to crafting good stories in your email marketing campaigns is knowing what problems your product solves. If you can make your reader see themselves in your story and show how you can solve their pain points, the chances they will click through from your email campaign and go on to purchase your product will be much higher.

Additionally, incorporating videos into your email marketing campaigns allows you to say a lot in a short amount of time. One of the reasons the storytelling aspect works so well in videos is because images are able to capture moments of emotion that don’t need to be described with words.

No one wants to receive emails full of endless lines of text. Inserting short videos or infographics into your email break up what you want to get across and engage the receiver quickly. You also get the added benefit of being able to use voiceovers to draw your readers into the story your email is telling.

We are inundated with ads, emails and commercials from brands telling us that they’ve got the world’s best product and our lives will be infinitely better if we buy from them. And while that very well might be true, consumers know it’s in brands’ best interest to tell us those things. But if a friend purchases those very same products and calls us to tell us how great they are, we are much more likely to take their personal recommendation and spend our money. Testimonials help build social proof, and social proof builds credibility.

You can easily find photos of people using your brand that they’ve shared online. Reach out to one of those customers and ask them if you can use their photo and name for your testimonial campaign. More often than not, people are happy to give their authorization and will welcome the acknowledgment from a brand they already like and trust.

Customer Success Stories
Similar to a testimonial, you can utilize success stories from your customers in your email marketing. Encourage customers to share short videos of themselves using your product or service, or a story of how your company’s offerings made their lives easier. You can then embed those videos into emails. User-generated content is a smart and effective way to engage your target audience and allow them to be part of your brand’s story.

With the right approach, you can truly turn storytelling into storyselling.

Are you already using visual storytelling in your email marketing? Share your best practices with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.




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