How Storytelling Elevates Copywriting in Digital Marketing


September 6, 2023

Storytelling has always been an intrinsic part of human communication.

From Ancient Greek tragedies all the way to TikTok videos, stories have been used to make us laugh, cry, and even learn from each other. It’s not a surprise that it is being uncovered by scientists that when a story is narrated to us, certain chemicals such as cortisol, dopamine, and oxytocin are discharged into the brain.

As our societies branched out, so did the ways in which stories were shared. On stage, in novels, or through films and TV shows, storytelling has taken many forms. Thanks to the internet and social media, it’s found a new home in digital, specifically content marketing, where brands can share their story on a global scale.

But in these frenzied times where most people barely recall what they had for breakfast, it’s crucial that brands craft stories that resonate with their audience and make a memorable impression. Thus, storytelling is more important than ever for brand awareness.

In this article, we’re going to explore the basics of copywriting for digital marketing, with a special focus on the art of storytelling. We’ll analyze the power of storytelling and the key elements that make a story truly great (and no, it’s not just your imagination). Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, our practical tips will help you sharpen your storytelling skills in digital copywriting.

What is copywriting in digital marketing?

Copywriting is the art of crafting words that will urge reader to take action or do something to engage or transact with a brand or business. As a successful copywriter, you must paint a vivid picture of your brand and wield words that ensure every sentence packs enough punch to motivate your readers into action. You need to understand who you’re talking to, develop a voice for your brand, and use language in a way that will make people listen and do something.

The role of copywriting in digital marketing

Copywriting is one of the cores of digital marketing, as it connects you with customers, increase engagement, and boost sales. Digital marketing encompasses several forms of online marketing, including website design, search engine optimization or SEO, email campaigns, and social media posts. Each of these areas requires specific types of copy that are tailored to their purposes.

For instance, website copies, which include headlines, descriptions, product or service information, and any other written material that appears on the website, are specifically designed to generate leads by directly prompting customers to take action (e.g. Download eBook today, Sign Up for our webinar, RSVP to our Open House, etc.).

This makes websites more assertive compared to social media which focuses more on increasing reach and engagement. On the other hand, email marketing tends to be more personalized, allowing for a more tailored approach to encourage customer engagement.

Content marketing also relies heavily on copywriting. Copywriters create content that stands out in a crowd and encourages readers to take action. Crafting effective copy requires creativity, strategy, and writing skills. It is critical to understand your target market and create a message that speaks directly to them while achieving your marketing goals.

The importance of storytelling in copywriting

When copywriting incorporates storytelling, it gives brands an advantage. It lets them seem more personable and relatable to their clients, rather than just an anonymous corporate entity. By sharing stories relevant to the readers’ experiences, you can establish a bond that goes beyond selling goods or services. This connection can help to foster trust, brand loyalty, and a sense of belonging with your brand.

Apart from forming an emotional connection, storytelling in copywriting also helps in demonstrating product or service value. Instead of merely listing out features and advantages, you can use storytelling to show how a product or service can solve an issue or improve your customer’s life. This approach works best for complex or technical products that are difficult to explain using conventional means.

How does storytelling influence marketing?

Gone are the days when marketing meant aggressive and intrusive ads as well as pesky sales reps. As consumers grew wary of this bothersome approach, marketers had to up their game through storytelling. Marketing has been transformed from a bland transactional exchange to a whole new level of emotional engagement.

The advantages of using storytelling in marketing

Storytelling has a multitude of advantages when it comes to marketing, but here are the top two ways it can benefit your brand:

  • It fosters an emotional connection with the audience. In a CampaignLive survey, 79% of UK adults expressed that storytelling in an ad is a good idea. When a story speaks to a person’s values or experiences, it can elicit powerful emotional responses and establish a sense of shared connection and understanding.
  • It becomes a vehicle to share people’s experiences. Research, published by Hubspot, supports this as it found that stories with components of emotional marketing are more likely to be shared than those without. This is because emotions are highly contagious, and people are inclined to spread content that evokes a feeling within them.
  • It’s easier for consumers to understand and remember information about a product or service. When a brand spins an emotional web around its customers, it creates a unique brand voice that’s hard to ignore.

