Arlen: Welcome to the e-Commerce Marketing Podcast everyone. My name is Arlen Robinson and I am your host. And today we have a very special guest, Jessica Embree who is an international bestseller, StoryBrand Guide, and marketing specialist. She specializes in helping businesses grow all over North America with clear and impactful marketing campaigns. 

Arlen: Please welcome Jessica Embree to the e-Commerce Marketing Podcast. 

Jessica: Thank you so much for having me.

Arlen: No problem. And thank you for joining us. Yes, I’m, I’m really excited to talk to you today. You know, we’re gonna be diving deep about with regards to story branding and how that relates to creating a story for your e-commerce business to improve your conversions, cuz that’s, that’s really what it’s all about.

Arlen: You know, it’s a kind of a, a age old saying. They, they say it’s been kicked around the marketing circles where they say story sell. Facts and figures. And so you’re gonna definitely enlighten us on, you know, crafting stories and, uh, how you can have the proper messaging to, you know, to resonate with customers and, and prospective customers.

Arlen: But before we do get into all of that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and specifically. How you got into what 

Jessica: you’re doing today? Absolutely. So I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I had my first business when I was 10 years old, door to door, blueberry salesman. No one could say no to a 10 year old selling blueberries.

Jessica: So very profitable business. Not e-commerce could change that up today in this day and age. So I’ve always been an entrepreneur and I really loved marketing and having evoking emotions so people would buy products. I always was stuck on that. I loved marketing and what it was able to do, so, I was always fascinated with it, and when I started my journey into marketing, going to school for it, and then starting with Tulip Media Group, I just dove into not only messaging, but that design too, cuz design matters on how people feel and how people convert.

Jessica: and we came across StoryBrand. And StoryBrand really resonated with us because we were having a problem ourselves with our marketing. Our marketing wasn’t speaking to the core customer. It wasn’t providing them with the solutions right up front. So we really dived into StoryBrand in 2019 and we flipped everything and at our conversion sword overnight, our cost of acquisition went down by 10 x.

Jessica: Like we saw a huge impact on this. And I just, I. Doing marketing. I love helping other people grow, and it just excites me at the end of the day. 

Arlen: Okay. That’s awesome. And that’s a, that’s a great testimony to, to show that, you know, you guys dove into this and it’s, you’ve been successful with it ever since.

Arlen: So that’s a great really starting point for any of our listeners and our viewers. That aren’t familiar with with Story Brand, what exactly is, is 

Jessica: StoryBrand? So the term StoryBrand comes from Donald Miller building a StoryBrand the book, and it’s a seven part framework, which really outlines and helps you clarify your messaging and to create clear and concise messaging so you’re, you convert faster at the end of the day.

Jessica: So in this framework, Of the character, so very similar to a buyer’s persona. You’re outlining what the problem is. You’re outlining who the guide is, so you’re showing credibility of your brand. You’re showing casing a plan. We’re very simple human beings. We need to know what’s next in the jour customer journey.

Jessica: We need to have a call to action. Sometimes we miss. Out on this very key aspect of our marketing, we forget to say, This is what you need to do next. We need to outline success, and we need to outline failure too, because unfortunately, we also need to agitate that pain of why people need to buy from us and what that solution is that you’re providing to them.

Jessica: Right, right. 

Arlen: Definitely. Yeah. It’s, you know, the, the main thing I think with it, so I’m, I am familiar with StoryBrand and Donald. Well, myself and my business partner have, have kind of gone through that to help us improve our messaging. So yeah, his whole concept has really resonated globally with a lot of different businesses.

Arlen: And I know he’s helped a lot and, you know, really comes down to getting those essentials of that story and, and, and getting that right messaging, you know, out there. Now as far as e-commerce businesses are concerned, how really does an e-commerce. Use this story ground, this concept to come up with the right messaging that’s really going to help them connect with their, you know, with more customers.

Arlen: And really ultimately it’s just getting an increase in sales. That’s really the bottom line. Yeah. 

Jessica: So for eCommerce businesses especially, this is your storefront. You don’t have a physical store, so you need to make an impression and have that messaging that’s going to convert. So it’s really important that your customer journey is clear on your storefront.

