How to Use Storytelling to Improve Website Conversions
Continued from '6 Tips for Creating Effective Calls to Action' If you want a website that is truly effective, you have to create a story for your customers. Don't think about your website as an online brochure – a bunch of boring pages filled with text and graphics. Think of your website as a form of storytelling – an engaging and human experience. Unlike traditional service or product-driven websites, storytelling inspires, engages and motivates. It creates long lasting impressions. Stories are the most effective way to convert users into customers.
Steve Jobs and the Introduction of the iPhone
Apple's Steve Jobs revolutionized consumer technology by, in his own words, "making a dent in the universe." The genius of marketing once said, "Don’t sell products, services, or jobs; sell dreams and a vision." Steve Jobs was a master of storytelling. One of his most memorable presentations was the iPhone at the Macworld Conference on January 9, 2007. Jobs started by introducing "three revolutionary products in their class. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. The third is a breakthrough Internet communications device." He went on to repeat, "So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough Internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone … are you getting it? These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it an iPhone." The audience exploded in applause. By building up the drama and then hitting the big note, Jobs created a moment to define the experience. He first stirred up the excitement and then delivered a punch line resulting in a memorable moment. How do you do that? To create a great story you really have to think outside of the box. You have to look at your products and services not as products and services but as the “dent in the universe” they make. How do they impact the lives of your customers? How do they help overcome customers' problems; make their jobs easier or their lives happier? How can your company's vision help change the world? These are big and bold ideas, but this is exactly what makes you stand out. By addressing these points on your website through interactive presentations, videos or real-life case studies, you can present the human side of your products and services and create memorable stories that connect on a personal level.
Case Study: Nest Protect
The Nest Protect webpage shows how to tell an great story using engaging copy, stimulating visuals, and interactive video and audio features. The site is so effective because it walks viewers through the entire experience of owning the product. First, viewers are introduced to Nest Protect, a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector that syncs with a cellphone to notify homeowners of a potential emergency. The next line immediately captures viewers’ attention: “The alarm goes off and your mind starts to race. Where’s the problem” Is it smoke? CO? Burned popcorn?” These are fears that enter everyone’s mind at the blast of a smoke detector. The webpage goes on to depict the smoke detector positioned in a child’s room—protecting the most precious of possessions within the house. The main text is, “It’s time to expect more from your smoke alarm.” It then goes on to describe its main product features: it has an industrial-grade smoke sensor, tests itself automatically, sends alerts to your phone with the exact problem, and lasts up to a decade. The next image is the Next Protect in a home setting giving an early warning message: “Heads-up, there’s smoke in the kitchen.” There is an interactive audio so viewers can experience exactly how the signal will sound in practice. It also shows an image of how the alert will show up on your phone, so viewers know exactly what to expect. One of the most visceral images on the website is a moving image of smoke wafting through the air with a frightening statistic underscoring the potential danger. This, along with the visual, reinforces the necessity of having a smoke detector and how the Nest Protect alerts will give the homeowners ample time to take action. Beneath that image, the website showcases Nest Protect’s CO sensor feature with a link to a true story of how the devise saved the lives of one family during a carbon monoxide emergency. Next, more product features are described, such as the pathlight feature for additional lighting at night and its ability to differentiate between steam and smoke. Also, because the detector is attached to a cellphone, it can alert owners by phone before the low-battery chirp starts to sound. Finally, there is an image with how other Nest products work together to keep homes safe and comfortable. Thus, the entire webpage clearly addresses potential buyers’ fears and presents a very convincing case for purchasing Next Protect.