Modern storytelling for marketers

From the jokes that friends tell in the bar to the movies that stay in our minds for years, we all love a good story. A compelling narrative sticks in your memory and subconscious. It ignites your imagination and enriches the way we experience the world.

So, what makes a great story and how can marketers use the storytelling approach to engage and convert leads and retain a loyal customer base? How can you create a narrative arc that effectively engages your audience throughout the sales funnel?

Enter stage-right our old friend data.

Before you grab your popcorn and make a hurried exit, this isn’t a horror show about how to trick your leads into giving up data with low-value gated content. This is a story about why we need data to understand our audience, direct better lead and demand generation, and score and nurture leads more effectively.

Let’s get started.


What makes a good story?

The best stories rely on a strong plot, memorable and authentic characters, a compelling theme, and a rhythm that is right for your audience. Let’s unpack these from a marketing POV.

Solid plot and narrative structure

Your reader needs a beginning, middle and end to keep them engaged. Once the scene is set, a catalyst or problem should be introduced, the hero firmly integrated and – ultimately – a resolution revealed i.e. how your brand will solve the problem.

Memorable and authentic characters

The hero of your story is always your customer. Their needs, conflicts, challenges, and desires are always front and center. Depending on your wider narrative, the supporting cast might be their friends and family, their teammates, or their community.

Compelling theme

Strong themes make an emotional connection with your audience and tap into authentic human experiences. This is your opportunity to craft a story that tackles your reader’s challenges, answers their questions, and solves their problems.


From the hook that gets your audience reading to the well-paced informative copy and visuals that keep them scrolling, your rhythm is what moves your customer through the content and onward through the buyer journey.

Finding a pace that your audience can connect with isn’t always easy. The right data insights can mean the difference between a fully engaged reader and one that bounces to a competitor’s site. More on this shortly.

How to create better stories with data

One of the most satisfying parts of engrossing yourself in a great story is getting to know the characters, understanding their motivations, and being surprised by the way they evolve as the narrative progresses. No matter how well we think we know our fellow humans they don’t always behave as we expect. The same can be said of your customers.

Even the most experienced marketers slip up when creating campaigns for a new audience and we have all been guilty of failing to notice changes in behavior for our established customer base.

Gut feeling is a good start, but data-driven content puts a real fire in your marketing belly. Here are some steps to create better stories with data.


1. Use first-party data to define objectives and truly understand your audience

First-party data, collected throughout the customer journey, enables busy marketers to tailor campaigns so they make the right impact, at the right time. When you speak directly to their needs, preferences, and pain points, customers feel seen and heard, building a stronger and enduring connection with your brand.

First-party and zero-party data combined with SEO insights, a customer feedback strategy, predictive analytics and so forth helps you understand how you can best serve your audience  – and stand out from the competition. Armed with this knowledge you can define your objectives and end goals to keep marketing efforts focused and data collection effective.


2. Automate data and processes for efficiency

Make sure you get the maximum time possible to spend on the fun side of storytelling by automating the niggly, error-prone, process-driven elements. With content creation platforms like Turtl, you can track user engagement and gather valuable intent data. You can also integrate the platform with your CRM and set up event triggers that serve up relevant, personalized content to specific segments at optimal times. Plus, with our Personalization Engine, you can create elegant templated designs and personalize and distribute them at scale.

This approach is an absolute winner for marketers who find themselves struggling to create enough quality content for lead gen, or make demand gen content that indicates success, and send one-to-many ABM campaigns in minutes. If you aren’t sure what will hit the right note with your audience, why not A/B test the content? Make sure you focus on one element at a time, so you know what is working and what could do with some refinement.


3. Monitor engagement data

Naturally, you’ll want to make sure your stories are capturing the hearts and minds of your audience. Always select relevant content marketing metrics that are aligned with key objectives e.g. measuring conversion rates for inbound lead generation campaigns – then monitor consistently.

Just as you have favorite characters in movies or books, your audience will respond better to certain elements of your content. Data-driven marketing helps you identify and capitalize on these, in real time. If you notice parts of the content are resonating with a particular reader or segment, you can create bespoke content to open up new chapters of that story – for that reader. For example, if a lead has watched a product video a few times, why not send them a personalized interactive guide showing how it has benefited clients in their sector?

