Written by Ruth Clowes on 01 July 2022
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
What is sensory copywriting and why should I use it?
Sensory copywriting uses the language of the senses to engage the reader. Writing in this way may not come naturally. It’s easy to focus on facts and figures or broad concepts in your copy. But sensory copywriting is a powerful way of tapping into people’s emotions. That’s exciting, because purchasing decisions are usually made based on emotions rather than logic.
There’s more – sensory copy is more vibrant and interesting to read than copy made up of facts and concepts. So your reader is not only more likely to keep reading your copy until they get to your call to action, they’re also more likely to remember what they’ve read.
On top of that, by appealing to all of our reader’s senses, we can make them feel more engaged in what we’re talking about – as if they’re experiencing it for themselves.
It’s been proven that if someone imagines themselves interacting with a product, they’re more likely to buy that product. So if you can help your reader imagine seeing, hearing, using, fully experiencing your product or service – you’re more likely to make a sale than if you just list dry facts.
The secret of all effective advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures, but one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships.
Leo Burnett, advertising legend and founder of Leo Burnett Company
Make sensory copywriting work for your business
Let’s explore the five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. As we look at each example below, think about how you might draw on each of the senses to describe your product or service.
I do appreciate that some of these are going to be easier for some businesses than others. For example, incorporating taste into your writing should come easily if you’re a restauranteur or a baker. But it’s going to be less straightforward if you’re a plumber or a painter!
It’s still worth a try though. Be a little experimental and playful with it and see what you come up with. Another benefit of sensory copywriting is that it’s often more enjoyable to write than non-sensory copy. If you feel like your writing is getting repetitive or stale, sensory copywriting might just be the boost it needs.
You can use sensory words and descriptions anywhere in your writing. In the following examples, I’m going to incorporate them into a simple one-line product description for a bouquet of roses. A product description like this is a good place to begin if you want to start experimenting with sensory writing.
Sensory copywriting: Sight
“With their intricately folded petals and vibrant colours, spray roses will add a delicate dazzle to your bouquet.”
You can’t help but visualise the flowers as you’re reading the words, can you? Notice that some words are more powerful than others – it’s the word “dazzle” in this example that really stands out.
Sensory copywriting: Hearing
“We’ve been singing the praises of spray roses for years to anyone who’ll listen.”
This sentence uses sensory words in a different way. Here, we’re using words relating to sound and listening to add a little pizzazz to our message. Isn’t this more colourful than just saying “We really like spray roses”?
Sensory copywriting: Smell
“Put a rose to your nose and breathe in the aroma – floral, sweet and exotic – we work with specialist growers so that each rose in your bouquet smells as good as it looks.”
The way we’ve highlighted the experience of smelling the rose here makes this passage so much more powerful than if we’d just told our reader that our roses smell nice.
Sensory copywriting: Touch
“Spray roses add a touch of opulence to a bouquet with their rich colours and smooth, velvety petals.”
Here we’re getting across the opulent, luxurious nature of our product by likening its petals to an expensive fabric – velvet.
Sensory copywriting: Taste
“Honey-coloured spray roses will sweeten your bouquet like sugary Turkish delight sweetens your tongue.”
You might think this sentence is a bit sickly sweet – and you’d be right. But doesn’t reading it make your mouth water? That’s just the kind of instinctive reaction that’s going to bring your writing to life for your readers.
Have you tried using sensory language in your marketing copy? I’d love to hear your experiences of the good, the bad and the smelly!