The Basics of Storytelling in Email Marketing: Create a Story That Inspires

The Basics of Storytelling in Email Marketing: Create a Story That Inspires
14 March, 2022 • ... • 3954 views
Valeria Shulga
by Valeria Shulga

Email marketing comes in various forms: there are promotional campaigns, educational, nurturing, and many others. Usually, they vary depending on the goal of the campaign –– to drive sales, increase brand awareness, or educate subscribers. All these methods are already well-known, and it seems that it is hard to bring something new to them. And here comes storytelling: it is not widely discussed among email marketers, yet performs well. That’s an interesting way of spicing up your campaigns and boosting conversions, of course!

In this article, we’ll try to dive deeper into the topic, observe storytelling email examples, and ways in which this method may be applied. So, let the story begin 📖

What exactly is storytelling?

In simple words, storytelling is a process of putting useful info in a narrative form to communicate something to your audience.

Storytelling is not just about writing a long piece of content or using creative language. It’s a content marketing technique used to grab the readers’ attention and make them emotionally involved, telling the story of your company. This information should be both useful and engaging, accomplishing two goals at once. It works for companies of any size, especially when planning email marketing for small business.

In a great story, each component matters: it’s a symbiosis of a high-quality design, text, and a call to action.

Storytelling Email Example by Jack McDade
Source: Really Good Emails

This is an abstract from newsletters by Jack McDade. The first thing we see is a catchy header, written in an unusual font. Then, from the very beginning, the author gets us emotionally involved telling a problem he had faced several years ago. That’s exactly what storytelling is about: creating a connection between the author and the reader.

Why use storytelling in email marketing?

27% of Gen Z shoppers would be more compelled to buy something if there aren’t pop-ups or ads, so it’s time to take advantage of new opportunities and pay attention to storytelling. There are other reasons to apply this method to your marketing campaigns. With the help of storytelling, you’ll be able to:

  • Create connections with your audience. When people read an exciting story, they feel a better connection with the brand standing behind it. The stories awaken emotions, which leads to a growth of sales. Moreover, investigations say that facts are approximately 22 times more likely to be remembered if they are part of a story.
  • Make an impact on the readers. If a message your brand is trying to convey is wrapped into a story that keeps the reader hooked, it is likely to be more memorable. Stories make a bigger impact compared to standard email.
  • Use a holistic approach instead of a single-vector strategy. If you send promotional emails only, they may be too salesy. Otherwise, educational emails may lack information about your products or services. But stories have all that.

Here are the other reasons why integrate storytelling into your email marketing strategy:

Why Use Storytelling in Email Marketing

So, if you are looking for a proven technique to improve your email marketing, and are willing to stand out from competitors, storytelling may become a great help.

The essential elements of a storytelling email series

Let’s observe the most essential elements of a successful storytelling campaign. These are a hero, a story behind this hero, the journey, and, in the end, a special gift to a reader.

A hero

Creating a mascot is a frequent storytelling practice.

A mascot is a central figure: it engages the reader and helps to create a story that nurtures, converts, and sells. The best hero is the one that is related to your company and products and can be easily associated with them.

When you create a hero, think of the buyer personas and base your mascot’s characteristics on them. Add some details to make the hero more catchy, vivid, and unique, and here you are!

A well-designed portrait of a hero stimulates our imagination and that’s already a good start for your storytelling email marketing campaign.

A story behind the hero

When you’re done with the hero, it’s time to create a story behind them. Base the story on the pains and desires of your hero, i.e. your buyer persona. You are probably aware of these points: you’ve highlighted them in numerous marketing campaigns before, so you should have no problems creating a story where the hero solves them all.

The goal of the story is the following: showing that your product or service can solve the problem of the hero or at least provide some help. Through a story, you describe how your product or service can make the buyer’s life better and easier.

How to make your story even more exciting?

  • Raise the stakes. Get your hero to take serious risks. You can even show that their life is in danger.
  • Surprise your readers. The more unexpected though credible the plot twists are, the more the reader is involved in your story.
  • Show transformations. A good story changes the life of the hero, their character, and values.

The journey

It’s time to solve numerous problems your hero has to face. And here comes your company! Show that your hero has found a solution by discovering your products or services.

Avoid direct advertising and continue telling your story, adding more and more details. A good trick is to mention that a mascot has tried something else, but it didn’t help. Dive deeper into the details –– the more realistic the figures and facts are, the better your story converts.

A special gift to a reader

When the story is over, treat the readers who have come to the end with some special offers. For example, it can be a welcome discount, or a lead magnet like a free book, guide, or checklist.

Types of stories to include in your campaign

There are different types of stories to use in your email marketing campaigns. Using them will make your company more memorable and increase your conversion rates. Let’s observe these types.

Origin stories

That’s the most obvious storytelling technique that helps to humanize your brand. It is perfectly suitable for welcome emails. Show what drove you to create the company and the brand. This story will also help to show your morals and values, and differentiate your company from competitors.

