— Marketing

Win over your customers’ hearts and minds

By Amanda Moyle


Birthdays are the ultimate celebration of the individual. As such, they’re a valuable opportunity for brands to flex their CX muscles – showing customers they see them, appreciate them and celebrate them.

The brand value in birthdays is clear. 84% of customers say they want to be treated like a person, not a number, and say that such a personalised experience is key to winning (and keeping) their business. Birthdays – decidedly not a business metric or a sales target – are the ultimate display in showing the customer that you see them as a real person – and showing a little love.

84% of customers say they want to be treated like a person, not a number.

When improving customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25-95%, investing in something as seemingly inconsequential as a birthday doesn’t seem so inconsequential anymore.

Of course, this idea isn’t new. Many brands have caught on to the idea that they can surprise and delight customers with a little something special on their special day. And that means customers have come to expect it. So what’s the best way to treat your customers?

From personalised videos and emails to discount codes and physical gifts, there are a myriad of ways brands can make their customers feel special on their birthdays. We break down how to use email automation to celebrate a customer’s birthday – and how to do it right.

Step 1: Know your customer’s birthday

Asking for personal information such as date of birth is necessary for some businesses, and for others, it can feel invasive. If it is not mandatory for your business operations, consider making this field optional in your forms, or explain why you are collecting it – and hint at what customers might come to expect as a result. You can also ask for only the month, and send “birthday month” comms.

BIrthday gift
Cleaning your data is the first step in scheduling personalised birthday messages.

Got a lot of data, but not a lot of consistency? Consider a data cleansing campaign, in which you can incentivise customers to confirm their information or add more to their lead record. You can also enhance your data with progressive profiling on your website – a user-friendly and subtle way to learn more about your customer for further personalisation.

If birthdays don’t seem right for your brand, how about other special days, such as the anniversary of when they bought a big ticket item with you (such as a car) or the anniversary of when they first signed up with you.

Step 2: Decide what you’re going to do

A birthday card is nice, but most would agree that a birthday present is even better. A free gift, or special birthday discount code can go a long way in customer loyalty – and brand advocacy.

After all, it’s no secret that getting a new client can cost 5x as much as retaining an old one – and that’s saying nothing of the exponential gains of having a happy, vocal customer who is advocating for you out in the market.

A few of our favourite birthday gifts:

  • A freebie. It’s easy to think free gifts are only for sectors like retail, but think again. While a physical gift like a product sample is definitely bound to win brands some loyalty points, sectors like finance can also get in on the fun. No, banks can’t give away money, but could you offer a free investing ebook or a one-on-one meeting with an adviser, free of charge? Consider what you have that would genuinely help your customer, and package it up nicely with a birthday-ready bow.

Consider what you have that would genuinely help your customer, and package it up nicely with a birthday-ready bow.

  • A discount code. Special birthday privileges will definitely get customers shopping with you, whether in-store or online. Consider a discount of 10% or more for the most impact, and consider further personalising the email with content or products the user has previously purchased or looked at. This way, you have an abandonment campaign rolled into the birthday special.

Another great tactic is to invite the customer to share a discount with a friend – turning one birthday into two (or more!) feel-good conversions.

Absolutely no cash for gifts? Personalised messages can be just as effective, especially when you use them as an opportunity to thank the customer for their patronage or inspire them for the year ahead. And they don’t have to be clunky or expensive to execute, thanks to automation tools that plug into just about any platform.

  • Personalised video. There are a few ways to do personalised video in an email. Our favourite is a service called Vidyard. Vidyard is a video hosting platform with intelligent data-usage capability built in, allowing personalised video thumbnails in email and personalised content journeys. We love how existing assets can be personalised and the emails automated through platforms like Marketo and Salesforce Pardot.

    Personalised video clip
    Vidyard creates personalised videos you can use in emails and on the web.
  • Personalised imagery. You can personalise imagery with a special birthday message using services like Nifty Images, which hooks up with your marketing automation platform to pull lead data into email imagery.

    Example of personalised email header
    Really Good Emails often uses Nifty Images to personalise their header imagery.

Step 3: Automate it.

Gone are the days of marking the calendar with birthdays. With birthday marketing, you need only set up the campaign once and then automate it to repeat annually. However, you should mark the calendar with a reminder to refresh the content once per year so no one gets the same gift twice!

If you’re looking for a new way to surprise and delight your customers and take your CX up a notch – a simple, automated birthday campaign could be just the ticket.

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