Online video marketing can do a lot for your business, but it can be hard to keep the viewer engaged past that 15-second mark – the place where ads tend to become skippable and viewer attention span runs out. If you can’t convince viewers to stick with you, your campaign may not pull in the results you want. Thankfully, there’s a way to overcome that barrier: storytelling.

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How Storytelling Attracts Customers

Human brains are hardwired to appreciate stories. We become attached to our favorite television shows and movies, we follow news trends, and we tell each other about our days and experiences. Throughout it all, we’re driven by a desire to know what happens next.

In a standard ad, we know what happens next: The company will talk about what service it has, why it’s great, and then try to convince customers to buy. There’s no surprise or curiosity – making it very easy for your ad to become the one that a viewer just has their finger hovering over the “skip” button for.

However, when you integrate an ad with story, you get something different. You’re making an ad that viewers will want to see all the way through. When you end up with an effective ad, some viewers may even look forward to when the ad shows up again. And when people watch your video all the way through, that means whatever message you’ve included will come across.

Besides getting viewers to stick with your video, adding a story also makes it much more memorable. Stories are about 22 times more memorable than straight facts. They stick in our memories – unlike that one car ad you watched that spouted vehicle information. When viewers remember the story, they remember your ad and your brand, which is exactly what you need to have an effective video campaign.

The Basics of Storytelling

When it comes down to it, there are only so many types of stories in the world. This means that you have some straightforward elements to include in your story video to make it work:

  • A character
  • A goal
  • A conflict or obstacle
  • A climax
  • A resolution

These are simple things, but they’re essential to making an effective story in any form, especially your video campaign. Just how you use these elements will vary depending on the type of story you choose to tell, but you will need them all.

One simple way to set up a story around your product or service is to parallel the story to your customer’s journey. If you’re in the web design business, for example, you could show a customer having web design issues – which they solve with the support that ties back to your company. This is a very basic structure, but it is one of your options.

Potential Types of Storytelling Videos

You don’t just have to build one type of video; while there’s a basic structure to storytelling, there are still many types of stories to tell. Some options are:

  • Inspiration. Turn your core values into a narrative.
  • Testimonial. Let customer experience speak for itself.
  • Animation. Pull together pictures, drawings, and other visual elements to capture your audience’s attention.
  • Behind the scenes. Whatever it is you do, letting potential customers see the process helps foster connection.
  • Company culture and origins. Customers care about your story, so you should tell it.
  • Combine with fiction. While true stories have power, you can also incorporate fiction to give your viewers the same effect.

Essentially, you can make a story about almost any aspect of your company, so long as you set it upright. Think about what you want to showcase, then build a narrative around that.

Other Storytelling Video Marketing Best Practices

While you’re in the process of building your story, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Don’t overload your video. Keep focused on a single idea so viewers can get the point. If you have an abundance of ideas, use them to create other videos.
  • Stay human. Video is a great way to humanize your business in a digital market that can make face-to-face connection difficult. Your customers are human, so your ads should be, too.
  • You don’t always need narration. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much a video must be. Focusing on strong camera shots and powerful music can be more than enough to get your message across.
  • Content before flair. Yes, you want your video to look good, but the content is the core. Focus on producing an effective message before trying to dazzle with effects.
  • Don’t neglect character. Without character, it can be difficult to invest in a story. Consider building your video campaign around a recurring character, like Geico’s Gecko or Progressive’s Flo.

Key Takeaways

Stories are part of what makes us human. Because they’re so ingrained in us, they’re a powerful tool for empowering your online video marketing campaign. When you make the most of the story, you create an impression of your brand and message to your viewers. From there, you can start to reap even greater rewards from the power of video.

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