The Best Birthdays Are Multichannel

For many, birthdays are all about the gifts. And while I’m certainly not one to shun a bow-topped package, presents aren’t the only things that I enjoy about my birthday. Another is the birthday marketing. Really. One reason: I like to see who sends “the best” birthday greetings.

I don’t define best as the biggest dollars-off coupon, though I certainly won’t turn one down. What most impresses me are the triggered multichannel birthday campaigns that weave email and direct mail seamlessly together. Retailers Victoria’s Secret and White House | Black Market are two companies that do this well.

Victoria’s Secret takes the adage “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing” to heart. This year it sent a greeting card with an insert for $10 off a purchase during my birthday month, followed a few days later by a catalog that included a tear-out reminder of the the same offer; then the retailer wrapped up the celebratory campaign with an email birthday wish that included a digital coupon for the same special birthday offer to seal the deal. Three times a charm, I say. I’ll be taking my birthday coupon to the store this weekend. After all, I have some, shopping, er, celebrating to do.

White House | Black Market is also a multichannel birthday marketer. The retailer created anticipation with its triggered birthday email, which instructed me to watch my mail for a treat. You can be certain that I checked my mail enthusiastically until said birthday surprise arrived.

Email wishes
Although I’m most likely to vote multichannel birthday campaigns as most effective for “surrounding” me with a message, I also enjoy the fun some companies have with email birthday greetings. Wine seller Lot18, for example, sent an email with candles that light up when opened. And JetBlue Airways not only designed its birthday email to look like a wrapped gift, but the airline also used a clever play on an oldie with its tagline, “It’s your party and you can fly if you want to.”

Direct mail remains a popular option among retailers for birthday greetings; it’s an occasion when the medium is certain to pay dividends. What I’m still waiting for are the mobile-centric birthday campaigns. It’s likely that some brands are already doing it; I’m just not on their lists. That’s not to say that the emails I received weren’t optimized for mobile; they were. The Lot18 candles lit up just as well on my iPhone as on my Mac, and the Victoria’s Secret email was clearly laid out in the long, narrow format that suits mobile so well. It’s the SMS and geo- or context-based campaigns that I’m eager to see roll out as marketers get more comfortable with the medium.

In the meantime, I’m thankful for all the birthday wishes my favorite brands send via any channel—and plan to show my appreciation in the way their marketers aim for: by buying a few birthday presents for yours truly.

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