If messages aren’t hitting home, don’t worry. Grab some trusted teammates and workshop the copy. Interrogate your data to see where people are losing interest and/or what might be causing their attention to wane. Review your segmentation, try out new copy, consider A/B testing and keep adapting and learning.


4. Data-driven personalized content and segmentation

Gone are the days when marketing personalization meant being the lucky recipient of a clumsy, standardized email campaign written by someone whose native language appeared to be Droid. Today, it’s possible to use first-party and zero-party data to get a deeper understanding of your audience, moving beyond simple demographics to get under the skin of their interests, attitudes, perceptions, and motivations.

And it works. Personalized content performs on average 45% better across every attention-measuring metric. Some level of personalization is usually better than none at all. But to make a meaningful difference you need to set your sights higher than basic segmentation.


How to segment for relevance

Let’s fast-forward to the point where you have already segmented your data by demographic, psychographic, geographic and so on, and move onto the nitty-gritty of storytelling; The different stages of the buyer journey.

When transforming intent data into narratives, consider the specific problems your customers need to solve at each stage of the buyer journey. Analyze engagement data to identify the questions your leads have and work out the best time to provide the answers.

You could also try using one of those commonly asked questions as a hook or cliffhanger, placing the reader at the heart of the story right away. Check out how Spotify puts a customer-centric approach into action in this blog about demand generation.


Who’s getting it right?

The most effective brand storytelling today relies heavily on customer data, a great example of which we can see in Airbnb. The travel giant excels in data-driven personalization, using predictive analytics to optimize pricing, recommend properties, and predict demand based on user behavior and market trends. Through hyper-localized strategies, they combine geolocation data, user-generated content, and behavioral insights to create unique, customized experiences that resonate with the audience and feed their appetite for the next travel experience.

Over in the B2B world, Cisco’s ‘Never Better’ campaign is a stellar example of data-driven, personalized storytelling. The campaign featured interactive digital stories illustrating how organizations use Cisco technology to improve business performance and optimize the support they provide to communities. Each story highlights the real-life experiences of customers and partners with narratives ranging from providing urgent water supplies to enhancing job safety, making cities smarter, and even saving lives. Each story begins with the phrase “There’s never been a better time…” and incorporates a variety of content assets to form a cohesive and compelling narrative that places the reader in the heart of the story.



Find out more about the benefits and best practices of this approach in our blog on why your content needs data-driven personalization


How the right content creation platform can help

The best stories take place in a world your reader understands and can relate to. With the right technology, like Turtl’s Personalization Engine you can deliver personalized content assets that are entirely tailored to a specific lead’s interests and preferences, wherever they are in the buyer journey. Turtl also provides reader-led forms that are synced with the CRM for content workflow, allowing users to select the topics they are most interested in.

When approached strategically and using the right tools, every piece of content you produce and the feedback you receive can enhance your overall sales and marketing strategy. Before you start worrying about how this affects your data protection responsibilities, allow us to put your mind at ease. The Turtl platform only uses first-party and zero-party data including valuable insights from customer success or sales. Unlike traditional PDFs, Turtl provides deeper insights beyond download numbers, saving time and offering a clearer view of leads in the sales funnel.

The result: ethical and comprehensive customer data visibility, better insights into where the lead is in the sales journey and more time to spend nurturing each lead with the most impactful, relevant content.


The story continues…

This isn’t the end of your story – far from it.

One of the many joys of a data-led strategy is the ability to use feedback loops to continuously refine personalized content. Embedded within your behavioral data is a valuable resource that enables you to adapt your content, refine messaging, enhance impact, and boost engagement at every stage of the buyer journey.

Your data also offers valuable input for informing lead scoring models – and it will make you super popular with your sales team. Witness the delight on their faces as engagement from ABM campaigns gives insights that provide a deeper understanding of customer pain points, and with ABM data that refines your ICPs further. These insights empower your team to strategically position their next conversation or communication with a lead, making sure it creates the desired impact, answers their questions, and moves them closer to conversion.

Using data-driven marketing to tell better stories means you are talking to an audience that is excited to listen, saving you time and making sure you concentrate your efforts on the right people with the right messages.


Turtl takeaway

Read our guide and learn how to spin spectacular stories.

Click to read Unraveling the power of stories with Nick Mason | Turtl

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