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How to Use Digital Storytelling for Better Customer Engagement?

App Builder Appy Pie, February 15, 2018: There are millions of apps published across all forums and more than 5 trillion ads each year, so storytelling seems to be the future of content marketing in order to engage & retain more users. It’s important to devote yourself to the process of developing your mobile app, but in doing so it is equally important to not ignore the process of building up a sound and strong buyer-seller relationship.

The message that your app and your brand send across and the relationships that you build with your audience decides whether your app is a success or failure. if you are building an app then you have money on the mind too, right? So, what is it that sets the app millionaires apart from those that bomb and fail?

  • A strong sense of timing and capitalizing on the latest trends
  • Building a strong brand, a loyal following, or a string brand story

It is of course important that you keep a keen eye on the emerging trends however, to keep your success streak running and for a long-term sustenance, it is the relationship with your customer that becomes important.

There was a time when the click-bait ads worked wonderfully well, but today they are simply crowding the mobile space. Today, the modern consumer is so annoyed with these ads that they have conditioned themselves to tune them out entirely.

It is storytelling that gives a fresh spin to the old clickbait ads and turns them into well crafted messages that are more likely to engage the customers, hence increasing customer retention too!

In this post we will talk about digital storytelling, why you should use it, and how you can use it to engage your app’s customers or users.

What is digital storytelling?

Brand storytelling has been around for a really long time, to say the least, it is a timeless method that has worked for a multitude of brands everywhere and has an astonishingly high-level perspective towards marketing. As the world has evolved into one huge digital entity, digital storytelling has emerged as a modern world version of this timeless school of thought that has stood the test of time.

If try and simplify the concept, digital storytelling is telling the story of your brand through a well chosen digital medium, for example Facebook or Instagram. Any image, message, or post related to your brand or app, that you put out there, on the social media is a part of its digital story. Humorous or cutesy, cynical or ethereal, however you choose to position yourself and your story, it becomes a part of your app’s identity.

If your story is compelling enough and is authentic, all you need to do is present it in a way that people will connect with.

Why Use Digital Storytelling?

Even though you know what digital storytelling is, and how everyone has been using it to benefit their apps and how so many other success stories about using brand storytelling & digital storytelling the right way, you might need some convincing. Appy Pie has collated some of the compelling reasons why you should use digital storytelling for your mobile app.

1. It Showcases Your Personality

Telling your story gives you ample opportunity to convey your own personality. When you focus your time and resources on digital storytelling you showcase your real personality and offer a human touch, as opposed to spamming them with self-promotion. This effectively gives you something to connect to and to identify with. When people get a feeling that there is a genuine personality of your app and when it resonates with them, you would not have to make any special or extreme efforts to sell your app to them. They would take your word uncontested.

2. You Are the Narrator of Your Own Story

This is the best part, since you are the one telling it, it gets to be the way you want it. the story that you tell will not be affected by the events that you do not have a control on. When you are engaging in digital storytelling you are actually creating a kind of an intellectual property that has great value. What is it that you want it to say? Does your app help people? Does the app help them emotionally? Is it thought provoking? Is it entertaining?

The fun of using Digital Storytelling as an effective branding & marketing strategy is that it is you who decides what the answer will be to these questions! As a part of the digital storytelling you are the narrator and the narrative that you forge shapes up the perception and credibility of your app you’re your brand in the minds of the prospective users. It is you who writes this narrative, hence it is you who is in control.

3. It Helps You Connect Emotionally

Through stories you appeal to the emotional aspect and have a sensitive impact on the followers. When your stories are authentic, heartfelt, and are based on real events, you can tell them in a way that evoke in your prospective users an emotional response. It might take some time to master this art. It mustn’t look forced in anyway, nor should it look like a manipulative tactic that uses mushy and over the top sentimentality or awkward measures. This is something that most users would be able to smell from a mile away.

Any earnest, real, or heartfelt example of inspiration, transformation, or of tender, vulnerable moments, no matter how small, has the power to move your readers and would encourage them to return in search of more. It isn’t entirely uncommon these days to see people engaging with the social media in hopes of a satisfying dose of personal connection. Make yourself an integral part of the human network and help your app stand apart from the crowd for its authenticity & reliability.

4. An Awesome Way to Keep Your Customers or Users Engaged

It is a proven fact that it costs seven times more to attain a new customer as compared to retaining an existing one, on an average, and in some cases it can in fact be more. It would therefore be common sense to direct your resources towards keeping the existing customers engaged within the app for a longer time and retain them instead of designing an altogether new game plan. It is surprising, however, to note how many of the companies actually spend a fortune on retargeting their ads.

If you and the app or the brand that you have created for it has a good and engaging story t o tell, they are going to come and seek you in an organic manner.

How to Use Digital Storytelling to Keep Your Users Engaged?

It is not a new idea you know? To tell a story for your brand, and brands have been engaging in storytelling for years through different techniques including but not limited to face-to-face demos, print & broadcast advertising, and more. As the world has gone digital, and with the arrival of social media and content marketing, the opportunities and the scope has expanded manifold. This in turn has made the need for storytelling a lot more pressing as well!

