Birthday emails are one of the best weapons in an email marketer’s arsenal. The idea is simple: businesses (typically ecommerce businesses) send birthday wishes to customers on their special day to increase engagement and brand loyalty and, ultimately, boost sales.
In the spirit of birthdays, birthday emails are uplifting and celebratory. Oftentimes they include something the customer can’t pass up – like a free gift with purchase or a discount code – to encourage them to return to the site and make a purchase.
To do this, all you need is for the customer to tell you their birthdate (we’ll talk later about ways to acquire customers’ date of birth). No strings, just treats.
Birthday email marketing effectiveness
Birthday emails have impressive ROI. According to a report by Experian, they outperform promotional emails in almost all areas:
481% higher transaction rate
342% higher revenue per email
179% higher unique click rates
89% open rates
These numbers paint a pretty picture. Not to mention, once you’ve nailed down the perfect birthday email, the rest requires minimal effort. Ortto users can build a birthday email in minutes and automate the send-out, then report on the effectiveness.
But not all birthday emails are effective. In this blog, we’ll explore what makes a good birthday email and look at examples from well-known brands. We will also share four ways to capture your customers’ birthdays so that you can maximize this marketing tactic.
What to include in a birthday email
Businesses use birthday emails differently, but there are some key components that ensure success. These include:
Clear subject line and call to action
Let’s explore each in more detail.
1. Promotional offering
What’s a birthday without a gift? If you’re going to send a customer birthday wishes, make it worth their while by including a surprise inside.
What you offer is up to you. Perhaps 20% off their next purchase, or a free gift when they spend over $50. You may take it one step further by combining a freebie with free shipping. This may sound generous, but the more you’re willing to offer – and the easier you make it for customers to place an order – the higher the conversion rate will be.
Below, see how ecommerce fashion retailer ASOS and beauty brand St Ives use birthday emails.
2. Clear subject line and call to action
The average person receives 100 emails per day, and their birthday is no exception. Make sure your birthday email (and every email, for that matter) captures the customer’s attention with a clear subject line and CTA, so it doesn’t get buried in the inbox.
Examples of subject lines include:
Happy birthday, [first name]! (Free gift inside)
Celebrate your birthday with 20% off!
Claim your birthday gift today!
Catchy CTA examples are:
Claim your $30 coupon now
Shop now for 20% off
Redeem your birthday gift
See an example from Puma, that clearly states the offering and prompts customers to “Shop now”.
3. Make it personal
You can make the customer feel special by sending them a birthday email on their actual birthday. 55% of birthday emails are received on the customer’s birthdate, but you can also send an email in the days leading up to their birthday. In fact, fashion and beauty retailers may choose to send a birthday email with a discount code in the days leading up to a birthday with a subject line like, “It’s your birthday soon! Have you got your outfit ready?” as the customer may be likely to shop for the occasion.
Another easy way to make the email personal is to use the customer’s name in the subject line and body of the email, and by providing a unique discount code. Read Ortto’s blog to find out what else you can do with email personalization.
See some examples below.
4. Easily redeemable
It’s important that you make it easy for the customer to redeem whatever your offering. If there are obstacles, the instructions aren’t clear, the discount code doesn’t work, or if it’s complicated in any way, the customer will cut their losses – and you will lose a potential sale.
See below how Flight Centre clearly states the terms of the offer and the expiry date.
On that note, it’s advised to give customers a good amount of time to claim their offer – perhaps 1-2 months. If they don’t redeem the offer, you can send reminder emails throughout the redeemable period, experimenting with different CTAs and creative.
Below, see how Subway sends an enticing reminder email to customers encouraging them to not miss the offer.
Birthday emails should capture the customer’s attention with eye-catching design. As a rule, keep it short and sweet, use an intriguing subject line, few words, a clear CTA, and a visually pleasing design.
Below, see how Nike hits the bullseye with design.
You may also experiment with GIFs and animations to inject some fun and boost engagement (if it makes sense for your brand). See an example from Hulu below, who uses a GIF from a well-known TV show that is available on their streaming platform.
