How to Send Birthday Emails That Get Results

Mike Arsenault
July 21, 2021
minute read

Everybody knows what birthday emails are. A birthday email is an email you get on your birthday. Simple.

But what you may not know is that birthday emails perform impressively well in email marketing:

  • Birthday emails get 481% higher transaction rates than other promotional emails.
  • Birthday emails generate 342% more revenue than promotional emails.
  • And birthday emails get 179% higher unique click rates than promotional emails.

So birthday emails deliver solid email marketing performance. There are two factors that influence birthday email performance:

  1. Birthdays offer an organic reason to reach out to customers. People send birthday emails to their friends and family. So customers are accustomed to getting happy birthday emails. Actually, customers expect birthday emails. And, they like it. Who doesn’t enjoy happy birthday wishes and gifts?
  2. Birth dates are consistent and predictable. This makes birthday emails one of the easiest marketing emails to automate. So you never miss the conversion opportunity.

But there are reasons you should send birthday emails, aside from being easy to send without irritating anyone. Here’s why you should send birthday emails, and how to send birthday emails that convert.

Why send birthday emails?

First—and this may be the only reason you need—birthday emails can make a lot of money. 342% more revenue per email than promotional emails is serious revenue.

There’s that. But a birthday email can also differentiate your company from the competition.

Many companies overlook birthday emails. Or, businesses don’t collect the necessary data for sending birthday email campaigns. So, sending birthday emails will give you an edge in getting customer attention.

Additionally, a large number of companies that do send birthday emails send poorly designed emails that don’t convert. Fortunately, it’s easy to craft quality birthday emails. Once you’re finished reading this post, you’ll be able to send better birthday emails than your competitors.

All this means that sending birthday emails is a reliable and low-effort way to differentiate your brand and increase your revenue.

Now for the important part: how to create birthday emails that convert.

How to create birthday email campaigns that convert

There’s one critical step before you get to the actual creation of your birthday email campaign: collecting customer birthdays. This step is the reason many companies don’t send birthday emails at all—they simply don’t gather birth dates on any of their lead capture forms.

Determining where to capture customer birthdays is the first step to sending birthday emails.

Collect customer birth dates

This step is pretty straightforward. There are a handful of ways to gather birth dates without being intrusive:

  1. Email subscribe forms

    Offering to send a birthday gift is a great way to incentivize people to sign up for your email list. And, it organically collects the subscriber’s birthday.

    So, an email sign-up form like this one from Outdoor Voices gets the data you need and gets more email subscribers.

  1. On-site email capture forms

    It’s also easy to add a birthday field to your email capture forms. When you add a birthday field to an email capture form, also add some copy that tells the customer why you’re asking for their birthday.

    This can be as simple as adding copy that says, “So we can send you birthday gifts!” under the birthday field. People are more willing to give information if they know why you need it and what they’re going to get.

  2. Account registration forms

    This is one of the best places to collect birth dates. Most people are accustomed to adding their birthday when they create an account. Asking for a birthday here won’t interrupt the customer experience. They probably won’t even remember you asked… Until they get that birthday email!

  3. Email service provider preference center

    Most email service providers offer a user-facing interface where subscribers can manage their preferences.

    This preference center also enables subscribers to edit their personal information, which includes their birthday. However, people may not think to add their birthday to their profile, unless you prompt them or it’s required to subscribe. You can remind customers with a quick email to set their birthday in their profile.

  1. Birthday collection email campaign

    While all the collection methods are excellent for getting birthdays from new subscribers, you’ve probably got a whole list of subscribers that you built without asking for their birth dates.

    So, you can send an email and ask them to tell you their birthday. As always, explain why you want to know their birthday and tell them what they’ll get for giving up the information.

    Use a subject line like, “We want to send you a birthday gift!” or “We have a birthday gift for you, but we don’t have your birthday.” Be straightforward with your subject line. There’s no room for clever trickery here.

    It’s especially important to be clear with your subject line if you send a birthday collection email campaign because this is the most intrusive way to get birth dates. It’s a really bad customer experience if they open the email expecting one thing, and run into a form asking them for their birthday.

    And that brings up the last point about birthday collection emails: if you can get birth dates without sending an email, you should. It’s less bothersome, and most other methods are more reliable.

    But, if you must send a birthday inquiry email, do it like this:

Use discounts and offers

It’s the customer’s birthday. So, give them something! In addition to meeting birthday expectations, it’s good form to deliver on your promise of sending a birthday gift.

Fortunately, sending a birthday discount code is the same as sending any other discount in an email. There are no obstacles there. But, it’s important that you create and send your discount code so that it gets sales and without getting abused by other customers.

Here’s how you address both of those challenges.

  1. Use dynamic discount codes.

    A dynamic discount code is a unique, one-time-use code that can’t be leaked into the public domain or used by other customers.

    The cool thing about dynamic discount codes is that they don’t have to be completely random; format them however you want. You can create dynamic discount codes like BIRTHDAY-123 or 1GIFT4U.

    Even if the code is easy to guess, it can only be used once. So, there’s no danger of abuse.

  2. Send discounts that have larger numbers

    There are two broad categories of discount: percentage and dollars off.

    Both can generate conversions. However, larger numbers get better results. This means that you need to calculate the maximum discount you’re willing to give. Then, do some quick arithmetic to determine if the number of dollars off or the percentage will give you a higher number. Use the larger number in your discount.

    10% tends to convert better than $5 off. But, 10$ off will often perform better than 5% off, even if 5% actually works out to be more than $10. Bigger numbers just seem like bigger discounts.

  3. Offer free shipping.

    Free shipping is the third category of discount, and it works well as a birthday discount.

