This is part three of a series about how to tell your brand story through a variety of marketing channels. Today’s focus is on how to tell your brand story with email marketing. Check out the rest of this series for more on storytelling through direct mail and signage.

From welcome emails to thank-you emails and every email in between, you have so many opportunities to tell your brand’s story in people’s inboxes, along with some pretty great ROI to write home about: In fact, email delivers the highest ROI for marketers. And according to this survey, 55% of people are more likely to buy a product in the future if they really love a brand story. The other 44% will share it, and the other 15% will buy the product immediately—perfect from an ecommerce marketing strategy standpoint.

Put this all together and you can see how powerful creative and engaging emails can be if they do a great job of clearly telling your story and inspiring your reader to act. In fact, they’re effective as 1-2-3:

  1. Stories foster an emotional bond between your brand and your audience.
  2. Stories make your brand more memorable.
  3. Stories illustrate who and what you’re passionate about, inspiring like-minded individuals to support or join your cause.

And ultimately, that’s what we’re aiming for, right? So, let’s look at some easy ways you could infuse storytelling into your email marketing efforts to boost your conversion rates and win some hearts along the way.

Talk about specific people and share real-life scenarios.

A good story paints a picture, and to do this effectively, it helps to be specific. Instead of, “We’ve been helping some people get back on their feet,” try, “We got Jim the clothes he needed for his first job interview, and now he’s gainfully employed” or “We helped Mary register at a community college and provided tuition assistance, and she’ll have a degree in 18 months.” (Of course, you can change the names for privacy concerns.) This will give a face to your nonprofit and humanize the individuals you serve, making what you do and who you do it for more memorable.

Mention both successes and opportunities.

Not every story wraps up neatly with a “happily ever after.” If you helped Susan celebrate five years of sobriety or helped John secure affordable daycare, say so and give readers a reason to celebrate. But don’t be afraid to also mention work that you’re not able to do yet, like provide enough tutors or offer enough support groups or help enough homeless pets. If you have a story that hasn’t been resolved yet, tell what you know and let your readers determine if they want to be a part of it. Mentioning that you have 75 people on your waiting list illustrates a need, and that story still needs some heroes.

Wrap your ask in a compelling story about a specific need.

Let’s say you get an email from an NPO that says, “We need to raise $100,000 to expand our shelter and bed capacity for women and children escaping an abusive situation. Will you help us?” You might if you’re already passionate about helping domestic violence survivors. But what about this:

“Sarah came to us one night with her three children after they had packed their bags and left their home to find safety. We were able to help them, but we didn’t have enough beds, which meant our accommodations were crowded and cramped for a few weeks, causing undue stress for the families we serve. We want to expand our space so we can more easily serve families like Sarah’s without making them feel like a burden. Will you help us?”

Which message is going to compel you to donate more readily? Probably the one that put a face to the organization and shared a story that tugged a bit on your heartstrings. Facts and figures are necessary, but they don’t make for the most engaging messaging; people do.

Talk about results and transformations using descriptive words.

If someone’s life was changed for the better, describe how—simply saying “your donation made an impact” may not be enough to compel many donors to give again. Maybe Sarah now feels less ashamed or Mary is more confident, or Whiskers and Scout now have new owners and forever homes so they never have to spend another night at the shelter. Tell what you did and how it made a difference for the life or lives you’re writing about. Specifics help paint a clearer and more emotional mental picture for your reader, which means your brand stays in their minds longer and they have a clear picture of how and why their donation mattered so much.

Last, keep it short.

You can be compelling in 200–300 words, or even shorter—in fact, the right five-word headline can turn heads and touch hearts. With emails, in particular, people are used to skimming and scanning through headlines and (very) small paragraphs—they want to hit the highlights, so be sure you have the highlights easy to read without wading through long blocks of text.

If you’re thinking, “I want to infuse storytelling into our emails, but I have no idea how or where to start,” good news: Our marketing strategists do! Sign up for a free “chat and strat” session where they can help you form a plan for how to elevate your email marketing with engaging content that clearly tells your brand’s story and boosts conversions. We’d love to help.

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