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Everyone likes to feel special on their birthday, and while a person’s friends and family will play a huge part in rolling out the festivities for the celebrant, retailers can also get in on the fun.

As it turns out, there are very good reasons for you to treat your customers on their birthday. A study by Vibes found that 77% of mobile consumers state that receiving surprise points, exclusive messages, and birthday/anniversary content "would have a major impact on their brand loyalty."

Birthday campaigns also tend to perform better. Research by Experian revealed that compared with promotional emails, birthday messages:

  • have a 481% higher transaction rate
  • generate 342% more revenue
  • have a 179% higher unique click rate
  • See an 89% higher open rate.

Infographic stating that birthday emails out-perform promotional emails in almost all KPIs


These numbers tell us that birthday email campaigns can be a huge treat – for both customers and brands. So, it’s worth investing the time and effort to make your birthday initiatives shine. Read on for ideas and tips on how to do just that.


Send a special discount

This one can seem to be a low-hanging fruit of birthday rewards, however, special discounts are known to yield quick results and valuable data when implemented correctly. If you’re new to birthday campaigns, consider starting things off with a special discount that shoppers can use on the month of their birthday.

One example of a brand that does this well is Disney, which lets customers take 20% off their purchase on their birthday month.


An email of Disney's promotional birthday offer with CTAs promoting customer engagement


It’s simple, straightforward, and easy to test. Just make sure to create unique promo codes for each celebrant, so you can track who’s redeeming your offers.


Free Products

Alternatively, you can opt to give shoppers a freebie on their special day. Some examples of brands that offer birthday freebies include Starbucks and Sephora. The former lets customers get a free drink or food item of their choice on their birthday:


Statbucks' birthday rewards email which offers customers a free drink on their birthday.


Sephora, on the other hand, lets celebrants choose products from a curated catalog.



Sephora's birthday promotion offering freebies


Freebies are a great option if you want to encourage your customers to try your products or if you have samples and surplus stock to give away.


Extra rewards

Here’s the not-so-great reality of loyalty or rewards programs: while many consumers sign up for them, not everyone participates in all the programs they join. 

A survey by CodeBroker found that almost "two-thirds of respondents actively engage with less than half the loyalty programs to which they are members.” The survey found that only 18% actively engage with all their rewards programs.

If your loyalty or rewards program is suffering from low engagement rates, consider incorporating birthday rewards to stir things up. When implemented correctly, this tactic can fuel engagement among your members and put your brand back on their radar.

Bobbie Dogs, an eCommerce site for Wonder Dogs, has done a great job at incorporating birthday rewards into their loyalty program — dubbed “The Wolf Pack.”

Members of the program automatically get 100 “Bones” (i.e., points) on their birthday, which is enough to get free shipping. Those extra 100 points also bring members closer to unlocking higher-value rewards such as $10 or $20 coupons. 


Bobbie Dog's loyalty explainer page


Another great example comes from Smack Bang, a Wellington-based pet products specialist is one brand that's using a powerful loyalty program to their advantage. With a 100% engagement rate and 6x ROI, the addition of loyalty marketing to SmackBang's toolkit really helps them to capture customers' attention time and time again. 

Loyalty members earn points for actions such as creating a profile, referring a friend, reviewing products, making purchases, and engaging on social media. And the benefits include % discounts off as well as first-looks at product releases. 


Smack Bang's online loyalty widget's earn options


Surprise your customers

Want to keep shoppers on their toes or still trying to figure out which reward type is the best option? Consider offering a range of rewards and surprises that your customers can enjoy on their birthday month.

That’s what the lingerie retailer ThirdLove is doing. Members of their ‘Hooked’ loyalty program get an annual free birthday gift, which remains a surprise until the customer's special day. According to the company's website:

We’re not ones to spoil a surprise! While we won’t tell exactly what they are, they’ll change regularly and might be a freebie, a discount, or a little something special just for you.