Jessica: And for e-commerce, we often see them do the regular homepage, but then they have categories on what they’re selling and they have their products within those categories. Cuz again, we wanna make sure those customer journey’s easy. So for example, if you are, I don’t know, hair care products, maybe your categories are hair curly hair, straight hair, what have.

Jessica: And then your products are under those, each categories. So that way it’s again, easy for me to define where I need to go. I have curly hair if anybody can’t see me, where we need to go and then purchase that product under there. So it’s really important, especially for e-commerce, cuz you need to tell that story of where you’re going and have that messaging be very clear on where it.

Jessica: How they can buy from you. Right, right. Definitely. 

Arlen: Yeah. And oftentimes, especially with e-commerce businesses, you know, me working here with OCI affiliate software for, for so long, we’ve, as you can imagine, I’ve seen 1,000,001 different websites and 1,000,001 different e-commerce businesses. And one of the things also that really kind of ties into that, that story is.

Arlen: Just that initial messaging that people get on that homepage, cuz that’s really your, like you said, that’s the storefront, that’s, you know, your virtual storefront as if somebody is walking down the street, maybe they’re driving their car, they come up and they stop, They get to your front door, your store, which is essentially your website’s homepage.

Arlen: And uh, you know, these days with everybody’s attention span being, uh, you know, over the years, they get shorter and shorter. You’ve gotta capture people’s attention and, you know, really just a split second because otherwise they’re gonna bounce off and, you know, go on to the next, next site. And so, you know, over the years, like I said, I’ve been, it’s been a long time, so I’ve seen a lot of businesses make a mistake where, you know, that messaging of exactly what they, who their product is for.

Arlen: It’s sometimes it, I’ve seen so many businesses that fail here where it’s undecipherable. You just look at it and you’re like, Okay, what is it that they’re selling? You may have a rough idea, but you’re, you’re kind of, you know, racking your brain. You’re like, All right, hold on one a second. You know, they may have some type of header, text or title information, but it may not be clear, and then either that’s, that’s where you lose so many people where if people can’t understand exactly what.

Arlen: What you do from looking at that homepage for just a, you know, a couple seconds, then that’s, that’s where you kind of lose ’em. So that’s really important. I 

Jessica: think. I’m so glad you said that. We call that the grunt test. So you have three to four seconds to get their attention and you have, you have to be three criteria.

Jessica: You have to tell them what you do, how you help them survive and thrive, and what that call to action is. Cause again, you only have one three to five seconds to make that impression. So that’s really, 

Arlen: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And, uh, cause you, like I said, it’s because these days, I guess you could say kind of post covid, post pandemic, you know, prior to Covid, prior to the pandemic, of course there was always a lot of e-commerce businesses, more and more e-commerce businesses popping up every day.

Arlen: The pandemic really accelerated that. So it’s like if you had some competi. Prior to the pandemic, you probably have quite a few more now after, because you know when things were locked down and, and businesses had no choice but to sell online, you know, everybody started getting their acts together and started focusing on their e-commerce presence.

Arlen: If they didn’t have an e-commerce store, they got one. Or if they had one that maybe was a little lackluster. They improved it. And so you got a lot of competition. So if you get to somebody gets to your site and like you said, that grunt test three or five seconds, if you lose them, you know, they got a ton of other options to, to just jump onto and, you know, not even think about it and, and, and won’t look back actually when you go back to your site.

Jessica: Yeah. And one thing I always keep in mind with messaging and doing your messaging is we all run. It’s called the curse of knowledge. You’ve been in your industry for so long, you start to use jargon that people don’t understand. Right? Right. It’s something to be mindful, especially if you’re in tech. I know we work with a lot of insurance agencies at Tool Media Group and they say commercial business all the time, commercial insurance all the time, and I’m, and I’m like, People don’t know what that is, but they do realize what business insurance is.

Jessica: So sometimes it’s just changing or tweaking messaging like that to make sure you’re not falling for that curse of knowledge and making sure your messaging is very clear. Yeah, exactly. 