Customers today are getting more and more emotionally involved and invested in the brands that they use, and this begins in the social media through intelligent digital storytelling, which then finally translates into offline brand experiences.

Keeping users engaged is the outcome of a well placed and intelligently designed Digital Storytelling. It helps you, as an app developer understand your customers, helps you define your brand and marketing message, helps you build relationships and trust with your users, and finally helps you provoke the users into action.

Let’s get deeper into the ways in which you can use digital storytelling and keep your app users engaged.

1. Identify the Core Values

The core values are those beliefs of a person or organization that are fundamental to them. The moment you have the ability or opportunity to tap into someone’s core values, you have the potential to influence their actions like maybe download your app.

So, how do you identify or define these core values of your targeted user segment?

  • Face-to-face Interviews
    This is one of the most effective ways to get you a peek into the user’s persona, hence the best chance to help you define their core values. You can interview them, ask key questions, follow up interesting answers with probing questions, and observe them in their natural surroundings.
  • Demographic & Behavioral Study
    While interviewing everyone might be the most effective data collection method, but it is definitely not realistic. However, you can employ some good analytical tools like Google Analytics, Facebook & Twitter audience insights for the same or similar effect.
  • Go the Google Way
    It is amazing how far you can go and how much you can get with a simple google search. You can simply search for the advantages of a certain technology or the ways to apply a certain management technique, maybe anything under the sun and come up with the most relevant results to help you research the topic.
  • Research App Reviews
    the app reviews, your own or of your competitors reveal a lot more than you think! This is a peek into the minds of the users, letting you know why they download an app. What is it that they are looking for and what do they expect from an app? It is a potential treasure trove of information for you.
  • Be A Part of Open Forums & Groups
    Visit the forums or groups where your target demographics are the most active and become a part of it. Observe the discussions, the interactions, and assimilate all this data. This can give you an insight into your consumer group without much of an effort or investment from your end.

2. Spin A Relatable Tale for Your Users

Have you ever wondered why some stories enthrall while others fail to make any kind of an impact on you! These enthralling stories might be simple and even the most complex of the tales may leave you disappointed. What is it that makes a good story – a story good enough to win the heart of your users? A simple structure.

  • First, capture attention
  • Get acquainted with the audience
  • Lay out a problem in details
  • Elicit an emotion from them
  • Showcase how the use of your app improved their life
  • Express that they care

The idea here is to enthrall your audience or target users by creating an intriguing message that would initiate and forge a bond between the storyteller and the viewer. There are a number of types of storytelling including,

  • Case Studies
  • Short Posts
  • Long Posts
  • Interviews
  • Images or Illustrations
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Animation Films

No matter which type of storytelling you opt for, it is important that you be specific and do not ignore any details. It is always the details of the story that finally bring it to life.

3. Location, Location, Location

The location or the platform where you decide to post your stories is of high significance. One big mistake that quite a few people make is choosing just one platform or channel to publish your content. This gives you probably the minimum exposure, and low exposure would give you lower results. Hence, post everywhere!

Post screenshots, description, and reviews in your ASO, post your stories on every social media channel that you can think of especially Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube etc., post your stories in your paid advertising & PR campaign, and collaborate with social influencers and get featured on podcasts.

The most important thing, however is to post your stories where your audience would see them! Your customers or users want to know about you and are hungry for more content.

4. Be Original & Honest

It is important to weave stories that are engrained in the reality of your business, the industry that you are a part of, and the products or services that you are offering. It is important that you maintain a consistency in your storytelling and exercise restraint so that you do not end up baffling your users by wandering too far away from the brand image and promise that you have clearly defined.

5. Build Personas

When you tell stories from a relatable point of view, the customers are more likely to engage with your app. These points of view can vary from buyer, to an employee, or even a vendor. Include your potential customers and give them a sneak peek into their world and make these stories memorable, establishing a stronger bond.

6. Stick to A Defined Storytelling Structure

A good story has a natural and smooth arc consisting of a beginning, a middle, and a satisfying end. The best way to do it is by setting up the characters first, then establishing a conflict, and creating a resolution. Build a whole journey path for your followers to traverse and enjoy.

Looking Ahead

A good story and sound storytelling form the footing for a strong buyer-seller relationship. When you have a great relationship with the app users, your customers are not just happy, but chances are t hey will return to you and you would see one-time sales getting converted to a long-term relationship and recurring sales.

This is what you can do to ensure this long-term relationship.

  • Identify 3 or more core values of your customers, on the basis of all the information that you have collected and collated through any measure.
  • For each of these three core values build at least two stories.
  • Test run them on all major channels.
  • Analyze and find out which are the stories and core values that resonate the best with different demographics from among your target users or followers.
  • Collaborate with social influencers or build a broadcast of your own.

One important thing to remember here is that people would always seek other people to conduct any form of business instead of a faceless brand or a robotic or automated app.

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