Birthday email examples & ideas

Not only are birthdays a blast to celebrate with friends and family, but they also give brands a unique opportunity to engage with their customers on a more personal level.

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Here at MailCharts, we love celebrating birthdays (who doesn’t love a good slice of cake, right?)! Not only are birthdays a blast to celebrate with friends and family but they also give brands a unique opportunity to engage with their customers on a more personal level.

You may be used to seeing birthday emails that include discounts or freebies, but they don’t have to! Instead of a discount, a personal message wishing customers a happy birthday can go a long way. Check out our tips and tricks below for starting a birthday campaign strategy.

Birthday email examples & strategy ideas

What does it take to send a great birthday email? We used MailCharts data to dive deeper into what retail, restaurant, and fashion industries are doing for their customer’s birthdays. Here’s what we learned:

Celebrate customers or rewards members with a gift or coupon

Outdoor clothing retailer, Columbia, provides a generous 20% off coupon for Greater Rewards members on their birthday. The only catch? Customers have to use it by a certain date. This email is also a great example of a company that follows best practices (it scored 100% on our email score which means it hits all the best-practices, too!).

In addition to fashion retailers, restaurants have a great opportunity to get customers back in the door on their birthday by providing freebies such as a dessert (for example, Uno) or a discount towards their next dinner, like Maggiano’s does in their birthday emails.

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Keep it simple

Promoting too many products within the email around a free gift can make it appear disingenuous. An example of a simplistic email is fashion retailer, Saba, who uses a clean design and straightforward message to celebrate their customers’ day.

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You don’t need to include a discount to have a successful birthday campaign.

Take FitBit for example. On their customers’ birthday, they send a fun email on tips for keeping healthy and active. This email comes across as genuine and fun, which is a breath of fresh air for consumers. Hulu also sends a very brief, discount-less email to customers on their birthday and includes tokens to add another layer of personalization.

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Send more than one Birthday email

If gifts or birthday discounts are part of your birthday email strategy consider sending more than one email. Birchbox sends an email 3 days after the birthday to remind the customers about the gift that’s waiting for them.

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Surprise customers with a mystery gift

Grove Collaborative surprises its customers with a mystery birthday gift that’s waiting in the cart, ready to ship for free with the next order. To drive the sales they are adding a free birthday candle if the order is placed the same day.

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Ask for birth date

Not sure when the customer’s birthday is? You can ask them, just like Nike. Nike created an email just for collecting birth dates and the subject line explains the benefits of sharing the birthday info. The email is short, simple and contains a fun birthday-themed gif.

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Send a half-birthday offer

Outdoor Voices has an unusual strategy – they are sending a half-birthday surprise to their customers. This short and fun email is sent 6 months before the actual birthday and contains a $20 off discount code.

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Use fun images and animated gifs

You can make an email more birthday-like by adding fun images or animated gifs. The Art of Shaving sends this party-themed email with a 10% off discount code. We love the animated gif that shows their product as a birthday gift! 

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Include product recommendations with the birthday code

Consider adding links to the best selling products to your birthday email and encourage customers to use the birthday discount. Timex uses an animated gif to show different best selling products, and at the bottom, they provide personalized product recommendations based on the browsing history.

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Promote gift cards

Gift cards can be great gifts and clothing brand Boohoo uses that idea for birthday strategy. They are reaching out to customers before the birth date to suggest gift cards as birthday present requests. Below that, Boohoo smartly lists ideas for birthday outfits.

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Create a sense of urgency

Eyewear brand, EyeBuyDirect sends a birthday email with a BOGO code that lasts only 48 hours. This way they are creating a sense of urgency that can encourage the customer to complete the purchase as soon as possible. The CTA “ENJOY TODAY” has the same urgency tone.

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Birthday email implementation tips

To get your new birthday email strategy up and running, you must have all the data necessary to trigger the campaigns at the appropriate time. Send on the wrong date, and the customer may be confused, or worse, annoyed. Below are our top three tips for implementing your birthday campaign:

Trigger the email campaign based on a customer’s birthday

This may seem obvious, but it isn’t! To send a birthday email, you’ll need to capture your customers’ birthdays in a field to set up a triggered campaign. If you have a rewards program, the sign-up process is a great place to ask for this information.

If the data isn’t available, you can use a triggered email for recent subscribers or customers to ask them to provide more information for a free gift on their birthday (like this email from Mented). This type of email is perfect to add to your purchase journey or new sign-up flow.

Personalize with tokens or merge tags

Most ESPs (email service providers) use tokens such as the customer’s name and other customer data points. Consider using these within the birthday email subject line as well as the message. For example, you could use the subject line: “Happy birthday, Jennifer!” versus a more generic message: “Happy Birthday”.

Ensure unique discount codes

If you go the discount route, ensure the discount code or coupon is unique and randomly generated so the code isn’t shared elsewhere. What’s more, you can keep tabs on who’s taking you up on your special birthday offer with 1:1 tracking!

In addition to Birthday email examples, MailCharts tracks and compiles entire email journeys, so that you can view email flows for top brands and competitors.

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