Birthday Email Campaigns: Automation Gets Personal

Today I’m sharing an example of a personal, automated campaign that’s fairly straightforward, yet not used nearly enough:  a birthday email campaign.

Not too long ago, I celebrated a birthday. Several brands took the opportunity to send me a message to mark the occasion.  Birthday marketing campaigns are good branding opportunities, can generate sales, create goodwill, and build your relationship with your customer.

Here are some examples of what I received and my impressions. We’ll close with key takeaways.

A Good Effort

Saks sent me a nice email with candles and a great offer.  Macy’s emailed me a strong, limited-time discount titled, “A Birthday Surprise”.

The timing was a little off. They arrived a month or a week early and expired before my birthday. These two offers made me feel special because I received a deep discount not everyone on the store’s list received, but the brands didn’t know me as well as they might.

Well Done

Sundance Catalog and Dell sent me month-long offers for the month of my birthday.  Dell’s was co-branded with Shutterfly.  The offer went to a birthday-specific landing page with a photo gift. It was a creative co-branding effort and thought went into the gift. I may not need another computer yet, but who can’t use a photo gift?

What could be done even better here? Dell’s email was great, but they also sent a regular broadcast marketing email on the same day at the exact same time. So I received two emails simultaneously. If they were really on top of their game, Dell might have sent me just the birthday email that day, or delayed the other campaign several hours.

Very Well Done

Jet Blue and Qatar Airlines sent me email on my actual birthday, just like a good friend would.  Jet Blue even used an animated gif to make the occasion fun and festive.


It may seem that I received a lot of birthday messages from companies. Actually, I subscribe to marketing emails from so many brands, that I’m quite surprised how few I received.

A personalized, automated email campaign takes some initial work to set up.

Once you create it, the campaign runs on its own, year after year, making the up-front time worth the investment.

Many automated campaigns run on triggered actions someone takes on your website.

The birthday campaign is slightly different, using stored information about your contact in your database to trigger the message.

In the case of an airline, who already knows my birthday, it makes complete sense to implement a birthday campaign. If you have a rewards club, survey, or other program collecting birth date, why not use it for marketing?

For a retailer, service business, or other company who does not know my birthday, there is more work involved to collect the database information.  You’ll need a separate campaign or process to begin populating the data field.

When you’re sending an email that shows you know something personal about the contact, be sure to get it right and decide how complex you want to get. The brands mentioned made a conscious decision to run the campaign based on either the birthday date, week, or month.

If you would like to create an automated campaign that runs off of a contact data field, we can help!   Contact us today, at