How Birthday Emails Bake the Cake
by Jordie van Rijn last updated on 0

How Birthday Emails Bake the Cake

It’s relatively easy for a company to set up a Birthday Email campaign. All you really need is a great idea for the content of the mail, the birthdate of your newsletter subscribers and an email autoresponder that supports sending perfectly timed emails based on profile fields like a date.

Birthdays are loved

The ease of implementing the birthday email and the results you can get from them are the two main reasons why it is so loved by marketers and the second most used event-driven email, just after the welcome email.

Birthday emails are also loved and most of them appreciated by your subscribers. “It’s my birthday and I’ll buy if I want to….” That could be the theme song for customers who sign up via email for birthday freebies, and when the offer is right, redeem them either online or in-store.

Not all birthday emails are created equal

As I mentioned the great idea for the content is where the balloons, cake and presents are presented. Let’s look at a few examples of birthday emails, in an effort to see what is so good about them and where they could be improved.

Houlihan’s does a great job of branding with its email sign-up page, thank-you landing page, welcome email and birthday email. It’s evident that Houlihan’s doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Houlihan’s emails and website have a tone that says: Fun. Reflecting the kind of experience you’ll have when you visit the restaurant. They even take their birthday-singing competitors to task, offering subscribers free food “without a side of humiliation.”


It is a pretty cool and fun email, but it also looks as if they are scared people will actually let someone else use it. Asking for an ID, only being able to view the email 3 times? No photocopies? You can consider building in some kind of security to prevent abuse, but this sends a very mixed message if you ask me. They are giving something away, but only in combination with a purchase AND the celebration for Houligans continues because they are probably bringing friends.

Urban Outfitters takes it a bit more easy. The email celebrates your birthday month as opposed to your actual birthday. You could be pleased that they’re celebrating all month long… Anyway, you get 20% off your next purchase. Not too shabby, and pretty reasonable for UO because in fashion discounts are pretty common.


But it is a missed opportunity to make the email truly memorable. There’s no personalization in the email, and it seems a bit cold too because the email is rather generic. The timing is probably off too, not everyone is thinking of their birthday a month beforehand. That is an email marketing engagement killer, if it isn’t timely… what do you think people will do with your email?

Some companies send the monthly message to reduce the time they need to schedule an email every day. This highlights the importance of sending using a tool that can automatically do this for you. (and asking for the day too, instead of just the month).

Cold Stone invites you (and your friend) to enjoy a free Creation – a buy one, get one free, that is. This is why birthday offers make so much sense. It’s unlikely you’ll go all by yourself to celebrate your birthday. So the cost of offering a free entrée, free dessert or whatever is offset by the fact that the birthday celebrant will be bringing along at least a plus-one.


Cold Stone personalizes the email further, with dynamic content pulling in the location of a store near you. That is a great idea. However, it looks like the dynamic area is causing an image rendering problem:


Don’t forget to always check your email rendering, and best to also subscribe yourself and your colleagues to receive your emails too. So you can (easily) spot the problems. Or your emails might be beauty-challenged, without you knowing it.


Birthday emails are great and all of the above emails probably perform very well. But to make it a truly memorable moment, think about how the recipient would feel once they see your email in their mailbox and always double-check!

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