Thirdlove's 'Hooked' rewards page offering 'bundle savings' and free shipping


Celebrate YOUR birthday

A nice twist to the concept of birthday rewards is to celebrate your brand’s birthday. This is a good way to mark an important milestone, and it gives you the opportunity to thank customers — both new and old.

Bare Wholefoods, a Sydney-based cafe, did just that when they celebrated their 4th birthday. To mark the occasion, Bare Wholefoods sent a pre-birthday email to their customers, which included a $10 discount code along with a sincere message of appreciation. The result? The small but mighty campaign saw a 6.59% conversion rate!


Rough & Bare's email celebrating the stores' birthday and offering $10 off



Tips when implementing birthday rewards

We’ve talked about the different types of birthday rewards you can offer; now let’s discuss how you can take your campaigns to the next level. If you’re looking to start or further optimize your birthday rewards initiatives, follow these best practices to ensure that your efforts hit the mark:


Integrate birthday perks with your loyalty or rewards program

While it’s certainly possible to offer birthday rewards to non-loyalty program members, your campaigns will perform far better if they’re incorporated into your loyalty program.

Roping in birthday rewards into your loyalty program enables you to build data-rich customer profiles. Having your shoppers’ purchase histories, shopping activities, and birthdays in one place means that you have a clear view of who each customer is. That, in turn, can enable you to improve and personalize their shopping experiences even more.


Automate your campaigns

Keeping track of everyone’s birthdays and setting up individual messages can be highly tedious, so it’s best to automate your campaigns. This step should be fairly easy if you’re using marketing automation software that lets you stay on top of your customer engagement activities.

Marsello, for example, has a ‘Birthday Flow’ feature that automatically triggers an email sequence to engage customers on their birthday month. The email series is also pre-designed and is populated with an offer, so there’s no need to manually configure the campaign. Just look at this example from Nigeria-based masters of loyalty marketing, bCODE.


bCODE's automated Happy Birthday flow

Test your offers

While we can certainly recommend birthday rewards and ideas, ultimately, the performance of your birthday promotions will depend on your specific store and customer base. That’s why it’s important that you test and analyze different birthday promotions to see what works best for your business.

As mentioned above, coming up with unique promo codes makes it easier to monitor the performance of your offers, as well as the customers who are redeeming their rewards.

You can also use birthday rewards as an opportunity to test different promo types (e.g., free shipping vs. 20% off vs. $5 off). That, in turn, gives you insight into which types of promotions resonate most with your audience.


Send a compelling birthday email

Your email greeting can make or break your birthday campaign, so make it good.

Our main tip? Keep the message short, sweet, and direct. Shoppers receive numerous messages on their birthday and they likely won’t have time to read rambling emails from brands. So, kick things off with a quick greeting, mention your offer, and have a clear call-to-action (CTA).


Tavelocity's 'Happy Birthday' email offering 15% off with a promo code


Travelocity’s birthday email follows all these best practices to the tee. Not only is Travelocity’s email clear and succinct, but it also contains a great offer and CTA.


Consider SMS marketing

While email is still the most popular channel for sending birthday promos and rewards, SMS is rapidly gaining steam — and it won’t slow down anytime soon. Industry experts are predicting SMS marketing to grow by 52% by 2023.

As such, if you’re thinking about using SMS marketing, customer birthdays present the perfect opportunity to touch base. Consumers will likely be checking their phone for birthday greetings, and having a timely text from your brand could serve as a pleasant surprise. 

For inspiration, take a look at this text message from the jewelry retailer, Aurate.


Aurate's SMS marketing offering customers born in October a product photo of a necklace.


Final words

Birthdays can be a real treat not just for your customers, but for your brand, as well. So, take the time to create campaigns that give your shoppers the warm and fuzzies on their special day.

Need help doing just that? Check out Marsello’s customer loyalty features and discover how you can engage each customer on their birthday and beyond.


Make sure to check out our comprehensive loyalty guide to ensure your loyalty marketing is up to date in all areas. 


Read Guide


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