7 Ways to Surprise Your Customers With Birthday Rewards

Birthday rewards are outstanding tools to help you foster emotional loyalty among your customers. Here are five ways to offer personal rewards that are sure to inspire.

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Everybody loves a good surprise, and there’s hardly a better business move than pleasantly surprising a customer, especially around their birthday. When a customer’s big day rolls around, presenting them with birthday rewards will make them feel appreciated—and increase their lifetime value! According to Walker Info, customers are 4.5 times more likely to pay more if they’ve been ‘surprised and delighted’ by a company. Of course, you can’t please customers with any ol’ birthday offer:  the message needs to boast a memorable design, be personalized to the max, and of course, it requires that ‘element of mystery’. If you wish to turn some heads, these seven ideas will definitely help.

If you are interested in other kinds of rewards (not just birthday rewards), make sure to download this comprehensive ebook:

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1. Make Them Crack a Smile With Creative Coupons or Unusual Timing

It’s quite challenging to dress up a discount as a flashy gift. People receive 10% coupons all the time, so giving another 15% off won’t cause much movement on their emotional radar. There’s nothing a little ingenuity can’t solve, though. 

If you do plan to give customers a discount for their birthday, make sure it feels special. Having a loyalty program opens a lot of doors for creativity. For instance, you can give customers loyalty points that play on (or are a multiplier of) their age, the current month, their birth year, etc. For example, “Happy 21st birthday, James! To make this day memorable, here are 210 loyalty points!”

ASK Italian Birthday rewards promo image.
Italian dining restaurant chain ASK Italian offers discount-based birthday rewards but adds an element of surprise and delight by celebrating their customers’ half birthdays.

2. Double the Fun With a Reward Campaign

Super-personalizing your birthday discounts might feel more relevant for customers, but it requires serious segmentation and automation behind the scenes. If you want to skip this but still make a splash, consider surprising program members with a double- or triple-points campaign.  

It’s simple: during a brief time window around their birthday, customers can earn additional benefits when they make a purchase. Think: “Greetings Rose! In honor of your 32nd birthday, you’ll earn double points on all purchases in the next 7 days!”

Double-points birthday campaigns work because the benefits are tied directly to purchases, so you aren’t giving away any freebies. Plus, customers can rack up quite a nice bonus with consecutive orders. However, not giving a gift up-front might sour the mood for some.

Macy's birthday rewards promo image
In case a double-points campaign doesn’t cut it, offer free shipping instead, like Macy’s. For most, this benefit feels even more valuable than loyalty points.

3. Send a Gift That Customers Will Hold Close to Their Hearts

The truth is, nothing beats an actual gift. A physical item that’ is wrapped up in a stylish box, includes a greeting card, and is shipped to the customer’s address creates a great memory. With a memory like that, people will undoubtedly stick with your brand for years to come.

Remember: it’s not the size or the value that matters, but rather the sentiment. A stylish pen, a framed picture, a candle or a cosmetics sample: any of those would do. If you have a tiered loyalty program, consider increasing the value of the birthday package based on member rank, reserving the best goodies for your top customers.

Sephora Beauty Insider birthday gift
Members of Sephora’s Beauty Insider program receive a free sample when they visit a store on their birthday. This not only helps the brand save on shipping costs but also increases footfall in their stores.

4. Put the ‘Personal’ Into Personalized Birthday Rewards

Even the most generous birthday reward can feel ‘corporate’ and bland if you don’t make it feel personal or thoughtful. If you are looking into making your birthday rewards more targeted, you can personalize the message, custom-tailor the rewards, or both.

In practice, a hyper-tailored birthday offer looks something like this: “Happy Birthday Clara! Since you are an avid shopper of blue jeans (you purchased 14 since becoming a member), we thought this coupon for jeans would be the perfect gift. Go out and celebrate in your new look!”

If you don’t want to be so on-the-nose with your messaging, you need to pull data from outside of a member’s purchase history. The best sources of zero-party data are product reviews and surveys. Luckily for you, a loyalty program can help convince members to share their opinions. 

Antavo’s gamified survey module in action.
Gamified surveys not only reward data sharing but also make sharing more fun, like a quiz. 

5. Treat Members to an Unforgettable Freebie 

Not knowing that you will receive a small gift when visiting the store on your birthday is a classic surprise-and-delight scenario. However, letting customers know about the birthday rewards has its perks too—chiefly, the anticipation.

Let’s say you have a donut shop, and your loyalty program members are entitled to a free donut on their special day. It can be completely custom-built: they can pick the filling, the icing, the sprinkles, and more. For any donut enthusiast, this is a dream come true, and they’ll no doubt eagerly craft their ideal order in their head while waiting for their birthday to arrive. Though not particularly surprising, this still delights customers.

Starbucks birthday rewards program screenshot.
Although Starbucks does offer birthday rewards, they are restricted to Gold members only. In a sense, this can be a motivating factor for lower-tier members who want such benefits.

6. Create an Unforgettable Memory Through Experiential Rewards

The only thing that rivals the euphoria of receiving a box of birthday rewards is the promise of a great experience, such as an invitation to an exclusive brand event or a complimentary dinner for two at a nice restaurant.

Experiential rewards like these aren’t inexpensive, so they shouldn’t be made available to everyone. Reserve these rewards for your top spenders or offer them to your top social media influencers. Alternatively, you can establish a special interest club with incentives that allow members to choose from these delightful birthday gifts.

If you are looking for a fun yet informative walkthrough (full of inspiration) about experiential rewards, check out this episode of Mission: Loyalty. 

7. Treat Birthday Rewards As Part of Your Loyalty Program

All of the examples mentioned so far have leaned more towards ‘delight’ and less towards ‘surprise.’ If you want to make a real impact, consider introducing an element of unpredictability to your birthday rewards. You can still mention them on the loyalty program’s promotional page, but don’t say exactly what the gift is. Keep your shoppers guessing!

Similar results can be achieved by changing the reward each year. Members will still spread the news on social media, but this kind of word-of-mouth will help build anticipation among other members.

The Surprise and Delight birthday campaign Antavo ran for Italian luxury fashion retailer LuisaViaRoma became the company’s highest-converting email campaign, receiving 25% more opens and 40% more clicks than non-loyalty emails. Find out more in our case study.

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Build the Perfect Birthday Reward Campaign With Antavo’s Technology

Coming up with a great idea for surprising your loyalty program members on their birthday is half the battle. However, you also need to conquer the other half, and that’s where reliable loyalty technology comes in. Antavo’s Enterprise Loyalty Cloud offers a flexible, no-code workflow editor that enables program owners to fully customize their reward scenarios. Here are a couple of birthday rewards campaigns that our technology fully supports:

  • Set up a $10 birthday reward coupon campaign in just a few clicks
  • Grant customers different amounts of points based on their tier or any variable of your choosing
  • Trigger the reward on a set day of the customer’s birthday month
  • A/B test different reward options with ease and clarity 

Ready to make an impression? We can help you develop the best-fit loyalty program. Make the first step by booking a demo, or even better, send us an RFP

Still unsure about the rest of your reward experience? Download this ebook for some inspiration!

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Headshot of Tamas Oszi Senior Loyalty Program Specialist at Antavo

Tamas Oszi

Tamas is the Head of Content at Antavo and a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional - CLMP. Tamas is known for having a keen eye for loyalty and customer retention strategies and trends. Tamas is also a true gamer at heart and has an impressive collection of cyberpunk books.

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