How to Leverage Storytelling to Increase Your Conversions

how to leverage storytelling to increase conversions

In the not so distant past, I embarked on a journey to grow NeilPatel.com to 100,000 blog readers. At the end of every month, I shared my traffic stats and the changes I’d made. That storytelling strategy went on to help my blog reach over 100,000 views a month — in only about eight months.

As marketers, we use storytelling to help make our ideas stick. We create stories to help prospects understand our products, use company stories to build trust and transparency with consumers, and include stories in sales pitches to help persuade.

Why does it work?

Competition in native advertising and social media marketing is fierce. And, the rate at which great content is being produced and published on the web and across the media channels is expanding. Our readership is drowning.

Most people scan web content, looking for something that stands out. If they don’t find it, they’ll leave.

Visual stories and corporate storytelling can connect the dots and get people to ACTUALLY read your great content and take action. This is the essence of successful media marketing.

If you want to increase your potential customer conversions, then start captivating your target market by making emotional connections through storytelling.

Storytelling is like a vitamin. When it gets into your readers, it permeates their whole being and fights every objection that might otherwise stop them from becoming loyal customers.

In short, it’s an amazing secret weapon when it comes to your marketing strategy.

In this article, I’ll explain the five simple steps you can improve your potential customer conversion rate by combining storytelling and data.

The breakdown of what you’ll learn is:

  • What Storytelling Is
  • The Elements of Storytelling
  • How to Use Storytelling to Increase Conversions
  • Build Authority Through Storytelling
  • Storytelling Success Stories

Step #1: What is Storytelling?

Storytelling is the art of communicating your idea, message or event, by creatively weaving words, images, and sounds into a narrative. Visual stories, written stories, and verbal stories – this is the content we love.

When you tell a true story, your message is perceived as authentic. In the same way that live events get more retweets than general tweets on social media channels, your content will impact the lives of your target market, and improve your credibility.

storytelling benefits

Why should you use corporate storytelling in content marketing? We breathe visual stories. Even in the Stone Age, humans understood how to tell stories that evoked interest and made that emotional connection.

And, it’s one of the most effective ways to engage and persuade your audience.

storytelling infographic

Humans are born storytellers and adore visual communication. Storytelling gives life or meaning to a scenario and makes that emotional connection, provoking feelings of ecstasy, sorrow, or peace, and captivating your audience. This is exactly what you need when it comes to your digital marketing strategy.

It is little wonder that posts with visual stories and visual communication generate more Facebook and media channel shares than any other content type.

As it turns out, visual stories and communication (e.g., infographics, videos, memes, screenshots) get widely shared on major social media channels.

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Your potential customers aren’t looking for another sales pitch or a proposal that sounds too good to be true. They’ve heard enough of those.

For example, when you write, use relevant images and great visual stories that pique people’s interest.

Or, if you’re recording a podcast, you could use emotion-triggering music and sounds. For video creation, you can use words, images, visual stories, and sounds at the same time.

A study conducted by Forrester Research found that 88% of executives and organizational decision-makers long to have conversations, not pushy sales presentations.

With visual stories, you can create and promote infographics, which have collectively generated over 2,500,000 million visitors and 41,142 backlinks for me, over a two-year span.

I usually publish new infographics every Friday, and the results have been amazing.

use storytelling to drive traffic.

You can also create visual stories and content and submit it to authoritative media sites and platforms, such as Slideshare, Vimeo, and Animoto. This helps you gain a new target market and potential customers for your business.

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Corporate Storytelling in Persuasion

Persuasion is the master key that will unlock your conversion vault with your potential customers. Robert Mckee was right when he said that “Storytelling with persuasion trumps statistics.”

Marketing is for people, and people are emotional beings.

Our brains are wired to respond to emotional connections and triggers. Storytelling is the most natural source of those triggers.

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When you understand how to persuade others, you’ll no longer struggle to get more traffic. Instead, you’ll focus on improving conversions, because that’s what matters.

So, how do stories persuade a targeted group of readers or potential customers to take action? That’s the goal of setting up a content marketing strategy and writing in-depth content.

Moment of truth: What potential customers perceive to be true will ultimately guide their actions and decision-making processes. Consumer perceptions may or may not be accurate, but they’ll live by them, nevertheless.

When people visit your website or your media sites, what truth do you instill in them? Do you give visitors the hard sell, when they’re still trying to get to know you?

Instead of starting with “once upon a time,” or some variation of it, weave your story into your content. Stories can even appear on your headline, introduction, and, most importantly, on your landing page.

Add experiences, case studies, research studies, and significant results that you’ve helped your customers achieve. These are the foundation of your story.

I’ve used storytelling in the past to engage my readers, as well. For example, I shared a story on how spending $162,301.42 on clothes made me $692,500.

example of storytelling in marketing

Personality: The Norwegian author Rune Belsvik once said that the concept of story was “one of the first things that came to the world.”

Our personality is born out of stories. We’re created to share and listen to stories, to fall in love with visual stories. So, storytelling is a natural tool to help grow your audience and increase your conversions.

In the same way, storytelling gives your content new flavor and amplify its benefits, because it’s coming from a “personality” – a set of characteristics that makes you special and appealing to others.

In the beginning of your content, open strong, and establish your story. In the middle, build interest in the message.

Highlight the benefits of the topic and close with a call-to-action that’s persuasive, not pushy.

David Siteman Garland, founder of The Rise To The Top, uses this strategy to write his copy. He starts out his story on a strong note, gradually evokes interest by showing the results in the middle, then calls his readers to action at the end.

