Keep their Interest: Use Storytelling in Web Copy

by Michelle Salater on May 23, 2012


We’ve all done it. Searched for info online, landed on a site, started reading, then gave up halfway into the third sentence, and moved on to another site.

Chances are, that web copy was all facts and no fun.

We’re not saying that you shouldn’t include facts in your web copy—features and benefits are necessary. But if you want to hook your prospects and keep his or her attention, facts about your product, service, industry, and company should be presented in the context of a story.

Think back a moment to your college days. Remember that one class that was torture to sit through— those long, boring, drawn-out lectures where the professor talked AT you?  I had a few of these and I’d just sit there, most of the time I’d tune out, doodle in the margins of my notebook, or watch the kid in front of me pick his nose when he thought no one was watching. None of us could focus long enough on the facts being spewed at us.

That’s how your reader feels when you provide them with long, dry web copy.

Boring Content: What’s a company to do?

The story you tell in your marketing content piques interest and keeps prospects reading.

It’s the story you tell that creates the connection between prospects and your company. It’s your copy that turns prospects into customers.

And it’s the story that keeps clients returning again and again.

Transform your web copy from a 500-person lecture to an intimate 15-person discussion. Make them feel seen, appreciated, and heard. Above all, make your content relatable.

Here are three key elements to help you do just that…

1)    The hook: Tap into their needs, wants, desires.

You must not only present a complication to prospects, but also tie it to their state of mind, situation, and desires. They’ve come to your website or blog, or they are reading your brochure or sales letter because they believe you have something that will fulfill a need they have.

It’s not enough to identify the complication as a lack of clients. If you polled 50 of the most successful business owners you know, they’d tell you they want more leads, more clients, and higher conversion.

You have to take it a step further and really mine for that sweet spot.

  • What is it about not having clients that keeps your prospects up at night?
  • What do your prospects really, really want? Yes, they might want clients, but why?
  • Do they desire to live the lifestyle they want or to provide for their family because they want to retire before seventy?

Once you know this, you can take the basic complication and create a compelling story around it.

2)    Keep ‘em reading: Show them how you’ll solve their problems, meet their needs.

If you present a complication to your prospects and manage to tap into their desire for more, the resolution you provide is what will get them to act.

Stories without resolutions are not read, and, if they are, no one remembers them. In literature, we remember most books for their endings, a resolution to a complication. The same can be applied to your marketing materials—if you don’t offer a resolution, prospects will move on to your competition.

Continuing with the example above, if the complication is a lack of clients and the reason your prospects want more clients is so they can live the lifestyle they desire, your resolution is offering them a solution to solve their problem, whatever that may look like. Whatever you come up with, you must make sure your web copy shows prospects how you will solve their problems.

Also, if you want people to talk about your brand and your current clients to refer you, you must offer a resolution that solves their complication.

3)    Character: the emotional bond that ties and makes loyal followers.  

We remember movies, books, poems, and songs because of the story they tell. Specifically, because of the characters in the story. Character is the most important element in storytelling.

Your brand is the central character in your company story. Developing a brand story around complication and resolution allows prospects to feel a sense of belonging, as if they are part of it.

Allow your company personality to shine throughout all your content. Putting on your super serious business hat when writing content is the quickest way to turn away prospects. Do you blame them? Who wants to be bored to tears with industry jargon and overindulgence of accolades? (Think back to that professor that talked AT you. Don’t be that guy!)

When you share your company’s personality and celebrate your brand story in all you do, clients and prospects feel privileged to gain an insight into who you are and why you do what you do. And your brand story is what gets people talking about your brand and keeps clients coming back.

Your prospects and clients are as much of the story as your brand.

Without them, you wouldn’t exist. Try to avoid company-centric copy and focusing too much on the features of your product / service. Following the advice above on setting up complication and resolution instantly makes your prospect part of the story.

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