Email marketing

5 anniversary emails to consider sending to customers

Phil Weltman, September 20th 2021
anniversary email hero

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on June 1, 2017. Alex McPeak has updated it to reflect the most current data and insights. 

Anniversary emails are automations that can help you focus on your customers and target your audience more precisely, which in return, helps generate higher returns on your messages.

“Anniversary” is a pretty broad term because there are so many different kinds of anniversaries you could celebrate. You have birthdays, first purchase anniversaries, newsletter signup anniversaries, and more.

You could celebrate almost anything and call it an anniversary, but first start by considering your unique business and which automation or automations make the most sense for your brand. Then create templates that help automate these type of email campaigns

What is an anniversary email and why should you consider sending one to your customers?

An anniversary email is a message sent to subscribers to celebrate a special occasion like birthdays, purchase anniversaries, or newsletter anniversaries.

You can automate anniversary emails, which you can trigger on the day, week, or month of an anniversary date. All you have to do is collect date data, create the content, turn them on, and watch them send, making the anniversary email simple to set up.

But that’s not all. Anniversary emails often focus on the subscriber and the dates that are most special to them, rather than the company, which lets you get more personalized and targeted with your emails.

This is not only a great way to build stronger relationships with your customers, it’s also great for boosting brand affinity, encouraging repeat purchases, increasing retention, and even winning back lapsed customers. 

Before I get into specific strategies, here are a few anniversary email helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Collect date data: In order to create an anniversary email automation, you’ll need to collect specific dates that are relevant to your customers, such as their birthdays.
  • Personalize as much as possible: While anniversary emails are inherently personal on their own, think about how you can make them even more targeted to each individual subscriber. You can use minor details, like their name, or more advanced segmentation attributes strategies, like gender.
  • Differentiate anniversary emails: Anniversary emails celebrate a special occasion, so the content should be special, too. Consider extending a deal you don’t normally offer, like a free gift with purchase, or creating content specifically for the event, like a short video that highlights different data points you’ve collected over the course of your relationship with your customer, like how many flavors of your signature beverage they’ve tried. 
  • Consider timing: It’s appropriate to send most anniversary emails in the weeks leading up to and after the anniversary event itself, but some won’t make as much sense—for example, if you sent an email about DIY (do it yourself) bridal up-dos after someone’s declared wedding date. Think about whether you want your email to reach the recipient on the day of the event, before it happens, or after it’s over, and how your messaging needs to change depending on send time.
  • Don’t overdo it: Anniversary emails should be special, so while there are plenty of occasions to send them (as you’ll see below) and they’re fairly easy to set up, it’s best to celebrate only one or two anniversaries to truly make them special.

If you keep some of these strategies in mind, your anniversary automations will prove an asset to your broader email marketing strategy. 

Anniversary email strategies to connect with customers

Now that you have a starting point, here are a few different anniversary email examples you can send to your customers. 

1 | Set up a birthday email campaign

The most common anniversary email is the birthday email, which you can send either the day, week, or month of your customer’s birthday.

Birthday emails are a great way to show your customers you’re thinking of them around their special day, just as a family member or friend would reach out. And they’re effective.

In fact, birthday emails generate a 481% higher conversion rate and 342% higher revenue per email than promotional emails, according to Experian.

When you choose you to send your customers a birthday email, though, varies on your preference. Most merchants choose to send birthday emails containing a reward or a discount at the start of their customer’s birthday month. That way, the subscriber can redeem their reward anytime during that month.

If you don’t have your customers’ birthdays on record, try collecting it when they sign up for your newsletter, either through the signup form or as part of the newsletter welcome series. Let them know that they’ll be receiving a birthday gift if they give you their birthday so they’re incentivized to give you the information.

This email using a template from sustainable cashmere clothing brand Naadam is a splendid example of a birthday email—it’s short, simple, straight-to-the-point, and includes an exclusive birthday offer for 15 percent off.

NAADAM anniversary email

Want to stand out from the crowd? Use activewear brand Outdoor Voices’ email template that celebrates customers’ half birthdays as inspiration—the subject line, “Your gift inside,” is sure to get a subscriber’s attention.