Here’s the beginning:

storytelling example
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Here’s the middle of his copy, where David builds interest through success stories:

storytelling example in marketing

And finally, the call-to-action at the end:

storytelling example

Note: Established bloggers and internet marketers who have built solid businesses use content segmentation to improve their conversion rate. And, because they’re creative at storytelling, they’re able to experience greater levels of success.

The sooner you master the art of storytelling, the better for your brand and online business. Social media is redefining storytelling in a significant way. Know your audience and be authentic in your written and visual stories.

You’ve already gone through a lot in life and have endless stories to share.

I don’t believe that you should make up stories; instead, you should tap into the wealth of stories from family, friends, customers, entrepreneurs, and brands.

Then, align those stories to the audience you’ve come to know like the back of your hand.

Step #2:  Learn the Elements of Storytelling

When you’re telling or sharing a story with your potential customers, you want to achieve a specific outcome.

You want enough general knowledge to take your content marketing efforts to the next level.  Then, make sure to include the following elements of storytelling.

A Defined Target Audience

Have you defined your audience yet? Before you can successfully tell a story, there must be a qualified audience to enjoy it. Most people get it backwards, if they do it at all.

But, you have to define your target audience first, because they’ll, in turn, define your product both in and out of social media marketing.

As time goes by and you build relationships and engage with your potential customers and target audience, they’ll send you great feedback that will help define and improve your product.

So, how do you define your target audience and your potential customers clearly? There are several ways to go about it, but I’ve personally found that demographics are the first step.

If I can truly understand who my target audience is and where they’re browsing my site from, I can align my content and tell a better story.

Your audience demographic is just a market segment, but it will give you a great understanding of their complete persona or profile.

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Here are the four simple steps to define your audience, based on demographics:

Go to Alexa.com. Type in your site URL (e.g., lewishowes.com) and click “Go.”

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To find your results, scroll down the Alexa result page and you’ll find this:

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From the screenshot above, you’ll notice that LewisHowes.com visitors are mostly female, are college graduates, and browse the site from home.

If I were Lewis, now that I know my audience is predominantly female, I would align my content with storytelling nuggets that will appeal to both males and females, but weighted towards the females. I might not do anything further on the education aspect, because college graduates can effectively read and live their dream lifestyle.

But, since the majority of this target audience browses from home, I’d also try to give them worksheets or actionable tips that they can implement right away since they would have no boss around to audit what they are doing.

Armed with your audience demographics, you’ll want to dig deeper. Knowing your audience’s interests is a critical step in unearthing their biggest challenges and using storytelling to solve their problems.

The suggestions below paint a clearer picture of how you can best utilize each social media channel:

  • If you deal in fast-moving consumer goods (i.e., not luxury goods), Facebook is your ideal social media channel for attracting an audience, because the users are mostly young people.
  • Twitter is a microblogging platform for news-like updates. Use the social media channel Twitter to keep your target audience abreast of what’s happening with your site, business or community. It’s not for selling.
  • Besides clothing and decorative arts, Pinterest favors food and drink-related products. Family and relationship-related products also tend to receive more likes and repins.
  • Clothing, accessories and entertainment-related products do extremely well on Instagram because the users are primarily female.

Finally, LinkedIn is the platform of choice for business-related communications. So, if you’re looking to acquire business-minded customers, LinkedIn will out-perform Twitter and Instagram, by a long shot.

storytelling on linkedin

Measurable Goals

The second most important element of storytelling is a measurable goal.

Anybody can set a goal, but how many people can effectively measure it?

Smart marketers want to track their progress.

When you set a goal that you can’t measure, you’ll miss out on the potential of expansion. For example, you won’t know what other factors are required, when you set a bigger goal.

Here are some tips for setting measurable goals:

Start small: I believe in thinking big, but you should also keep your goals realistic. When you start on a smaller note, you’ll certainly hit the target and know exactly where you’re going.

storytelling have measurable goals

“10,000 visitors in a month” isn’t realistic in the beginning.

But, you can set a smaller, specific, and measurable goal, such as “Generate 1000 blog visitors per week, by targeting 25 long-tail keywords and spending an hour every day at relationship-building on discussion boards and social media platforms.”

This latter goal is measurable because you can check your Google Analytics to determine which keyword phrases are performing well in the search engines. You can also track your social media marketing activities and understand the best times to tweet.

You also want to measure your progress when using storytelling to meet marketing goals. Otherwise, you won’t be able to know whether or how your conversion rate is growing.

Set a schedule: For your goals to be measurable, you have to set a schedule. What will you do daily to achieve your goal?

A schedule gets you organized and increases your productivity.

storytelling set a schedule

Your schedule should match your deadline and help you focus on the most important tasks.

For example, if you’ve set a measurable goal to generate 1,000 search visitors per week by targeting 25 long-tail search queries, your daily schedule could be:

  • Research and select five longer tail key phrases: If I were in the weight loss/fitness niche, I could select these easier-to-target key phrases: how to lose 20 pounds, I want to lose weight, best weight loss exercise that works, top 10 fat loss programs and help me lose weight fast.
  • Read books, blogs, watch videos, etc.: I want to learn about the topic as much as I can before writing. There are helpful resources that I can easily access with a quick Google search.
  • Write my headlines: This is critical if you want people to click, read, and share your content. Spend 20 minutes to an hour on your headline, because if you don’t nail the headline, you’ll waste a lot of potential. In order to save time on headline writing, find a headline in any industry that catches your attention, then use it as a model to create a better one that’s relevant to your own industry.
  • Write the content: First, create an outline for your content, then expand on it to create your content or video.
  • Set a deadline: According to Nolan Bushnell, “the ultimate inspiration is the deadline.” Without a deadline, you aren’t inspired to act now to achieve a significant result, because the clock isn’t ticking.
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In leveraging storytelling to increase your conversions, every piece of content that you write and every landing page that you create should have a measurable goal with a schedule and a deadline.

