6 Birthday Emails and How They Fared for Mobile Devices

Like most Moms, I’m on the go. Not surprisingly, I’ve always got my phone in hand and use it to accomplish a variety of tasks (especially checking email). And, according to recent research from Return Path, I’m not alone. Over the last year, email opens on mobile devices grew over 80% and is projected to surpass both webmail and desktop readership by the end of 2012. So, as a busy Mom with a birthday today, I want to be able to quickly view and understand these birthday offers and redeem them easily. Because triggered emails like these birthday messages are relevant, timely and typically earn a higher response than standard promotional messages, these messages are a great place to start when thinking about mobile email optimization.  So, how did my birthday emails fare when it comes to mobile optimization?

World Market

The email from World Market was easy to read and included a button that was easily clickable from my phone. Unfortunately, I was then required to login to my World Market Explorer account and print the coupon for in-store redemption. Ideally, I would be able to go directly to the coupon and simply show it to the cashier during checkout. On a positive note, World Market sent me a friendly reminder that my birthday offer was about to expire with a subject line that included a sense of urgency “Last chance! Your birthday Reward is about to expire.” which is a great way to stand out in the inbox – mobile or desktop.


DSW was the only sender to use a personalized subject line which can help drive opens on any device. While the offer for DSW was clear and easily clickable, the iPhone thought the offer code, member number and barcode were phone numbers which presented the text as blue, underlined links which could make the subscriber experience less than ideal. While the pre-header text was not cluttered with too much text, the “FREE SHIPPING. Get Details” text was not related to the birthday offer and drove to a landing page to become a DSW Rewards Member (which I already am). DSW, like World Market, sent me a reminder email (nice) and also required printing of the email for in-store redemption (not so nice).

Betty Crocker

The birthday email from Betty Crocker included a simple birthday message and pre-header text that included a happy birthday wish with limited text.  The email also included “a birthday member exclusive” (a free pdf cake booklet) and the chance to win $1000 in the Betty’s Birthday Sweeps with clear and easy-to-click buttons and section headers. While this email rendered very well on a mobile device, Betty Crocker may benefit from shrinking the size of the graphic of the top of the email so the special birthday offer links can be viewed without scrolling.  In addition, a subject line that promotes the sweepstakes and offer may generate more engagement.

Del Taco

Unfortunately, the image from the Del Taco email is broken when viewed on the iPhone (but renders just fine on the desktop) and was the only email that didn’t benefit from the entire mobile screen real estate. Utilizing an image rendering service like Return Path’s Campaign Preview can help ensure that emails look good on a variety of devices, both mobile and desktop. In addition, the email text, offer link, and expiration date are difficult to read on a mobile device without expanding the text. Using less text and a bigger font with a button call to action would help make this email a much better mobile experience and allow subscribers to quickly understand how to redeem the offer.


Sephora offers a complimentary gift in their birthday email and only requires I provide my email address or Beauty Insider card to redeem my offer in store. How easy!  The “start shopping” button is easily clickable from my mobile device, but the “online” and “in store” text links are difficult to click on a small screen. While the pre-header text does include supporting offer text, the white listing instructions are listed first, and show up in the iPhone preview area instead of the offer.  Reducing the amount of content in the pre-header as well as increasing the size of text links could take this email up a notch.

Caribou Coffee

Of all the birthday offers, the offer from Caribou Coffee was the only offer that was only valid for only one day, my actual birthday. While this doesn’t make it easy to fit into my busy schedule, I luckily only have to show my email and identification to redeem the offer. Caribou Coffee could improve the mobile experience by including the redemption text in the body of the email so subscribers are clear on how and when to redeem. This email could also benefit from optimized pre-header text that supports the message and renders well in the message list.

How are you optimizing your triggered email experience for mobile devices?

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