Arlen: And I’ve, I’ve, I myself have fallen victim to that. I’m in, I’m a techie. And so a lot of times when I’m working with our team and we’re coming up with different messaging, maybe for a new product feature that we’re about to launch, Yeah.

Arlen: I, I, I follow the victim where I was, I have a tendency to put that tech jargon out there and, and, and, and not, um, you know, make the wording plane for just anyone, you know, it, it’s hard to get around that sometimes because, you know, you’re, you’re so involved in it and to you it’s those tech terms and that, that detailed, uh, specific terminology is.

Arlen: Second nature to you, it’s, it’s just like, you know your language, but you have to remember that’s not everyone’s language. Not everyone is gonna understand what it is you’re talking about, and you have to definitely, I guess you could say, kind of dumb it down almost, you know, really make it plain for everyone, you know, to, to really totally understand what you do.

Arlen: Now we’re kind of talking about the messaging. Focus on that homepage, which is really kind of that gateway to get in there. We have the three to five seconds. I know another big thing, which is something that I think these days some businesses kind of always struggle with and you can kind of let me know where this kind of goes into the mix, is the those calls to action.

Arlen: Because there’s a number of things you can do these days as far as getting people into your mailing list, offering people a promotion, uh, Special show, new product line. There’s a million things that you can kind of put out there to be a call to action for people to, you know, take action. Whether you want them to, you know, highlight a, a new item, get them the right to it, give ’em a discount, get ’em on your mailing list.

Arlen: Well, all these different options, you know, what, how do you know really what to do and what’s the proper call to action? You know, specifically on, on, on the homepage if, if it is 

Jessica: appropriate there. My typical rule of thumb, Don’t make it ambiguous, call to action. So learn more and read more, stay away from that.

Jessica: That just sounds like more work on the visitors part. Yep. And what is the purpose, or where do you want them to go next? So if I, as a marketing company, I want them to book a call with me, that’s what my call to action would say. If you’re an ecar, back to the curly hair. I’m just gonna buy. Now, if you’re dog food manufacturer, you can either purchase online or you can go into the store.

Jessica: So what is the purpose that you want them to do? What next step do you want them to do and make that into your call to action. 

Arlen: I see. I see. So it’s really just all about that next step, whatever it is. 

Jessica: And sometimes it’s. Also your call to action could be a success. So if your real estate agent sell my home.

Jessica: Yeah. So again, it, it’s kind of the next steps or what does success look like at the end of the day. I see. 

Arlen: So you really have to define that before putting out the call to action, cuz you, you know, you can’t just. Throw stuff out there and, you know, just kind of expect it to resonate with a lot of people.

Arlen: So, Yeah, I understand That make, you have to establish what success looks like. Now, let’s say, you know, after we’ve kind of gotten past that initial point, let’s say you’ve gone through, you’ve, you’ve crafted a clear. A concise kinda explanation of what you do on the homepage. You got the, you know, particular call, call to action.

Arlen: You know, maybe you lead somebody to maybe a video, maybe it’s a video explaining their product or maybe even a testimonial, something like that. And one of the things that I’ve seen more and more these days with. With businesses, and we’re kind of getting back into the, the story part of it is with businesses these days, people I think really want to, you know, actually try to resonate with the brand, the owner of the brand, the founders.

Arlen: What are their core principles? Who are they? You know, where do they come from? You know, how did this whole brand start? A lot of people are really concerned about, you know, even, you know, the values of even their owners or their ethical company, or the products sourced, you know, using sustainable resources, all that thing.

Arlen: All of those things I think are kind of now. In the forefront of people’s minds more than ever before. And so, cuz you know, I myself, I know when I go to different new e-commerce sites, a lot of times second place I’ll go to is maybe just they’re about page. I wanna figure out, okay, you know, who’s this owner who, how did they come up with this?

Arlen: I’m really always curious about that. And so, Different owners that I’ve talked to will tell me that, you know, Oh yeah, I just came up with this. You know, there’s no really story behind it per se. How do you really come up with that story that’s really going to engage these prospective customers and, and, and really get, pull them in in a way so that, you know, they, they kind of really gotta get to know you and how you came up with everything.