Relatable data: The grudge match between storytelling and statistics rages on. But instead of choosing one or the other, why not combine both when creating your content?

I rarely write content without using data to back up my claims. Personal opinions have a limited ability to engender trust in your target audience. But, if you can prove what you say with statistics, then you win loyal customers.

Take a look at my recent post, to see how I positioned myself as an authority, by referencing something that Google said:

storytelling example

Sharing a story on how you went from being broke to being a millionaire may not do much for your customers unless you use data to prove it.

If there’s no data or case study relating to the story that you’re sharing, you can share your own data.

Go ahead and create charts and make it plain that this is what you found after a series of experiments.

Persuasion

The fourth element of effective storytelling is persuasion. You can’t influence people if you can’t persuade them. 

In his bestselling book, Influence, Dr. Robert B. Cialdini noted that reciprocity, commitment, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity are the strongest factors in the psychology of persuasion.

The focal point is this: these six factors move people to change behavior, follow the course that you’ve set, subscribe to your email list, and buy your product, even if they don’t necessarily need it right now.

Let’s see an example of how social proof can increase sales.

Cialdini defined social proof as “the art of doing something because you see others who do the same thing.” You simply follow the crowd.

Here’s an example of how social proof increases conversion: Modcloth is a clothing commerce site.

It’s a great community, where shoppers vote on the styles that they believe the site should sell more of in the future. Such styles have a “Top-Rated” badge.

storytelling example modcloth

The evidence of this unique form of social proof is that products with this badge sell twice as well as products without it.

Here are other examples of top brands using social proof:

storytelling using social proof

To learn how the other five principles of persuasion increase conversions, see Peep Laja’s resourceful post, how to use Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion to boost conversions.

Use Storytelling to Increase Conversions

I’m amazed at how Huggies used storytelling to increase their conversion rate.  Huggies and Ogilvy had a definite and measurable goal – to connect with and deepen a relationship with expectant moms. They wanted to build engagement even before the baby is born.

To accomplish that goal, Ogilvy decided to get expectant moms involved. Through their campaign, “Delivery Hugs,” they created a powerful video that triggered a strong emotional response from people – especially mothers and moms-to-be

The video was viewed by millions of people. When those people shared the video and the story behind it, people were moved to tears.

Here are actionable ways to increase conversions through storytelling:

Develop a Content Strategy

Your content strategy simply refers to a structured plan by which you create content, promote it, test your campaigns, and track your progress.

The content structure gives you ample opportunity to boost the effectiveness of your content strategy.

And, you can easily achieve that by leveraging social media. Taking inventory of the leads that you acquire, the sales that you get, and the underlying trends in your industry is critical, when you’re developing a content strategy.

Leverage a Story People Already Know

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You could leverage other people’s stories to create a powerful, high-quality, evergreen piece of content. Stories are the secret recipe for other people’s success.

In All Marketers Tell Stories, Seth Godin poses three essential questions to every marketer:

  • Do you have a story?
  • When the right people hear the story, will they believe it?
  • Is the story true?

The harsh reality is that if your story is great, but you can’t tell it well, no one will believe you. All marketers tell stories, but only those who have mastered the art of storytelling catch our attention.

Millions of other people’s stories are available online. All you have to do is find one or more, create tailored content around the stories and reference original content.

This has nothing to do with duplicate content, plagiarism, or content curation. You’ll be creating unique content based on other people’s stories.

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For example, I’ll be creating an in-depth article on how Shopify tripled their sales. I’ll give all due credit and appreciation to Shopify, but the content will increase my search traffic and probably bring in clients.

You can read people’s stories on blogs or by listening to their presentations, reading their books, or engaging them in one-on-one conversations.

There should be a beginning, a narrative to show what happened and the lessons learned, then a conclusion that shows exactly how the same story can change the reader’s life for the better.

Lead With Dialogue

Storytelling that focuses on two-way communication will yield faster growth.

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Seth Godin says that “fast growth comes from overwhelming the smallest possible audience with a product or service that so delights them that they insist that their friends and colleagues use it.”

I have to agree because when your product isn’t worth talking about, no amount of marketing will help. Both the content and the product have to be highly useful first, then everything else follows. It’s all about getting feedback from your target audience.

Vanessa Van Edwards, the founder of The Science of Things, uses dialogue in storytelling.

storytelling example

Vanessa understands that when her audience gives honest feedback by taking a quiz, she can use the data pertaining to body language from 5,000 readers and create high-quality information products for them.

storytelling example

She even goes the extra mile by accepting research studies from readers. This single act gives the readers a sense of belonging. They’ll look forward to getting Vanessa’s newsletters and participate in anything related to body language because they’re a part of the community.

QuickSprout provides an interactive tool, as well. It literally talks to you, when you plug your URL into the search box.

storytelling example quicksprout

Sonia Simone tells thought-provoking stories by leading with dialogue. A few years ago, she posted a simple question that got my neurons fired up:

storytelling example use dialogue

If you already have an audience via social media networks, an email list, or a mastermind group, you can get feedback from them by sending questionnaires through SurveyMonkey.

Focus on Emotions

Our brains respond to stories more than anything else. Robert Plutchik’s “wheel of emotions” reveals some of the underlying emotions that influence your customers, which – when leveraged – can boost your conversions.

wheel of emotions in storytelling

Lisa Feldman noted, in her book The Science of Emotion, that for the most part, people have little control over their emotions. Often, they’re automatic responses to our experiences. What we like or hate and what we perceive as pain or pleasure are just two kinds of emotional triggers, among many.

