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Why birthday emails can be a retailer’s best friend

Lizette Resendez
Copy Director

Don’t you just love birthdays? Especially when it's yours, and especially when your favorite retailers send you an email with a little b-day love inside?

Last year, I received birthday emails from about 12 retailers, so I was really excited to see what kind of gifts I’d find waiting in my inbox on my big day this year.

What did I get for my birthday?

So, the first thing I saw when I got online was this:

Email Marketing Google Birthday Homepage

Sure it’s not an email, but how nice of Google to remember! When I moused over the Google graphic, alt text appeared wishing me a happy birthday. Not a bad way to start my day.

Once I logged into my email account, I found birthday offers of anywhere from $5 off to 25% off from 20 different retailers.

Some of my favorites were from Sephora and Gap.

Sephora sent me an email two weeks before my birthday explaining they just couldn’t wait to celebrate and letting me know that a free gift was waiting for me at the checkout.

SL: Happy (early) birthday!

PH: Lizette, open your birthday gift early!

Email Marketing Sephora Early Birthday

They also sent me an email on my actual birthday with a revised headline, "Happy Birthday Lizette." Both emails included a link to a short birthday video, which you can see here. (And yes, I grabbed my b-day freebie from Sephora.)

GAP gets an extra slice of birthday cake for being the only company to send me a reminder that my birthday discount was about to expire.

They used the same creative as the one they sent on my birthday and just changed the subject line and preheader.

Subject Line: Last chance: get your birthday treat!

Preheader: Hurry, you still have one week left to redeem your birthday offer!

Email Marketing Gap Birthday Email

My only tip would be to delete that last line of copy, “Offer valid for 30 days after today’s date” in the final reminder email to avoid any customer confusion. That would not make for a happy birthday.

It’s all about timing

Sure, if you’re a retailer with a focus on beauty, clothing or home goods, sending a birthday email on the day of makes sense.

But what if you’re a hotel?

Omni took this into consideration and sent me an email three weeks before my birthday, letting me know that I could take 15% off a stay during my birthday month. How thoughtful! This gives customers time and a good reason to plan something they might not have on their own.


Create your own birthday campaign this year

Not everyone trick-or-treats for Halloween, and not everyone loves Valentine’s Day, but everyone has a birthday.

Celebrate your most loyal fans by adding the birthday email to your email marketing strategy this year.

It could be as simple as a single email on their actual birthday, or you could try a three-touch series:

1)   An email on their birthday

2)   Reminder email a few days later

3)   Final reminder when the offer is about to expire, just like GAP

And don’t forget to keep the engagement going after they redeem their birthday offer. Ask them to share their new purchase with their Facebook friends or Twitter followers (with a unique birthday-related hashtag), or see if there are any other dates or preferences they want you to remember. Just have them update their customer preferences or profile.

Don’t know your customers’ birthdays?

Just ask. Start by asking your most engaged customers to add a birthday to their profile, letting them know that you want to be a part of their party.

Email Marketing Tip: You might even try this type of non-promotional email on your less-engaged subscribers, as a way to rekindle that customer relationship.

On the day after my birthday (coincidence or not?), I received an email from Seamless with the following subject line and preheader:

Subject Line: Is today your birthday?

Preheader: We want to treat you.

Email Marketing Seamless Birthday Email

I absolutely love it. It’s easy to scan, with a huge waiting-to-be-clicked button, and two large animated images that show you how easy it is to update your birthday on their site. (Which, I did.)

Add a birthday acquisition email to your email marketing strategy

Start with a single email asking your customers to update their profile. Later on, you could even test adding a second email – a reminder for those who haven’t clicked or opened the first one.

For those customers who do update their birthday, engage them even further by sending them to a special landing page where they can start building their birthday wishlist (hey, it’s never too early!), either through your site’s own functionality or through Pinterest.

What are the best birthday emails you’ve seen? What was the icing on the cake that took you from casual shopper to devoted fan? Share your favorite birthday wishes in the comments below!

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