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Does Your Email Marketing Smell?

This is more of a question-for-you post than me-telling-you-how-it-is post:

I’ve been very slowly reading Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing (affiliate link) by Roger Dooley. The last chapter I completed was entitled “Does Your Marketing Smell?”

The basic premise of this chapter is that the olfactory glands in humans have a huge impact on decision making. In layman’s terms? Smell can make or break your customer experience.

In the chapter, Dooley lays out a few reasons why smell (or scent) is so integral to marketing success:

  • Referencing Martin Lindstrom (“Brand Sense”): “75% of our emotions are generated by what we smell.”
  • Referencing Gerald Zaltman (“How Customers Think”): “Once a scent is embedded in an individual’s brain, even visual cues can cause it to be ‘resurrected’ and even ‘experienced.'”
  • Referencing Marc Gobe (“Emotional Branding”): “Every brand should have a distinctive smell.”

So, if smell is so important to a customer experience, then there are two questions to ask yourself:

  1. Does your brand have a smell?
  2. How can you extend that smell to your email marketing efforts?

If you’re doing email marketing for a restaurant or food service, the answer is pretty simple: Show the food in some way that triggers those desirable emotions. After all, there’s a reason we’re shown sizzling steaks in steakhouse commercials or melted cheese hanging from a pizza slice in a Papa John’s commercial (Peyton Manning notwithstanding).

But what if your smell isn’t that obvious? How do you evoke a smell-related emotional reaction from, say, an email marketing message for a bank? The smell of money? That seems pretty brash and, frankly, extremely tacky for a reputable bank to be marketing the “smell” of money–particularly in our plastic-dependent world.

The question goes to you. How can you “brand” a less obvious scent through email marketing?


You can see just how slowly I’m reading this book by reading my first Brainfluence-related here.

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