Happiness is one emotion that makes us want to share. Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott noted that our response to our mom’s smile with a smile of our own is usually the first emotional response we make in life.

When your content drives people to a state of happiness or joy, they will automatically respond to your offers, feel obliged to share your content, and will stop at nothing to tell others about you.  

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This is because happiness is hard-wired into the human brain. When experienced, it’s found in the left prefrontal cortex of the brain.

It literally functions from there. But, it may remain dormant until something – such as a story – triggers it.

A baby’s social smile further tells us that when happiness is shared, it ultimately increases and creates an atmosphere that encourages more happiness. What you share will actually come back to you multiplied.

Speak to your customer’s mind, but appeal to both logic and emotions.

Measure the Impact of Your Story

If you’ve ever wondered why most brands get media publicity with ease, while others stay on the sidelines, it’s because they were able to use storytelling to its full potential. You have to measure your success – because it’s critical to making smarter content marketing decisions.

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Planning, execution, and consistent learning are key factors that will help you increase your conversions.  But, you have to measure the impact of your brand story.

Measuring social media activities is easy. But, measuring the impact of storytelling is a little more difficult, because it has so much to do with emotional communication.

Step #4: Build Authority Through Storytelling

Social networks influence nearly 50% of all IT decision makers. Truly, the world as we know it is changing.

It was all about mass media in the past.  But today, social media is taking over. We’re living in the age of authority. Traditional media might still be popular, but it lacks effectiveness because it’s a one-way communication channel.

Social media is different. When you send a tweet, you can get a retweet or comment from a follower and, over time, build trust.

When it comes to building authority through storytelling, you need a level of influence in your business, family, society, and spheres of contact, before people can trust you.

What you believe in can be amplified if you’re able to convince a select group of people.

So, how do you start building your own authority? Here’s a simple three-step game plan that’s proven to work:

  • Affirm that you’re an authority in your industry
  • Focus on your creative voice
  • Share stories that pull people instead of pushing them

Affirm You’re an Authority in Your Industry

There is power in affirmations. When you affirm to yourself what you want to happen in your life or business, you can see it come to pass when coupled with smart action. Of course, you can’t just fold your arms and expect miracles to happen.

But, if you think you’re not qualified, competent, or decisive enough to influence people, it’ll show in your conversation.

Affirmations are positive statements that describe or convey a strong desire to achieve a specific goal or state of being, which is then repeated consistently until it’s imprinted on the subconscious mind.

For example, you can wake up every day and affirm, “Today will be an awesome day.” And, it most likely will be for YOU (though maybe not for EVERYONE).

guide to storytelling in marketing today will be a good day image

Affirmations work because when you continually repeat a statement verbally, it influences your thoughts and actions.

For example, repeating to yourself, “I’m increasing my sales this month,” plants the thought into your subconscious mind, which then begins to imagine the amount of money that you’ll make.

Repeat to yourself, “I’m telling better stories” and again, your mind will call you to order and nudge you to search out a powerful story for your next blog post or product.

In his bestselling book, You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One), Jeff Goins said that “becoming a writer starts with a simple, but important belief: you’re a writer and you’ve got to start writing.”

storytelling affirmations.

And today, Jeff Goins runs a successful online self-publishing business. Even if no one ever believed in him, he affirmed it to himself repeatedly and it became so.

Jeff’s latest book, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do, is also full of affirmations. Goins’ work has been endorsed by the biggest names in the internet marketing world.

If you want to truly become good at something, you first have to believe in it.

Focus on Your Creative Voice

Storytelling is an art and therefore requires uniqueness and creativity. Your creative voice is what sets you apart from the crowd, just like your Unique Selling Point.

A post on Oprah’s website suggests that you find a quiet place to meditate and assimilate all of the information that you’ve accessed during the day.

When everything else fails, your creative voice will give your story a rhythm. It’ll alleviate boredom and take people on a journey of experience.

I love how the creative Gary Vaynerchuk builds authority through social media and blogging. He even advocates growing your brand by leveraging someone else’s.

In summary, here are a few ways to discover your creative voice and focus on it:

  • Heed Oprah’s advice. Set aside quiet time to meditate.
  • Learn from other people. Position your brand to benefit from their own.
  • Know your target audience inside and out.
  • Use storytelling to express your worldview, not to impress anybody.

Share Stories That Pull People, Instead of Pushing Them

Storytelling is meant to pull people in, not push or repel them. It’s about helping people become better.

Your story shouldn’t just be about you. Instead, it should relate to your audience and customers. It should pull them in and retain them.

use storytelling to pull people in

When using stories to capture an audience, keep in mind that they may not necessarily want to know every detail – the outcome is what counts. Many people don’t want to know how painful giving birth to a child is, but we all want to hear the cry of a baby, right?

Seth Godin has authored over 20 books. His style of writing, which incorporates storytelling, pulls people in. Godin has many brand associates, who regularly refer clients to him. Take a look at this opening in a post:

seth godin storytelling example.

As a content creator, writer, and business owner, you’re in this world to make a difference.

It’s not all about the money that you’ll make, but the joy of seeing your target audience and customers improve their lives, meet their goals, and smile again.

Step #5: Learn from Storytelling Success Stories

I’ve shared several success stories of how brand distinguished their products, customer service, and relationships with customers, all by telling real stories.

But, there are more storytelling success stories left to tell.

ITV’s Storytelling Launch

ITV had plans to create a new multi-screen ad format, which could be synced into other platforms. Their audience was mostly composed of smartphone and tablet users.

ITV storytelling example

When ITV combined this innovation with visual storytelling, they were able to merge the benefits of broadcast TV advertising with modern tablets and smartphones.

