Do you remember the feeling of getting to the end of a suspenseful television show (before Netflix, Apple TV or Shomi) when you were on the edge of your seat, and a message would jump up on the screen saying "To Be Continued…."
Yes, there was disappointment. There was anticipation. But whether the Dukes of Hazzard were jumping over flaming barrels in the General Lee, Mulder was about to discover an alien race, or John Locke was looking down into The Hatch on LOST, a cliffhanger story would always keep you coming back for more.
Savvy bloggers like Neil Patel can churn our long form articles of 3,000 to 5,000 words. Not all readers can digest such long content pieces though, even if the content is well-written:
Tune in again to next week's Atomic Reach newsletter where we'll deliver the secret! Same Atomic Reach Time, Same Atomic Reach channel!
It would be even cooler if the multi-phase blog didn't feel like a blog at all, but it was an awesome story of a superhero, with the power to turn good blogs into great content. The villain would be an evil robot which was threatening to churn out soulless, mind numbing content and drain the brains of freelance writers worldwide...
Just as Robo-Writer prepared to throw the switch on the Brain Drainer…..To Be Continued!
That may, or may not be the kind of story which would keep you coming back for more on the next content marketing piece, but you probably get the point.
As much as you want to enlighten your reader, and tell great stories, a series of blogs can be more effective than marathon/skyscraper style blogs. In other cases, you can repurpose a whitepaper or eBook as a series of chapters.
If you are a Stephen King fan, you may remember when The Green Mile first came out. It was in the early days of eBooks, and as kind of an experiment to release a series of "chapbooks". Even Charles Dickens released short excerpts of stories in magazines which made for a longer, epic tale.
Engineering a marketing campaign, as a series of articles, and succeeding in getting your reader to keep coming back for more takes a special kind of writer. Social media can help you promote each chapter or segment, as followers can always go down in your feed to find previous posts.
Serial posts also work well on your website, as you can tag and link your content, which promotes a great internal linking structure for SEO value. You can write a series of 600-800 word blogs and nurture your reader along to a final, triumphant call-to-action.
A serial story won't work quite as well in an email newsletter, because new subscribers might not see earlier segments of the story. A great idea might be to disperse segments of your story campaign across your:
- Main website
- Blog pages
- Social media channels
If you can get your audience to sample content from your different channels "buffet- style", you can increase your engagement across your entire web presence. Marketers that create podcasts to provide an alternative content delivery channel often find serial marketing campaigns track even more effectively.
Audiences like the ease of consuming content through audio when they are doing other things, especially with live events. A text transcript helps to find specific content in a story or blog. Some of the brands which have been especially successful with storytelling include:
- Bell Canada (#LetsTalk)
What stories are you telling your audience? Are your stories clear, focused and simple, like Budweiser's puppies and Clydesdales? Or are they complex, detailed and lengthy like Neil Patel's stream of thoughts and statistics?
However you are telling your stories, make sure you are measuring how they are converting on your goals, and resonating with your target customer.
Have you run across a series based storytelling campaign which you find especially effective? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
About The Author:
Mark Burdon is a technology professional based in Barrie, Ontario. He has worked in sales and marketing for companies including IBM, Open Text and most recently The Portal Connector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM .Mark has provided B2B content marketing services to companies including Intuit, HireVue, and gShift . He is a freelance writer with Cloudworker Solutions. Follow him on Twitter: @mark_burdon