The Role of Product-Aligned Storytelling in Experiential Commerce

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  • Doug Heise Vice President, Global Marketing
  • May 13, 2014

Some shoppers know exactly what they want – others don’t. Some are driven primarily by price and availability, whereas others have an emotional attachment to a particular brand that is best addressed through storytelling. Experiential commerce enables marketers and eCommerce groups to supersede the common transaction to create the uncommon experience that customers demand.

Stories can be constructed around virtually any product or collection of products. When products are combined together with rich media as part of a real-life user story, they do a much better job of addressing the practical and emotional needs of the shopper

These stories can include additional lifestyle content and show the product in use in a variety of real-world contexts, including seasonal, current topics and trends that inspire and engage shoppers on a far deeper level compared to scrolling through a long list of unrelated products.

Imagine what becomes possible when content and commerce are brought together seamlessly to engage your customers. A static product catalog template that presents standard product specifications, pricing and shopping cart functionality no longer convinces today’s customer to buy. In a digital world where they can’t “touch and feel” the product, your site must enable them to visualize its application to their lifestyle or situation. 

How Product Stories Motivate Customers

With the ability to present customers with immersive and inspiring content, such as a video showing them how to use it and why features are valuable, you can create an “anchor” against which all other options must compete. By immersing them in the product with a story, you allow them the space to create the vision for how the product may impact their reality.

This concept is related to neuroscience. According to Uri Hasson, a neuroscientist from Princeton, a story is the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience.  Storytelling is the only way to plant ideas into other peoples’ minds. However, his research also showed that images must be connected to narrative if they are to have any value.

Therefore, we now have science to prove that storytelling is the most effective way to create empathy that motivates the interpretation, anticipation and behavior of the listener. With the ability to embed product stories seamlessly with product and cart information, you’ll be able to deliver on the goals of both marketing and e-Commerce teams: engagement and conversions.

Let’s not forget that storytelling is also a social experience. To enhance your product stories and help them spread, including social capabilities such as ratings, comments, discussions and rich media uploads can also motivate buying. By allowing customers to share their stories about your products, you also help new customers see the value of the product through various contextual interpretations.

With powerful moderation tools, marketers and channel groups can manage the conversations, maintain the brand and curate the best stories to help your customers visualize the role that your products can play in their lives. The integration of web content management (WCM) and e-Commerce platforms allows your company to develop experiential commerce by sharing compelling stories across channels consistently to help customers become loyal advocates that bring new business.

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