ITV storytelling example

During the X-Factor finale last year, the ad format was launched and it resulted in over 1,300,650 page views, with an average click-through rate of 8.75%

Jon Morrow

Jon Morrow is one of the bloggers that I deeply respect.

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He once shared a powerful guest post on Problogger, telling the story of how he was hit by a car in April 2006.

His leg was broken in 14 places. For the next three months, he endured significant pain and misery.

Then, he got brave and quit his job. He sold everything he owned and stopped paying most of the usual bills. The story got even more interesting, when he recounted how he moved to paradise to get paid to change the world.

In that post, Jon persuaded readers so strongly that it generated over 72,000 visitors.

Today, Jon runs a very profitable online business and his flagship blog, Boost Blog Traffic, gets over 100,000 monthly visitors. In fact, he earns over $100,000 per month.

Dallas Morning News

Dallas Morning News, a regional media company in the U.S., wanted to expand its reach through social media. They understood that traditional media is fast becoming tiring for viewers and fans unless it’s integrated into their social lifestyle.

dallas news storytelling example

Using Hootsuite, they were able to control their social activities from one portal, streamlining their endeavors.

They empowered and persuaded their team to cultivate the habit of sharing news and updates on social media platforms. This strategy increased the company’s engagement with a growing local readership.

And, they succeeded. Here’s the result of their social media integration:

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Conclusion

The human brain is wired to remember memorable and visual stories.

The sooner you start using storytelling in your content creation and marketing, the easier you’ll find it to increase your conversions.

There is no shortcut to improving your ROI as a content marketer and blogger. You have to consistently feed Google and your target audience with fresh, high-quality content.

As you do that, you’ll get more organic traffic and improve your long-tail keyword rankings significantly.

Have you leveraged storytelling to increase your conversions? What is your experience and how do you respond to other people’s stories?

The post How to Leverage Storytelling to Increase Your Conversions appeared first on Neil Patel.

How to Use AI SEO to Improve Your Website

AI SEO

The internet has become the go-to source for everything from trivia about celebrities to fixing our kitchen sinks. But AI SEO may be changing the way marketers help their sites rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Failure to rank may result in your business missing out on valuable search traffic. Which means far less revenue for your business.

For a long time, you could get by with basic SEO strategies.

But not anymore.

With artificial intelligence (AI) taking over the world, you need to up your game.

What does that mean for your SEO strategy?

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an umbrella term that covers several different technologies, including machine learning (ML), computer vision, natural language processing (NLP), deep learning, and other, still emerging technologies.

What’s the point of AI?

AI has one principal goal – to perform (often laborious and mundane) cognitive tasks better and faster than humans. It is a technology designed to make our work and life easier.

In business, AI has already proven to be effective in increasing revenue.

In sales and marketing, 30% of AI adopters cited a 6-10% increase in revenue after implementing the technology.

impact of ai

These are pretty impressive results.

And yes, AI can also be beneficial to your SEO.

But, will AI replace SEO?

Emphatically – no!

Let’s talk about how AI is impacting SEO and why it won’t be taking over.

What is AI SEO?

AI has become a core component of major search engine algorithms, including Google’s Rankbrain and BERT.

This factor means if you understand AI and how it impacts search engines, you can boost your SEO using AI.

But that’s not all.

AI is also an excellent tool for data analysis, which is a significant part of designing an effective SEO strategy.

From helping you spot trending topics to discovering content gaps, you can do tasks faster and more efficiently with AI-powered SEO software.

AI and SEO are a match made in digital heaven.

Why is AI SEO Important?

Although both AI and SEO are complex disciplines, used together, they make it easier for you to boost your website’s rankings.

One thing to keep in mind about search engines is they always put the user first. They aim to deliver content that’s as relevant as possible.

Because of this, SEO is not just about keywords anymore. It’s about:

  • Concepts: What is the idea behind the searchers’ query?
  • Context: What is the intent behind the searchers’ query?
  • Customer satisfaction: What are the most relevant answers to the user’s query?

So, keyword stuffing doesn’t work anymore (and hasn’t since Hummingbird). For your content to rank, you need a great link building strategy and to optimize for AI-powered search engines.

Today (and in the future), one of the main factors that impact ranking is user experience. And AI is one of the best ways to provide website visitors with a positive experience.

Let’s quickly look at six ways it can help boost your SEO.

AI SEO: 6 Ways to Use AI to Improve Your Website

Now that you understand what AI is and how AI SEO can impact your site, let’s look at a few ways you can use AI SEO to keep up with modern SEO tactics.

Opportunity Discovery With AI SEO

One of the most important aspects of SEO is discovering hidden ranking opportunities that haven’t been exploited.

That’s one of the areas artificial intelligence SEO is proving to be effective in helping boost your website’s rankings. Powerful AI-powered SEO tools have emerged in the last couple of years, giving you more in-depth insight into:

  • Keywords you should be targeting
  • Link building opportunities

These and other insights that you can get from AI-powered SEO software are crucial to crafting a content strategy that will exponentially boost your website’s SEO.

With the competition to rank becoming fiercer by the day, you need to find keywords, topic ideas, and other SEO opportunities that aren’t too common.

Find opportunities that your competition is not exploiting, and you’ll have a much better chance at ranking.

Granted, finding these opportunities manually takes a lot of creativity, time, and hard work.

However, with the help of AI-powered SEO software, like BrightEdge, you can uncover golden SEO opportunities faster.

This is one of the main reasons AI must be a part of your SEO strategy.

Content Creation With AI SEO

Discovering content opportunities is only a small part of the battle to dominate the SERPs.

You also have to create content that hits the mark.

This is where AI can help improve your SEO.

How?

