How to Effectively (and Safely) Incorporate Pop Culture References in Your Email Content

by Victor Green
3 mins read

With so many brands taking note of the power of the email marketing, making a lasting impression in the inbox requires a lot more these days than just a great offer and a snappy headline. To truly stand out, your campaign must find ways to differentiate itself and create a relatable experience for its target audience to enjoy.One of the best ways to go about this process is by tapping into the fun that comes with incorporating pop culture references and tie-ins into your inbox content. To help your brand successfully offer up memorable memes, quotes, and other trending pop culture inclusions in its next batch of marketed messages, here’s a look at everything you need to know about being hip and relevant when it matters most to your audience of inbox followers.Breaking down the Allure of Pop Culture-Savvy Email InclusionsBefore we start talking pop culture and email marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to touch on the stats and facts that support this take on the outreach process. According to Jess Nelson of Media Post’s Email Marketing Daily blog, it all starts with “Galentine’s Day.” If you’re familiar with the hit show “Parks and Recreation,” you know this sisterhood-themed pop culture holiday that takes place on February 13th is an annual tradition of the show’s main character, Leslie Knope.While this humorous faux-holiday might not seem like it has any relevance to the world of email marketing, Nelson explains that marketed messages over the Valentine’s Day weekend with the phrase “Galentine’s Day” in the subject line laid claim to an astounding average open rate of 40 percent – a number that easily dwarfs the industry average of 20 percent. To put things in far simpler terms, being relevant with the hottest pop culture trends pays off in a big way with audiences that are looking for a more meaningful and engaging brand experience in the inbox.

When Being “Hip” Goes Wrong

Of course, just because including pop culture references in your email marketing can be successful, that doesn’t mean that this tactic is always a surefire way to strike marketing gold. In fact, if your brand isn’t careful, misusing this hip and relevant content is an easy way to become an inbox laughing stock.A great example of this concept in action is Samsung’s usage of the “Overly-Obsessed Girlfriend” meme in an ad that appeared across multiple digital channels. As Matt Plays of the HubSpot Blog explains, while Samsung’s ad was funny and made clever use of a famous viral phenomenon, this leading name in the tech industry failed to tether itself or the promoted product (the SSD 840 Drive) to the content in any meaningful way.The end result of this unfortunate pop culture-driven endeavor? Samsung was left with a confused audience that wasn’t sure how to interpret the message behind this push and a piece of irreverent content that fell flat on its face.

Building a Strong Bong Between Pop Culture and Email Marketing

Now that you understand why this practice is effective – as well as the risks that come with misusing this approach – it’s time to break down the winning formula for culturally relevant email marketing content. To start off on the right foot, consider which television shows, books, and other pop culture content actually resonate with your target audience.Once you’ve scoured your consumer data and honed in on a few prime references, consider how best to fit these offerings into your upcoming inbox selections. As we saw earlier with Samsung’s failed attempt at hopping aboard the hype surrounding the “Overly-Obsessed Girlfriend” meme, simply jamming in a funny or amusing addition to your content can be a jarring experience if it doesn’t make sense thematically.Finally, before pressing the “send” button on your email platform of choice, take a moment to consider this reference from a variety of different angles. Does this offering really convey the kind of message you want attached to your brand? Is it potentially offensive in a different context or to certain segments of your audience? Answering these questions now can spare your business from the headaches that come with an offended or outraged email marketing contact list.However, if you’re able to put all of this together and steer clear of the misuse of this tactic, then it won’t be long before your brand is raking in the ample amount of exposure and engagement that comes with having relevant and fun pop culture references in its upcoming batch of email content.

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