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Automation examples

Automated birthday email example

Though birthdays get less exciting the older you get, the feeling of being spoiled never gets old. So why not send an automated birthday email? Your subscribers will love to hear from you on their special day—especially if you throw in a surprise discount code or a special gift. An automated happy birthday email is easy to set up, strengthens the customer relationship and can help you increase engagement and sales.

What to include in an automated birthday email series

Every event is an opportunity to nurture relationships with your subscribers. You could just send a generic ‘Happy birthday’ email based on their date of birth. But where’s the fun in that?

Take the time to build up some excitement and make your subscribers feel extra special by emailing them ahead of time to show you know their birthday is coming up and you’re planning something special for them. Then you can email them on their special day to give your best wishes. If your birthday gift has an expiration date, make sure you let subscribers know before it expires. Then follow up with gift ideas for friends and family who also have birthdays coming up!

Pre-birthday email

Use the pre-birthday email to let subscribers know you’re thinking about them. If you sell physical items, give them a birthday discount they can use ahead of time so that they can enjoy the gift on their actual birthday.

Get inspired: Cameo

Cameo uses their pre-birthday email to get subscribers to start thinking about their birthday wishlist and encourages them to ask for a Cameo from their favorite celebrity.

Birthday email

This is the email you send on their actual birthday. Give subscribers your good wishes, and if you sell digital products or subscriptions, you can give them a special gift today.

Get inspired: Chipotle

Chipotle sends subscribers a candle-adorned guacamole GIF and a birthday voucher for free chips & guac valid for the entire birthday month.

Post-birthday follow-up email

Remind subscribers that their birthday deal is expiring. Use a countdown timer to generate urgency and encourage subscribers to take advantage of their special birthday pricing before the offer expires.

Get inspired: Applebee’s

Applebee’s generates urgency by reminding subscribers when their deal expires. When subscribers see their offer is ending soon, they’re more likely to get FOMO and take advantage of the deal while they still can.

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Automated birthday email example

As you can see, there are so many more possibilities than just a “happy birthday” email. In the example below, we’ll use a fictional skincare brand to put together a birthday email automation sequence that includes all of the emails outlined above–plus a condition step to target subscribers and offer different birthday deals based on their age.

Automated birthday email example

How to set it up

Step one: Set up your email marketing automation

Log in to MailerLite, navigate to the Automation page and click New automation. Then, give your birthday email sequence a name.

Automation page in the MailerLite dashboard

Step two: Set up your workflow trigger

To set up a birthday email workflow, you’ll need to use the trigger The anniversary of a date. That way, the workflow will trigger every year.

You’ll have the option to choose from any date field. Since there is no default field for “date-of-birth” or “birthday” you’ll need to create a custom field to add to forms in order to collect subscriber birthdays.

GIF depicting the

Then you can set your custom date field as the trigger for your workflow. In this case, our fictional skincare brand is sending a pre-birthday email 7 days before a subscriber’s birthday.

Sidebar settings for MailerLite workflow triggers

Step three: Set your condition

In our example, we’re dividing the workflow based on whether the subscribers are over or under 50 in order to target them with relevant deals. To add a Condition step, click the + icon and select Condition.

Image depicting a step being adding to a birthday automation in MailerLite

Then apply your condition rules in the sidebar. In our example, that means applying a rule that splits subscribers up based on whether their birthday is before or after a certain date.

Condition settings in the sidebar of a MailerLite automated birthday email workflow

Step four: Add your pre-birthday emails

Now’s the time to add and design your pre-birthday emails. Remember, subscribers will be split into two paths due to the condition step. If the rule of the condition is TRUE, they will travel down the positive path. If the rule of the condition is FALSE, they will travel down the negative path.

Graphic depicting how a condition step works in MailerLite

In this case, subscribers who were born before 1972-12-31 will travel down the positive path. Our fictional skincare brand can then send targeted offers based on the demographics of their subscribers.

Step five: Set a delay

Since our automation triggers 7 days before the subscriber’s birthday, we need to set a 7-day delay so that the birthday email fires off on their actual birthday.

To add a delay step, click the + icon, select Delay and set your delay time frame in the sidebar.

Delay step settings in a MailerLite workflow

Step six: Time to celebrate!

It’s the big day! Create your birthday greetings with their unique targeted offerings. Include playful GIFs and birthday images like balloons, birthday cakes, confetti, etc. in your email design to share your birthday wishes.

Automated birthday email example from Native
Image credit: Native

You can use a pre-built email template or create your own birthday email template and save it to My templates so that it’s easy to edit and update in future birthday automations or email campaigns.

For inspiration and examples on how to design an awesome birthday email, check out the article below.

Step seven: Follow up

Follow-ups are an important part of any special offer, especially if your offer has an expiry date. Use your follow-up emails to generate urgency and remind subscribers they only have a limited time to snag this special birthday deal.

The birthday email follow-up can be broken down into 3 steps:

  1. A Delay step: Give subscribers time to see the offer email before you follow-up, to give subscribers a real sense of FOMO, set your delay so that the follow-up email gets sent the day before your offer expires.

  2. A Condition step: If you only want to follow up with subscribers who didn’t complete your desired action (opened, clicked, purchased a specific product, etc.), use a condition step to split the workflow based on how they engaged with your birthday message.

  3. The Email step: The follow-up email reminds subscribers that time is of the essence and they only have a few days/hours/minutes to use their birthday discount. Add a countdown timer for extra urgency.

A Delay step and a Condtion step before the follow-up email in a birthday automation sequence.

If you’re using an e-commerce integration like Shopify, WooCommerce or PrestaShop, you can set it up so that subscribers who purchase specific products, or products from specific categories, are added to a certain group. You can use this to further target subscribers based on whether they purchased your offered item.

Bonus: Birthday email subject line examples

Did you think we’d throw a birthday party and not include a special gift? Here are some birthday subject lines to help you get inspired while you’re building your birthday emails.

  • Cheers to another year of being rad! (Dutch Bros.)

  • Today is your birthday and we got you a gift! (3rd Ritual)

  • A birthday gift from us, (customer name)—10% off! (Nike)

  • Your gift is waiting (Outdoor Voices)

  • Hurry, your birthday cookie is going to crumble soon… (Subway)

… and many more! 🎉

Automated birthday emails aren’t just a thoughtful way to build strong bonds with your customers; they’re also an opportunity to personalize your customer experience by using conditions to send targeted, relevant birthday offers.

Use our example as a template for your own personalized birthday emails and celebrate with every jolly good fellow on your email list.