Increase Your Clickthrough Rates With These 13 Happy Birthday Email Examples

Written by Franco Varriano.

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What time of the year do you think it’s best to send a promotional email to your email list? What date do you think they are most open to an offer, to a marketing message from you?

  • Black Friday?
  • Cyber Monday?
  • Christmas?

No doubt, these are all great dates to send promotional emails, but you can get even better results from sending an email on a different day of the year. As you’ve already guessed from this article’s headline, we’re talking about a Happy Birthday email.

We already mentioned birthday email campaigns when we briefly discussed Hunter Hayes’s birthday email in our article on stand-out ecommerce campaigns. However, what we didn’t mention is how effective ecommerce brands find them compared to standard promotional emails.

Compared to normal promotional emails, Happy Birthday emails have:

    • 179% higher unique click-through rate
    • 342% higher revenue per email rate
    • 481% higher transaction rate – subscribers are nearly 6x more likely to purchase from a Happy Birthday email than a standard promotional email. (Source: Experian)

We all use birthdays as a chance to catch up with friends and family we’ve fallen out of touch with, so why not use it as a chance to market to your customer? Your customers will be happy to get a unique offer on their special day, and your accountant will be very happy when they look at your invoice records.

A Happy Birthday email is a promotional email you send on your subscriber’s birthday, wishing them a Happy Birthday and offering them an exclusive offer, whether a discount or a bonus, that expires after their birthday.

In this post we’ll show you 13 different examples of birthday emails that brands from all over the world send to their customers. This will help you get a grasp of what goes into an effective Happy Birthday email, and how to design your own.   

Birthday Email Best Practices

Personalize your emails

Studies have shown that emails with personalized subject lines have a 26% higher open rate, so make sure that your birthday emails are personalized. If you have your subscriber’s birthday, then the chances are that you have their full name. Use this in your template and your subject line. For extra points incorporate the subscriber’s location in your email template (you did get their shipping address, right?).

Make Sure Your Data Is Accurate

Dale Carnegie said that there is no sweeter, nor more important sound, in any language, than a person’s first name. Remember how great it felt when someone you barely knew remembered your name when you bumped into each other? It made you feel recognized, and created a stronger connection with this acquaintance. You’ve probably made it a priority to remember people’s names in your life, whether for personal or professional reasons. There is just no better way to make a great impression than to remember someone’s first name.

And there is no way to make a worse impression than to boldly say a person’s name to their face, and to get it completely wrong.

The same can be said for your emails. Remember we’re not just dealing with the names of your subscribers, but their birthdays. When a birthday email is done right, it feels like a magical personal connection. When it’s done wrong, it feels opportunistic and commercial.

Guess how your subscribers will feel if your email gets their birthday wrong, or worst yet, their first name wrong? At best you’ll get an unsubscribe, at worst you’ll get a negative evangelist, recommending other customers to boycott your store.

Make sure your data is accurate before you send your personalized emails. How to ensure this? We’ll show you how in our first set of examples.

Build Buzz and Send Reminder Emails

Birthday email campaigns are a great way to offer a personal touch and improve the perception of your brand in your subscriber’s mind. But this can only happen if they read your emails.

In order to let your subscribers, know about your birthday offer, you need to build a little bit of “buzz” around your email. After all this offer only happens once a year. You also need to remind them of it before the offer expires, in case they forget.

Could you picture a Hollywood blockbuster coming out without no trailers, adverts, or actors carrying out late night interviews before release? A Hollywood blockbuster being released with no buzz and no hype? It’s unthinkable. The movie studio would go bankrupt.

While you’re not a movie studio, you can take a leaf out of their book and build a little bit of buzz during your birthday email campaign. Instead of sending a single birthday offer email on their birthday email, Experian recommends you send a series of 2 or 3 emails for a birthday offer. A particular sequence could look like:

  1. Sending an email at the beginning of the month saying “It’s your birthday month” and letting them know to lookout for an offer on their birthday, creating suspense and excitement. You could also open the offer at the beginning of the month if you want, giving them more time to take action.
  2. Send an email on their birthday with their offer, and a call to action.
  3. Send a reminder email letting them know their offer is expiring and they’ll miss out unless they take action.

Reminder emails are highly effective. As the chart above shows, Experian found that reminder emails, compared to the birthday offer email itself, give you at least a 20% rate increase on:

  • Your open rate.
  • Your average order value.
  • Your revenue per email.  

Now that you know the best practices, let’s show you a few examples on how to get your subscribers birthday details if you don’t know them or to ensure your data is accurate.

How to Request Birthday Day Details

Not everyone is comfortable giving out such confidential information. The same can be said for your subscribers. Your relationship with them probably just started by you asking for their first name and email address. If they’ve ordered from you, then you also have their shipping address.

But their birthday? “That seems a bit creepy to give out to a store I just found online” they might think.

However, you need your subscriber’s birthday details in order to do a birthday promotional email. So how can you get it? Simple: by asking for it afterwards.

By asking for your subscriber’s birthday via email you can also correct any mistakes on your list, ensuring your data is up to date and accurate. This will help you avoid the problem of getting your personalized emails wrong as we mentioned earlier.

Here are how a few brands have asked their subscribers for their birthdays.


