How to Keep Your Birthday Rewards from Being Party Poopers

Sending your customers rewards as birthday gifts on or around their special day can often be a major win for your brand. They can drive incremental visits and revenue, plus encourage brand loyalty. But just like with birthday gifts, some birthday rewards aren’t so great, and they can leave the recipients with a bad taste in their mouths. After all, everyone remembers a bad birthday gift.

Remember, with a birthday reward, you only have one chance all year to get it right for an individual guest! It’s important to continually try to improve your birthday program throughout the year so that you can make the most of that birthday opportunity. To help you plan your birthday program, we’re going to talk about four ways brands have gotten it wrong — and then we’ll talk about how you can do it better.

Here are four birthday reward deal-breakers:

  1. The reward is unclear. People can receive dozens of emails from brands and restaurants during their birthday month. And when your email is competing against all those other ones to be opened, you need to give the recipient a good reason to open it.

If you don’t make your birthday reward clear and obvious in both the subject line and body of the email, it likely won’t get used — and you’ll miss out on an incremental visit.

  1. Whether a reward is even forthcoming is unclear. If, amid those dozens of messages in a person’s inbox, your message doesn’t immediately make it clear that the person is getting a reward at all, it’s likely to be deleted.

“Happy Birthday!” might cut it as a subject line from a person’s grandmother but not from a restaurant’s rewards program.

  1. The reward redemption isn’t in their hands. If you want someone to redeem a reward, you need to make it easy for them to do so. In many cases, that means giving them ample time to use that reward.

Sending them a message about their reward on a Saturday and requiring that they redeem it by Tuesday is not only unlikely to happen, it’s also likely to make the recipient unhappy with your restaurant.

  1. The email looks … suspicious. If all your other promotional emails contain images and look highly designed but your birthday emails are slapdash and text-only, the recipient may not even trust that the reward is coming from you!

With so many phishing scams attempted to trick people via email, we’re conditioned to delete anything that looks suspicious. Emails that don’t look up to your normal standard fit that bill.


Plus, it’s disappointing to receive a “Happy Birthday” email that looks like it was created without much care or concern. What kind of message does that send? Now that you know what makes for a disappointing birthday reward, let’s dig into what makes a great one. What kinds of birthday rewards drive visits and revenue and make people excited to visit your restaurant with their family and friends?

In “Compelling Birthday Celebrations at a Profit,” we analyze what some restaurants are doing well with their birthday promotional programs and offer actionable ideas for how you can incorporate those tactics into your own rewards program. Click here to view. 

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The Author
Stephen Stone is a content marketing specialist at Paytronix. With a Bachelors Degree from Fitchburg State University and a Masters in Communication Management from Emerson College, Stephen is well-versed in all things communication.

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