4 First-Rate Examples of Storytelling in Content Marketing

Which of these sentences is more compelling?

Our hotel offers day-room rates.

Don’t spend that 8-hour layover propped up in an uncomfortable plastic airport chair—book a day room at our hotel and spend that time lounging on a private balcony.

You were probably more interested in what was going on in that second sentence, right? Humans crave a good story, and we’re drawn to the specific over the general. Specificity in a story allows us to imagine ourselves in different scenarios. In fact, studies of fMRI scans have shown that while reading straight data activates just the language centers of our brain, reading a story activates the language centers and the parts of the brain we would use if we were actually experiencing what we were reading about.

This is useful information not just for novelists but for digital marketers as well. Using specific storytelling in content marketing can help your brand forge an emotional connection with a niche audience. And, as much as we like to think that our product or service descriptions are what draw a potential customer to our brand, research shows that, when evaluating brands, consumers place more emphasis on emotions than information.

In addition to building an emotional connection, using storytelling in your content marketing can make you stand out. Let’s say you own a flower shop and decide to write a short, very general blog post titled “The Best Flowers for Spring.” Let’s take a look at some of your competition in the search results:

Google search engine results page for best spring flowers

Clearly, a lot of major publishers have already written about the best flowers for spring, and you’re not likely to stand out or rank anywhere near them with your blog post. But if you write a blog post called “How 5 Spring Flowers Starred in an Unconventional Wedding,” you’ve got a topic that’s unique to your brand. Your content might appeal to a smaller audience (in this case, people who are trying to get unique floral arrangement ideas for their wedding), but that audience will be more qualified than the average person entering general search queries about spring flowers.

So how can you incorporate storytelling into your digital marketing in a way that resonates with your audience? Let us show you using some examples of storytelling marketing from brands who nailed it.


When I started thinking about digital brands that have mastered storytelling, women’s fashion retailer ModCloth was the first company to come to mind. Creative storytelling has infiltrated every part of their site, even their product names and descriptions. Check out this page:

Modcloth product page with a model in a floral dress

Let’s zoom in on that product description in case you didn’t get a good look:

Modcloth product description provides example of storytelling in content marketing

Is the product description a little cheesy? Yes. But is it also memorable? Definitely. The descriptions may not directly apply to most of the site’s shoppers—I know I’m not currently completing an internship that allows me to drift around an art gallery—but you can imagine yourself in that situation, wearing an outfit from ModCloth.

The ModCloth blog also allows shoppers to imagine themselves in new situations inspired by clothes from the retailer. For example, a recent post called “Valentine’s Day Looks Inspired by Our Favorite Love Stories” recommends outfits inspired by books like Atonement and The Price of Salt.

The Takeaway: It’s not about the product, it’s about how the product makes you feel.

With its vintage-inspired clothes, ModCloth is targeting women who might frequent consignment shops or occasionally shop at fast-fashion stores like Forever21 and H&M. ModCloth’s prices are (generally speaking) higher than those you’ll find at consignment stores and fast-fashion retailers, so to win over customers, they focus their content marketing storytelling on the experiences a shopper might have while wearing ModCloth clothes.

The stories that ModCloth tells are aspirational but not out of reach. Shoppers can picture situations in which they would wear the clothes, which makes it easier to push that ‘Add to Cart’ button.

Tom’s of Maine

Tom’s of Maine is a personal care company (think toothpaste, deodorant, body lotion) with a focus on sustainability. Like ModCloth, Tom’s of Maine is slightly more expensive than some of their bigger name competitors, but they’re not trying to compete on price point. Instead, they use their website content to attract consumers who care about sustainability and responsible manufacturing.

Check out some of the content on their homepage right now:

Tom's of Maine homepage highlights their community involvement

This page encourages readers to:

  • Meet the winners of two recent community contests
  • Learn how companies can reduce their environmental footprint
  • Learn about using recycled materials for product packaging
  • Watch a music video encouraging kids to brush their teeth
  • Explore Tom’s of Maine products, knowing that 10% of profits are donated to charities

That’s obviously not just one story (in all honesty, it’s probably too many calls-to-action for one page) but it paints a clear picture: Tom’s of Maine cares about their community.