Once you’ve used a tool like BrightEdge to find keywords, you can use AI to help you know what kind of content you should create.

Once fed with your target keyword, AI-powered tools scour the web for content created around that keyword. In a few seconds, you’ll find:

  • Content gaps to exploit
  • Trending topics
  • The average number of sections to include

With insights like these, it becomes easier to create content tailored to solve specific problems for your audience, in short, personalized content that satisfies user intent.

Not only that, but AI can help you ensure that the content you create is relevant for each stage of your funnel.

Content creation is no longer just about creating poor quality content that ranks. It’s about creating content that users will find helpful.

And that’s exactly what AI will help you do.

Content Optimization With AI SEO

For a long time, content optimization has been about keywords, internal links, backlinks, and other on-page SEO tactics.

Those things still matter.

But search engines now look at more than just those indicators. Search engines are getting better at figuring out precisely what searcher’s intent is while searching.

How can you optimize your content for user intent?

You guessed it – with the help of AI.

AI SEO tools help you:  

  • Create topic clusters that answer user questions and rank
  • Know the optimum length of content on your given topic
  • Use keywords and LSI keywords correctly

With AI, you can optimize your content to meet Google’s E.A.T standards found in their search quality raters, guidelines. You can create content that expertly answers user queries authoritatively. And that’s the kind of content Google loves to serve its users.

But AI doesn’t end at helping optimize content for search engines. AI-powered writing tools like Atomic Reach and Grammarly (among a slew of others) also help ensure your writing makes for a pleasant read.

AI seo example grammarly

This also helps increase dwell time, another factor that indicates to search engines that your content is useful.

The bottom line is AI can help you create better optimized content that your readers will love and engage with.

Optimizing for Voice Search

One of the fastest evolving areas of search is voice search.

With more people relying on their voice-activated devices to search the internet, voice SEO (VSEO) has become an aspect of SEO you can’t ignore anymore.

Just take a look at how fast the number of voice-activated assistants is rising:

ai seo voice assistants

Statista forecasts that the number of voice assistants globally will reach 8.4 billion in the next few years — which is more than the world’s population.

Most voice searches are in the form of questions, so one of the main ways to optimize for VSEO is by answering the questions people are asking.

This is where AI tools come into play.

For example, tools like Frase help you create VSEO optimized content by showing you the questions searchers are asking. You can then create content around these questions.

frase ai seo

Another aspect of voice search is that it’s conversational. This is where AI principles like NLP come into play.

AI-powered content tools like Grammarly and Hemmingway can help you create more conversational content by recommending tone changes and highlighting hard to read passages.

One thing to note about VSEO is that it is hyper-competitive. That’s because voice assistants only give one answer – the one right at the top of the SERPs.

This means you have to pull out all the stops to ensure you rank well for VSEO.

Scale Your SEO

A significant part of SEO is tedious manual labor that has made it difficult for marketers to achieve results quickly.

AI has changed that.

AI-powered tools have taken a lot of the grunt work out of SEO by gathering data, analyzing it, and translating it into actionable steps,

More than that, however, you’ll find that artificial intelligence SEO software, like Alli AI, can help with your technical SEO as well. For example, it can help you:

  • Conduct website audits
  • Automatically optimize content
  • Fix duplicate content issues

On the on-page SEO front, AI SEO software can help you scale your content creation by analyzing top-performing content. The software can then help you create content strategies and briefs for optimized content.

As a result, you can quickly scale your SEO efforts — without overworking your team.

AI can take over the laborious, mundane, and time-consuming (and sometimes soul-sucking) aspects of SEO. This will free up your team to do other things that need human attention.

User Experience

Remember – Google’s (and other search engines) primary focus is the user.

This means user experience (UX) is a crucial element of SEO.

That’s probably why, in a rare announcement, Google let people know that page experience will be a significant ranking factor starting from the year 2021.

But what is page experience?

According to Google, page experience is a set of signals that measure a user’s satisfaction (or lack of it) when interacting with a web page. This goes beyond the page’s informational value.

It takes into account the overall UX the page provides.

Of course, pages with negative user experience won’t rank and those that offer users a positive user experience.

Where does AI come into play here?

With search engines thinking more like real human users, they can determine whether your page will provide users a positive UX or not.

This means when a user inputs a search query, search engines want to make sure they serve up:

  • Relevant and authoritative content
  • Pages with proper structure
  • Pages with easy navigation
  • Pages that load fast
  • Mobile-friendly websites

If users can enjoy a personalized experience on your website, this will increase dwell time and encourage sharing your content. Both are signals to search engines that your content is worth ranking higher on SERPs.

Today’s AI-powered SEO tools, like Market Brew, can mimic search engines and give recommendations on what you can do to improve your website’s UX.

As a result, you don’t have to guess whether the SEO gods will smile on your website with favor or not. You can know what pleases them (to a greater degree) and implement that on your website.

Conclusion

Ready or not, the future of SEO is here.

And it’s just two words – artificial intelligence.

By marrying these two disciplines, you can create a robust SEO strategy that’s bound to get you noticed. More than that, it will help you build a loyal audience.

Of course, for every business, that translates to a healthier bottom line.

Have you embraced the power of AI SEO yet?

The post How to Use AI SEO to Improve Your Website appeared first on Neil Patel.

Best Collaboration Software

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Collaboration software has become a must-have tool for businesses today. 

With teams scattered across different locations working remotely, these tools ensure that everyone can communicate and collaborate effectively. From simple check-ins and real-time status updates to ongoing project management, collaboration software can accommodate businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Your organization can even use collaboration software to improve the way you work with clients, contractors, and stakeholders in your business. 

