How To Replace Sensory Marketing On Digital Platforms
Marketers and business elites embrace the power of digital marketing for good reason. It’s dynamic, with an endless reach and limitless audience. Until recently, most would have also agreed that there is still a need for in-person sensory marketing. Then COVID-19 arrived on our shores, and overnight, it became impossible to use traditional sensory tactics.
Sensory marketing tactics are mostly used as in-person techniques. Since we can’t (yet) blow scents out of the computer screen to sell perfume, many wondered…
With the onset of COVID-19, is sensory marketing dead?
Or is there a way to incorporate sensory marketing tactics into digital marketing campaigns?
What Is Sensory Marketing?
Sensory marketing focuses on using one (or many) of a customer’s five senses to sell products or services.
Let’s use wine as an example. Tastings are offered on most vineyard tours, with guides and sommeliers pouring off samples. At times, this may include their higher-priced bottles. Maybe they’ll put out a tray of delicate cheeses to compliment it, describing in length what that feeling is on your tongue when you swallow or the smokiness you detect on your pallet.
Why go through all of this? Because they want you to taste, smell and feel the wine. You might buy one bottle if you visit and wander around the property, but after multiple hours of sips and sniffs, you might be inclined to buy several cases.
This is sensory marketing. Instead of relying on print or digital marketing techniques, like the written word and visual imagery, they are relying on your experience of the product to engage you as a customer.
Companies have been using sensory marketing for years, finding new and creative ways to incorporate this directly into their products or marketing campaigns.
While there are senses that are easy to utilize in digital marketing, such as hearing and sight, the others are not. That does not mean that sensory marketing is not being used digitally, it just means it’s in different ways than you’d expect.
Why Is Digital Marketing So Important Right Now?
In the past, there were entire industries that relied on in-person, sensory marketing to sell their products. However, COVID-19 rendered that impossible for a period.
Yes, trade shows are re-opening and stores are welcoming back customers, but in-person buying and selling might be different for years to come. Even if you’re able to get your products back in front of customers at this point, they might not be able to hold, touch or smell it due to COVID restrictions.
In the meantime, e-commerce sales continue to smash records. A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau on quarterly retail e-commerce sales showed that they were up 31.8% in the third quarter of 2020 as compared to the first.
While people can go back to stores and events in many parts of the country, the fact is, they’re still spending huge amounts of money online.
The Future Of Sensory Marketing: Digital Sensory Marketing
Taking this all into account, has digital marketing replaced sensory marketing for good?
Looking behind sensory marketing tactics to what’s at its core, we see two things: emotions and experience. With a little creativity, these can both be replicated using digital formats.
Integrating Sensory Experiences Into Digital Marketing
- Sensory copy
If your customers cannot have the sensory experience themselves, find a way to bring it to them through the written word. How does it touch, taste and smell? Is it rough in your hands? Buttery soft? Does the smell bring up nostalgic memories of childhood summers? Use your own senses
and reactions to create product descriptions. While this cannot truly replace the feeling of holding a soft pillow, great copy can bring customers as close as possible.
- Play on past experiences
Reach out to past customers and play off what they already know. Did they buy a car from your dealership? You can reach out and ask them to close their eyes and remember how it felt that first time they gripped the wheel, or the sound the engine made when they first pushed down the gas pedal. Then, tell them how the wheel of your latest model is crafted using ergonomic leather for unparalleled comfort while driving. From a psychological perspective, this mimics the experience of driving the car without ever stepping foot inside it.
- Use video
Video engages two important senses into your product: sight and sound. Instead of using imagery, video allows you to showcase the highlights of your product. This works best with items that need more of an explanation or rely on emotion. For example, pictures of hiking boots will not relay how they actually look on the trail. A hiking video, on the other hand, can show the boot bending while walking on rough terrain, gripping to slippery surfaces and keeping feet dry during a downpour.
Sensory marketing is not totally dead, but it will take creativity and care to incorporate it into your marketing plan. Digital sensory marketing, on the other hand, will likely continue to grow in the post COVID-19 world.
If you’re interested in converting your sensory marketing platform to a digital space, we can help.