Is that a birthday greeting or are you just trying to sell me something?

Automated birthday emails are a constant in modern life, as are deaths, taxes, and mis-timed computer updates. Once a year, my inbox fills to the brim with reminders of how many companies I’ve entrusted my date of birth.

But not this year. No, this year would be different. This one For years I continued with a relentless unsubscribe, just relentlessly clicking the unsubscribe button whenever anything from a corporate mailing list came into my inbox. But I knew some things would definitely creep in.

Look, companies can’t resist a birthday. It’s one of the easiest things they can do to get someone’s attention. “Birthday emails are one of the most effective emails you can send,” says a blog post from Campaign Monitor, an email marketing company, just before scrapping some absolutely outrageous claims, including: “Birthday emails generate 342% higher revenue per email than promotional emails.”

No wonder companies are so eager to wish you a happy birthday – they’ll drive that feel-good feeling of a birthday wish straight to the checkout, where you’ll get a donut to go with your free coffee or take advantage of a 20 percent discount only this month to get that thing. You know, the one you probably wouldn’t get until you got that email and then thought, “It’s my birthday – Yes, of course I deserve a treat!”

My unsubscribe kick, to be clear, had nothing to do with all these corporate birthday shenanigans. I love a birthday treat as much as the next person; I just wanted fewer emails for the rest of the year. But my birthday would be a test – since companies can’t resist a good birthday email, I knew that all the lists I was already on, Surely send something.

Here’s how it went:

  • Weeks before my birthday, I get an email from a local boutique with a discount code that I can use anytime during my birthday month: “Happy Birthday from us! Enjoy 20% off any purchase this month, because you deserves.” l to do earn it, local boutique. But I know your game. You can’t get me in to buy those cute notebooks… right? I can stay strong.
  • A week before my birthday, a credit monitoring company emails me: “Congratulations! Because nothing says ‘I like to party’ more than a message about your finances.” They also want to remind me “that no matter where you are with your credit scores — or your age — you are so much more than anyone else.” number can measure. Check in and broaden your horizons.” No thank you. I am fine. If you can’t get my birthday right, how can I trust those credit scores?
  • My birthday is coming up. I get an email from my alma mater, who sent a video suggesting I’d probably be sitting alone in front of my laptop to celebrate my birthday. They’re all wrong. I was alone at the time and in front of my phone.
  • Still morning, and my email is surprisingly bare except for emails from family and friends. Nice work, me! I get to watch the birthday animation on my Apple Watch. There were balloons in it. I get a kick out of it. I show it to my eight-month-old, who was briefly fascinated and then resumed her usual morning routine of playing “grab the trash.” She didn’t wish me a happy birthday. I have forgiven her.
  • The New York Blood Center is emailing me to wish me a happy birthday. Those vampires always want my blood, and my birthday is no exception; they include a link to make an appointment in their email. It’s a good reminder that blood banks are struggling this summer with blood shortages across the country. Donate if you can!
  • Regal emails me with a free little popcorn – if only I could come to a movie. I haven’t been to a theater since 2019. It will take more than a bowl of popcorn to make me go back. But also, now I want popcorn.
  • Afternoon, and my dentist emails me. Unlike the blood center and the cinema, they don’t openly try to make me go anywhere. They just wish me a good day and make a mandatory dentist joke about smiling. I feel guilty anyway. How long has it been since I went to the dentist? Too long.
  • I weigh myself on my smart scale. It tells me my weight and then, in a surprising move, flashes a happy birthday message complete with digital fireworks. This is nice, I take it? It would be nicer if it didn’t do “helpful” right after tell me I gained a pound. I immediately blame the birthday cookie dough I snuck out of the fridge earlier. It was worth it.

Overall not that bad, but I clearly hadn’t considered my gadgets and devices when I started this mini data collection.

Next year I’ll see if my microwave has anything to say for itself.

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