By leveraging collaboration tools, everyone will benefit from improved workflows and have greater access to crucial information. 

But in order to take advantage of these benefits, your first task will be finding the right collaboration software for your business—and there are a ton of options out there.

To make your decision easier, use the buying guide and recommendations that I’ve reviewed in this post. 

The Top 6 Options For Collaboration Software

  1. Slack
  2. Trello
  3. Flock
  4. Zoho Projects
  5. Wrike
  6. BlueJeans

How to Choose the Best Collaboration Software For You

As previously mentioned, there are lots of different collaboration tools available on the market today. With dozens, if not hundreds of options to choose from, narrowing down the best option for your business can feel like a tall task.

To ease the buying process, I’ve identified the top factors that must be considered as you’re evaluating different options. I’ll quickly explain each one in greater detail below.

Software Type

Collaboration software comes in all different shapes and sizes. 

You’ll come across solutions built for project management, while others are made specifically for instant messaging or video conferencing. There are even some all-in-one solutions on the market today. 

The best option for you will depend on the needs of your business. Some of you might just need an internal messaging tool, as opposed to a platform for document storage or task management. We’ll discuss the different types of collaboration software in greater detail a bit later in this guide. 

Business Size

How large is your company? 

In addition to the number of people on your team, the amount of teams, departments, and other segments should also be taken into consideration. 

For example, you might want to have a tool that every single person within your organization can use to contact another employee. But files being shared by the accounting team or human resources department shouldn’t be available for your marketing team to access. Your sales staff shouldn’t be able to access sensitive financial records. 

So make sure the software you’re considering allows you to create different groups for each department or project. You’ll also want to look for features to manage permissions and access for each individual user. 

Usability

Collaboration software should be making your life easier, not more difficult. 

There are some tools out there that are undoubtedly more complex than others. Depending on your needs and the technical skill level of the end-users, that’s fine. Any time you’re using new software, there will always be a learning curve. So you’ll need to keep that in mind.

However, after the first couple of weeks or months using the software, your entire team should be fairly proficient. If not, it could add complexity to your processes, as opposed to boosting performance and productivity. 

I strongly recommended that you take advantage of demos and free trials. This will truly give you a better understanding of which options are the easiest to use. 

Organizational Tools

This piggybacks off of our last point. The best collaboration software will make it easy for you to stay organized. 

Depending on the software in question, there might be task cards, folders, groups, or other ways to keep everything in order. How can you jump from one project to another? Will users easily be able to find a file or document that was shared by a coworker? Can supervisors and project managers keep track of everything at a higher level?

At scale, the way everything gets organized within your collaboration software is amplified. If you’re just running a small team with five users working on a single project, this may not be important. But when that number jumps into the hundreds or thousands, staying organized becomes critical. 

Integrations

Your collaboration software should seamlessly integrate with other tools and software that your company is using. 

From CMS to CRMs, email software, cloud storage services, and more, make sure you check out those integrations before you finalize your decision. It’s easier to use collaboration software if everything can be managed and accessed from a single platform. Otherwise, users will have to bounce back and forth between different tools, which isn’t ideal from an efficiency standpoint. 

The Different Types of Collaboration Software

Before we jump into the reviews and recommendations, I want to clearly identify and explain the different types of collaboration tools on the market today. Here are some of the options that you’ll come across as you’re browsing around:

Project Management Software

As the name implies, project management software is designed for teams that are working on different projects. A project can be defined as something with a clearly defined start and end date. 

This could be anything from a full-scale app development project to a smaller marketing campaign. 

Project management tools allow your teams to work on projects collaboratively while sometimes automating tasks. If this is what you’re looking for, make sure you find a solution that fits your project management style (lean management, agile management, Kanban boards, Gantt charts, etc.).

Lots of project management tools are branded as an all-in-one team collaboration solution.

File Sharing and Document Storage

Some solutions are made specifically for sharing files and documents. 

With these tools, team members can transfer, distribute, and customize access to shared files. A file could be anything from an image to a PDF or even larger files like software, videos, or ebooks. 

It’s much easier and more secure to manage files and collaborate with a cloud tool as opposed to transferring files via email. 

Instant Messaging

Messaging tools are ideal for teams that want to benefit from real-time communication. If you need a quick answer or want to communicate back and forth with a coworker, an instant message is definitely more efficient than an email.

These are also great for group chats where multiple members can communicate in real-time with each other. Again, it’s a better alternative to traditional email.

Some collaboration tools will have built-in instant messaging features, while others specialize in instant messaging specifically. Not every collaboration software includes team messaging.

Conference Calling Software

Conference calling software takes real-time communication to the next level. 

Aside from instant messaging (or in addition to instant messaging), these tools allow teams to collaborate using voice and video chat. You can even benefit from extra features like screen sharing, presentation mode, etc. 

Businesses use conferencing calling software for both internal collaboration, as well as collaboration with clients, contractors, stakeholders, and more. 

Coordination Tools

Generally speaking, coordination tools are a component of collaboration software. 

I’m referring to features like time tracking, scheduling, calendars, status updates, etc. For example, a collaborative calendar can help you understand everyone’s availability in real-time without having to disturb them. It improves efficiency when scheduling meetings or similar tasks. 

Most collaboration software will have features for real-time status updates as well. So when someone completes a task, they won’t have to notify everyone about their progress. That information will be available within a general feed. 

#1 – Slack Review — The Best For Team Messaging

Slack is a name that many of you might already be familiar with. It’s quickly become the go-to platform for internal business messaging over the past few years.

Whether you’re working remotely or in a traditional office environment, Slack will be a great option to consider.

