I get too many birthday emails from brands. Even with month-long offers, there's no way I can take advantage of every discount code, exclusive gift with purchase, or blow-out-the-candle GIF.
Now and then, I come across a different kind of celebration: anniversary marketing. A milestone for the company or the date I became a customer is the same every year, and companies can create a fun anniversary campaign across any marketing channel without competing for attention.
I used my inbox as a starting point to look for examples, but anniversary marketing is adaptable. Do you prefer to use social media over email? Go for it. Don't have advanced data tracking and segmentation? Set up an automation to track info in a simple spreadsheet. Let these business anniversary marketing ideas be a jumping-off point for your own celebrations.
6 anniversary marketing ideas to try
There are two anniversary marketing perspectives:
A company anniversary, like when the business first started or the date you launched a particular product
Your customers' anniversaries with your brand
The path you choose is totally up to you, and the examples below touch on both.
1. Send exclusive content
Any anniversary, whether your company's or customers', is an opportunity to send gratitude for your time together. NBC's streaming service, Peacock, uses the star of one of their original shows in an exclusive anniversary video.
Customers receive an email one year after signing up with a prompt to watch a "special message from MacGruber." Will Forte thanks you for signing up and plugs a few things you can watch on the service.
How to adapt this idea: You don't need a celebrity endorsement to try this tactic. You could record a video from your team thanking customers for being a part of your journey or even pen a letter for their anniversary. Folks love hearing from the real people behind a brand.
2. Host events
If your business has a physical location or is localized, you can host anniversary events. The LEGO 5th Avenue NYC store celebrated its first anniversary with photo-ops, special builds, gifts with purchase, goodie bags, and more.
How to adapt this idea: Pulling off an event of that scale is a big undertaking, so if you need something more manageable, you can take inspiration from the Ryman Auditorium. The event venue is celebrating its 130th anniversary all year, but the campaign looks more like a marketing overlay of existing offerings than a bespoke event.
To go this route, you can create some content about the previous year (or 130 years!) and add commemorative designs to everyday marketing materials.
3. Gift rewards
Tapping into an existing customer rewards program is a straightforward way to celebrate your customers' anniversaries. Southwest's Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card has an anniversary bonus that automatically adds points based on a person's type of credit card.
How to adapt this idea: You don't need a branded credit card to take this idea as inspiration. If you use a customer loyalty program, you can set up an automation to add points or rewards a year after a person's first purchase. For example, you can use Zapier to connect your eCommerce platform and your rewards platform, and then use a delay to trigger points added to a person's loyalty account precisely a year after their first purchase.
4. Offer a discount
One of the simplest anniversary marketing strategies is offering a discount. For example, CoSchedule emailed customers promoting the 5th anniversary of their Actionable Marketing Institute courses. The offer ran for about four days, and you could access all of their courses and content for $99.
Company anniversary discounts are a straightforward strategy since you don't need to track individual customer anniversaries. You just set up the email to send on your company or product anniversary.
How to adapt this strategy: Mellow Mushroom prefers to send an offer (free small cheese pizza with any pizza purchase) on the anniversary of someone joining their reward program, but you could also use someone's email subscribe date or first order date. If your business has a subscription-based product, you can offer a discounted upsell like UPS used for their My Choice program 10th anniversary.
5. Partner up
There's no rule that you have to celebrate your business anniversary alone. In fact, I found a few instances of brands partnering for anniversary celebrations. One extensive example is Taco Bell's year-long collaboration with Los Angeles-based streetwear brand Born X Raised. The restaurant chain said the partnership "both symbolizes the brands' Southern California-based heritage and represents what's ahead" and included exclusive merch, meals, donations, and internal events.
How to adapt this idea: You don't have to have as elaborate of an anniversary as Taco Bell did to have a great time. You could run a co-marketing campaign with a related company or product, where you bundle your products together for a discounted rate. Even local companies can use this strategy, like a bookshop partnering with a cafe to sell books within the shop to celebrate its anniversary.
6. Reflect on progress
A lot can happen in a year, and Amazon Smile sends an annual email outlining a person's impact. The program lets people donate cash back rewards as they shop on Amazon, so Amazon sends an email each year summarizing the donations racked up in the previous period.
How to adapt this idea: If your data tracking and email customization capabilities aren't at Amazon's level, you can use this idea at a company level instead of for each individual customer. With this method, you could send an email reviewing the year's progress, thanks to your customers. You can talk about growth, releases, impact, and more with a message thanking everyone for participating.
How any company can use anniversary marketing
Marketing examples are inspirational, but sometimes it takes adjusting to apply them to your situation. You can always scale ideas down, like recording a thank-you video from your team instead of an actor, or sending a one-size-fits-all discount code on your company anniversary instead of your customers' anniversaries.
Another way to adapt anniversary marketing to fit your team is through automation. You can automate repetitive marketing tasks, like logging the date of a customer's first purchase in a spreadsheet and then applying a delay to send an anniversary email exactly one year later. Automations help you save time on repetitive tasks and use data and marketing channels in ways that would be impossible by hand.
Want to try new marketing ideas but aren't sure how to make them work with your resources? Here's how marketing teams can better leverage their time.