Kohl’s Email Review: Is this birthday email something to celebrate?

Kohl's Email Review

Kohl’s Email Grade: [B+]

Subject Line


Preview Pane


Eye Path


Clarity of Message


Call to Action






Sense of Urgency

Email grades are based on a 5-point scale: A = 5, B = 4, C = 3, D = 2, F = 1

March 2, 2016

Organization Overview

Kohl’s is a department store chain that sells a wide selection of brand-name clothing and accessories for the entire family, as well as housewares. The first Kohl’s store opened in 1962 in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Generating sales of more than $19 billion annually, Kohl’s currently operates nearly 1,200 stores across 49 states. In addition, the company launched its website — Kohls.com — in 2001, offering customers the opportunity to shop online for an expanded selection of the company’s merchandise.

Subject Line Makes the Recipient Feel Special

This birthday email was sent to a Kohl’s customer who is enrolled in the store’s Yes2You Rewards program, which allows members to earn points toward discount coupons for every dollar they spend and receive a birthday gift each year. Thanks to the personalized subject line — “Happy birthday, Todd! We have a special gift for you…” — the customer knows that this email holds his birthday reward. Plus, the personalization and exclusive nature of the language help make the recipient feel special, effectively motivating him to open the email to discover his birthday gift.

Once the email is opened, the recipient is greeted by a festive animation of popping balloons. And the headline — “Happy birthday, Todd! START THE CELEBRATION WITH SAVINGS!” — is nicely congruent with the subject line. The rest of the email copy is short, sweet, and user-centric. In addition to prominently displaying the Yes2You Rewards logo, the message states, “Treat yourself to something you love! $10 OFF ANYTHING YOU LIKE.” The $10 discount offer is centered and in bold, bright typeface that really pops in the email. As a result, the recipient knows what his birthday gift is immediately upon opening the email.

Email Message Is Clear, but a Call-to-Action Button Is Lacking

The email message is crystal clear. And because alternative text is used effectively in the preview pane without images, the email message also is clear to recipients even if their email messages are blocked.

The entire email is clickable; however, there is no call-to-action button or link. Below the main body of the email message, how to redeem the offer clearly is described. But a call to action that is visually striking and features copy that compels the recipient to click on the offer is a best practice that helps drive conversions. In this case, would a call-to-action button have resulted in a higher click-through rate and, ultimately, more sales? Testing would help answer this question.

Great Offer and High Credibility Help Make This an Effective Birthday Email

Kohl’s is a reputable and recognizable brand, which contributes to the high credibility of this email. Additionally, the offer of $10 off anything the customer likes is a great one.

A sense of urgency is also included: The offer expires in 30 days (at the end of the month), which is described in relatively small typeface under the promotional code. If customers don’t take advantage of the coupon offer as the deadline approaches, Kohl’s could capitalize on the sense of urgency by creating and sending a second email. This type of birthday email series could be used as a friendly reminder of the upcoming expiration date and possibly help drive even more sales.

Birthday emails are among the most highly anticipated, opened, and clicked emails an e-commerce business can send. In this birthday email, Kohl’s has done a very good job of taking advantage of the opportunity to boost engagement with customers and drive additional sales.

Disclaimer: FulcrumTech does not have access to the performance data relating to this promotional email, so any tests performed on this email can’t be reflected in FulcrumTech’s commentary.

Sign Up for NewsLever

Our free, monthly email newsletter

NewsLever is our free, monthly e-newsletter for B2B and B2C professionals who want to develop and implement powerful email-marketing campaigns that build relationships with prospects and customers.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Privacy Policy|Learn More|Current Issue