Your Inbox Knows Your Birthday

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How can you make your digital well wishes feel authentic?

People love to feel special. Keeping track of birthdays and milestones can be a special way to stay in touch with customers and clients.

Coupons, discounts, and freebies are great birthday perks. But as it becomes easier to send automated greetings—and more sites and shops opt to fill inboxes with digital hellos—it can start to feel impersonal.

Under the headline “Happy Birthday! Just Don’t Open Your Inbox” the New York Times reported on the growing “feeling of malaise surrounding one’s birthday in the digital age.” Experts and email receivers alike commented that too many messages can lead to a disconnect between business and audience.

“When we’re receiving birthday messages, that’s a personal thing. We feel like we’re seen and we mean something to that person,” Dr. Nicole Beurkens, a clinical psychologist at Horizons Developmental Resource Center in Caledonia, Mich., says in the article. “The tone of that really changes if we start to feel like the other person is just using that for themselves. That doesn’t feel good.”

So, what can we do as marketers to celebrate with our people without overstepping?

Keep it on the small scale

Small businesses have a chance to shine when it comes to personalized greetings. After all, you know your clients and customers. You see them in person and interact regularly.

By being small, you likely already have a closer relationship with your audience. When you send that happy birthday email, you can visualize the person on the receiving end. Your regulars will enjoy a little recognition from their favorite local stop.

Focus on being authentic and unforgettable

While there’s still room to wish clients and customers a happy birthday, it’s understandable marketers may be worried about overstuffing inboxes. Don’t forget your email best practices. Know your audience. Create a strong subject line.

But, if you are concerned your email will get lost in the shuffle, think of an alternative. Include an automatic birthday perk in a members program clients can claim by speaking up at the register. Invite customers to opt into a birthday rewards program. Switch from digital greetings to a more personalized print greeting.

Save the birthday greetings for one day a year

Instead of sending out messages for everyone, invite everyone to celebrate at once. Turn “happy birthday to you” into “happy birthday to us.” Invite clients to join you in marking your business anniversary.

During the month, week, or day of your anniversary, introduce specials, discounts, and more. Include members and regulars on an anniversary party, so they feel like part of the family. Let your customers and clients know that inviting them in on your special day is what growing another year older is all about.

Whatever you decide, do it with your own personal style. When you stay true to your brand, you stand out from the crowd.

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