Jessica: There is definitely a. For that about section or that, that credibility section is what we kind of call it. Building that authority, showcasing your values, showcasing your, your, your footprint or your environment stance. It’s all about where in the customer journey you want them to see that. So it’s, it can, it is very important depending on what.

Jessica: Industry you’re in. And when it comes time to craft that, you just have to keep in mind why people are coming to your site at the end of the day. So what is that core problem and what solution are you providing? What emotions are you trying to enact on these people? So have that winter weaved into that story and really just be authentic, I think.

Jessica: But I think that’s a lot of things that we’re looking for when it comes to marketing is authenticity and transparent. People value that. So having that in your messaging is very important. 

Arlen: Yeah, yeah. True. Yeah. The transparency is, is, right. So I think the, the takeaway with that is yeah, if you, if you, if you think or your story is not interesting enough, You don’t wanna make up anything.

Arlen: You, that’s the main thing. You wanna be honest, you want to be transparent and whatever it is, however you came up with this, whoever’s behind the, you know, the, the, the inner workings of the company and the brand, you know, put, put that out there. Because regardless, it’s, it’s true. And you’re gonna be honest of, you know, how you got to where you are, how your products were, you’re really conceived or your services were conceived, and so rather than, you know, making up some story.

Arlen: Yeah, I, I, I totally agree. It’s best. To just be honest and be authentic because I think these days people can kind of, with everything that’s available online, all of the datas out there. I think people could easily find out if you really weren’t, you know, being honest or truthful and kind of making things up.

Arlen: And I think that could really come back to bite you If you come off as, you know, telling someone untrues and, and the not being legitimate about your, your, your. Yeah. Now with regards to the brand’s, you know, messaging within their various pages or different sections of the site, what are some kind of rules of thumb as far as getting people along that journey where you are, you know, building the trust, you’re educating them and you are then, then kind of leading ’em to where, um, they can purchase.

Arlen: You’re leading ’em to the right product, the right. without, you know, kind of just being so forceful with it. What are, what are some typical rules of thumb to get people down that, uh, proper sales funnel so that they can, at the end, do they purchase from you? 

Jessica: So we talked about a few. It was avoid the ambiguous call to action right at a six to eighth grade level.

Jessica: So keep that cursive knowledge out of the, out of the mix. The other one, Make sure that your customer journey isn’t too long. So we’ve seen this on some sites before that you click to book a call, but then it takes you to another page, and then you go to another page, and then finally you book that call.

Jessica: The customer’s ready to book that call when they click that button, just get them to that, that next. Landing page. So don’t make the customer journey too long. And always remember you’re not the hero of the story your customer is, so make sure you’re showcasing what that problem is. Pet food. I know we’ve mentioned that a few times randomly maybe your pet is having coat issues with their coat.

Jessica: Make sure you’re agitating that problem, providing that. Solution to them, which is the pet food that helps them with the shiny coat. So make sure you always keep that in mind that you’re not the hero. We definitely want you to show credibility in your messaging, but not at the first glance. Gotcha, 

Arlen: gotcha.

Arlen: I gotcha. Yeah, so the, yeah, it is very important definitely as far as making sure they can get to where they need to go quickly and you’re not, you know, giving them too many steps. Like you said, if it’s, if it’s booking a call or if you have a straight direct purchase capability in your site. Well, you definitely wanna review your checkout process and make sure that’s, that’s pretty, you know, efficient and, you know, is there any steps in that way that can be improved?

Arlen: You know, I know a lot of times these days, as far as e-commerce product sites, a lot of times people are using a lot of these off the, off the shelf builders, which is, you know, it’s kind of good and bad. The good thing is many of these tools that you can use are these shopping cart platforms. Let’s say the Shopifys of the world or the square.

Arlen: The Wix, a lot of these, their teams behind the scenes are cognizant of the fact that they’ve gotta make the checkout process as streamlined, as smooth as possible. You know, you do have some flexibility to, to alter some of that, but you know, in a certain extent a lot of that is fixed and you’re kind of wor you, you’re kind of, uh, have to deal with what they’ve come up with, with as far as.

