Birthday EmailsThe examples provided here are shown in the context of email communications, however they apply broadly to marketing and customer loyalty.

Guiding Principle #1: Don’t bait and switch.

This one should be so obvious.  Creating and maintaining customer loyalty is a high priority for every business, whether B2C or B2B. However, many businesses employ tactics and strategies which run contrary to the good faith placed in them by their customers.

For example, an airline who will remain anonymous sends a birthday email that includes a 10% discount on a future flight.  Unfortunately, it contains all sorts of caveats.  One them is that the birthday discount would be negated if existing deals exceed the 10%.  Another caveat is that travel must take place in the birthday month, which might work if the recipient gets it a few weeks earlier, but they only end up with around two to three weeks’ notice.

What seems like a great ‘early birthday gift’ may up being completely off-putting to some.  Though most people would probably recognize the offer as a rouse to get a booking, they do not and should not have to put up with any unnecessary strings attached.

Guiding Principle #2: Your best customers should be the first ‘in the know’. 

Your best customers—often loyalty program members in B2C—don’t like to be the last ones to know about your best offers. If anything, they anticipate and expect your communications. Make sure they’re the first to know about that 40% off deal, or if you’re in B2B give them a preview of that new product or service before doing the press release.

All too often, the most important messages that an organization has to tell end up being focused on an audience who has shown little, if any loyalty to the brand.

Guiding Principle #3: Find ways to pleasantly surprise your customers.

Have you stopped courting the very folks who keep your business running? If you’re in B2B marketing, don’t assume your sales reps are doing it. In both B2C and B2B, it’s often the little things like birthday emails, anniversary emails or any personalized communication which provides unexpected value to your target audience.

Since the use of direct mail has declined, a well-designed mail piece, especially birthday or anniversary cards may have a better chance than ever of being read.

Before you implement that next marketing program, do a quick sanity check to make sure that you aren’t violating some of the most basic principles of customer relationship management.