When you visit their blog, you’ll find that this thread of community caring runs through all their articles. Topics include healthy living, natural products, DIY projects, and parenting tips, all of which tie into the story Tom’s of Maine is trying to tell.

The Takeaway: Don’t just be a seller—be part of your audience’s community.

People like a story that they can relate to, so when you’re marketing through storytelling, look for ways to align your narrative with the things that matter most to your audience. This approach will help you build trust and position yourself as a member of your audience’s community, rather than just a seller.


BoutiqueHomes is a short-term vacation rental company, much like Airbnb or HomeAway. However, unlike those larger competitors, BoutiqueHomes carefully curates short-term rentals with interesting architectural features, luxury amenities, and spectacular views. They cater to a niche audience of travelers who are passionate about home design, and the stories they tell on their website are tailored to that specific segment of customers.

BoutiqueHomes’ blog, which they call their Journal, highlights some of their properties but also includes posts on design trends, films made in interesting locations, unusual furniture, and more. They also feature interviews with some of the homeowners with whom they partner, which helps them put human faces to their brand.

BoutiqueHomes' interviews highlight their storytelling in content marketing

The Takeaway: When you’re going up against big competitors, tell the story of what makes you different.

BoutiqueHomes can’t compete with Airbnb and HomeAway when it comes to the number of vacation properties on their site, so they’ve made their story about something different—the care they take in selecting architecturally significant properties. Since they’ve focused their digital brand storytelling on their passion for home design and travel, it makes sense that their blog content aims to reach an audience that shares those passions.


Mint is an app that lets you track your spending, set budgets, and manage your bill payments. To use Mint to track your personal finances, you have to submit sensitive banking information—something that can understandably be a hard sell. Mint’s marketing team recognizes that they have to win their users’ trust, which is why their website content focuses on stories about finding solutions to financial problems.

The MintLife blog has become a valuable resource for young professionals who are trying to become more financially literate. Topics range from navigating student loans to identifying tax deductions, and every post includes actionable advice that readers can apply to their financial life. MintLife even has a monthly Money Audit post, in which a financial expert helps a real Mint user analyze their current finances.

Mint blog solves problems for real Mint users

The Takeaway: Identify your audience’s pain points and tell stories that offer solutions.

Mint uses content marketing storytelling to walk site visitors through common financial dilemmas and their solutions. By identifying the biggest money-related pain points that their audience members face and offering actionable tips, Mint has established themselves as a trustworthy financial advisor. It’s a strategy that has paid off—Mint now reaches over 10 million users.

Final Notes on Storytelling in Content Marketing

Although they operate in different industries, there’s one thing that all four of the brands described above have in common: they have a deep understanding of their target audience. The key to getting specific with your digital brand storytelling is to develop detailed buyer personas based on data, not just what you think your audience is like. Once you know what kind of consumers want or need your products or services, you can start creating the types of stories that will appeal to your specific audience.

Not sure where to begin when it comes to buyer personas or storytelling in content marketing? Contact Leverage Marketing to learn how our team can develop SEO-friendly content that connects with your audience.

How to Improve Your Click-Through Rate in 3 Steps

You’ve spent time crafting helpful, easy-to-navigate web pages across your site, and you’re excited to watch your site traffic and conversions soar. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy – people browsing the internet have a lot of paid and organic links to choose from on search result pages, and convincing web users to click on your link first isn’t an easy task. Increasing your click through rate (CTR) can make an impact in many ways. Not only do users need to click on your pages, but they need to click on them often and stay on your site – search engines tend to reward pages with high CTR with more visibility on search engine result pages. Luckily, there are several simple ways you can improve click-through rates for your links that appear on search results pages.

Write a Page Title that Stands Out

To inspire browsers to choose your page out of all the other options on the search results page, you’re going to have to create a title for your page that captures attention and makes readers want to know more. Simply stating the topic of the page is not going to do much to help improve CTR – you want to give searchers a reason to choose your page first.

