Ten E-commerce Storytelling Tips
1. Be Quiet
2. Be Simple.
3. Craft A GREAT About Page.
4. Clear Calls To Action.
5. No Talking To Yourself About Yourself.
6. Connection Economy is about CONVERSATIONS, so have some.
7. Be Consistent, avoid telling conflicting stories.
8. Easy to find “like me” signals.
9. Be SPECIAL.
10. Save The World
Storytelling Is the New SEO
Storytelling is the New SEO hit such a nerve on Slideshare with almost 8,500 views in a couple of weeks including a brief stint on Slideshare’s homepage as a “trending” presentation (fun) following up and answering questions about how to tell stories on e-commerce websites feels like a good idea.
Telling Great Stories Is Important, Here’s Why
In 1999, when I crated FoundObjects.com (now RIP) ecommerce was so new and exciting you could rack the pins almost anyway you wanted. Any ball we rolled was sure to win. Not so much any more (lol).
Why is telling great stories beyond important on your e-commerce website? Google has always been “Pro Content”. Perhaps the easiest explanation for why storytelling is key is Google wants your website to engage and nothing “engages” better than great stories and storytelling.
Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates put renewed emphasis on website heuristic measures.
Heuristic Measures Include:
- Time On Site.
- Pages viewed by an average visitor.
- Repeat visitors.
- Bounce rates.
- Mobile engagement (monitor heuristics for your mobile visitors too).
- Website conversion rate.
- Abandoned cart rate.
- $ by visitor.
- Average Order Value (AOV).
- Number of items in an average order.
- Profit margins by channel (PPC, organic search, social and content marketing are examples of “channels”).
Regular Atlantic BT readers know I attribute making over $30M online in large part to doing what Google “told” my team and me to do. “Told” in this context is hinted in the strange black magic that Google SEO is, was and will be. I’ve fought Google and learned to ride their waves. Surfing Google is much more fun and profitable than fighting.
Ten Ecom Storytelling Tips
The rift between content and conversion is tough. As a Director of E-commerce we could increase engagement metrics with videos and other ideas, but conversion was hurt. We could increase conversion often damaging engagement. In the old days we lucky few ecom Internet marketers would have gladly made that trade – hurt engagement for money.
Our new social connection economy is backed by Google’s algorithm changes. Abandoning engagement for money is short-term unsustainable thinking, old thinking. Yes you can hurt engagement and increase conversion for a bit, but as your engagement metrics trend bad the whip comes back around.
Your website’s traffic slows as Google punishes lack of engagement. You can’t convert traffic you don’t get. E-commerce websites must balance conversion with engagement.
Storytelling is the key to balancing LOVE and MONEY on an e-commerce website.
E-commerce Storytelling Tip #1: Be Quiet – (ZipBuds.com)
“Quiet” in website design can be destroyed by the smallest error. Here is an example of site that could be “quiet” if it did one thing:
I’m not a fan of homepage hero images rolling, but most websites roll their heroes (“heroes” refers to the largest image on a webpage). Zipbuds.com rolls their hero WAY TOO FAST. Roll too fast and is the same as shouting, “PAY ATTENTION TO ME NOW”.
Zipbuds.com is within striking distance of “QUIET”.
Ecom Storytelling Tip #2: Be Simple (ZipBuds.com)
I was going to say, “Be simple AND clear,” but simple implies clarity. Let’s go back to Zipbuds.com and ask a simple question every website must answer in seconds, “What does Zipbuds.com want me to do NOW?”
Zipbuds.com is a good example of a website created by passionate people. Websites SHOULD be created by passionate people, but our new ecommerce also needs someone equally as passionate about conversion. Conversions protect engagement.
When visitors spin back off into space because they don’t know what to do Google gets MAD and your ecom website’s Karma takes a hit. Zipbuds.com is an ecom website that looks and acts like a B2B infomercial.
Your ecommerce site should SELL SOMETHING on its homepage even if that something is YOU. The closest ZipBuds.com comes is this image:
Love that Derrick is looking directly at the Shop Now Call To Action. (CTA). Do you see the problem? That great visual directing my eyes right into the Zipbuds CTA is all but LOST due to its muted colors. CTAs should be big RED or ORANGE unmissable buttons. There are times to be QUIET on an eCom website. Call To Actions IS NEVER one of them (lol).
E-commerce teams remember your visitors eyes GO WHERE YOUR MODELS ARE LOOKING. Direct the people in your pictures vision somewhere important. I also like having people looking directly out at viewers on homepages. When your models look AT your visitors your website engages and welcomes.
When you enter someone’s home they look at you, shake your hand and thank you for the wine your brought to dinner. When people in your image look out at your website’s viewers you are welcoming weary web travelers.
Never have people in pictures look OFF THE PAGE:
This view drives visitor vision OFF THE PAGE.
Ecom Storytelling Tip #3: Craft A Great About Page
Who would have thought the once lowly ABOUT page would become the key to telling great stories online. As I outlined in Storytelling Is The New SEO, your About Page is where you outline the three to five themes your ecommerce storytelling will return to over and over.
Common Ecommerce Themes (many stories can be told within each theme):
- Your Creation Story.
- Your Quality Story (make sure it is distinct and rooted in your creation story).
- Elicit Joy Story (* Stengel).
- Enable Connection (* Stengel).
- Promote Exploration Story (* Stengel).
- How your products or service provokes pride (* Stengel).
- Save The World Story (*Stengel).
The *Stengel notes refer to former P&G GMO’s book Grow: How Ideals Power Growth And Profits At The World’s Largest Companies. For a more detailed look at how to use Grow to align your Internet marketing read:
How Unique Greatness Meets Customer Aspirations.
Look at ZipBuds.com’s About Page:
Ironic that such a STORY RICH team doesn’t tell a story on the most important storytelling page on their website. There are strange links AWAY from their website. Where there should be a link to take advantage of that great Derrick view right down where a CTA should be there is NO link. There are no explanations, no story at all. What a waste of great images.
And what a story they COULD tell. Great example of how About Pages became a chore, something people think about the least. If you want to tell me a story, and stories are the key to traffic and traffic is the key to money, then your website’s About Page should be your storytelling hub. Storytelling Is The New SEO covers two of my favorite About Pages (REI and Patagonia) in detail.
When Ten E-Commerce Storytelling Tips continues tomorrow I promise to pick on someone other than Zipbuds.com. Tomorrow we tackle the social side of e-commerce storytelling. ZipBuds.com is within striking distance of greatness. Like most websites a tweak here and there and Zipbuds.com makes millions.
The distance between creating sustainable engagement generating traffic, money and LOVE is inches. Sad to think how many websites are working hard to only miss by inches.