What? No Birthday Hoopla? Four Reasons Email Marketers Should Help Me Celebrate

So, this week was my birthday, and in a birthday note from my daughter, I learned that I am "16 feet tall, weigh  40 pounds and am 65 years old" -- at least in her mind. I love my birthday! My kids give me big hugs and sing, we do a lot of family stuff, I get to have my favorite cake -- and every year I look forward to the emails that I am going to get from the brands I do business with: "10% off your next purchase," "Happy Birthday! Hope it's a great one!" You get the drift.  

Some of these emails have offers, some don't -- but given that I get email from hundreds of brands, I love to compare how different marketers approach this monumental moment in my life (after all, I *did* just turn 65, right?!). 

Turns out, this year I only got two email birthday wishes from brands, both from local businesses -- my hair salon and my insurance agent. C'mon, guys! Where's all the birthday love? Setting up a birthday message is among the easiest things an email marketer can do, and sometimes it can be pretty darned valuable.  

Here are four reasons you should send your subscribers a birthday message:

The customer relationship is important. It's been said before: nurturing your email list is like having a spouse/partner. You need to pay attention, recognize the important moments in his/her life and in the relationship with you. A birthday is an easy and suitable example. If my husband had forgotten my birthday, there would be fire and brimstone for him. While my reaction to brands forgetting isn't so dramatic, I am extremely disappointed that my birthday went unrecognized by the companies I am most loyal to. You should know better, [insert brand name here]!

It's a relevant and timely message. Talk about wanting to start implementing right-time or triggered communications -- this is a relevant, data-driven moment in time that you can leverage to reach your customer in a one-to-one communication. Even if there's no offer, the brand is now top of mind, and the client appreciates the recognition. And who knows, I might have clicked through to your website to buy myself something nice for my birthday. You will never know now, will you, [insert brand name here]?

Incremental revenue, anyone? To the point above, when a recipient feels engaged with a brand on a personal level, she's more inclined to transact. I have worked with clients that saw high six-digit revenue bumps annually driven by their birthday program -- a message that had no offer or call-to-action, but rather a simple recognition of the recipient's birthday and some well wishes. Is it really that difficult to do?

Get some honest feedback. On more than one occasion, I have seen clients get responses to the birthday messages that really demonstrate the gratitude of the recipient: funny messages like, "at least someone remembered my birthday this year, my husband is in some serious trouble," to the very heartfelt moments like, "You can't know how much this means to me. This is the first year I am celebrating my birthday since my wife passed away. It put a smile on my face, thank you." These are very real moments for your customers, and it should inspire you to impact them so profoundly.

So I want to thank Robert Anthony Salon and my Allstate agent. George Baranowski,  for my birthday wishes this year. I will be in for a massage very soon -- and yes, I will be renewing my auto insurance, George. To all you others, you sure did miss out. I am always looking for a good reason to shop, and my birthday is as good a reason as any.Too bad. You are going to have to wait another year to find out what could have been.

Tags: email
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6 comments about "What? No Birthday Hoopla? Four Reasons Email Marketers Should Help Me Celebrate".
  1. Luke Glasner from Red Pill Email , May 26, 2011 at 11:43 a.m.

    Hi Kara,

    Nice post and Happy Belated! Do blog comments count? - Luke

  2. Esther Surden from E. Surden Associates , May 26, 2011 at 1:37 p.m.

    As it happens, this week was my birthday, too, and I had an inbox choked with birthday wishes and offers. Too bad I don't have time to shop.
    Actually, while sending birthday wishes via email is an easy thing for a business to do, I am put off by some of the offers like this one from my local mall that wants me to come in to the mall between Monday May 23 through Friday, May 27 to pick up a $10 gift card "while supplies last." Really, do you think I'm going to stop everything during this short period of time to do this? And maybe when I get there you won't have my $10 card?
    As for feedback, none of the offers were in the least bit personal or came from a mailbox where feedback could be accepted. Princess Cruises' email did have a good start, but the game they wanted me to play took too long.
    I think if businesses want this to work, they need to rethink what personalization means and make sure they are connecting with, not annoying, the birthday girl or boy.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , May 26, 2011 at 2:59 p.m.

    Patina Group of restaurants was giving you a lovely dining certificate for bdays and worth using. Unfortunately, my bday is not when I can use it within the month time limit since I do not live in NY. But I would chose one of their restaurants when I go. So Happy belated Bday. The only offer I can offer is to check out the Patina Group for their offer.

  4. Jim Petillo from iSite Design , May 26, 2011 at 3:56 p.m.

    From a personal standpoint: I think there's a limit to just how much "extraneous" personal information I am going to give a company for no other reason than being 'security conscious'.

    Full birthday is a common 'password reset' security question that some websites use to help determine you're you. Unless it's a required field, I'm not filling it out. I would hope that after all the news about the breaches at Sony where the personal information for 77 million users was stolen that people would at least pause and consider the risk.

    All that said I think Birthday emails (with or without offers) are a nice personal touch. I'm sure any birthday campaign can work just fine without me giving you the day and year. If asked for just the birth month I would probably provide it.

    I know that I would not be offended by an email with well wishes received on the first of that month instead of exactly on my birthday. :)

  5. Roanne Parker , May 26, 2011 at 9:50 p.m.

    Hi Kara, I had the same experience and blogged about it three times in all, before, during and after. I was and am amazed at how many companies who DO have my date of birth on their database DON'T use it. This is a simple way to win me over at the time I think I might just treat myself. After all, as I noted in this post http://blog.jericho.co.nz/quick-results-who-used-my-birthday/ by the time you are about 11 y.o. no one else really cares about your birthday as much as you do!

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