What Does Your Website Smell Like?
by Antone Roundy | 2 Comments | Advertising, Podcast
Some websites stink -- bad colors, bad design, bad content, etc. But that's not what I'm talking about today. I mean it literally, what does your website smell like?
I'm also not talking about some newfangled device you connect to your computer's USB port that outputs fragrances specified by a website's CSS (that's "cascading smell sheets" :-).
Two weeks ago, I wrote about how vicarious experiences are as real to some parts of the brain as actual, physical experiences. Today, I was reading a post on Neuromarketing about how engaging more of a customers senses leads to higher sales.
That statement has to be qualified, of course: you won't sell more flowers by filling your store with wet dog smell. That said, here are some stats from the article:
* A study showed a 40% improvement in the mood of subjects when exposed to pleasant fragrances.
* Subjects paid $10 more for shoes in a scented sales area vs. unscented.
That's great for brick-and-mortar businesses, but what about online? You see where this is going, right?
The first thing that might occur to you is to add photos of aromatic objects to your website. And that may work. But consider this from the article:
For products where a certain sense was dominant, e.g., taste or smell, ... the smell, taste, and touch of a product create an engagement level that's three to four times higher than the engagement level stimulated by merely seeing the product being displayed.
Even better than pictures of aromatic objects would be pictures or videos of people enjoying the aroma.
Of course, the imagery needs to be relevant to what your selling. Otherwise, it'll just confuse and distract.
The same could be done with sound. Websites can have sound on them, but that's not always desireable. Instead of playing a sound, you might show a picture of someone enveloped in the experience of the sound.
In some cases, the sound you want people to experience might not be the kind of sound you want playing on your site. For example, if you sell hearing protection, you might show a photo of someone cringing away from a loud noise walking beside an unaffected person who's wearing your product.
But you don't want the noise playing on your website!
So to expand on my previous post, not only should you use images of people experiencing what you want the customer to experience, but to have the greatest impact, the experience should be engaging as many of the senses as possible.
December 11th, 2010 at 7:07 am
RE: "Even better than pictures of aromatic objects would be pictures or videos of people enjoying the aroma."
I disagree with you here. The reason being that the pictures of people would most likely have to be stock photography.
For me, when I see stock photography of people (rather than the companies' actual staff or customers) on a site, I do often become suspicious that there really aren't that many people working in the company, and it loses my trust.
I'd also question adding photos of aromatic objects if they are not relevant to the site's subject matter, as that can reduce usability (it can make the site look like something it is not when you first see it). I think if you want to suggest something which smells nice, you have to do so more subtley with colour and perhaps something like floral patterns.
December 11th, 2010 at 9:33 am
"Iâ€™d also question adding photos of aromatic objects if they are not relevant to the siteâ€™s subject matter..."
Absolutely. As I mentioned, "Of course, the imagery needs to be relevant to what your selling. Otherwise, itâ€™ll just confuse and distract." and "...not only should you use images of people experiencing what you want the customer to experience..."
As for stock photography...hmm. Speaking for myself, if a picture reeks of stock photography (pun intended) -- for example if it looks unnaturally posed -- then that's going to distract from the experience you're trying to induce, and that's definitely a problem. But if it's a natural looking photo and the connection to the message of your site isn't strained, I personally wouldn't have a problem with it.