In today’s ever-evolving marketing landscape, staying relevant and connecting with your target audience is crucial. Incorporating pop culture into marketing campaigns has proven to be a powerful tool for brands looking to engage their customers. In fact, 28% of the world’s most successful enterprises, including Coca-Cola, Burger King, and Nike, have featured pop culture references in their marketing campaigns. Whether it’s referencing trending TV shows and movies, incorporating viral memes, or leveraging popular holidays, the potential for brands to elevate their marketing game through pop culture is also true for email marketing in particular.
1. Exploring Pop Culture in Marketing
1.a. Definition and Significance of Pop Culture in Marketing
Pop culture is the group of cultural trends and media that have broad accessibility and appeal within a specific society. It includes various forms such as music, art, literature, fashion, dance, film, cyberculture, television, and radio.
Pop culture plays a significant role in influencing consumer behavior due to its widespread presence in daily life. A great example of this impact is the surge in chess popularity following the release of the TV series, “The Queen’s Gambit” in 2020. Toy retailer Goliath Games experienced a staggering 1100% increase in chess set sales while Chess.com witnessed a doubling of daily games played after the show gained popularity.
Pop culture permeates every aspect of our lives, presenting a valuable opportunity for brands aiming to enhance their relevance. With the ever-changing landscape of trends and consumer demands, an increasing number of businesses now leverage pop culture references to engage their customers and maintain their attention.
1.b. Benefits of Incorporating Pop Culture in Email Marketing Campaigns
Making Your Brand Relatable
When a brand includes references to pop culture, it helps them connect with their target audience. Pop culture icons become popular because they represent things that many people have in common. When brands relate to these experiences, it shows customers that they have something in common, which builds a stronger connection and makes customers more loyal.
Adding a Human Touch to Your Brand
Similar to humor in marketing, incorporating relevant pop culture trends into email campaigns showcases a brand’s personality, values, and human side. This approach makes the brand more approachable and appealing to consumers.
Engaging in the Ongoing Discussion
Pop culture is something people always talk about, discussing its themes and news. When brands use pop culture in their marketing, they can join these conversations. This creates a link between the pop culture topic and the brand, prompting audiences to share their experiences with others. This approach also increases the chance of the brand going viral, reaching a wider audience.
Facilitating Soft Sales
By including pop culture references, you can avoid overwhelming your audience with aggressive advertisements. Unlike brands that constantly push hard sales, your brand will be viewed as a source of enjoyable content that connects with the audience. This approach allows for gentler sales messages that are more likely to grab their attention, rather than being ignored as background noise.
2. Three Effective Strategies for Harnessing the Power of Email Marketing and Pop Culture
2.a. Riding the Wave of Trends
From buzzworthy TV shows like Euphoria and House of the Dragon to the growing influence of K-Pop in Western pop culture, certain phenomena capture widespread attention. Smart brands can identify these trends and incorporate them into their email campaigns.
For instance, this apparel store featured outfits inspired by the main characters of Euphoria, showcasing their fashion influence and offering customers a chance to replicate the look.
Similarly, this e-commerce store specializing in Korean snacks and K-Pop merchandise stays on top of pop culture trends. They share highlights of the year for K-Pop in their emails, demonstrating their knowledge of the industry and connecting with their audience.
2.b. Embracing Memes
Memes have become a significant part of internet culture. Brands can join in on the meme craze and create engaging emails. One example is this jewelry brand that cleverly referenced the Adam Levine scandal of 2022 (the one about the Instagram model that claimed that she had had an affair with the Maroon 5 singer and that he had wanted to name his next child after her) to promote their 18k gold cuban necklaces.
By tapping into current memes and cultural references, brands can resonate with customers who enjoy such content online.
2.c. Leveraging Holidays and Events
While traditional holidays like Christmas and Halloween offer ample marketing opportunities, there are also unofficial holidays that can be leveraged creatively. Star Wars Day, Eat What You Want Day, or Pizza Day are just a few examples.
Brands can align their email campaigns with these events, showcasing themed products or simply making references that resonate with their audience. For example, this apparel store promoted Star Wars Day by featuring its collection of Star Wars-inspired shirts.
Popular events like the Oscars, Grammys, or Met Gala can also be utilized. Brands can create themed emails, offer flash sales during the events, or provide “post-party” treats to engage customers and capitalize on the excitement surrounding these events.
3. Tips for Researching and Selecting Relevant Pop Culture References for Your Email Marketing Campaigns
If you’re convinced that incorporating pop culture into your marketing strategy is the way to go, understanding your target customers is crucial. Gathering data about their preferences, interests, and lifestyles will help you make references that resonate with them. It’s important to know your audience and determine their familiarity with various aspects of pop culture.
3.a. Keep up with trends
Stay informed about what’s currently popular. Utilize tools like Google Trends, AnswerThePublic, and monitor social media platforms such as Twitter and TikTok to stay updated on the latest trends. However, ensure that your target audience is actively engaged in these discussions. Otherwise, your content may not resonate with your followers.
3.b. Seek inspiration
Once you’ve identified trending topics, conduct thorough research to understand the conversations surrounding them and how people are discussing them. Look for posts or content with a significant reach and high engagement to gain inspiration for your email campaigns.
3.c. Align pop culture with your brand identity
Don’t simply jump on every trend that comes your way. After conducting your research, take a step back and evaluate whether the trend aligns with your brand and its values. It’s important to ensure that the pop culture references you choose are in harmony with your overall identity and messaging.
As you can see, incorporating pop culture into your email marketing campaigns can be a game-changer for your brand. By leveraging pop culture, you can make your brand relatable, engage in ongoing discussions, and facilitate softer sales. To take your email marketing to the next level and harness the power of pop culture, book a FREE call with our expert email and retention marketing agency.