Email Marketing Effective Birthday Emails That Light up Our Inboxes

Published on October 28th, 2014 | by Kim Stiglitz


Effective Birthday Emails That Light up Our Inboxes

I recently celebrated my birthday, and as an email and content marketer, I couldn’t wait to see what kind of birthday emails I’d receive from the various email lists I subscribe to. This year, I got a dozen different birthday emails from retailers, airlines, restaurants and even my dentist (maybe he heard about the birthday cake email below)! Not sending engagement-driving birthday emails yourself? Now’s the time. In this post, we break down various birthday emails, and what makes them effective or miss the mark – Take note!

First, here’s a snapshot of my Gmail promotions tab from the day of my birthday:

Effective Birthday Emails that Lit Up Our Inbox

You Said It’s Your Birthday?

Even though it seems obvious, every birthday-related email I received, and any you create, should mention the word “birthday” in the subject line. It’s an immediate attention grabber, and it makes the recipient feel special. As you can see from the screenshot above, the word “birthday” was used in a variety of ways from the simplest, “Happy Birthday Kim!” (nice personalization) to the more creative including questions, offers and promotions.

Birthday Gifts in the Form of Offers

Sending a birthday offer is an excellent way to not only let your recipients know you’re thinking of them on their special day, but it also drives revenue, because who doesn’t want to treat themselves on their birthday? My inbox was brimming with birthday offers including gift cards, free chocolate cake and more. Take a look at some of the best:

Tory Burch

Tory Burch sent a $50 virtual gift card to be used in stores or online.

What made this offer effective:

The offer contained a unique promo code, which didn’t expire for 30 days. The offer also contained pre-header text that read, “Best wishes on your special day. Shop Now.” It was an unexpected gift that provided an added incentive to buy something and “save” $50.

Effective Birthday Emails that Lit Up Our Inbox


Like Tory Burch, online retailer, Piperlime sent me an offer for a discount on a minimum purchase; $25 off my next purchase of $100 or more.

What made this offer effective:

Piperlime spelled out the specifics in the actual offer vs. burying it in the fine print. The headline is also nice with the, “Birthday Treat Yourself” messaging. The offer also contained a unique promo code, which expired after one week, creating a greater sense of urgency.

Effective Birthday Emails that Lit Up Our Inbox


Omaha Steaks:

Omaha Steaks went with a slightly different birthday approach – right to the stomach.

What made this offer miss the mark: 

This offer immediately grabbed my attention. Why? Two words: Chocolate cake. With a drool-worthy image of a luscious chocolate cake, Omaha Steaks had my attention. However, with multiple “combo” offers, (free chocolate cake, 10% off, and 61% off), the “gift” became confusing, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting?


Effective Birthday Emails that Lit Up Our Inbox

The call to action (“Hurry, Claim Now”) has an effective sense of urgency, and it enticed me to click through, however, I landed on a page with details of the Birthday Celebration Combo, yet couldn’t find an offer expiration. No cake for me.

Effective Birthday Emails that Lit Up Our Inbox


DSW shoe retailer took the anti-cake route with their offer, “Forget Cake! B-days Need New Shoes!” and included a $5 off deal.

What made this offer effective:

DSW personalized the subject line: “$5 off for the birthday girl! We ♥ you, Kim!” They used both my gender and my first name. Plus, they added an eye-catching symbol (the heart). Like Tory Burch, DSW gave me 30 days to use my $5 off promotion.

Effective Birthday Emails that Lit Up Our Inbox


I also recently received a birthday email in my inbox, not for my birthday, but for J.Crew’s birthday, which included the attention-getting subject line, “Sorry, you can’t wear your birthday suit to our party…” Inside was the following: “A party favor, from us to you” and a 50% off offer. It was a great way to leverage a milestone for their business and do something unexpected for the subscriber – me! 

Effective Birthday Emails That Lit Up Our Inbox

So what can you learn from these birthday emails for your own business? Birthday emails offer you the opportunity to engage and connect with subscribers in a personal way by acknowledging something about them vs. purely trying to sell something to them. By wishing subscribers a “Happy Birthday!,” you have the chance to extend and build the relationship beyond subscriber and sender,  and you may even generate a little revenue in the process – that’s the icing on the cake!

Do you send birthday emails to your subscribers? Tell us what you offer in the comments.

Use VerticalResponse for free to send your email newsletters, offers and invitations.


© 2014, Kim Stiglitz. All rights reserved.

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Kim Stiglitz

is a contributing author for VerticalResponse.

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