Joy uses the image of balloons to convey the birthday theme of the email. The copy is cute and frank in asking for the user’s email, telling the subscriber the benefit to them in completing their details.


Topman take a different approach and let the subscriber know that there’s a gift, with their name on it, waiting for them. Almost like when you have a package waiting for you at the Post Office. They just need to complete their details to get it. They also use this email to remind the subscriber of their standard free delivery offer.


Lee use the image of birthday candles to catch the subscriber’s attention. The headline is great in telling a mini story, almost like the friend who turns up with birthday cake at your front door, only to find out it isn’t your birthday.

They also make it very clear the benefits the subscriber will receive, all year round, for updating their details. Closing with the on-brand line “Because we just like to party more than once.”

Examples of Birthday Email Discount Offers

So, the magical day has arrived: it’s your subscriber’s birthday! What should you offer them on this special day of theirs? What enticing treat can you craft for them that no-one else can? What can you do to make them feel special?

As an ecommerce store, your best bet is to give them an exclusive discount.

Experian did a study of the birthday emails of 50 brands, and compared how different discount offers performed and how that affected the campaign’s revenue per email.

(We’ll look at the blurred-out columns later.) All those percentages are compared to standard promotional mailings. As you can see 25% off has the highest revenue per email, and yet 20% off has the lowest revenue per email, performing worse than not only discounts of less value, but worse than standard promotional emails.

Are we saying that you should make all your emails 25% off, and throw all your 20% birthday discounts in the trash? No. This chart isn’t to tell you the exact discount that will make you the most money, but to illustrate the importance of testing your discount offer. It’s counter-intuitive to see that 20% discounts perform radically less than any other discount, but that might not be the case in your market. After all we have no idea what kind of items these brands were selling, or what the average unit price was. Hence, test and tweak your birthday email discount until you find the one that performs the best.

At minimum your birthday email which offers a discount should have the following things:

  • A message wishing them a Happy Birthday (obviously…)
  • A discount
  • An expiry date on the discount.

Notice how the following brands use design and copy to convey these 3 basic things and get customers to take action:


Nike’s Birthday Email is simple and minimalistic which is what gives its design power. The classic Nike shoe box is like a birthday gift box, tantalizing the reader to be curious about what could be inside. The bold birthday wish behind also lets the reader know the theme of this email.


Topshop use a bold orange design to catch the reader’s attention, and large white text to wish the subscriber a Happy Birthday. The offer is the second largest piece of copy, and the color of the call to action contrasts with the background, making the reader ever more likely to click through to the website.

The Mystery Offer

Remember that chart we showed above comparing the rate of discount to the revenue per email? Here it is again:

A mystery birthday offer is one where you don’t disclose details of the offer in the email, leaving it a mystery. They can find out at checkout, or perhaps finding the discount can be like a game of potluck. The best birthday gifts are surprises, and this is what these birthday emails try to emulate.

How effective are mystery offers? Experian found them to have a 502% higher revenue per email compared to traditional promotional emails. They were the most effective type of birthday email offer out of the 50 brands they surveyed.

How do you create a mystery offer? Here’s Threadless’s take on it:

The only way the reader can find out the value of their gift is by clicking on the envelope and being taken to the store, thus increasing click-through rates, and possibly conversions.

Half Birthday Email Offer Examples

Wouldn’t it be great if you could celebrate your birthday all year around? Half birthday emails are the next best thing.

Here you offer the reader a discount for their “half birthday”. Not only does it drive sales, but it also serves as another reward for your subscribers to hand over their precious birthday data. We saw this in action earlier when Lee were asking subscribers for their birthday details, using the reward of an offer on their half birthday as an added incentive.

American Apparel

American Apparel not only use an animated design to catch the reader’s eye for their half birthday offer, but they also get the reader excited for their real birthday where they’ll get twice the current discount. Clever, and sure to drive sales.


Examples of Birthday Email Free Gift Offers

What about if you’re a brick and mortar, or a service-based business? What about if discounts will harm your margins? You can do what the brands in this section did and offer a free bonus that will entice your subscribers to head to your store. A birthday doesn’t have to be all about discounts.


Giraffe offer a great way for readers to celebrate their birthday – by heading in store and getting a free bottle of prosecco. The price point of £30 is geared towards having a meal for two, and is an enticing offer for readers who want to head out for their birthday but were yet to make plans.

Pizza Express

Pizza Express use a bold and eye-catching design to convey a similar offer, a free bottle of prosecco when you buy two mains. They also offer an upsell to their Pizza Making Experience for readers who want to go all out on their birthday and have a party.



Happy Birthday emails are a unique touch point with your customers that only happen once a year, and can grant your business impressive results. If you would like to start your own Happy Birthday email campaign remember to follow the best practices in this article. Ensure your subscriber’s details are accurate by asking for their birthday after they’ve been on your list for some time, and don’t just send one birthday promotional email, but build a bit of buzz by sending an email at the beginning of the month, and a reminder email before their offer expires.

Use the examples in this post to help inspire your own birthday email campaign. Your customers might just thank you.

And if you’re one of the thousands of merchants who are already using Rare’s Smart Email Marketing software and want to see how our Customer Success Team can work with your brand to grow your revenue – feel free to book a call at your convenience here.

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