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Sending Automatic Birthday Emails with i-Emailer

Advanced tips on how to send birthday offers with list segmentation

In i-Emailer, you can easily create a signup form with up to 15 custom fields. So in addition to "Email Address" you can also collect data like "first name" and "last name" and "company" and "title" (Screenshot ).

But if you can code a little teeny-tiny bit of HTML (or if you know someone who can do it for you), there's a way you can collect subscribers' birthday information, so that you can send automatic "Happy Birthday" emails to your customers (like below):

But before we get into the nitty gritty, here are some prerequisites:

  1. You have to know how to code a little HTML (a basic understanding of FORMS)
  2. You'll have to embed the signup form code on your own website (which means you'll need FTP access to your website).

Overview of How This Works

First, I'll give you a bird's eye view of how we're going to make this work. Then, we'll take it step-by-step and add some pretty pictures:

  1. We'll setup a list in i-Emailer. That list will get its own unique signup form. (Demo video of i-Emailer List Management)
  2. Add custom fields to the signup form for "Birth Month" and "Birth Day"
  3. i-Emailer's default signup forms only allow for TEXT INPUT FIELDS, but that's okay. We'll tweak those later (hence the need to know some HTML).
  4. Save the i-Emailer hosted signup form.
  5. Open the signup form in your browser, view the source, and copy it into your favorite text editor.
  6. Change the text input fields into pulldown menus.
  7. Publish this custom signup form on your own website.
  8. When people signup from your website, their data will be sent to your i-Emailer hosted database. Their birthday information will be saved in our records.
  9. Create an HTML email template for monthly birthday specials. You might use our built-in Postcard template to include a coupon graphic.
  10. Use i-Emailer's list segmentation functionality to create a campaign for all subscribers whose "Birth Month" is January. Schedule the campaign to be sent January 1st (or a couple days prior).
  11. Replicate that campaign for February, March, April, etc.
  12. You now have birthday campaigns scheduled for all your subscribers for the entire year.

Let's Get Started!

I'm going to use a fictitious restaurant: "Good Eat'n. It's a healthy, fresh, new age, all organic, family kind of restaurant. They want to send out email birthday coupons every month so that customers can come in and redeem a mini personal pizza (here's a screenshot of the automatic campaign they want to send every month).

Setting up my list & signup form

The first step is to setup a new list in i-Emailer. The list is a general "Good Eat'n Restaurant News" kind of list. I plan to offer interest groups so that subscribers can specify what types of emails they receive from me (like quarterly news, weekly coupons, etc). In addition to that, I'll be collecting their birthdays, so that once a year, they receive a surprise email from my restaurant.

The new list setup wizard will take me to a step where I have to enter the different fields I want on my list's signup form:

Enter a text field for "birth month" and another for "birth day". For our purposes, we really don't care about birth year, but you can add that if you want. As you can see, i-Emailer thinks you want "month" and "day" to be text fields on your signup form. Obviously, text fields would make this a nightmare, because people will inevitably misspell "February" as Feburary, or enter "FEB". So we'll want to change them into pulldown menus later. But for now, just keep them as text fields and save the form. Finish setting up your list, and you should return to the "Lists" page.

Click on the list's "Customize" icon, so that we can preview what my signup form looks like. At the top of this page, i-Emailer gives me the URL of my hosted signup form:

  1. Click on the URL, and a new browser window will open up with our signup form in it.
  2. View the source of that signup form.
  3. Grab that source code, and open it in your favorite HTML/text editor.

Find the code for our birth month and birth day text input fields:

Now, edit the code so that instead of an INPUT type of TEXT, it's a pulldown menu. Make the options each calendar month. For the "day" field, do the same thing, but make your options 1-31 [Here's some sample code]

NOTE: Make sure not to mess up your field "NAME" when you convert them to pulldowns! The "NAME" for each "SELECT" tag must correspond to the field you specified in i-Emailer.

Preview your code changes in your browser. I've coded my form layout to look like this:

Once you're satisfied with how things look, test it by subscribing to your own list. You probably have a few different email addresses. Use all of them to signup with different birthdays. Tip: I've done this a few times, and trust me---you'll want at least 12 different email addresses to test with, each with a birthday in every month of the year. It's annoying to run tests only to find out nobody on your list has a birthday in March. So come up with at least 12 different email addresses (get friends and family to volunteer if necessary).

Log in to i-Emailer to make sure all the data is being sent to your database properly. Once you're certain things are exactly the way you want, take all this source code, and embed it on your own website. Go ahead and edit the look and feel around the form any way you want, since it's your website. But leave the form code as-is so that nothing breaks. Test it again, while it's embedded on your website.

Okay, now you're finished with the hard part. Congratulations! If you've already got a customer list with birthday information, you can import that into i-Emailer. But save that for later. We've still got to do some email design and testing (and you don't want to accidentally email your customers just yet).

The Fun Stuff: Designing Birthday Campaigns

Now it's time to design our email campaigns and schedule them for automatic delivery.

I've used i-Emailer's built-in Postcard template to create this template. The coupon offer that I'm using (free pizza) can actually be changed from month to month if you want. But I'm just going to stick to free pizza for all mine.

Create the first campaign

Let's create the first campaign. I'm going to make this one go out to all customers with birthdays in January.

Click on "Create New Campaign," then the birthday template. Next, select "Send to a segment" of the "Good Eat'n" list.

Specify the segment as: "All recipients whose Birth_Month is January"

In the next step, i-Emailer will ask you to come up with a title for the campaign. I strongly recommend you call it something like, "January Birthdays". Because when you're done scheduling this campaign, you're going to replicate it 12 times (for each month of the year) and rename them for each month:

Run through the steps of creating the campaign. You might want to click our "Pop-up Preview" button to see how the campaign looks, then click the "Next" button in the bottom of the window to click through your recipient list. You can test how your merge data looks for each recipient. In the example below, I used some i-Emailer *|MERGE|* tags to merge in the recipients' actual birthday, just as a demonstration of our handy mergetags:

Finish up the campaign, and on the final step, schedule it to deliver on December 31st, close to midnight:

Your customers with January birthdays will get it when they wake up the next morning! But wait. You're not done yet. There's still a bit of work to do.

Replicate 12 Times.

After you've scheduled the first campaign, you should be on the i-Emailer Dashboard. Replicate the "January Birthdays" campaign, and change the list segment to go to "Birth_Month is February." Rename the campaign, "February Birthdays." Schedule it to go out on January 30th.

And so on, until you have the rest of the year scheduled. If you want, create a new folder on your Dashboard, called "Birthday Campaigns" and sort all these campaigns away into that folder (so they don't clog up your Dashboard). If you want to give different offers in different months, you can change up the postcard graphic, or even change the template altogether. Oh, and if you've already got a subscriber list with birthday data, you can go ahead and import the list at this point.

Other Useful Resources: