You might remember I am a big fan of birthday emails because they can drive revenue and branding and build engagement with your subscribers for relatively little effort.
This year my birthday yielded 16 commercial email greetings plus one reminder (view screenshots of the emails on SlideShare). Not bad, but as I subscribe to more than 100 email programs from consumer brands, I was surprised at how few are taking advantage of the benefits this little goodwill ambassador can provide.
Below are my observations with this year's crop of birthday greetings:
1. Timeliness: Birthday Month vs. Day
Here's the delivery schedule for my birthday (March 16) emails:
Day 1 of the month: 4
Day 2-10: 6
Day before: 1
On birthday: 5
An emerging trend among consumer brands is to batch birthday emails for all subscribers born in that month and send on the first day or early in the month. With this approach, you can create unique creative and offers for one-twelfth of your database and have the promotions run for the entire month.
Among my birthday emails, the monthly senders used copy and a nonspecific subject line to convey that the wish was for the whole month.
The downside, of course, is that most of your birthday people won't get your message on their special day. But what you lose in immediacy and personalization, you gain in simplicity of managing fewer promotional deadlines.
The other downside is that your recipients whose birthdays are later in the month aren't necessarily focused on their birthday yet and might forget about your offer. Solution: A reminder email (more on that later).
2. Content: Purchase Incentives Rule
Among email marketers as a whole, birthday greetings usually range from a simple "Happy Birthday!" greeting to an offer for a full-fledged freebie. In my own collection, I received one with no incentive, two virtual gifts and one freebie. The rest were discounted purchases.
Here's how the offers broke down:
The professional networking service Xing offered a free seven-day premium membership to basic members. Premium members got a free seven-day membership extension. Betty Crocker sent me a link to download a cake-recipe booklet.
- Discount with purchase: 13
The percentage discount (10 percent to 40 percent, some with minimum purchases) ruled, with 11 offers. Four emails offered a monetary discount ($10 to $250 off for a Delta vacation of $5,000 or more).
Virgin Atlantic was the only company that didn’t offer any kind of incentive or gift. It did ask me to click a button that took me to a landing page that built a personalized message in skywriting, jet-stream fashion: "HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOREN YOUR FRIENDS AT VIRGIN ATLANTIC" (see below).