Customized emails for customers have been a popular way for companies to build trust. Yet, many marketers seem torn on whether or not these types of personalized automated messages are beneficial. That’s surprising since a large amount of data seems to suggest that birthday emails are, in fact, a great way to improve conversions and nurture customer relationships.

In fact, a 2011 article from MediaPost reports that subscribers expect a birthday email from companies they interact with.

Why are customers happy to receive an acknowledgement of their birthday?

  • Birthday emails are personal.
  • They’re highly relevant.
  • If done right, they demonstrate a brand’s willingness to engage with customers as individuals, and not simply transactions.

So why are brands still not sending  birthday emails regularly? A lot of the hesitation stems from a fear of making a misstep. Birthdays are a very personal event, and many marketers choose to ignore them, rather than risk offending subscribers with an inappropriate or poorly received birthday message. But ignoring birthdays could be a serious missed opportunity. A study on ClickZ noted that birthday emails got a 60% lift in conversions over regular marketing emails.

Fortunately, this fear is largely baseless. Putting together a meaningful and well received birthday email is often easier than developing other types of email creative.

Here are some guidelines:

1. Make it about the customer. We can’t stress this enough. A birthday email should not be just another opportunity to push your sales message. A birthday email with obvious ulterior motives is a quick way to not only lose a customer’s business, but their trust as well.

2. Give them something special. Your usual offer is probably not going to cut it. If the customer has seen the same promotion before, they’ll feel less than enthused about your “special birthday offer”. Remember: this is not a sales email.

3. Make it unique. Lots of brands send out birthday emails. Make yours stand out by using what you know about that individual subscriber. Build your offer to highlight their particular choices and past behaviors to develop the creative for their email. Show them that you’re putting effort into making a birthday email tailored to them.

The Strategy in Action

Take this example: a regional restaurant chain wanted to improve their customer loyalty program. Their solution? Create a birthday program that extended their loyalty reward program. Every week, members with an upcoming birthday receive an email with a birthday reward of a free sandwich. The offer gets immediately added to their membership card and is redeemable for 30 days.

The results have been more than impressive, generating a consistent 47% redemption rate and boosting guest visits by 26% during their birthday month versus the prior month. They’ve also experienced a tenfold growth in their loyalty program, and it’s not an integral part of their one-to-one marketing outreach engine.

But that’s not even the best part. The program is so automated that besides an occasional refresh of the email template, the birthday program doesn’t require any incremental staff time.

Birthday emails, if used correctly, can significantly boost a company’s revenue and customer lifetime value. They’re also hugely beneficial in furthering customer engagement and building trust with your brand. While there’s always best practices, these tips can help you improve your brand’s customer loyalty program and ensure that your customers feel engaged and happy when interacting with your company.