Using Story in Email Marketing

How you should segment your email list

#8 in Our 20 for 20 Series

Welcome to 20 for 20 where we share our 20 Best Tips for Email Marketing and Business to celebrate our 20th Anniversary.

Have I got a story for you.

These are magic words. When you tell a great story, people listen. And in today’s economy, your audience’s attention is currency.

Telling great stories in email marketing is especially important—you only have your reader’s attention for a split second before they decide whether to click through or close your message.

So how do you tell a great story in email marketing—a story so captivating your audience won’t stop reading?

First, you must realize that your reader is the HERO of your story—not your brand/company. I repeat, not your company. As human beings we’re all afflicted with the same basic mantra: What’s in it for me? People want to be the best version of themselves and they’re looking for help. Show them how they’ll be the heroes of their lives with your product or service.

By the way, have you ever met someone at a party who was really interesting, but you later realized you didn’t learn anything about the person? That’s because the person got you talking about you—your favorite topic. When you make the story about your audience, they’ll naturally engage.

Second, every great story has a PROBLEM. If your story doesn’t have a problem that can be easily identified, you’ve already lost your audience.

In a world where survival depends on making all the right moves, John Buckner does just that. No problem, no interest.

And what does every hero need once he has a problem? He needs a GUIDE. Who helps Luke Skywalker find adventure? Obi Wan Kenobi. Who helps “the karate kid” defend himself? Mr. Miyagi. Who helps Chief Brody kill the shark? Captain Quinn.

Now here’s where you, your brand, or your product come in. You’re the expert or the guide who’s going to lead your hero to victory. You present your brand/company/product as the one thing that will lead your reader to success.

What’s the one thing you can provide to help your hero solve the problem—a PLAN.

Obi Wan teaches Luke the Force, Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel how to paint the fence and wax the car, and Captain Quinn’s plan is to chum for the shark and put three barrels in him. Even our heroes have resistance, so we need to convince them to take action. Luke doesn’t take action until his parents are murdered. Daniel doesn’t want to paint the fence—but nor does he want to get his ass kicked all day either. Chief Brody hates the water but the town and the crazy mayor are counting on him. Your prospect has the same resistance, so you have to provide a clear plan and then dare him to take action so he FINALLY solves his problem.

Before you can call your hero to action, though, you’ll need to describe what SUCCESS will look like. How will it feel, smell, and sound? Paint a clear picture. Imagine saving the rebellion and standing on stage in front of all your peers, imagine defeating your enemy in hand-to-hand combat during the tournament and gaining your self-respect, imagine opening the beaches again and saving the local economy.

And remember to include what will happen if your hero doesn’t choose you or your brand—disaster, aka the VILLAIN.

One of the best ways to use this 7-part StoryBrand framework is to create a sales funnel. The lead magnet should be something that you know your audience wants. For instance, our lead magnet is “The Top 5 Mistakes That Almost Everyone Makes” in their email marketing.

Whether you’re looking to hire a firm like ours, or you’re still considering doing your own email marketing, you want to avoid these mistakes—especially if we’re giving them to you for free. In our sales funnel series, we know you’re a business owner who wants to Win More Business. The problem is that you need effective marketing tools that actually work. We convey that email marketing is still the number one marketing tool on the Internet. Aha—we solved the problem. But no—now we have a new problem. You don’t have the skillset, or the people, or the time, or the tried-and-true experience of running your own campaign, which is where we come in. We have a plan that’s as simple as 1, 2, 3.

As your guide, we’ll show you how powerful email marketing can be by taking over your campaign and delivering you to the promised land of increased sales. We’ll also help you avoid the tragic results of wasting huge gobs of money and time trying to figure it all out on your own while running a business.

So think about your email marketing as telling this story.

  1. Figure out who your audience is and what they want.
  2. Make sure the problem is clear so they feel like you understand them like nobody else.
  3. Tell them how, with your help, they can solve this problem.
  4. Describe what success will mean to them, and what it will help them avoid.
  5. Give them a clear plan and then encourage them to take the first step—like booking a free 20-minute consultation where we can talk about your email marketing campaign.

I sincerely hope this post helps you weave the powerful elements of Story into your message. We’re certified StoryBrand guides, so if you need help, you can book a 20-minute consultation below to learn how we can help you with your StoryBrand— improving ALL your marketing, including your email marketing.

Before we go, I want to announce today’s winner. For every 20 for 20 we’re giving away a prize to one lucky person. You have to be a member of our email list to be eligible and this is the only place we announce the winner, so be sure to open every 20 for 20 message. Today’s winner is Chet at C*****@sasktel.net and the prize is the book Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller.

If you didn’t win, be sure to tune in next time when I give away more great prizes.

In the meantime, be sure to sign up for our 20 for 20 campaign if you haven’t done so already.

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