Outdoor Voices anniversary email

2 | Create a purchase anniversary email

What’s the ultimate goal of your ecommerce store? To get people to buy your product, of course. And when they do, that’s something you should celebrate.

Now the question is, how do you celebrate someone making their first purchase?

It’s simple: Send an email using the date your customer made their first purchase. 

You can automate this email by capturing your customer’s first purchase date data. Once this date reoccurs, you can generate the email automatically and trigger it to send on their yearly anniversary.

You can take this one step further by targeting more precisely. For example, you could send one email without a discount to people who have purchased in the past year and one email with a discount to people who haven’t ordered since their first purchase in order to win-back customers.

If you want to take it a step further, try including a product recommendation based on their past purchases.

3 | Brand newsletter anniversary email

A newsletter anniversary is very similar to a purchase anniversary, but it celebrates when your subscriber signed up for your newsletter.

I like to think that joining a company’s newsletter is like joining their inner circle. You’re opting into receiving emails from a brand, which means that they’ve made an impact on you in some way or another.

But like subscribing, unsubscribing is just as easy, so sending a newsletter anniversary email each year will let your subscriber know that you appreciate them being part of your community, hopefully keeping them around for another year.

And if they do stick around for more than one year, change up your messaging and offer, providing greater offers to those who have stayed with you the longest.

Setting up these emails is simple—all you need is the date your customer signed up for your newsletter and the content you want to send, then just set your email automation live.

4 | Anniversary emails for major life events

For brands in certain industries, such as bridal or baby, consider celebrating the anniversaries of your customers’ life events, such as wedding anniversaries or children’s birthdays.

Similar to a birthday, setting up this email automation comes down to asking your customers’ for this event date data—whether it’s a wedding date or due date—at some point in the customer journey. For example, you could ask for these dates through a pop-up form when they visit your bridal collection page or through the preference center of your email newsletter for new moms.

Life event anniversary emails are a unique way to reach out to your customers and celebrate their accomplishments in a way that’s also related to your brand and the products you sell. 

While this anniversary email strategy might not work for everyone, it’s worth considering what dates or events are important to your target audience.

For example, an online pet store could ask customers when they adopted their dog or when their cat’s birthday is, like how pet subscription brand BarkBox celebrates pets’ birthdays. If you’re creative, you can likely find an anniversary to celebrate that resonates with your customers no matter what you sell. 

BarkBox anniversary email

Bonus: company or founder birthday email

One trend you might notice is anniversary emails that celebrate the company or founder’s birthday, rather than the subscriber’s birthday or their anniversary with the company.

While this isn’t as personalized as the previous anniversary email examples, this is an extra simple email automation because it doesn’t require you to collect or use date data for every single customer. Instead, use a single date—your company’s official start date or the founder’s birthday—to create content around this day. 

For example, women’s wellness and personal care brand Love Wellness recently celebrated their third birthday, treating customers to four times more loyalty rewards points on their purchase than they typically receive shopping with the brand.

Love Wellness anniversary email

This was also a great opportunity to highlight some of the brand’s accomplishments over the years, including their community, new multivitamins, and the more than 20,000 reviews they’ve collected across their products. 

Alternatively, if your company has a famous or well-known founder who you regularly feature in your content across channels, consider using their birthday to prompt celebration with your customers.

But just because you can, in theory, send these anniversary emails to your entire email list doesn’t mean you should.

If you want to celebrate a company or founder’s birthday, think first about how you can segment your list before blasting it to everyone. If you’re giving out a discount, for instance, you might want to send it to your engaged subscribers or most loyal customers only.

Make anniversary emails work for your brand

Whether you want to jump on the birthday bandwagon or get more specific with a wedding anniversary email, finding these opportunities to create special connections with your customers will help to keep them loyal for life.

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Phil Weltman
Phil Weltman
Phil was formerly on the marketing team at Klaviyo. Prior to marketing, Phil spent a year on the growth team helping lead the charge to build a digital marketing platform for nonprofits and fundraising organizations.