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Crowd pleasers: Making birthday rewards work for your business

March 6, 2019

Birthdays are a funny thing. Looking at them objectively, they shouldn’t be a big deal—literally everyone has a birthday. But honestly, very few people look at their birthdays from an objective standpoint—it’s their special day, and they want to do things that make them feel special. Oftentimes, that means going out and celebrating with friends and family or treating themselves to something they enjoy during the day…which leaves the perfect opening for businesses to offer a birthday rewards program.

Regular communication and engagement with rewards program customers is key to making these programs work. Starbucks gets this; that’s why their Customer Loyalty and Birthday Club programs are the gold standard for U.S. retailers. But one problem facing small businesses is that there is a lot of competition for birthday rewards. In fact, an Alliance Data study found that more than half of the consumers surveyed feel special when a retailer acknowledges their birthday, which is why the average consumer receives between five and nine birthday reward offers. The bad news for businesses is that consumers on average only redeem between one and four of those offers.

So how can you make your business stand out in the crowded birthday rewards space? Here are five ways to make a birthday reward program that will work for your business.

1. Give it away, now.

When it comes to bringing people in the door, you want to remove as many barriers to entry as possible. It’s a simple fact that more people will jump at a free birthday reward rather than a coupon that requires them to make a purchase to receive the reward. A personalized offer sent at the right time for free coffee, free snacks, or a small free gift—given away with no strings attached—can be big incentives for customers who have competing birthday rewards offers. But don’t “discount” birthday coupons altogether, because…

2. Discounts can bring big business, too.

Medieval Times, America’s top dinner attraction, knows that birthdays are big business. The all-ages show provides a great experience to kids and adults alike, and their rewards program makes it tempting to have a birthday party at the castle. A typical birthday reward includes free admission for the birthday boy or girl—as long as it’s accompanied by the purchase of a full priced adult admission. Wouldn’t you enjoy getting an email for free admission on your birthday and leave it up to someone else, or better yet, a group of people, to pick up the tab?

3. Everyone loves a gift card.

While most businesses have specific birthday rewards like a free coffee or discount on a purchase, there is one way to think outside the box and give customers a differentiated experience: give them a free gift card to your business. The gift card doesn’t have to be for a huge amount of money, but you’ll hit on a number of benefits by giving them out. First, the customer is getting something real and tangible – a true birthday gift. You’re also putting the customer in control by letting them decide what they want to get with the birthday reward. If you offer the right amount, it becomes a teaser to spend more money in your store. For example, if you offer a $10 gift card, but your products are primarily in the $20 range, you’ve just enticed them to spend $10 in your store. And lastly, if you give them a refillable card, you increase the changes that they’ll continue shopping with you.

4. Don’t break the bank.

There’s no getting around it—it costs some money to offer any promotion. The key is turning the reward into a loss leader so you can get customers in the door for repeat business. But that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank with every birthday reward your business gives out. There are a couple of options here: you can either give away something small that does not cost you much like a cup of coffee, or you can provide something free that just begs for an accompanying item. For example, what are the odds that someone will eat their free birthday cookie without a nice (not free) beverage to wash it down?

5. Get a goody bag at the end.

Remember when you were a kid and you’d get a goody bag at the end of a birthday party? Well, the same holds true for your business and its birthday rewards program. You should get something in return for the reward you’re providing, i.e., you can’t just give out a reward to anyone who says it is their birthday. Instead, encourage customers to sign up for your rewards program by filling out a form that includes their name, email address, and birthday. This information will help cut down on fraudulent birthday claims and will also allow you to reach out to these customers with other rewards, promotions, and coupons.

Ready to start making a reward program work for your business? Keep your customers coming back when you download this free, customizable rewards app or get additional functionality like birthday rewards when you subscribe to the Customer Engagement Plus program.


Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, Sun Trust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including Ignite Payments, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.