For instance, a brand that throws in witty one-liners could be associated with joy and laughter. One that takes pride in giving back to the community might evoke feelings of purpose and justice. These psychological bonds are what truly make a lasting impression on customers, creating memories that go beyond simple marketing tactics.

In other words, creating emotional resonance with the target audience necessitates a profound understanding of their emotions. Emotions are powerful influencers that can establish a strong bond with the audience.

Brands should recognize the emotional stimuli that drive their audience and devise messaging that resonates with them. This can be accomplished through storytelling and constructing narratives that elicit emotions.

What are the elements of effective storytelling?

So, we get it. Storytelling is an invaluable marketing tactic. Now, let’s ignite your creativity. What makes a good story? Is it the characters, the plot, or the setting?

Effective storytelling in marketing involves not only the traditional elements but also the unexpected. It’s like adding pineapple to pizza, it may not be for everyone, but for those who appreciate it, it can be a paradigm shift.

  1. The importance of authenticity.

    Authentic storytelling has the ability to create a strong connection between the storyteller and the audience. When a story is genuine, it resonates with the audience on a deeper level, fostering a sense of trust and connection.

    A great example is Human Nature. As a social enterprise that produces natural and organic personal care and household products, Human Nature not only advocates for environmental sustainability and fair trade but also focuses on building a strong bond with its customers through its brand storytelling.

    human nature home page authenticity

    Image 1. A demonstration of authenticity through organic brand storytelling.
    Photo courtesy of Human Nature

    Human Nature’s copywriting centers around stories that reflect its brand values and purpose. On their website, they share a timeline of their growth as a social enterprise, their collaborations with local farmers and communities, and the organic ingredients that they use in their products. By sharing informative, relatable, and empathetic stories, Human Nature is able to create a strong connection with its target market.

    What sets Human Nature apart is that their copywriting is not solely focused on selling products. They also use their stories to educate their customers on the importance of supporting local communities and the environment.

  2. The power of empathy.

    Through empathy, a brand can create relatability and understanding, resulting in a stronger brand connection and increased customer loyalty.

    Jollibee, a beloved fast-food chain in the Philippines, exemplifies this approach to storytelling. Their marketing campaigns often feature heartwarming stories that showcase the brand’s understanding of Filipino culture and values.

    The “Kwentong Jollibee” series is one of Jollibee’s most famous campaigns. Set in a Jollibee restaurant, these short films tell stories of love, family, and friendship, often featuring relatable characters going through everyday struggles  such as homesickness, long-distance relationships, and the challenges of balancing work and family.

    One story in particular called “Schoolboy” centers around a young boy who is relentlessly bullied for his unique facial feature. But when he’s feeling low, his mother takes him to Jollibee and encourages him to foster his creativity.

    Despite the adversity, Simon’s mother remains his unwavering ally in the pursuit of his dreams. Fast forward eight years, and he has discovered a new passion in the world of theater, showcasing his talent with pride as his mother watches on.

    The story serves as a testament to a mother’s boundless love and support, a message that resonates across all cultures and languages, as evidenced by the ad’s immense popularity and millions of views.

    With their message “Dahil sa ‘yong pagmamahal, natutunan naming mahalin ang aming sarili”, Jollibee has established a brand message of inclusivity and community, resonating with viewers and solidifying its place as an iconic brand in the Philippines.

  3. The significance of simplicity

    When stories get too obscure or theoretical, it’s harder for readers to connect with the characters or comprehend what’s happening. People latch onto content that is straightforward and digestible. Anything too complex may cause readers to forget the details, potentially forgetting the moral altogether. Therefore, keep them simple so the reader remembers your message.

