How to get the best ROI from birthday emails

by Kristyn Wallace
22 May 2017
How to get the best ROI from birthday emails
Birthday email campaigns are a major cause for celebration as they provide brands with customer insights, brand loyalty and goodwill, and extra revenue. Salmat expert Kristyn Wallace explains how.

Birthday email campaigns should be just as exciting for a brand as they are for a consumer. Once a year, your subscriber gets a great deal and your business picks up some extra revenue and brand loyalty. Cause for celebration.

As with all great marketing initiatives, your birthday program should be built with good data. So, it goes without saying that each subscriber record must include a date of birth (DOB). 

Where do we start?

Here are a couple of ways to collect DOB information:

1. Subscription form

Ask the subscriber for their DOB at sign-up. This is the easiest way to ensure that you’re capturing the information.  

Form with date of birth

Remember to explain why you are collecting DOB information.

Letting the subscriber know that they’ll receive a gift is a good incentive for them to give you the information.

2. Dynamic Content

Including a dynamic content block in a regular email can help you capture your contact’s DOB information without having to create a whole new campaign. Create a variation on a regular campaign that goes out to your contacts whose DOB you have, with dynamic content that only appears to those who don’t, then send to the corresponding segments. Sounds tricky, but a platform like dotmailer can make this process painless.

Birthdays are personal ...

Personalised emails are a great way to build brand loyalty and engagement with a customer.

Our Client Engagement team conducted some research on Australia’s top online fashion brands and found that 87.5% of those who did send a birthday email included some additional form of personalisation in their email, outside of just remembering the individual’s DOB.

Here are a few quick ways to add some personalisation to your birthday messages:

1. Use the recipient’s name 

Emails with subject lines that include the recipient’s first name can generate 17 percent higher unique open rates than those that do not, according to Experian.

Here is one of our favourite subject line/preheader combos: 

Kristyn, what’s a birthday without presents? / Here’s one gift you will wanna open. 

2. Key Dates:

It’s clear that we already have a subscriber’s DOB, if we’re sending a birthday message. However, in Witchery’s birthday message to our Client Engagement Manager, Fred, they also mentioned the day of the week that his birthday falls on. This is simple, but clever stuff. Fred is now a loyal Witchery brand ambassador.

Personalise your birthday emails

Go above and beyond and personalise with your contact’s exact birthday.

3. Gender

In fashion, keeping tabs on somebody’s gender is pretty important to ensuring that you’re delivering relevant content to that subscriber. If gender is important in your industry, create male and female variations of your birthday email, like Jeanswest does.

Jeanswest tailors its imagery to its audience

Gender is another way to personalise your content.

Decisions, decisions

Your gift is the most important part of your birthday campaign. It is up to you to decide what type of gift it is that you’d like to give, and explain how the customer can redeem that gift.

Split testing (also known as A/B testing) will help you decide which is the best type of gift to give your customers, and how to deliver it. You send one version to one set of contacts, then the other version to another set to determine which option delivers the best results.

With that in mind, here are a few things you might want to test:

1. Dollar or Percentage?

Do your subscribers respond better to a dollar amount voucher, or a percentage off their purchase? All but one of the online fashion retailers that Salmat reviewed chose the dollar amount voucher.

Bonds sends its contacts an eCard
Bonds sends its contacts virtual gift cards on their birthday.

2. Points or promo code?

Offering points is used as part of a continuous loyalty/engagement strategy. Points often equal dollars toward a future purchase. If you want to get more subscribers engaged in your loyalty programme – and purchasing more often so that they get (and subsequently use) points – you might do this. It may not pay off immediately, but as part of a longer-term strategy, it’s a good option. 

Email marketing & fashion eBook

On the other hand, a promo code is a quick and easy call-to-action. It takes little effort to create a unique promo code via an e-commerce platform like Magento. If you’ve got dotmailer with Magento connectivity, for example, you’ve already got the ability to pull that promo-code directly into your email and redirect the subscriber to your online shop when they click on the link.

3. Online or In-store?

If you have physical retail locations, you might like to drive traffic into your locations by giving your subscriber the option of redeeming their voucher in-store, or online. A point of sale (POS) system can be connected to your online store and email platform, so you can track who redeems the voucher instore. This cross-channel data can then be utilised for future marketing initiatives. This is also useful if you know that you’re dealing with a demographic who shops in-store. 

Include dates and T&Cs with your offer

Make sure you include the expiry date and a link to T&Cs.

To get the full picture on whether a simple online voucher, or a cross-channel voucher works best, you’ll need your POS system to talk to your e-commerce, or email platform. A little expertise is always helpful in this case so we recommend talking to your Account Manager. 

Automation simplified

Now that we know how to capture the data we need, and what makes birthday email content engaging, we need to know when is the best time to send the email.

All of the fashion retailers that Salmat looked at sent a birthday email one week prior to the recipient’s birthday. These campaigns are sent by programmes that have been developed to trigger the email a certain number of days prior to the subscriber’s birthday.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a developer on your marketing team to create such a programme for you. Most email platforms today have the functionality to build an automated programme.

Dotmailer automation example

Dotmailer allows the user to create an automated campaign using drag and drop functionality.

If you’ve got all of your ducks in a row, the automation part doesn’t need to be scary. 

So many reasons ...

Surprisingly, 60% of the top online Aussie fashion retailers in our research are not sending a birthday email campaign. This is a big opportunity for these brands. We’ve seen that not only can a campaign like this help you increase revenue, it can also build brand loyalty and enrich your subscriber database. 

Celebrating your contacts’ birthdays is not only a goodwill gesture, but it could generate customer insights for segmentation and even sales for your brand. After all, there are so many reasons to celebrate birthdays.

Interested in finding out more about our email services? Click here or call us on 1300 725 628.

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About the author
Kristyn Wallace
Account Manager

After finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Canada, Kristyn began her career in the IT industry, working in sales and account management. As part of the Digital Client Engagement team at Salmat, her focus is on understanding her clients’ needs and delivering results across digital channels.

More articles by Kristyn Wallace