We modern day customers are a demanding lot

We’re constantly plugged into a multitude of channels receiving of a constant stream of messages.

As marketers it’s important that we strive to produce engaging, useful and interesting messages in order to be heard above the crowd. Birthday emails are a tried and tested method of using the information you know about someone to contact them with a more personalised and positive message.

Generally speaking, birthday emails are a great tool in a marketer’s toolkit – however there are a few crucial do’s and don’ts which should be taken into account.

The goal of the birthday email

The exact goal of sending a birthday email depends on the objectives of the business, industry and marketer in question.

Crucially, (and I hope it probably goes without saying) it’s about making the recipient happy, so it has to be a positive message – as the person opening an email either on or near their birthday is not going to want to read something negative or dull.

Birthday campaigns are a great brand building opportunity and are a great chance to get your customers thinking positively about your company. In order to benefit the most from the customer’s ‘birthday buzz’ marketers often offer something of value such as a promotion or a discount if the objective is to drive a sale. With the amount of messages flying back and forth these days a simple ‘happy birthday’ probably isn’t going to cut it.

In this piece we’ll focus on birthday emails that drive conversion.

The birthday email programme which aims at driving a conversion – As easy as 1,2,3

The most common and easiest strategy is to send one single birthday email to each customer on their birthday. However, I always recommend sending a series of two or three emails as it can be much more effective, especially with time limited offers.

  1. The first email should be sent a couple of days or weeks ahead of the recipient’s birthday, promoting an offer to use within a specific time period. The first email allows marketers to take advantage of excitement leading up to the birthday.
  2. On the customer’s actual birthday you should send a second email delivering birthday wishes with a gentle offer reminder to encourage conversion (if no interaction occurred in the first email).
  3. In the event of no conversion, a third email should be sent as the last reminder 24 hours before the end of the offer. This email can make the difference and it’s very quick to design.

Finally, some brands may resend a birthday campaign after the birthday, particularly if the offer hasn’t been used.

Writing the email

The overall message of the email very much depends on the tone of voice of the brand sending it. However the tips below should be taken into account:

Subject line. Whether the brand is using an incentive or not, the subject line must reflect expectations right away. Giving false hopes will only damage the recipient’s perception of your brand. Remember to use the pre-header text to your advantage.

If including offers, the incentive should be put at the forefront of the subject line. Making it clear will increase your conversions.

Be human. Marketers should try where possible to add a personal touch so try to think outside the box. Customers are feeling happy – making them laugh or generating a positive emotional response on the day will help build brand advocacy with the customer and may lead to them sharing the content. Try sending the birthday email from an individual rather than a team or a company.

Personalisation. Use what you know and make the email personalised and relevant. This cannot be stressed enough – the only way to make an impact is to use data – a lot of data.

The do’s and don’ts of birthday emails

  • Offer value with your birthday wishes
  • Personalise the message as much as possible to strengthen the personal nature of the communication
  • Suppress any other communications due to be sent (automated or not) on any days that could interfere with the birthday message.
  • Send spammy birthday emails which do not add value
  • Send something for the sake of it – just because you can doesn’t mean you should. If you cannot add value or if your product/industry isn’t appropriate then don’t
  • Use inaccurate data – any benefit from a nice birthday message will instantly undone if the data you use isn’t 100% accurate

Birthday emails are simple to set up and very cheap to maintain. Make sure you have accurate data before you push this campaign live. Inaccurate data means a horrendous and quite frankly embarrassing experience for the consumer. If you get their birthday wrong or call them by the wrong name they’re not going to think very highly of you.

However, if you get it right and manage to create a meaningful and positive interaction with a customer that’s in a good mood you will have created a positive brand experience with that customer. While this may not necessarily mean that customer will immediately buy something from you but it does mean that customer is more likely to think of you when they need to and is more likely to become an advocate of your brand. Positives all round…

For more on email marketing click here, or download the white paper on writing birthday programmes here.