Storytelling Email Example by Tuft&Needle
Source: Really Good Emails

In this example, Tuft & Needle doesn’t tell the story of the company, but focuses on its values and philosophy, highlighting the unique mission of the brand: helping people overcome stress and feel relief.

Product launches

You can inform the subscribers about important product launches using stories in your newsletters. Tell about recent innovations in a vivid and involving manner. Do not just use plain facts –– show the way the readers may apply these updates like Digital Ocean did in their email.

Storytelling Email Example by DigitalOcean
Source: Really Good Emails

Success stories

To see someone’s way to success with every last detail is inspiring and motivating. That’s why this technique is also frequently used when it comes to email marketing storytelling. You can tell your personal story, the story of your brand, or your most popular product.

Another technique that works is the usage of customer testimonials: show how the clients succeeded using your product or service. See how Eight Sleep did that in their email marketing campaign:

Storytelling Email Example by EightSleep
Source: Really Good Emails


Interviews with CEOs or employees help to “humanize” the brand showing that there are real people with their pains, dreams, and desires behind it. You can also invite somebody that has an impact in your industry, or simply interview your customers.

Storytelling Email Example by Interface Lovers
Source: Really Good Emails

In the newsletter above, Interface Lovers invited influential members of the designer community to share their opinions with the readers. They unveil their personal experiences and share useful tips on work-life balance.

Behind the scenes

A better understanding of “how it works” helps the customers to anchor their decision to buy your products or services. When they see the process from within, they understand your competitive advantages and their trust in the company grows.

Storytelling Email Example by Jack Mason
Source: Really Good Emails

Jack Mason decided to shed some light on how their upcoming model of the watch is produced. Even a CTA button “Go behind the scenes” looks as if you are a chosen one to unveil the biggest secret.

Best storytelling email examples to take a look at

Let’s take a closer look at how to apply storytelling in different types of emails.

Welcome emails

Storytelling Email Example by the Hustle

When you use storytelling in your welcome email, you immediately get the reader interested. In this example, the CEO of the company introduces the members of the team in a light and funny way –– it looks ingenious compared to ordinary “Thanks for subscription” emails.

Promotional emails

Storytelling Email Example by Prima
Source: Really Good Emails

Everyone is tired of numerous newsletters trying to sell something. That’s why using a story when writing a promotional email can help to sweeten the pot and make your offer gentle and unobtrusive. Prima neatly did that in their Mother’s day campaign: first, they appreciated moms and highlighted their impact, and then offered a promo code for the next purchase. Great move!

Lead nurturing emails

Storytelling Email Example by Freelancer

A nice example of storytelling in lead nurturing email by Freelancer. They highlighted the pains and desires of their customers and showed the way their service could solve these problems. The illustrations deserve special attention: they perfectly demonstrate the final result the user of the service will get.

Milestone emails

These are automated messages the company sends to subscribers on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Storytelling Email Example by Mint
Source: Really Good Emails

Mint chose a cute pig mascot to illustrate its happy birthday email to subscribers. No CTA button shows that the company doesn’t aim to sell anything –– they just want to show how much their customers matter to them.

Company anniversary emails

Storytelling Email Example by Care/of
Source: Really Good Emails

Company’s anniversary is a great occasion to tell the subscribers your story –– but do that in an unconventional way, like Care/of did. They took the most significant figures and showed them in the form of cute illustrations. Even if you are not really interested, it catches your eye and makes you read an email to the end.

Final thoughts

One of the most effective email marketing tips is to apply storytelling in your strategy. It allows you to make people feel involved with your brand and products, creating an emotional connection and increasing your conversions. Due to storytelling, you’ll be able to:

  • Create connections, engage your audience
  • Make an impact on the readers and create a memorable experience
  • Use a holistic approach instead of a single-vector strategy

There are four the most essential elements in every effective story:

  • The hero –– the central figure that involves the reader and helps to create a story that nurtures, converts, and sells.
  • The story behind this hero –– base it on the pains and desires of your hero.
  • The journey –– create unexpected plot twists to engage the reader.
  • A special gift to a reader –– finally, offer something valuable for those who have read till the end: a discount, free trial, etc.

You can use stories of any type in your email marketing campaigns:

  • Origin stories: show what you drove to create the company and the brand.
  • Product launches: inform the subscribers about important product launches using stories.
  • Success stories: you can tell your personal story, the story of your brand, or your most popular product.
  • Interviews with CEOs or employees help to “humanize” the brand showing that you have lots of things to share with the world.
  • Behind the scenes: gives a better understanding of “how it works”.

Everyone loves stories, but not everyone can tell a good one. Become the company that tells, not sells, and you’ll see the growth of revenue in the nearest future.

14 March, 2022
Article by
Valeria Shulga
A writer by nature, study, and trade with more than 7 years of experience. Contributor at Selzy wearing many hats: I create special content projects, write articles, and own Facebook and Reddit communities. My expertise lies in email and content marketing, but I also have experience with the topics of real estate and immigration. Outside of work, I like spending my free time learning foreign languages, seeing plays at our local theaters, and doing yoga.
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