Arlen: The functionality of going through the checkout, what’s displayed, but that they, whatever they make available, you do wanna make sure that it’s, it is streamlined and that, you know, there’s no questions when people are going through the process so that they can easily. You know, get there and then, and then after the purchase, then that’s kind of a whole nother thing.

Arlen: You have to be concerned about the emails that they’re getting, the notification emails, when they get them, how they get them. So that whole customer journey, it really never ends actually, it’s. Cycle . Yeah, exactly. And so speaking to, once you do get those customers in your ex database, they ar customers and you know, of course you wanna foster that relationship.

Arlen: What are some other things that you can do to, you know, you know, earn, earn their trust to get. You know, get, if you have other items, what are some ways to do that without being so overly salesy, I guess you could say? 

Jessica: Yeah, so we call them nurture campaigns after they’ve become a client, cuz you wanna keep that retention, you wanna, you want them to buy from you again.

Jessica: So send them out a monthly email or biweekly email, just depending on what industry. Drew you’re in and making sure you’re bringing value to the table that say they bought your product from you, you wanna make sure you’re still providing that value. So those tips, those tricks. For example, we have a garden center who has an e-commerce on their site.

Jessica: They send out gardening tips every month that’s interesting to their core customer. And they send out coupons too. So coupons are a very big thing you probably see in e-commerce a lot. Yeah. And that gets people to return as customer. 

Arlen: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So that nurture campaign is important and it, it can also be done not only via email, but these days through SMS text messaging also, which is really huge.

Arlen: I’m on a few companies text message, campaign lists, and you know, they, they’re very, Because these days there’s not too many people that I know that don’t have a smartphone, that don’t have the capability to get a, a, a, uh, text message. And usually their smartphone is, you know, within arm’s reach. So you’re, you’re right there.

Arlen: You’re getting them. They are. So that’s another way to, to nurture their campaign, if you know, but you have to be mindful of the fact that what you’re sending, is it appropriate to send that via. Store is it gonna be more bothersome, you know, to the end customer? So you do have to think about it and come up with a strategy and figure out what makes sense, what medium to send out that nurture campaign, whether it’s text, whether it’s email, or what have you.

Arlen: Or even via social media. You know, get your, your clients, you know, social media contact information and then, you know, communicate with them that way as well. 

Jessica: Yep. And socials aren’t the only one that you can also retarget your customers through Google. Too, Right? So if you set up your tracking takes correctly, you can retarget that audience so that they’re kind of staying that brand awareness.

Jessica: So any times they do type in a keyword that has to do with your product, you’re still popping up in their mind. 

Arlen: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Those are very, very important. Very powerful these days. Cuz yeah, once the you retarget ’em, like you said through the Google Ads campaign, they’re gonna start. Senior, your ad, your, your, your banner, your graphic all over, wherever they go.

Arlen: And then, you know, it’s all about top of mind. You know, if, if, if they keep seeing you enough, you’re gonna be top of mind for them and then they’ll remember when they need to, you know, purchase something from you with regards to what it is. Well just guess we get ready to wrap things up, I wanted to see if you could highlight or show us some examples of some bus e-commerce businesses that you’re familiar with, that you either worked with or.

Arlen: Familiar with in general that have, you know, gone through and created a, you know, a story brand and gone through the process or, you know, just have a unique story and haven’t been able to really increase their conversions by, you know, following these methods. 

Jessica: So yeah, there’s a few that Coha Pet Foods is one that I’m familiar with from Don’s book, Marketing Made Simple.

Jessica: I think I used them a couple times. This podcast. The other one was the gardening center. We have a client who has a gardening center. They have the physical store, but they have the online store, and they went through the framework and they’ve seen amazing results. Not only in store, but online too, using Google Ads.

Jessica: Okay. Other email marketing campaigns. Tim, we’ve had some tech companies in the past. To that cell software and they’ve seen some great results with, with the story brand framework. Okay, great. 

Arlen: Well that, that’s awesome. Yeah. It’s always good to see testimonials. We know that this, all of this stuff works, that it, it’s doable.

