How Scented Direct Mail Can Increase Response Rates

Credit: Getty Images by Esther Kok / EyeEm

Our sense of smell is extremely powerful. A scent can elicit vivid memories that take you to your mom’s kitchen growing up, to your favorite beach vacation spot, or just about anywhere you have been before. Our sense of smell is our most powerful sense, even above sight and sound. The location of our sense of smell — in the same part of our brain that affects emotions, memory, and creativity — is the reason we react so powerfully to it. This is the reason you should add it to your next direct mail campaign.

To harness that power with your direct mail and make people respond is a marketer’s dream. In order to do that effectively you will need to take the time to figure out how to tie scent to your marketing message. If you create a message and then incorporate a smell that is not compatible, you have doomed the campaign. They must be symbiotic, both with the message and the visual images.

What should you consider in the creation of your scented direct mail? Here are a few things to start with:

  1. Identify the message: This is not just conveyed with words but also with images.
  2. Identify the emotion: What are you trying to make people feel?
  3. Create the call to action: This needs to be very specific and easy to identify.
  4. Create the scent: Now decide what scent will enhance all of the above and drive them to respond.

The first thing to do once you have completed the above is to gather a group of people together to bounce these ideas off of. The group should not be employees of the company. They need to be outsiders who are seeing this for the first time and can give you honest feedback. If any one of these four components is out of whack, your mailer will not get the desired response.

Scented Mailer Ideas

  • Imagine for a moment that you are a company that needs to sell brownie mix. Of course you will put pictures of brownies on the mailer, but the really good smell of the brownies will invoke emotions and drive the action to buy the mix.
  • Imagine you are a garden center and want to sell more flower seed packets. Add a floral scent to really pack a punch.
  • Imagine you sell a cleanser that gets rid of skunk smell. You can use the scent of a skunk to remind people how horrible it is. I would advise you to use only a small amount. No need to stink them out of their home.

The best part about using scent is that you can use either good or bad scents depending on how you want to spin it. Sometimes the better choice is the bad smell, which serves as a reminder of what bad things can happen when people do not use your product or service.

Do not be afraid to reach a little with your scent connection. Just make sure to fact-check it with other people. If it is too far out there, you may lose the desired effect.

Talk to your direct marketing company about what they have created or seen done. To really take your direct mail campaign to the next level you need to get very creative. Not only can you increase your ROI, but you can drive social engagement when you capture the attention and imagination of your recipients. Are you ready to get started?