Birthday emails offer the perfect opportunity for brands to connect with subscribers on a personal level. Data from Experian show that birthday marketing campaigns drive 342% higher revenue compared to traditional promotional emails.

When brainstorming birthday email campaign ideas, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no one size fits all tactic. Some birthday marketing strategies will work better for your brand than for others, and so it’s crucial to test, track, and optimize your birthday campaigns just like you would any other email marketing campaign.

To get you started, we’ve listed five common birthday marketing below.

5 Effective Birthday Marketing Strategies

1. Get personal

When it comes to birthday emails, most brands’ de-facto thinking is to offer a discount. Bonobos uses a short discount-less email that feels personal and gives them a chance to stay top of mind on their subscribers’ special day.

Bonobos - Happy birthday, Leaplings.

Takeaway: Staying clear from discounts gives you the opportunity to send birthday emails that don’t feel transactional. Simple copy with relevant imagery is all you need for advanced email marketing strategies.


2. Send them a gift

Sephora makes its subscribers feel special by offering them a free 15-minute makeover plus a free gift at checkout.

Sephora -      Happy birthday, Lorem! Choose your gift…

Notice how this email also includes the member’s current rewards points at the bottom.

Despite Sephora’s end goal to drive a sale, their birthday email strategy is friendly and very much in line with the brand’s personality and can provide an exceptional way to do a complete email analysis.

Takeaway: What incentives can you offer that’s not a discount? Also, notice how Sephora allows subscribers to redeem their gift at any point during the month—consider using a similar approach for your birthday marketing campaigns.


3. Promote a Birthday-Only Coupon

This is your typical birthday email, which includes a coupon. Foot Locker’s “Happy Birthday” email offers either $10 off a $50 purchase or $25 off a $100 purchase.

Foot Locker - MailCharts, Happy Birthday!

This is the most common birthday email approach, and there’s nothing wrong with it. That being said, nobody will remember you for a $10 off coupon. A free makeover (as we saw with Sephora)? That’s more likely.

When thinking about birthday emails, keep these tips in mind:

  • If you don’t know when someone’s birthday is, send them a survey. (You can also collect this information during the signup process.)
  • Depending on your birthday email strategy, consider sending a reminder. Rent the Runway, for example, sends an offer one month before the birthday. They also follow up 5 days before with a “last call” email:

Rent the Runway - LAST CALL: Use Your Birthday Gift Today

4. Offer free shipping

Frontgate - Happy Birthday from Frontgate

If you sell luxury products, offering a discount might not be your style. Instead, consider offering free shipping. That way, you don’t devalue your products and are still able to offer your subscribers a treat for their birthday.

That’s the approach Frontgate takes. Notice how simple their email is. There’s only one very clear call-to-action and it’s combined with a celebratory image that fits well with the home decor brand’s luxurious character.

5. Help them celebrate the birthday of a loved one

Personalization Universe - Bring Some Color to Their Birthday

Birthday emails don’t always need to be targeted at the one celebrating a birthday. If you have a way of tracking when someone purchases a birthday gift for someone else, you can remind them it’s time to buy another gift the year after. This way, you’re not only helping your subscribers, you’re also creating repeat customers.

This is exactly the strategy used by The brand plays to the recipient’s sentiment (and ego) by reminding them how they made someone’s birthday special before, and assuring them that they can do that again. As an extra incentive, they’re also offering a $10 sitewide discount.
Want even more inspiration? Check out these extra birthday emails we selected for you.

Start Testing these Birthday Email Campaign Ideas

With the birthday marketing strategies laid out in this post, you can start testing what works best for your audience. Personalize your birthday emails with the data you have available (first name, favorite products, nearby location, and so on), keep your email copy short and punchy with a clear call-to-action, and make sure your birthday treats are on-brand.

Whichever birthday campaign ideas you decide to test, make sure to always track your results and do an email marketing campaign analysis afterward so you have hard data to prove what works and what doesn’t.

Lastly, keep up to date with the strategies your competitors are using by signing up for MailCharts. We track the email birthday marketing campaigns of hundreds of ecommerce brands