    Since customers only get one birthday discount per year, you can’t increase the purchase frequency. So, increasing the value of each birthday sale is the best way to boost your revenue from your birthday email campaigns.

    Offering free shipping for orders over a certain price (i.e. “FREE shipping on all orders over $50”) incentivizes customers to make more valuable birthday purchases, which nets you the most revenue per birthday email.

    The best combination of offers is a discount code, with an offer of free shipping if the order exceeds a certain amount. This incentivizes customers to make a birthday purchase and add more items to their cart to get the most value.

    Now, you don’t have to offer free shipping and a discount code. You can give them a discount code for free shipping. But, if the discount code is available through a discount code, it’s best to remove any minimum purchase requirements. Using a discount code and making a minimum purchase is more than most customers are willing to do.

    This is a nicely designed email from Macy’s that uses free shipping as the central birthday offer.

That’s a lot of information. If you’re worried about getting all the right aspects into your birthday email, rest easy.

Check out this excellent birthday email example from Converse that showcases how simple your email can be, while still covering all the bases. Notice how the CTA rides the birthday celebration theme.

Format your email like a birthday card or ecard

Birthday ecards are still popular. But, people are accustomed to receiving birthday cards. And, a birthday card is quick and easy to read. That’s how you want your birthday emails to feel: familiar, quick, and easy.

So, format your emails like a birthday card, with large text, high contrast colors, and minimal text.

Here’s an example of an email that’s formatted just like an ecard. Even the color scheme is reminiscent of a classic paper birthday card.

Personalize your subject line and body copy

Personalizing your birthday emails isn’t much different than personalizing other promotional emails:

  1. Use dynamic insertion to add the customer’s name to the subject line, “to” field, and body copy.
  2. Remember that you have the customer’s birth date as a possible aspect of personalization (birth dates make clever and personalized discount codes).

If you’re running other email marketing campaigns, the personalization will feel very familiar.

Automate your birthday emails

Birthday emails are the easiest to automate. If you’ve properly collected customer birth dates, you know exactly when to send birthday emails. So, it’s simple to automate your birthday email campaigns on any email marketing platform.

Send a birthday sequence

Your birthday email sequence should be two or three emails. Most people won’t use their discount on their birthday. But, they want to use it. Your job is to give them a reminder, so they don’t forget about their birthday gift.

Here’s how the birthday sequence goes:

  1. Pre-birthday email.

    This email is optional. But, it’s useful for maximizing conversions, because it gives you an opportunity to create anticipation and urgency. And, you can use it to give the customer more time to use their birthday discount.

    The first email in your birthday sequence can simply let the customer know that you’re going to send them a gift on their birthday, so they know to look for it. This builds anticipation, which helps increase open rates for your birthday emails.

    Or, you can include the birthday discount in your pre-birthday email. If you go this route, also tell the customer when the discount expires. This adds urgency to your offer, which drives more conversions.

    Additionally, if the customer redeems their discount before their birthday, your birthday email should not include a new discount code. Set up a trigger to send a birthday email with a thank you theme to customers who have already made their birthday purchase.

    If you opt to send a pre-birthday email, schedule it for two or three days before the customer’s birthday. That’s long enough that you won’t overcontact customers. But, they also won’t forget that they’ve got a birthday gift coming.

    This is a brilliant pre-birthday email example from Sephora that puts the focus on the customer starting with “We couldn’t wait.”

  1. Actual birthday email

    The birthday email is a must-have.

    Obviously, always send an email on the actual birthday. This is where you deliver your birthday discount, even if you sent it in a pre-birthday email.

    Also, remind the customer of when the discount code expires. That way your offer carries urgency, even if you didn’t send a pre-birthday email.

    This birthday email from New Look is almost perfect. Simple birthday ecard layout, prominent call to action, with a strong discount. It even states that the offer expires. However, it would be stronger if it said exactly when the offer expires.

  1. Post birthday email

    The post-birthday email will pick up the customers who intend to use their discount but just haven’t gotten around to it. It might seem extraneous, but the post birthday email significantly increases conversions.

    Your post-birthday email should arrive two or three days after the customer’s birthday, and 24 to 48 hours before the discount code expires.

    This timing gives the customer plenty of time to redeem their discount without a follow-up email. And, it’s close enough to the discount deadline that you can use the discount expiration date as a device for adding urgency (i.e. remind the customer that the deadline is approaching).

    Lastly, cancel follow-up emails to customers who have already used their discount code.

Use the right email marketing software

Although automating your birthday email campaigns isn’t super complex, it does require email scheduling and triggered email capabilities.

So, it’s important to use an email marketing platform that’s capable of collecting birthdays and sending emails automatically, and tracking buyer behavior to trigger or suppress emails as appropriate. That way your birthday email sequence is perfectly timed, and doesn’t overcontact or send repeat discount codes to customers who have already made a birthday purchase.

For instance, Rejoiner covers these bases with advanced automation and behavioral triggers that send automated email sequences and modify those sequences automatically, based on customer purchase behavior.

And, Rejoiner offers birthday email templates that enable you to create birthday emails that convert with nothing more than a simple, drag-and-drop email interface.

If you’re not sending birthday emails, you’re leaving a lot of easy-to-capture revenue on the table, and missing an opportunity to position your brand above the competition.

What to do next

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Mike Arsenault

Founder & CEO

For the last 10 years, Mike has worked with brands like Moosejaw, Hydroflask, Peak Design, Triumph, Hearst & Guthy Renker to provide the strategy & technology with which they use email to drive revenue growth. He's also the Founder of Rejoiner, a SaaS marketing platform built for ecommerce businesses.

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