What about SMS?
While email is the most common channel for sending promotional birthday messages, you shouldn’t restrict yourself. You can do the same thing using SMS, and it might even work better for you. In fact, more and more businesses are adopting SMS as a marketing tool because it has higher open rates than email (98% and 20% respectively), and 86% of small business owners who utilize text messaging say texting offers higher engagement than email communication. Read more about SMS use cases in our blog.
How to capture customers’ date of birth
Without customer’s birthdates, you cannot create birthday email campaigns. You may not need to ask customers for the year they were born, as you are unlikely to mention their age. Just the month and date will do for this marketing tactic to be effective.
Here are three ways to acquire customers’ birthdays.
1. Account sign up
Most people are accustomed to adding their birthday when they create a new account for an ecommerce website or via an app. Therefore, asking for a birthday here won’t interrupt the customer experience. Check out an example from beauty retailer Mecca.
Note: always make the DOB field optional, as some people don’t like giving away too much information. However, for some brands – like those that sell products/services for customers over a certain age, like an alcohol delivery service – providing a DOB upon signup may be mandatory.
2. Newsletter sign-up forms
An email newsletter is a marketing must-have for driving brand awareness, distributing content, increasing website traffic, and boosting sales. A newsletter sign-up form is also a great way to turn unknown users into known users.
To entice customers to sign up to your newsletter, consider their buyer persona, needs, challenges, and priorities, and then write a sentence that describes the benefit of subscribing. For example, a fashion retailer may write: “Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know about the latest trends, to get early access to sales, and for $20 off your next purchase!”
Newsletter sign-up forms are common, but not all of them have an option to add a birthday. Doing so is simple – add one more optional field to the form and add an incentive for doing so, such as: “Add your birthday to receive a birthday treat!”
Below, see how easily Ortto users can build signup forms.
3. Capture widgets
You can also embed capture widgets into your site to capture email addresses and birthdays. Capture widgets are incredible for lead capture – check out our blog to find out more.
When you add a birthday field into a pop-up, make sure you add some copy that tells the customer why you’re asking for their birthday — this can be as simple as writing, “...so we can send you a birthday gift” next to the birthday field. People are more willing to provide their birthdays if they know why you need it and what they will receive in exchange for giving you that information.
Ortto has many different types of capture widgets different occasions, including notifications, banners, bars, popups, forms, and spin the wheel. To capture email addresses and birthdays, you may choose to embed popups or bars to appear once the user has been browsing certain product pages for at least 10 seconds, as this would indicate they are interested in your brand.
4. Ask them over email
It’s never too late to collect customers’ birthdays, so if you have subscribers who have offered their email address but not their birthday, give them another opportunity to.
You can send an email simply stating that you would like their date of birth so that you can send them a gift and special offers. See an example below.
How to set up automated birthday emails in Ortto
Now you’ve collected your customer’s birthdays, it’s time to create automated birthday email campaigns.
Ortto users can set up automated birthday emails using templated journeys and playbooks. Once signed in, follow these steps:
Go to the Campaign tab and click Create new campaign
Select Journey and then click Next
Click Start from Scratch and then click Create
Give the Journey a name (e.g. Birthday Journey) and then select the entry criteria as ‘It’s an anniversary of a date’, then select ‘Birthday’
In the visual Journey builder, click the ‘+’ button to add a shape – either an email or an SMS
Select ‘Create new’ or if you’ve pre-built a birthday email you can click ‘Select existing’. (Users can also integrate with BigCommerce or Shopify to access templated email Journeys)
Users can then use the email builder to design eye-catching emails. See below.
7. Once you have built the email, turn the shape ON and then hit publish!
Using the reporting tool, users can measure the click-through and conversion rate of the emails. If there’s something that isn’t working, simply A/B test it.
Once you set up an automated birthday customer journey, you won’t go back. This marketing tactic is pretty much set-and-forget and will be sure to yield some great returns. Sign in or sign up to Ortto to give it a try.