Celebrate Customers With an Automated Happy Birthday Email Campaign

September 08, 2022
Written by
Nathalia Velez Ryan
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own
Reviewed by
Ayanna Julien
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

Celebrate Customers With an Automated Happy Birthday Email Campaign

Birthdays: some people love them, while others dread them. Regardless of how you feel about this annual reminder of passing time, for email marketers, birthdays are an opportunity to build relationships with customers. 

A common way to do this is with the birthday email, using automation and customer data to send subscribers a discount or freebie. All this can go a long way in creating a positive experience with your brand and rewarding loyal customers. 

This post covers why and how to create a birthday email marketing campaign, plus effective birthday email examples.

Why send a birthday email?

You may be wondering how this email marketing tactic can benefit your business. The birthday email can: 
  • Nurture your relationship with existing customers: Retention is an important stage of the customer journey because it takes the customer from a casual, one-time buyer to a loyal, returning customer. Birthday emails reward and encourage customer loyalty by showing them you care about their experience. 
  • Increase word-of-mouth marketing: Happy customers are more likely to tell their friends about the great birthday deal they just scored. 
  • Lead to more sales than regular promotional emails: According to a report by Experian, birthday emails have 481% higher transaction rates than other promotional emails and generate 342% higher revenue. These emails achieve such high returns by offering gifts, discounts, and other incentives to make a purchase. 
With all these benefits, it’s worth the time to create automated birthday email campaigns. But first, you need to gather the right customer data. 

How to ask recipients for their birth date

Before you send birthday emails, you first must get the subscriber's birth date. You can ask for this information when they sign up for your email list or in a follow-up email after they subscribe. Either way, be transparent about why you’re asking for this information and tell subscribers what perks they’ll get for providing it. A short message like “Tell us your birthday to receive a free gift” will suffice. 

Email sign-up forms should be short to make it quick and easy for people to join your email list. So if you want to avoid making your form any longer by asking for a date of birth, you can send an email as part of your welcome series. In it, ask users to complete their user profile or provide their birth date, like the example below. 

Elements of a successful birthday email 

Let’s take a look at the elements that’ll give your birthday emails a better chance of generating conversions. 

1. Timing

There’s a brief window to send a birthday email to coincide with the customer’s birthday planning and shopping. Brands typically begin to send these 3 weeks prior to the subscriber's birthday, with 55% of birthday emails hitting the recipient’s inbox on their actual birthday. 

Many brands opt to send these emails at the beginning of the recipient’s birth month. This gives the recipient time to shop and decide how they want to use their discount code, redeem their freebie, etc. It also accounts for shipping time so recipients can get their order by their birthday. For example, this birthday email from Sephora went out 2 weeks before the recipient’s birthday, and it contains a gift to redeem online or in stores. 

sephora birthday email promoting birthday gift

Other brands, like Starbucks, send birthday promotions just a few days before the recipient’s birthday. This makes sense for a coffee shop, as the recipient will have it top of mind to get a drink on their birthday—plus there’s no shipping involved. 

Starbucks birthday email promoting free drink

2. Celebratory subject line

Subject lines are your first chance to capture the recipient’s attention. To do this, birthday email subject lines should use celebratory words and clearly state the email contains a birthday offer. 

The above Sephora email had the subject line “Happy (early) birthday, Carly!” It’s short and sweet and takes advantage of personalization, which we’ll discuss later. Additionally, the Starbucks subject line below uses a festive emoji that fits with the birthday theme and immediately tells the recipient that there’s a gift inside. 

Starbucks birthday email subject line - open on your birthday

3. Discount or reward

Using a birthday email to simply send happy birthday wishes to the recipient is a missed opportunity. While it’s a nice sentiment, this approach won’t help you achieve the benefits we discussed at the beginning of this post. Instead, seize the opportunity to show customers you care about their special day while encouraging them to engage with your business by offering a discount, coupon, reward, or gift. 

In the example below, Gap includes a 25% discount offer. This leads to a win-win for the sender and recipient while helping to increase email engagement.

4. Deadline

All the email examples we’ve seen so far include a deadline to redeem the gift or discount, such as the end of the month. The deadline creates a sense of urgency to make a purchase because the recipient knows the promotion expires, but it gives them a little wiggle room to decide how they want to spend it.  

If you send a birthday email at the beginning of the month, consider also sending a reminder email a few weeks later to give the recipient one more chance to redeem their discount or coupon code before the month ends. 

5. Festive design and copy

The birthday email is all about celebrating the recipient, and the email design should reflect this with vibrant colors and festive imagery. Additionally, the email copy should get the reader excited. Words like “celebrate,” “party,” “gift,” and “birthday treat” are a sure way to capture the sentiment of a happy birthday. 

Another way to make birthday emails more dynamic is to incorporate a GIF. A simple animation, like falling confetti, can make your message more enticing. Learn how to create a GIF and how to insert a GIF into an email

6. Eye-catching CTA

In addition to making your recipients feel special, birthday emails should help you achieve the high returns we discussed at the top of this post. And one of the most important elements to help with that is the call to action (CTA). 

Make sure the CTA button catches the eye immediately by using contrasting colors, strategic placement, and clear copy, like “redeem now.” Read up on CTA best practices to learn more. 

7. Personalization

Everyone wants to feel special on their big day, which is why birthday emails should be as personalized as possible. Adding the recipient’s name in the subject line and copy is a great start. But you can take personalization a step further by including information such as the recipient’s local store or suggesting items they might be interested in based on past purchases. 

After all, 57% of recipients say personalization influences whether they find an email memorable, and you don’t want them to forget your birthday offer. 

Send happy birthday emails with Twilio SendGrid

Customers put a lot of trust in brands when they share personal information, like their birth date. Birthday emails are a great way to reward this trust, put customer data to good use, and reap the benefits for your business while you’re at it—and Twilio SendGrid has got you covered with email marketing automation.

Email marketing automation is key to a successful happy birthday email campaign—once you set up your automation, you can rest assured you won’t forget your recipients’ big day. Learn more about what you can achieve with email automation and how to set up your first automation with Twilio SendGrid

Then, sign up for a free Twilio SendGrid account to try it for yourself. Happy birthday email campaigns use automation and customer data to nurture relationships with customers. Learn how to create birthday emails.

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