This month I celebrated my birthday. That meant a barrage of emails and text messages from family and friends, birthday cards arriving in the mail, as well as dinners, parties, and a full Facebook wall of “happy birthday” messages from close and even not-so-close acquaintances. I mean, my birthday is a BIG DEAL. Yet, while a lot of companies out there know about my birthday, only a handful made use of this valuable information. Here are the few that did:
1. The Dermatology Group
The day before my birthday, I received a text from a strange phone number. At first, I saw the “Happy Birthday” message and thought it was some clever spam text message. But then I looked more closely:
Turns out, it was from The Dermatology Group…a dermatology office I visited almost 5 years ago when my regular dermatologist didn’t have availability for an appointment. I was simply blown away! Pure genius. They remembered me, even though I didn’t remember them. By the way, my regular dermatologist didn’t send me anything for my birthday…time to reconsider where I take my business?
LESSON: Text message marketing works! Text messages are very personal and have close to a 100% open rate. Great way to reach customers, if done correctly.
Starbucks has a great program where they send you a free drink postcard in the mail that you can redeem any time during the month of your birthday. This perk is reserved only for people who register on the My Starbucks Rewards website. My free Venti Cappuccino was delicious. Thank you, Starbucks!
LESSON: It’s always nice to provide an incentive for people to give you their personal information. This is also a good way for Starbucks to get people in their stores, and I’m sure many people purchase something else to go with their free drink.
3. Banana Republic
One of my favorite clothing stores, Banana Republic, sent me a $15 off coupon in the mail that was good through the end of the month. There was a catch…it could only be used with a Banana Republic credit card purchase. That didn’t bother me, and I went in there the other day and bought a nice button-down shirt with the coupon.
LESSON: They got me in the store, I got a good deal, they made a sale. Everyone wins.
4. Johnson & Johnson ACUVUE Contact Lenses
I was impressed to see this message in my email inbox:
Of all the types of businesses that might acknowledge my birthday, I never would have thought my contact lens brand would be one of them. Yet, Johnson & Johnson recognized an opportunity to connect with me on a personal level, which helped solidify my favorable view of their ACUVUE brand. Although I’ve only been using this brand for a little over a year, I’m sure they’d like to have me as a long-term customer.
LESSON: Your communications with customers don’t always have to be based on trying to sell something or offering a special deal. An occasional non-suggestive communication is refreshing.
BONUS LESSON: It doesn’t matter what your product is, you can always find ways to make a personal connection with your customers.
5. The Challenge Forum
The Challenge is a website that helps people build their own internet businesses, with video tutorials as well as member forums. I’m a member, and although I haven’t visited the site in a while, I was happy to see this message in my email:
“We at The Challenge Forum would like to wish you a happy birthday today!”
Of course, I’m sure this was a simple automated email generated by their online forum sofware. But I’m a member of A LOT of online forums, and this was the only one that wished me a happy birthday. Maybe that’s why I don’t even remember most of the forums of which I’m a member.
LESSON: A simple acknowledgement of someone’s birthday is a good way to make sure they don’t forget about you. In many cases it is so easy to automate these messages in ways that cost nothing but help keep your customers/users engaged.
Honorable Mention: Continental.com Cruises
About a week after my birthday, I checked an old email address that I don’t use anymore, and found this message in the inbox:
I definitely appreciated the acknowledgement, but wondered why it was sent to my old email address. When I clicked on the “change email settings” link at the bottom of the email, I found that they already had my current email address, yet for some reason this email was sent to my old address that was no longer shown on my account. Not sure how that happened, or whether it will continue to happen in the future. But thanks, anyway.
LESSON: Yes, it’s the thought that counts–but make sure you’ve got the correct email address.
Did any companies impress you on your most recent birthday?