There are some easy ways to make titles more click-able and appealing to internet users:

  • Make an emotional appeal. If there’s a way for you to stir the emotions of readers with your content, spin that to your advantage. Instead of offering “The Best Boutiques in Austin,” try eliciting an emotional response with something like “Local Austin Boutiques You’re Missing Out On.”
  • Solve a problem. Chances are, the searcher reading your headline is looking for a solution to some problem. Improve your click-through rate by simply giving them what they’re looking for! An article titled “Romantic Food Trucks in Austin” doesn’t promise to solve my problem quite as well as “Take Your Date to These Austin Food Trucks” does.
  • Create urgency. Is there something on your page that can help your searchers RIGHT NOW? Will they miss out if they scroll past your page? It’s easy to skip out on “Great Places to Eat Cupcakes in Austin,” but “Austin Cupcakes You Should Try Today” helps me picture myself working the trip into today’s plans.

An important factor to remember when crafting a page title to improve CTR is that the title must accurately describe the full content. Misrepresenting your content may increase how many clicks your page gets in the short term, but it won’t bring many valuable leads or search engine ranking boosts over time. To avoid writing a title that is misleading, get into your reader’s head and think about what content on your page that a reader might be seeking when they search on Google or Bing. A great page title will satisfy the reader’s intent by delivering content on the page that lives up to expectations.

Add a Meta Description

Search engines like to give browsers some idea of what to expect once they click on a link – that’s why they include a short snippet of your content below the blue link and URL on the search page.

Did you know that you can control (to some extent) what search engines display in this valuable space? By adding a meta description to your page, you can indicate to search engines what your article is about, and you can improve your click-through rate significantly if you perform this function well. While search engines may not always choose to display your carefully-written meta description for every single search, a relevant meta description can get a lot of visibility on search pages.

Adding meta descriptions to your pages is usually a simple task. Website platforms often include fields into which you can add a meta description without any knowledge of coding, and SEO plugins for common platforms such as WordPress almost always include user-friendly fields for adding your meta description to a page.

When composing your meta descriptions to improve CTR, similar rules apply to the ones for writing a great title – stir emotions, offer solutions, and create urgency. Sprinkling in short calls-to-action to “check this out,” “get this offer,” and “try this hamburger” help persuade readers that there is something they really, really want to experience on the other side of that blue link.

Think in Numbers

Quantify ideas to bring attention to your links and increase your click-through rate. Numbers add structure, organization, and trust to what otherwise may seem like a lot of meaningless words. Ask yourself: how can I summarize the unique selling propositions of my website, brand, product, service, or content in numbers? Is there a way I can use numbers to describe the past or the future?

For example, maybe you’ve served 100,000 scoops of ice cream, offer the only $0.99 hot dog in Austin, or expanded your seating area by 20%. If working numbers into your page title and meta description is relevant and truthful, it’s a great way to grab a reader’s attention and boost CTR on search pages.

Even if numbers don’t make sense for a certain page, think of other ways you can summarize what the user can expect on a page. For example, articles written in list format with titles like “5 Hidden Gem Music Venues in Austin” promise straightforward answers and simplicity.

Ready to improve your click-through rate? The digital marketing experts at Leverage Marketing can help you with that. We’ve got the experience and industry savvy to give your search CTR, traffic, and conversions a boost. Get in touch with us today.

Valentine’s Day Campaigns You’ll Love—and What You Can Learn from Them

Valentine’s Day marketing can be difficult for content creators and marketing companies alike. How can you tap your marketing arsenal into a holiday where the message is all about love? The most successful Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns utilize the “human factor,” connecting with their audience and establishing trust. Building a relationship with potential customers is the best way to go about Valentine’s Day marketing.

However, it’s easy to strike a false note when attempting to create efficacious Valentine’s Day marketing ideas. How do marketers seem genuine when creating their marketing campaigns? We’re going to look at several Valentine’s day marketing campaigns that hit the mark and analyze why they worked for their respective companies.

With an average spend of $142.31 per person, and nine out of 10 people buying a gift for their partner, Valentine’s Day is a big retail holiday. While certainly not in the same league as the winter retail season, over $18.9 billion is spent on Valentine’s Day, more money than Easter or the Super Bowl, and in the same league as Mother’s Day. Let’s take a deeper look into how you can capture a share of that spend with a successful Valentine’ Day marketing campaign.

