- Why do we love stories?
- How brands tell stories
- The evolution of the platform
- When storytelling and bots unite
- Things to remember…
- But why all this effort?
If you’ve ever read a bedtime story to a little kid, there’s always a well-known exchange.
You know the one I’m talking about:
That bit that follows ‘and they lived happily ever after…’
Those little pleas for…
‘Just one more.’
And it’s universal.
Because bedtime stories have long been a favorite part of a child’s evening routine.
That chance to explore another world before drifting off to the world of dreams.
And while we may grow out of falling asleep listening to tales of brave princesses and ferocious dragons…
Do we ever grow out of stories?
Not one bit.
Especially not the good ones.
Why do we love stories?
But there’s nothing new about it.
It’s as old as mankind. (Hello, Magura Cave.)
Yet, stories are as still as relevant today as they were 7,000 years ago.
They help us make sense of the world.
They touch us. Deep in the amygdala. Make us feel.
Well, the great ones do.
They’re the kind of stories that suck an audience in. Enthral them. Wow them.
I’m not usually one for #inspirationalquotes but… a clever person once said:
Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe.
But tell me a story and it’ll live in my heart forever.
You see, when you tell stories that are fun, interesting or useful, people will happily give their attention.
And the same applies for brands.
How brands tell stories
A brand’s story represents who they are. What they believe in. And how they conduct themselves.
They basically set the stage for how a customer can expect the brand to interact with them, whether it’s in-store or online.
And they’re important for so many reasons:
As I’ve already mentioned, emotions are a HUGE element of storytelling. When people understand others’ thoughts and feelings, they’re able to empathize and relate to them.
➡️Which creates emotional connections.
➡️These connections turn to trust.
➡️This trust then (eventually) turns into sales.
➡️And then (again, eventually) manifests itself as loyalty. And more sales.
Sounds really simple, right?
And it is. You just need to create an absolutely incredible brand story that’s super unique to you and your company.
Because with brand stories, there are usually two outcomes – you either get remembered or forgotten.
And you sure as shhh…ugar want to be remembered.
The evolution of the platform
While tales were once limited to being told orally around the fire.
Then written. (Stunningly, in some cases.)
Thanks to all the technological developments out there, there are now a million and one ways for a brand to communicate their story – with interactivity and personalization leading the way in terms of trends.
Nowadays people want to experience stories where they are: on their smartphones and on social media. And have control over how and when they experience them.
Just think about how Netflix has revolutionized how we watch TV. It’s so popular because it puts the viewer in the driver’s seat.
That’s why the next generation of storytelling platforms — virtual reality, live video, and chatbots – are growing so rapidly.
They’re not only interactive, they can be personalized to the user.
When storytelling and bots unite
Chatbots are multi-functional non-beings.
They can be found in all your usual haunts, like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and websites.
And year on year, they’re becoming smarter, more responsive and more useful.
You can use them to do all manner of amazingly helpful things – sell stuff, help with queries, offer product recommendations and news updates. More about all this here.
And thanks to their interactive nature, chatbots let brands talk TO customers, instead of AT them.
Which gives brands even greater creative freedom to bring their story to life, and let their personality shine bright like a diamond.
At the end of the day, a chatbot is just that – a bot. A few lines of code.
People know this, and don’t always feel that comfortable chatting to them
Which is why it’s so important to create an interesting character that really reflects your brand beliefs and personality. This will make it a lot more engaging.
- Language: Who is your customer? Use words and phrases that they can relate to. U don’t wanna be txt-speaking + being totes basic… if your customer is a professional accountant.
- Brand identity: If you are a funny brand, make sure your chatbot cracks jokes. If you’re aspirational, make things positive and impactful. Use your own brand as inspiration.
- Name: This is an important one, as names instantly makes the user more comfortable. Human names are typically the most common as they make a bot instantly more familiar. And according to a study by Roomba, they’re the most popular.
Example: Madison Reed
Madison Reed, a professional, salon-quality hair color brand, launched Madi to help their customers find the perfect hair color. Everything about the chatbot reflects exactly who they are as a brand from its name, to the way it speaks to customers.
Turning anything in a game will instantly make it more interesting.
And chatbots are no different.
People like games and competitions. They intrigue them. Capture their attention.
So they’re a great way to engage customers and build brand loyalty. And you can do this in many ways:
- Rewards: When a user accomplishes something, reward them with a celebratory image or gif. This is a very small thing, but positively reinforces behaviors.
