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How to include storytelling in email marketing

Email marketers who send high volumes of emails face a major challenge - getting marked as spam. Most email providers have strict policies to combat spam. If just 0.1% of an email marketer's messages are marked as spam by recipients, they risk getting blocked or having their emails sent to the spam folder.

This is especially problematic for businesses that send thousands of emails per day. Even a tiny spam rate of 0.1% means dozens of complaints.

The trouble is, that spam filters don't just look at the sender. They also analyze the content of each email to determine if it looks like spam. An email full of salesy language, over-the-top claims, and irrelevant information is likely to get flagged.

Marketers who want to avoid having their emails labeled as spam need to be strategic with their email content. This is where storytelling comes in...

What is Storytelling in Emails?

Storytelling in email marketing refers to using narratives, anecdotes, and story-like messaging to connect with readers on an emotional level. Rather than simply stating facts or making claims about your product, storytelling aims to engage the reader by building rapport and sharing experiences they can relate to.

Effective storytelling helps email campaigns in a few key ways:

  • It creates an emotional connection with readers by tapping into their own experiences, struggles, dreams, etc. Dry facts and stats often fail to forge these deeper bonds.

  • It helps avoid spam filters by using more natural language. Spam filters look for keywords and patterns common in promotional emails. Storytelling emails read more like personal communication.

  • It builds trust and credibility by highlighting real customer stories and experiences with your brand. Anecdotes feel more authentic than claims about how great you are.

  • It keeps readers engaged throughout longer email content by following a narrative arc, revealing details bit by bit.

The key is to find compelling stories from your customers or company that will resonate with your target audience. This helps email campaigns feel less promotional and more like a relationship.

Craft a Narrative Arc

Storytelling in email marketing works best when you intentionally craft a narrative arc, similar to how you would in a novel or movie script. This provides the reader with a satisfying journey that keeps them engaged from start to finish. Here are some tips:

  • Opening hook to grab attention - Start your email with an intriguing statement, question, or fact that captures interest right away. Make them eager to continue reading to find out what happens next.

  • Buildup and background info - After the hook, provide any necessary context or background information to set the stage. Gradually build up details and intrigue as you lead to the main point.

  • The climax with a call to action - Hit the climax and main message you want to convey, often alongside a strong call to action. This is the peak moment you want readers focused on, so make it count.

  • Satisfying conclusion - Close the narrative arc with a sense of resolution. This provides readers a feeling of completion and may spur them to take your desired action.

By intentionally shaping your email's narrative and pace, you transform it from a dry informational dump into an immersive story. Readers will stay engaged and look forward to hearing more from you.

Use Personalized Anecdotes

Sharing a specific customer success story in your email makes the content more relatable and engaging for readers. For example, you could highlight how a small business owner used your product to increase sales. Include real data or quotes to make it come alive:

"After starting to use [your product], our email open rates increased by 25% and sales went up 15% that quarter. The segmentation features allowed us to craft targeted stories that really resonated with our customers." - Sarah, Owner of Local Coffee Shop

By integrating real-world examples of how your product impacted a customer, readers can better envision themselves experiencing similar success. The anecdote format crafts a narrative that feels more authentic and memorable than just stating facts and figures alone.

Weave in Facts and Stats

Supporting your email stories with relevant data and statistics will add credibility and help build trust with your readers. It shows you've done your homework and have expertise to share.

Some examples of statistics you could include:

  • Email has an average return on investment (ROI) of $42 for every $1 spent. This demonstrates the power of email as a marketing channel.

  • Segmented and personalized emails have open rates around 30% higher than generic "batch and blast" emails. This shows the value of personalization.

  • Emails sent on Tuesdays tend to have higher open rates than other days. This provides insight into ideal send times.

  • Over 90% of customers check email on mobile devices. This highlights the need for mobile optimization.

  • Email generates 40 times more revenue than Facebook and Twitter combined. This underscores email's revenue potential.

Choose statistics strategically to back up the key points in your narrative. Aim for 1-2 well-placed stats per story. Too many statistics become overwhelming. Select the most surprising, applicable, or persuasive facts to include.


To elevate your email marketing strategy through storytelling, begin incorporating narrative arcs, personalized anecdotes, and relevant statistics into your campaigns. Start by identifying compelling stories from your customers or within your company, and structure your emails to engage readers emotionally and intellectually.Β 

Take the first step today by crafting an email that tells a story, and watch as your audience becomes more connected and responsive to your messages.

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