More than 750,000 businesses trust Slack for team collaboration. Here’s a quick overview of some of its noteworthy features and highlights:

  • Stay organized using Slack channels for projects, teams, or topics
  • File sharing capabilities
  • Audio and video calls with screen sharing
  • 2,200+ Slack apps for integrations (Zoom, Jira, Salesforce, Google Drive, etc.)
  • Create your own time-saving workflows
  • Use Slack API to integrate your internal tools
  • Enterprise-grade scalability and security
  • Collaborate with partners like clients, contractors, vendors, etc. by adding them to channels

Plans start at just $6.67 per user per month. All plans come with unlimited messaging. Regardless of your team size or industry, Slack is the best collaboration tool for team messaging.

#2 – Trello Review — The Best For Simple Task Management

Trello is a simple solution for task management. For ongoing work and projects alike, it’s one of the best ways for your entire team to collaborate and stay organized.

With the help of Trello’s boards, cards, and lists, businesses across any industry can use this platform to improve productivity. 

Here’s a quick explanation of what you can accomplish with Trello’s collaboration software:

  • Add comments, attachments, and due dates to cards
  • Create boards to separate projects and teams
  • Built-in workflow automation (rule-based triggers, due dates, etc.)
  • Add lists to create a unique workflow for each project
  • Integrate with third-party apps that you’re already using
  • Collaborate from anywhere using the Trello mobile app (iOS and Android)
  • Notifications and team tagging
  • Easy to assign tasks or cards to one or more users

Trello is powered by Atlassian, a global leader in the software and project management space. So you know that it’s a solution you can count on. That’s why more than one million teams across the globe rely on Trello.

This collaboration software is free for up to 10 boards with unlimited cards and lists. Paid plans start at $9.99 per user per month. 

#3 – Flock Review — The Best For Remote Work

Flock is another collaboration tool with a primary focus on messaging. But it’s a little bit more advanced than Slack in terms of the features and capabilities.

The software is great for teams that work collaboratively from remote locations.

With Flock, you can keep all of your messages, apps, and productivity tools organized from the same place. Here are some of its features that are worth highlighting:

  • Real-time messaging
  • Customizable channels and team directory
  • Video conferencing
  • Screen sharing
  • File sharing
  • Powerful search (for messages, links, documents, etc.)
  • Productivity tools for note sharing, to-do lists, reminders, polls, and more
  • 50+ seamless app integrations (Google Drive, Asana, Twitter, etc.)

For small teams, Flock is free with 10 channels included. You’ll also get unlimited 1:1 and group messages. Paid plans start at just $4.50 per user per month, which is a great value.

Try Flock for free with a 30-day trial. 

#4 – Zoho Projects — Best Feature-Rich Collaboration Software

Zoho Projects is one of the most popular and easy-to-use collaboration tools on the market today. The software makes it easy for teams to collaborate, plan, and track work more efficiently. 

As a cloud-based solution, you can use Zoho Projects to collaborate and manage tasks from anywhere. 

Compared to other tools out there, Zoho Projects is loaded with robust features. Here’s a quick overview of some of my favorites:

  • Task management with Kanban boards
  • Set dependencies between tasks based on the order they are completed
  • Map your entire workflow
  • Gantt charts
  • Task reports
  • Time tracking tools
  • Issue tracking
  • SLA management
  • Automations

Zoho Projects even has industry-specific solutions for categories like software development, real estate, construction, marketing, education, and more.

Plans start at just $3 per user per month (with a minimum of six users). You can try it for free with a 10-day trial. 

#5 – Wrike Review — Best All-in-One Project Management Tool

Wrike is a powerful and versatile project management solution. The software makes it easy to give your team complete control and visibility over projects and tasks.

If you’re looking for collaboration software with a primary emphasis on project management, this will be a top choice for you to consider.

Wrike is trusted by 20,000+ companies across the globe, including some big names like Dell, Google, Airbnb, and Siemens. Let’s take a closer look at some of its features and benefits:

  • Agile project management
  • Custom dashboards and workflows
  • Process automation
  • Real-time comments and editing
  • Notifications
  • Live editing and dynamic reports
  • Easy to share information with stakeholders
  • End-to-end visibility and real-time updates
  • Enterprise-grade security
  • File sharing and attachments

Wrike is a popular choice for marketing teams, creative professionals, and product development teams. However, it’s versatile enough to accommodate the needs of really any business type.

The software is free for up to five users. But you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan to take full advantage of the project planning and collaboration features. These start at $9.80 per user per month. Try it free for 14 days. 

#6 – BlueJeans Review — Best For Audio and Video Conferencing

For those of you who need collaboration software for conference calling, look no further than BlueJeans. It’s a simple and safe way to empower your remote staff with audio and video conferences. 

Brands like Zillow, Facebook, ADP, Intuit, and National Geographic all trust BlueJeans for team collaboration.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes BlueJeans so great for collaboration:

  • Collaborate with video, audio, and web conferencing from any device
  • Live meeting controls and automated alerts
  • Meeting highlights and transcriptions
  • Enterprise-grade security
  • Single-touch interoperability
  • Exceptional call quality with HD video and Dolby Voice audio
  • Dynamic content sharing
  • App network of software integrations (Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc.)
  • Support 24/7/365
  • Unlimited 1:1 meetings
  • Unlimited group meetings

Plans start at just $9.99 per host per month. If you’re not quite sold just yet, you can have unlimited access to BlueJeans and all of its features for free with a 7-day trial. 

Summary

Collaboration software makes it easy for your entire business to stay organized and connect with each other in real-time.

To find the best software for your business, start by reviewing the buying guide I highlighted at the begging of this article. Then go through the recommended options above to narrow down the best tool for you.

The post Best Collaboration Software appeared first on Neil Patel.