How to Boost Email Engagement Through Storytelling

Stories activate unique parts of our brains. When United Way of Central Illinois wanted to increase email engagement and awareness of their Foster Grandparents program, the UpPurpose team leaned into the power of storytelling. The team used the experiences of three volunteer classroom “grandmothers” to create a series of emails and social posts as well as a landing page that brought to life the immense impact of the program. The approach resulted in email engagement that outpaced the organization’s and industry’s averages.


UpPurpose and United Way of Central Illinois Case Study from UpPurpose on Vimeo.


email open rate for the campaign


email click through rate


increase in page views

Character-Centered Storytelling

Through interviews, the team pulled out the narratives of volunteers Laberta, LaVerta and Beverly to build an emotional connection with the audience.

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Multi-Channel Approach

The team created email, social media post and landing page assets to stand alone as well as play off each other to ensure maximum reach.

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“It was awesome to work with UpPurpose. The team understood what we wanted to achieve and put a creative strategy in place to get there. They truly captured the passion of our ‘grandparents’ and the value of the program. It was extremely easy to work with the team and our ‘grandparents’ also felt extremely comfortable when interviewed by the UpPurpose team.

Michelle Graven Marketing and Communications Specialist, United Way of Central Illinois