WestJet Proposal Campaign

The #WestJetLove Valentine’s Day commercial was an exceedingly popular campaign in 2015 with over 1.2 million views, detailing two couples’ surprise proposals on Barbados. Canadian airline WestJet flew two couples out to Barbados with the catch that the men had to propose when WestJet asked them. This situation results in a tear-jerking, beautiful video of two couples’ love stories, watching love come to life on screen. With just the right degree of awkwardness, the video strikes a personal tone, brings the love element of Valentine’s Day, and gives you access into the couples’ lives.

As a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign, #WestJetLove succeeds because it focuses on building a relationship with its customers. The ad isn’t describing how wonderful WestJet’s services are, but rather is a funny and sincere love story—a unique take on proposals that succeeds in showing the quirkiness of the company. Both JP and Stephanie’s and Mike and Heather’s love stories are relatable to the audience, but it’s the fun tone of the videos, complete with anticipatory music each time the host shows up—that push this campaign over the top.

The Takeaway

Try using personal techniques in crafting your own Valentine’s Day marketing ideas. How does your company or product appeal to your customers? Your Valentine’s Day advertising doesn’t have to correlate to your business—as long you’re connecting with your clients and driving traffic (and positive reception) to your site.

Cartier- The Proposal

Cartier’s “The Proposal” advertisement from 2015 is in some ways more insidious than WestJet’s—but tells a beautiful story in the process. Cartier lures you in with a touching three-part love story, telling simultaneous tales of Valentine’s romance (and struggle) between couples. The three couples in Paris are all slightly different ages, but the men’s aims are similar—to proclaim their love for the women in their lives.

The first, set in the Rodin Museum, tells a story of a man sending his wife on a scavenger hunt to find him until she finds the jewelry box (from Cartier) and he proposes. The second is set in the airport, as the wife is going away on a trip for six months. Her husband deftly removes her passport and re-proposes to her with a new ring (from Cartier). The last is set as a man and woman are separated by an elevator, and he desperately runs up the stairs, catching her as the doors open each time, making pleas that he cares for her. Eventually, he proposes—while she’s still stuck in the elevator.

The Takeaway

These intertwining stories of love in the City of Lights follow established rules of a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign. While enhanced by fantastic acting and a great storyline, the primary aim and focus of the advertisement are the Cartier rings. These gorgeous, diamond-studded rings make the audience want Cartier, associating love with the Cartier brand. That red box is instantly associated with love. Cartier has set up a world through these three stories, and at least eight million people have watched. Creating a successful Valentine’s day marketing campaign means associating your product with love, romance, and engagement. Cartier has done this—and you can do it too.

Netflix Binge for Love

Netflix’s 500 Hours Binge for Love video from 2016’s Valentine’s Day campaign capitalizes on Netflix’s successes in reaching out to its customers. The idea of “bingeing” a television show—watching a whole series quickly and viewing many episodes back-to-back– has grown familiar with the streaming service’s growing triumphs in the video space. This advertisement takes that concept and connects it to a blossoming love connection.

The man in the ad, after falling for the young woman shown at the beginning of the commercial, immediately watches all the available series of the Netflix original Orange is the New Black. It takes over his life for the span of the advertisement—he wants to impress the young woman. He is “bingeing for love.” The commercial cuts the tension when she hasn’t watched the season three finale with a singing group reprising the modified I Would Watch 500 Hours to them.

This advertisement succeeds on multiple levels. It capitalizes on Netflix’s new cultural cache and the concept of bingeing television shows. It also modifies an existing popular song for its purposes—successfully (unlike many commercial jingles), and it leaves the audience hanging. We don’t know if this couple will succeed, but the man has gone to absurd lengths to like her interests—and many in the audience can relate. We’ve all be in the situation where we’ve pretending to have an interest or like something as a conversational piece—and it works well here.

The Takeaway

What are your company’s strengths? Netflix has unique advantages in the cultural cache that they can incorporate into a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign, but it’s about founding your company or product’s individual assets—and utilizing them. Use popular culture to your advantage—tap into ideas and concepts that appeal to your target audience (your buyer personas)—and you’ll come up with great Valentine’s Day marketing ideas.

If you need some help creating Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns that will hit the mark, talk to the marketing experts at Leverage Marketing. Contact us today, and we’ll assist you in crafting a Valentine’s Day campaign of your dreams. Our team can help you understand the sophisticated new marketing technologies on the market and how they can work for your business.