Design Inspiration

7 Design Tips for Birthday Emails

7 Design Tips for Birthday Emails

Birthdays offer a great opportunity for engagement. Readers love to know you’re thinking of them and are always on the lookout for good deals, especially when it’s their special day!

According to Experian, birthday emails are high performing email campaigns:

  • Birthday emails have a 481% higher transaction rate than promotional emails.
  • Birthday emails generate 342% higher revenue per email than promotional emails.
  • Birthday emails have 179% higher unique click rates than promotional emails.

Seize the opportunity to associate people’s feel-good moments with your brand, especially with happy and exciting email design. Here are our top 7 tips for designing a memorable birthday email.


Tip #1: Do something different (with color)

Birthdays are an opportunity to do something out of the ordinary with your email design. But “out of the ordinary” doesn’t have to mean complex or costly. Changing the color scheme of the email, for example, is a simple way to show the reader that the day (and the email) is special.

ZocDoc typically employs a bright, white color palette with yellow and turquoise—its primary brand colors—as accents. The emails usually look like this:

zocdoc birthday emails

But for birthday emails, ZocDoc breaks away from its usual template, going with bolder colors:

zocdoc birthday emails

Brands often rely on product images and graphics to make a statement in emails, but color is a simple way to liven up a message—without throwing off your image-to-text ratio or increasing your email size. Plus, HTML colors render across all inboxes (unlike images), take up less than one line of code, and are easy to setup. Check out our workshop tutorial to learn more on how to use HTML colors along images in email.


Tip #2: Address your reader by first name

Birthday emails should be personal. After all, it’s the recipient’s special day. One way to connect with birthday recipients is by using their name in the email. Here’s an example from JetBlue:

jetblue birthday emails

Not only is the recipient’s name included, but it stands out. When the email is opened, the reader’s eyes are likely to land on her name, which will make her more inclined to continue reading.

Plus, JetBlue keeps the email light and fun by including this cute GIF, too:

jetblue birthday emails


Tip #3: Make your promotion super easy to read

Many brands offer readers a birthday promotion, a gift that encourages them to continue shopping the brand. But, don’t make readers hunt to find the deal. If one is being offered, put it front and center. This birthday email from Rent the Runway does just that.

rent the runway birthday emails

The simplicity of this particular email is hard to beat. The pairing of the HTML background color and live text makes the message super inbox-friendly, and the whole message is only a few lines. Plus, the text is really big (unlike the ZocDoc email, above), which makes reading a breeze.


Tip #4: Choose the best CTA button color

Okay, there’s isn’t always a “best” CTA button color, but if we had to choose, it might be blue. An analysis from Really Good Emails showed that more emails had a blue CTA button than any other color. One reason may be because blue is popular as a favorite color among men and women, according to research by Joe Hallock. Help Scout visualizes those stats:

Men Women favorite colors CTA button color

When we saw this simple little email from OKCupid, not too much stood out in terms of design, though our eyes immediately saw the blue CTA.

Blue is the brand’s color, but it also stands out really well against the white background, and it’s also a nice tap-friendly size. If we had to make one suggestion, though, it’d be to liven up the CTA text. Rent the Runway, in the email above, shows how a little playfulness goes a long way. OKCupid did have fun with this Mario mushroom GIF animation, though.

okcupid birthday emails


Tip #5: Send more than one email

One way to help increase engagement for your birthday email is to send more than one. A single email can get lost—especially because people tend to be busy on their birthdays. Creating a simple email stream increases your opportunity to connect. Stitch Fix did just that, sending one at the beginning of the recipient’s birthday month to get the reader’s wish list wheels turning:

stitch fix birthday emails

The brand even included an animated GIF…

stitch fix birthday emails

…and then sent another email on the actual birthday:

stitch fix birthday emails

Stitch Fix shows that birthdays are a perfect opportunity to set up a drip campaign—a marketing strategy that uses a series of automated emails to stay connected with subscribers. Sending an email a week or month before a reader’s birthday could be a clever tactic to grab attention vs. sending birthday emails on the actual day.


Tip #6: Create special, interactive content

Most of our featured emails are fairly simple when it comes to design. Birthdays, however, do present brands with a unique opportunity: invest a little in special content (like a video or an interactive element), and you can use it for a whole year. NYU, for example, made a short video specifically to send to alumni on their birthdays:

NYU birthday emails

Wisely, NYU also used a GIF to encourage more clicks.

NYU birthday emails


Tip #7: Grab attention with an animated GIF

Okay, we’ll state the obvious: almost every email in this post included an animated GIF. This festive email from Old Navy is no exception. Here it is in full:

Old Navy birthday emails

And here’s the animated GIF:

GIFs add a sense of playfulness and levity to an email, help guide readers to a CTA, and show off a brand’s design acumen. Birthday emails—cheerful, light, and simple—are an obvious choice for animation!

Wrap up: Birthday email design tips

  1. Use a bold HTML background color to make your email stand out.
  2. Personalize your message by using the recipient’s name.
  3. Put your promotion front and center, and make it easy to read.
  4. Be scientific about choosing your CTA button color.
  5. Try a drip email campaign during the recipient’s birthday month.
  6. Send special content, like a birthday video.
  7. Have some fun with animated GIFs!

Any birthday emails that stood out?

Did you receive a birthday email that stood out in your inbox? What made it memorable? Let us know in the comments!

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Kelly Shetron