    Dove’s #TheSelfieTalk campaign was a social media initiative that sought to empower young girls to love their uniqueness and challenge the impossibly high beauty standards set by social media.

    The campaign featured a video depicting girls snapping selfies and then discussing the negative dialogue that often plagues their self-image. The storytelling theme was simple; social media can be damaging to young girls’ mental health, and the importance of positive self-talk.

  4. The need for clear messaging.

    If the message needs to be clarified, the reader may spiral down a rabbit hole of confusion. This could result in a missed opportunity to communicate the value of the product or service being offered. Clarity is key in making sure the reader understands exactly what you’re trying to say, and why it matters.

    This is demonstrated in Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign from 2012. It aimed to inspire people to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential, regardless of their starting point or if they’re sports champs.

    The campaign featured a series of powerful ads that told the stories of ordinary people pushing themselves to achieve “greatness”. One of the most memorable ads featured a young boy named Nathan from London, Ohio who was shown jogging along a deserted road in the early morning hours.

    The voiceover explained that while the world was focused on the Olympic Games in London, Nathan was one of the millions of other people around the world who were putting in the effort to be the best. The ad ended with the iconic swoosh logo and the message “Find Your Greatness”.

    The message was simple: If you want to achieve your goals, you need to take action. It is short, memorable, and easy to understand.

After understanding the audience’s preferences and interests, the subsequent step is establishing a brand identity that resonates with them. The identity of your brand should be crafted to reflect not only your values, beliefs, and aspirations but also the audience. This enables you to connect with them, fostering a sense of belongingness and emotional attachment to you.

What are ways to evoke emotions in your storytelling?

Creating an emotional connection with the target audience necessitates a profound understanding of their emotions. Emotions are powerful influencers that can establish a strong bond with the audience.

Brands should recognize the emotional stimuli that drive their audience and devise messaging that resonates with them. This can be accomplished through storytelling and constructing narratives that elicit emotions.

Moreover, building an emotional connection with the target audience is a continual process, not a one-time occurrence. It demands sustained engagement and communication. Brands must keep up with changing consumer inclinations and behaviors to stay relevant. Here are some tips to evoke emotion in your storytelling:

  • Employ descriptive language. Incorporate sensory details such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures in your storytelling to make it more engaging and appealing to the senses. You can also use metaphors, similes, and other figurative languages to help your audience understand and visualize the story. This can create a more immersive experience for the audience and readers.
  • Create relatable characters. Relatable characters are like people you might know in real life. They have qualities, experiences, and feelings that the audience can connect with and understand. Sometimes they make mistakes or have problems, just like everyone else. When the audience sees themselves in the characters, they are more likely to become emotionally invested in the story.
  • Build suspense. Think of a story like a conversation with your friends. It’s important to keep them interested and engaged, otherwise, they might lose interest and stop listening. One way to keep their attention is to create suspense and build anticipation by making them wonder what will happen next. Keep your audience at the edge of their seats, waiting for a big reveal.
  • Use humor. Adding humor to a story can enhance its memorability as people tend to associate positive emotions with it, making it more likely that they will remember it in the future. And when promoting highly technical products, humor can also be used to add a lighthearted touch and provide a breather from the intense marketing material.

Key takeaways

Storytelling is essential in creating a compelling digital marketing campaign. By understanding your audience, identifying the core message, and using techniques such as empathy, humor, and authenticity, copywriters can craft narratives that resonate with customers and drive engagement.

  • Using storytelling in copywriting can help brands establish a personal connection with their audience and become more relatable and human, leading to increased trust, brand loyalty, and a sense of belonging among customers.
  • Showing empathy and understanding toward your target market’s needs, desires, and values can also create a sense of relatability and understanding, fostering a deeper emotional connection between the brand and the customer.
  • Keep the story simple and easy to understand so that readers can remember the intended message.

Overwhelmed with the number of things you need to remember? You don’t have to carry the burden all on your own. Our team is very much willing to help! Just leave us a message on Facebook, LinkedIn, and X.

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