I have a confession. Despite the fact I am 27-years-old, I still get really excited about my birthday. Not because I am one year older (hello mortgage), but because it’s comforting to know that, at least once a year, those who matter the most will get in touch to celebrate the fact I was born, and mark the occasion with cake and cards (and hats…).
But it’s not only loved ones who get in touch - increasingly, retailers do too.
And yet, while birthday emails are a growing phenomenon, a surprising number of brands still don’t send them - even those that ask for your date of birth during the sign-up process.
As Ometria turns four years old this week, we looked back at birthday emails we've received over the past year to come up with a list of good examples. The final list can be split into three categories: birthday emails including amazing gifs, birthday emails with an awesome concept or copy and birthday emails that have been personalised.
Disclaimer: We’re not saying these emails are perfect, but each one has been chosen because of certain element that caught our eye or made us feel special.
This gif from fashion and lifestyle brand JOY celebrates one of the best things about birthdays: cake. By including the message “Happy birthday love from Joy” underneath the gif, the brand manages to reinforce the idea that it is “treating” the recipient on their birthday. Below is the email in its entirety:
The copy is informal and warm, addressing a recipient like a close friend; for example: “Go on, spoil yourself. It’s our treat”.
Just like all of the emails in this post, JOY includes a birthday discount (10% off). However, unlike other examples, the brand manages to create a sense of urgency by informing a recipient to “hurry” as they only have two weeks to redeem the discount.
Personalised product recommendations (or even just product recommendations based on the recipient’s demographic - namely "age") would take this email to the next level.
With its mint green logo, dreamy name and quirky voice, Wanderlust & Co is a brand that likes to have fun and enjoy life. It also doesn’t take itself too seriously. This birthday email couldn’t be more on brand.
The pastel colour palette, confetti-filled gif and laid back copy all make it distinctly “Wanderlust”. The sheer effort that appears to have gone into creating the email (popping a balloon etc) is likely to make a recipient smile - even if the template was, in reality, very easy to make.
Nonetheless, a bit of personalisation definitely wouldn’t have gone a miss (for example, changing the CTA to: “get shopping, Hannah!”).
If this email was a physical card, we’d make sure it was always on display (even after our birthday).
Why? It looks good! As well as the oversized glittery gif showing off its £10 discount, the border of gold stars - spilling onto the body of the email, making it appear more three-dimensional - gives it a glamorous edge that’s likely to appeal to someone on their birthday.
The only thing we’d change about this birthday email is its lack of personalisation. A first name, product recommendation or - let's say - number reflecting the age the recipient in a balloon would all go a long way.
With the alternative subject line “HBD”, Hollister’s birthday email gives itself a good chance of standing out in an overcrowded inbox and getting opened.
Going with the slightly left-of-field headline “Candles on cakes are overrated”, followed by a gif of a flashing surfboard and the words “but surfing new styles to wear on your birthday isn’t”, this email is carefully crafted to appeal to the brand’s demographic - particularly those a fan of the great outdoors.
How could it be made even better? This email would be even more impressive it was personalised according to gender. At the bottom of the email are two CTAs: “Shop Guys” and “Shop Girls”, suggesting the brand might not be sure which gender they are addressing. However, as with all of these examples, this could be because the brand doesn't have this information stored yet.
CONCEPT & COPY
The puntastic, lively copy and birthday themed CTA manage to create the level of excitement every recipient wants to see on their birthday.
The “best sellers” product recommendations also get a massive tick, and the subtle but clever condition that you have to spend at least £30 to use the promo code is an interesting way to boost the campaign’s overall revenue potential.
That said, this condition could put some birthday bunnies off - especially as there isn’t any obvious personalisation, making the offer seem less sentimental.
River Island’s “early” birthday email is a genius idea; sent just before Christmas, this seasonal message will have anyone born in winter feel extra special.
The best thing about the actual birthday email is obviously the dynamic content blocks showing “celebrity birthdays this month”. By choosing young and fashionable style icons, this free content is bound to go down well with any River Island shopper. Using the recipient’s name in the body of the email also wins brownie points.
The only thing that could be improved in both of these emails is design as, at first glance, neither look particularly like birthday campaigns.
Banana Republic’s birthday email had us at subject line. Who can resist opening an email entitled: “Your birthday gift is inside!”.
Once opened, a recipient is not disappointed - met with a generous discount smack bang in the middle of the template.
Under closer examination, the quirky play on words with “BRthday” manages to make this birthday campaign different to any other brand’s, and - like Evans - the white and gold colour scheme and copious amounts of glitter are destined to please.
Like most of the emails in this list, we just wish this email had some personalisation - that would be the icing on the cake.
Once the email has been opened, it turns out the “treat” is both a birthday cake (albeit a non-edible one, of course) and a 10% off discount.
Aside from the cake theme, what really makes this email work is its tone of voice. From “Go on, have another slice” to singing off with a kiss (“Oasis x”), this email speaks directly to a recipient and projects the sort of warmth and kindness you’d get in an actual birthday card.
Personally, we think Oasis could have had a little more fun with the design, and experimented with some personalisation. There’s always next year…
Iconic sportswear brand Adidas has a reputation for sending great birthday emails (you can check out one example here).
Perhaps because the brand knows less about this recipient, we didn’t see as much personalisation in this version, however what it lacked in bespoke content it made up for in copy and design.
The super-cool, well-designed header is true to Adidas’s traditional brand colours (black and white), as it the entire email template. The copy of the email goes out of its way to make the recipient feel really special on their birthday - this is most noticeable in the “for you” after the “15% off” discount above the CTA.
Unfortunately, the product recommendations, based on a “Bestseller” filter, are for men, however - again - that could be because the recipient did not specify their gender upon signing up.
This email from M&Co was our favourite birthday email, just for its sheer personalisation.
The brand uses the recipient’s name in both the subject line and body of the email, making the overall message seem more genuine and less automated.
We love how the email provides the option for birthday shoppers to use the voucher offline, helpfully including a store finder button.
All of the above emails made us feel special, which is ironic as a birthday email is just a triggered email - sent automatically to a recipient on the DOB they submitted during the signup process (or later on, if your brand has a ‘personal info’ section for subscribers on site).
Technically, there is nothing truly sentimental about them, and yet they still manage to communicate to a customer how much a brand cares. Even if a recipient knows it's an automated message, it doesn't matter because it's still clever, it's still fun and they still get a nice discount!
... And for more inspiration, check out our Pinterest board 🌟