We bet you think this article will discuss storytelling and all the wonderful nuances of how to engage your reader with a witty, anecdotal tale online.
Well, yes and no.
Yes, because successful digital narrative engages audiences with a story-like narrative that captures attention and even taps into emotional appeal. But no because digital narrative is much more finetuned than simply telling a story.
Digital narrative involves strategy, data, analysis, and story all in one well-defined plan, to be effective, to add value, and to ultimately increase lead conversions. It is customer-led and value-driven.
In this article, we will discuss how to connect the dots across story, digital platforms, and clearly defined end goals. Learn how to structure digital marketing strategy to master your audience pathway, and how to use digital narrative to increase lead conversions for small business.
What is Digital Narrative?
Turns out that there is not a wide understanding of digital narrative or at least much less than we anticipated. In fact, many organizations get it wrong and end up going on a rant about storytelling when asked about digital narrative.
The truth of the matter is that storytelling is different. Neil Patel gives this definition of storytelling:
It’s the basic art of communicating your idea, message or event, by creatively using words, images and sounds.
Now that definition is spot on if you wanted to know about storytelling, but it does zero justice to describe digital narrative. Here is a better definition from our consultants based on careful consideration and an attempt not to confuse you. Digital narrative is:
Redefining the way customers understand your brand through multichannel digital mapping and amplified digital experience.
That confuse you enough? If so, no worries. If not, great! We promise to go into more detail either way…
Essentially, your goal for digital marketing strategy should always be to connect with your customers, and intrigue potential customers enough to interact with your brand.
> Interaction. Appeal. Buy-in.
Your digital marketing strategy works toward those ends and it starts with a 1-second touchpoint between your brand and another person. Now, what does that mean for our lovely definition of digital narrative up top? It means that customers are introduced to your brand in one way, shape, or form and given the level of saturation in online media, your brand must be able to stand out to the right people at the right time.
How is that even possible? WITH DIGITAL NARRATIVE. Digital narrative creates experiences that customers buy into for a set amount of time...maybe short or long term. (Customer retention is a whole other ball of yarn.) The experience develops story and allows customers to understand the value in moving from the initial point of interaction to the glorified conversion.
How to Structure Your Digital Narrative
Yes, story is a thing here. The question is… how do you develop story into its more refined parent – digital narrative? The answer is structure, and within your structure you want to first determine your message and then deliver that message through Digalyne’s 3 Pillars of Interaction:
What are you trying to help people understand about your brand? Your message should deliver value upon initial interaction, remain consistent across your audience pathway, and be easy to understand. When you create your messaging, consider these steps:
1. Determine your audience and the message that will appeal to them. For example, a small business retailer may want to appeal to the local community, while a mid-size fin-tech company may create messaging for financial professionals. Just so you know, your audience is not everyone!
2. Determine the best format to deliver the message (video, image, interactive ads, and so on). This depends on the audience you intend to target. It also depends on the resources you have available such as a Graphic Designer on your team or the proper martech stack.
3. Tailor the message to the platform that will host it. For instance, implementing a digital marketing campaign to promote your podcast may look completely different from a brand awareness digital marketing campaign that drives people back to your website. Thus, the digital narrative will provide different messages at different touchpoints.
4. Be concise. Limit your message based on Touchpoint Tier (Touchpoint 1: the customer first interacts with your brand, Touchpoint 2: the customer begins to seek more information, etc.). Touchpoint 1 should have the main, value-based information provided in a short message. Touchpoints are not synonymous with number of interactions. They are the stage/tier of interaction that the customer has with your brand. The Marketing Funnel illustrates these touchpoints.
5. Consider your “wow” factor. We recommend that you create compelling messages without it coming across as a bunch of marketing hogwash. The best “wow” factors reinforce your brand and offer immediate value – it’s not always price-related either.
Messaging drives the experience with some level of emotional or logical appeal. Tell people what they want to hear, then add a little more to encourage the journey to conversion.
Once you have developed your messaging, structure those messages with the 3 Pillars of Interaction.
3 Pillars of Interaction:
Before we explain the 3 Pillars of Interaction for digital narrative, first understand that these pillars create structure for your messages. Rather than think of them as linear stages, consider that your conversation with your customer is ongoing across platforms. The 3 Pillars of Interaction help you focus your messages for clear and consistent delivery.
Your audience is new to your message, even when they are familiar with your brand. Use the Inform pillar to structure messages as information. New and existing customers or potential leads still need to be informed about your brand, your latest services, your products, or the main message of your digital narrative.
For this pillar, take the opportunity to be straightforward about who the message is for, what the audience should do or learn from the message, and where they can learn more. Here is an example of an inform post on social media:
In this example, you can see that the message is for small businesses, it is informing the audience about the California Consumer Privacy Act, and that this audience can ask a Digalyne consultant how to prepare for the impact.
Engagement is the backbone of digital narrative. Often, newbies to digital marketing struggle with structured engagement. Structured engagement has purpose that lends itself to your primary goal for the overall effort.
Avoid engagement that does not add value to your messaging or does not move your audience to the next Touchpoint Tier.
Your messaging must engage your target audience and help them feel like an active participant in their experience with your brand. This can be as simple as asking a question to prompt activity on social media, hosting a competition, delivering personalized content related to their interests, deploying an in-app survey, or something more UX-friendly like user generated content.
Ultimately, your end goal is to engage your audience so that they will convert from a potential lead into a repeat customer. Give direction to prompt potential leads to provide their contact information or to sign up for your products and services. Don’t expect that to just be done because you said so though. A well-crafted digital narrative makes this part easier.
You must also have a capture mechanism such as a lead generation form, a chatbot, or a landing page to support the directive. Remember, your digital narrative is more than story – it is purposeful strategy that drives digitally mapped experience. Create a message structure that moves people from point A to the end goal.
How to Master Your Audience Pathway
Finally, we can share how to master your audience pathway. Your digital narrative is supported in an audience pathway, which includes the platforms, media, and destination for conversion.
A simple way to think about it is the following example:
Touchpoint 1: A Facebook advertisement
Touchpoint 2: A landing page on your website
Touchpoint 3: A scheduled meeting via contact form
Touchpoint 4: A confirmation email with video
Touchpoint 5: An instructional video on YouTube
Notice that the interaction does not end at Touchpoint 3. Remember that your conversation and engagement with potential leads and customers is ongoing.
Your audience pathway should offer value at every touchpoint and move people from point to point without any hesitation. A well-defined experience with structured digital narrative makes it easy. Just remember the 3 C’s:
Connect your audience pathway. Ensure that your audience pathway has purposeful digital touchpoints that are well integrated. (For customer experience and to help evaluate and improve your digital strategy later). Deliver high quality messaging and functionality.
Create value at each touchpoint. At the initial touchpoint, be concise, clear, and appealing. As your potential lead moves throughout the experience, add information where necessary in the appropriate formats – for instance, our example above provided the lead with an informative, introductory video to watch after scheduling a consultation.
Consistent call-to-actions. Part of maintaining a consistent message that drives experience is helping people understand what to do and what comes next after they take an action. Maintain consistent and engaging call-to-actions throughout your digital narrative. E.g. “Ask a Consultant” or “Get Started Today”. Consistent call-to-actions that are creative help differentiate brand.