Birthdays are one of the wonderful aspects of life that set us apart from robots, but that doesn't mean the cloud that is the Internet isn't fond of well wishing people with birthday salutations. Working at Webware, I register with an average of two services a day, often times more. Depending on the type of site, they'll occasionally ask for my birthday (mostly for age verification), which gets tucked away deep inside some server farm in rural Russia, or Ohio. Over the course of the past 10 months I've been here, plus whatever sites I've joined prior to that, there are a whole lot of logins floating around.
Despite this, short of personal notes, my in-box has been rather barren of any sort of BACN apart from a few which I've listed below:
- Facebookwishes you a happy birthday right on your home page, no e-mail though. It's also worth noting their birthday reminder service and integrated gift store.
- Gaming deals site Cheap Ass Gamer wishes you a "Happy Cheap Ass Birthday" via e-mail.
- Webshots says "hello" followed up with an offer for 20% off photo prints using a secret birthday code (Note: Webshots is a CNET affiliate site).
- Sites using vBulletin for their forums can be setup to send you a birthday well wish. They also put your name on a user list of shared birthdays for everyone to see. Big sites using vBulletin forums include Macrumors.com, Something Awful, Offtopic, Rotten Tomatoes, and AVS forums.
Maybe it's because I usually set my preferences to "don't even think about bothering me with news, offers, etc." that I'm not getting more of this stuff, but frankly I think more sites should do it. Why?
A) Because people like getting things on their birthday.
B) Offering people discounts or special deals is a good thing--that is, if your site can swing it.
C) People might have forgotten about your service, and this is a nice way to let them know you're both still around, and have their personal information.
No I don't want my in-box full of marketing junk, but when done well, these notes show loyalty and a little bit of personality--something that might set your site apart from the competition.