Arlen: Yeah. You just have to take the time and then, you know, follow these methods for, you know, crafting proper messaging, proper story, and then get it out there and, you know, all of the big companies. So all of the big companies, e-commerce brands, you know, have marketing teams where they’re, you know, they’re looking at everything and um, you know, you can definitely learn a lot from, you know, some of the larger brands as well.

Arlen: And see, well, you know, how do they communicate with their new customers, what journey? Do you go through as a customer for some of these larger brands and see is there anything that you can kind of glean from them and use for your own purposes there? Sure. 

Jessica: Yeah, and I believe Coha, the pet food company, had like 10 x their, their overall conversions just using.

Jessica: Story brand. Mm-hmm. and Gardening Center, we’re helping them with a variety of different marketing strategies, email, PPC, and StoryBrand. And even in the off months, which we are right now for gardening, right? They are still seeing a steady stream of revenue, which they’re used to those peaks and valleys.

Jessica: But our hope is with the nurture campaigns that we’re doing and the PPC and the, the strong messaging we have on their site. Yes, they’re still gonna have those peaks and valleys, but not as hard as they usually do. Yeah, yeah, for 

Arlen: sure. So yeah, it, it definitely works for sure. You know, like you said, even for a seasonal business, when you start seeing that uptick, you know, it can, you’ll, you’ll be able to see that, you know, throughout the year, which definitely, that’s how, you know, it definitely works.

Arlen: Well, Jessica, this has been awesome. I, I, I’ve been great talking to you. I’ve definitely learned a lot and it is good to be able to, kind of, in my mind, this was kind of a refresher cuz I did go through the whole story brand course. And kind of thought about some things that we as our business need to actually implement.

Arlen: And so I’m gonna kind of get back, look back at our notes and get with our team and see, see what we need to do to, to help tweak things. Cause as you know, this is a effort to ever, ever going process. You’re always gotta make tweaks to your whole strategy. Absolutely. But to lastly, before we do let you go, I always like.

Arlen: Our guests to, to share one closing fun fact about themselves. So if there’s one closing fun fact that you think our listeners and, and viewers would be interested to know, it’d be great to know. 

Jessica: I’m a speed reader. I consume books. I just love, I just love reading. It’s my, it’s, I do it on my time off and, Okay.

Jessica: Two to three books a day. Wow. . Okay. I really like. Okay. Yeah, that’s I guess my fun fact of the day, . 

Arlen: Wow, that’s awesome. So two to three books a day. Yeah. That’s, Wow. That’s a lot more than I could that I could read. Yeah, I, I got a book a while back on, on kind of how to improve or how to kind of be, be a speed breeder.

Arlen: I’ll have to revisit that. Cause the methods that this one gentleman, I forgot, the author that he was going through, was kind of going through a method that really anybody could, The speed reading, was that just something that you just kind of naturally have had, even when you were a child, you’re. To read quickly.

Jessica: I, yeah. My, my family’s a huge advocates for reading, so I, I was reading at a young age and it just, it’s, it’s what I love to do. It’s after full days of work, after the kids have gone to bed, Like we just like to sit down and have a little bit of me time. So, yeah, it, I, it is self-taught. But it’s just, it’s, I love reading business books and nonfiction books, so yeah.

Jessica: Okay, great. 

Arlen: That’s awesome. Well, thank you for sharing that, Jessica. I really appreciate that. Lastly, before we do let you go, if you don’t mind letting our listeners and viewers know the best way for them to reach you if they wanna reach out and pick your brain anymore about story branding and how to increase their conversions using these method.

Jessica: Absolutely. So you can reach me at tm.media/double sales. That is the book, my book, landing page. It’s for double sales, sales people. That’s the one we’re best sellers for. And on there you can get a free chapter. You can buy the book, or if you wanna pick my brain, like Arlen just said, you can book a free call with me and we can talk about anything and everything in.

Arlen: Okay. That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. I definitely encourage our listeners to reach out to you and take a look at what you have to offer. For sure. And thank you, Jessica, for joining us today on the e-Commerce Marketing Podcast.

Podcast Guest Info

Jessica Embree
Creative Director at Tulip Media Group