So last week I celebrated my birthday. The night before my birthday I was treated to dinner by my brothers. The waiter, upon finding out it was soon to be my special day, announced a free cocktail for yours truly! I managed to hide my overwhelming joy but still, it was one of the most enjoyable Sangria’s I’ve ever had. 


Why is this? I felt appreciated; I felt like my business meant something to the restaurant and that I wasn’t just another customer. More importantly to the restaurant, I told my friends about this (verbally and via Facebook), many of whom enviously suggested we revisit the venue on their birthdays.

The result? They may now get a few more customers as well as a loyal one in myself. Surely a marketers dream but how does this relate to email marketing?

As always, I awoke to phone calls from family and friends, messages on Facebook and a few (not enough) presents. Having worked in email marketing for nearly a year now, I was keen to see how many birthday emails I would receive, especially considering the number of companies I have subscribed to as part of my role. The result….3! 3?! I was dumbfounded! Even more so when I realised who the emails were from:

The first was from a company called Super Casino. Strangely, a site I’ve never signed up to or used.

The second, from a company called Swag Bucks, which was quite interesting as the email confirmed they had added 50 “Swag Bucks points” to my account as a birthday present! Great!

The third was from a networking website where incidentally, the Founder was offering a discount as it was HIS birthday today! The subject line “Happy Birthday” was very deceptive.

You can imagine how I felt; upset and hugely disappointed. As someone who regularly uses Amazon, ASOS, TM Lewin, Zoopla, Last Minute to name but a few, I questioned how they could have forgotten, like the many “friends” who I noted had forgotten? Was I not loyal enough? Did they not appreciate the money I had been spending? Was I not one of their “A” list customers?

Birthday emails are great for a few reasons:

  • Easy to set-up: from a data perspective, a birthday email is based on basic segmentation i.e. date of birth = today. In terms of design, this email can be built once with placeholders left for personalisation of name and any content sections to be dynamic.
  • Birthday emails can run on autopilot: for a marketer, this email takes minutes to set-up and can be triggered automatically based on the users who birthday it is. In the Emarsys marketing cloud, this would be as simple as building a filter which scans the database daily to identify whose birthday it is today. These people would then receive the email automatically.
  • They are not directly sales or promotional emails: a birthday email is a great way to stay in contact with customers without pushing for a sale.
  • Customers feel valuable: as in the example I gave, remembering someone’s birthday, especially a customer, is a simple way of reminding customers that their business is appreciated. Managing customers is key in retention email marketing especially when identify your key customers.
  • Customers will usually receive money on their birthdays: all those birthday cards with £5 notes eventually add up so why not send an email reminding your customers of the products you have, especially on a day when they are happy to treat themselves.
  • “What do you want for your Birthday?”: why not send someone an email 1 month before their birthday with special offers that they may forward to friends and relatives?

One of the reasons I imagine many online companies do not send birthday emails is due to the expectation of a plethora of Birthday emails (similar to the expectation I had). This, evidently, is a myth, which makes this email even more powerful! Especially for your key customers, surely this simple email will remind them that actually, you do appreciate their business and therefore them?

Image credit: Jericho.