- Points system: Encourage people to click certain buttons to increase the points that they have with you. You could also include a leaderboard element.
- Choose your own adventure: Bring in an extra level of interactivity and let the customer feel like they’re a part of things with a CYOA-style element. By giving them the chance to ‘choose’ they’ll feel more in charge, and engaged.
To promote the release of the movie, Now You See Me 2, Lionsgate created a highly interactive chatbot that encouraged fans to immerse themselves into the film. Focused on storytelling, users had to interact with the movie characters and choose their own adventure to discover what happened next.
Similar to games, quizzes are a fantastic way to engage users using a chatbot.
Not only are they entertaining for a customer, they can even provide valuable insight into their behavior and encourage sales.
Different quizzes will lead to different types of data. Some more useful than others…
- Trivia: People love to test their own knowledge with quizzes. You may not gather much information with this type of quiz, but you will certainly entertain the user.
- Competitions: Giving users the chance to win something, will increase the likelihood of them engaging with your brand.
- Personality/ Preferences: By encouraging users to share their feelings about different things, you can collect data and use to retarget them with highly personalized content.
Living up to its ‘weirdly awesome’ brand personality, Trolli created a chatbot to entertain and capture information about its fans. Users had to answer a 10-question quiz to discover what their ‘Spirit Gummy’ was – Egg, Crawler or Blast. They were then sent daily content and sweetie recommendations based on the personality of their new ‘Spirit Gummy’.
4. Media Elements
Visual storytelling is a sure way to capture the attention of a user.
And what better way to bring the brand story to life than through eye-catching, interesting imagery or videos.
I’ve written a lot about the power of visuals in this blog here. Check it out.
- Images: Choosing brightly colored intriguing images will instantly draw the users eye to the message you’re trying to communicate with them.
- Gifs: These will allow you to bring in more detail, emotion and of course movement, than an image, without having to rely on a large file format.
- Video: Video is one of the most effective methods of catching customers’ attention. It allows you to show off products, focus on features, and create unique and creative stories.
To boost ticket sales for both Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man, Marvel wanted to try something new and bring the box office to where fans hung out: Messenger.
And they enlisted Jumper.ai to help.
Using personality-packed images and gifs to build hype and short persuasive copy, the checkout chatbot entertained the user while seamlessly taking them through the sales process to book tickets to see the film.
As I’ve already very lightly touched on, personalization is important when connecting with a customer.
One study even revealed that 31% of customers wish their shopping experience was far more personalized.
- Welcome message: Make a good first impression by greeting your customer by their first name and an appealing message.
- Chitchat: If you know where your customer is based, use localized information to make the conversation more personal. Eg. the weather.
- Previous interactions: When possible, use information from previous exchanges you’ve had with the customer to greet them or make the conversation more streamlined. This will make them feel important and become more engaged.
Example: Chatbots Life
This example isn’t actually from a brand, but it’s great all the same.
It shows how details from previous interactions can be used to make the ordering process even more seamless and reduces friction to purchase, as the customer doesn’t have to enter their order or address again as it’s already on file.
Things to remember…
When creating and rolling out chat solutions, things can go wrong. So bear these tips in mind.
Your chatbot is an extension of your brand, so make sure it’s completely on-brand. It should have the exact same TOV and look & feel of the company.
Automated Dangers –
Sure you want to be always-on and responsive to users, but make sure the chatbot is smart enough to handle freestyle chatting. We want to avoid this:
No one-size-fits-all –
There’s no blueprint for chat solutions. Do your audience research and find a way that will work for your brand.
Short & Sweet –
Don’t drone on and on and on… Add personality to your communications, but keep things bite-sized and entertaining. Let’s not bore the customer.
Mix it up –
Keep your conversations interesting by balancing answers, questions and responses. Customers will be much more engaged with a mix of everything rather than a solid wall of chat.
Eye on the prize –
Never lose focus of your 1. Audience, 2. Intent and 3. Message. Get creative, but make sure your message is clear, captures your audience and spurs them to act in the right way.
But why all this effort?
You need to offer customers something more.
Something that’ll make them want to purchase products from you.
And not one of the bazillion other companies out there with similar products, who are competing for the same audience.
I’ve written a blog all about the importance of building loyalty (and not focusing on price) if you want to find out more.
The key is making them like you. So follow all the above tips and tricks, and you’ll certainly be on the right track.
And if you need some help to bring your chatbot dreams to life, get in touch with us today.