Stories are timeless representations of our experiences. We tell stories to make people laugh, to encourage friends, and even to spread celebrity gossip.
As humans, we pay attention to stories because our brains are wired to do so. It helps us relate to the storyteller and remember the most important details.
Businesses should leverage the power of storytelling for the same reasons. But the story doesn’t always need to be your own. Let consumers offer their unique experiences. This will increase brand awareness.
And customer stories are more than just case studies. They encompass everything from reviews to user-generated content.
Here’s how customer stories can make a huge impact on your brand awareness.
1. Share your uniqueness
Differentiation maximizes the power of a brand. Showing customers how you’re different instrumental to a company’s longevity.
Those product comparison charts can only do so much. By displaying alternative solutions, your business becomes a commodity.
That’s why it’s so important to stand out.
For example, Apple’s differentiation strategy rests on the need to constantly push the limits. It also prides itself as a cultural icon, benefitting from recognizable advertising campaigns.
Customer stories can separate your brand from the competition.
While other companies waste time highlighting their 20th product feature, you can build a distinct brand bolstered on original consumer narratives.
Embed videos into your homepage showing actual customers sharing how much they enjoy your services.
During the holidays, highlight your shoppers’ best gift ideas. Then, feature a few lucky customers on your YouTube channel.
Inbound.org is a great example of strategic brand differentiation. They leverage expertise from their community of marketing and non-marketing professionals. The result is Inbound.org Originals, exclusive content with fresh marketing ideas.
Instead of differentiating your product, try changing how your customers learn about your company. For instance, who really thought McDonald’s would ever be in a Walmart store?
Be different. Go where your competitors won’t dare to show up.
Whatever direction your team chooses, let the customer be the differentiator.
Takeaway: showcase customer stories to demonstrate why you’re different.
2. Add personality
Giving your brand a personality deepens the connection between your and your customers. It shapes how customers interact with your brand. More importantly, it’s authentic.
Brand personality drills down to customer satisfaction. It impacts how customers will perceive your business and whether they will relay positive reviews to their family and friends.
Moreover, customer satisfaction is built on a foundation of customer perception. And if customers don’t know who you are, they won’t buy from you.
TOMS is a leader in the brand personality space. Their tagline sums it up nicely: “One for one.” By donating one pair of shoes for every purchased pair, TOMS helps improve lives.
User-generated content can help your brand create a bridge of trust with your audience. It gives potential customers an honest path to evaluate your brand without all the corporate jargon.
Here’s an example from Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign. Customers were encouraged to post pictures on social media with the hashtag #ShareACoke.
— Jordan (@blackout3890) November 21, 2015
Similar to people, brands can have multiple personalities. Sometimes, these personalities reflect the targeted audience or represent an ideal.
Brand personality doesn’t discriminate. You business can be a startup, a SaaS, or a one person operation.
And it’s not limited to your website. It expands to your customer service reps, social media accounts, and email campaigns.
To benefit from your brand’s personality, harness the power of UGC. Different stories will resonate with different people. So, share a wide variety of content – such as testimonials, reviews, and tweets.
Stories give life to our experiences. Let your customers do the sharing.
Takeaway: Build a trustworthy brand personality with user-generated content.
3. More conversions
Social media has proven to drive traffic. But what about direct conversions?
Reviews are a powerful for displaying social proof, and social referrals help drive sales.
Research found that consumer reviews are 157% more effective than traditional advertisements. Just another reason to spread them beyond your product pages.
Reviews shared on social have higher conversion rates than the industry average. Yotpo Data uncovered that “from reviews shared to social, the conversion rate is an average of 40% higher for Facebook, 8.4 times higher for Twitter and 5.3 times higher for LinkedIn.”
However, customer reviews don’t just show up at your doorstep one day. Your team must make customer engagement a priority to see results.
Most companies focus on marketing initiatives like promotional gimmicks to boost sales performance.
But here’s the secret: customers convert shoppers, not sales teams.
Therefore, marketers must shift focus to engagement if they want positive reviews.
Why do shoppers open one email compared to another? What do they talk about on social media? How does the in-store experience align to their online shopping behaviors?
Brand strategist Shelly Kramer predicts that “we’ll see more marketers understand that increased conversion rates (and enhanced brand awareness) are going to rely on their willingness to embrace (and fund) data-driven marketing.”
Once you build exceptional relationships, the reviews will follow. Then, turn those leads into profitable sales.
Takeaway: Conversions rely on your customer reviews.
4. Build customer loyalty
We live in a fast-paced world. Customers juggle work, kids, and everything in between. Ongoing brand awareness campaigns will keep your business relevant.
Plus, it actually costs more to acquire new customers. The best long-term business strategy is to retain your customers.
From price gouging to misleading product labels, shoppers have trust issues with businesses. They automatically question a company’s motives and assume the worst.
If you saw a sign that read “Free Money,” would you stop?
Researchers ran an experiment testing this particular human behavior. After reading the sign, the only thing passers-by had to do was stop and grab a $50 bill, but only 19% actually did.
The experiment found that we “disengage as soon as something sounds too good to be true.”
Customer reviews can help with mitigating this mistrust.
Instead of brands constantly advertising, customer stories help build credibility. Those first-hand customer experiences become honest tidbits for shoppers.
KarmaLoop encouraged their customers to join their marketing rep program to sell their urban apparel. As a result, the company saw an increase in customer loyalty.
UGC is a valuable customer loyalty tool. But there’s no magic formula.
Ask your customers to send pictures or post reviews. Create actionable opportunities, like an Instagram contest. Here’s how Lowes and HGTV asked customers for content:
Customers want to join the fun. With UGC, your customers contribute to a “continuous loop of growing customer loyalty.”
Takeaway: To retain more customers, include them in your brand story.
Stories bring awareness
Customers are valuable assets to your brand. Their unique experiences give shoppers the unpolished truth about your products and services.
By spotlighting testimonials and reviews, your brand can earn a competitive advantage along with customer loyalty. And don’t forget the potential to boost sales!
How does your team showcase customer stories? Share in the comments.