woman happily celebrating with confetti

Birthday and milestone programs have proved to be a successful tactic for emails. Here's how to celebrate your customers.

Everyone loves moments when a family member or friend remembers something about you and shares that with you, like a birthday, anniversary, or memory. Those moments are meaningful ways to connect authentically, inspire, and create positive energy.

For a marketer, it isn’t any different. The way to connect with a customer, or buyer, is first to recognize those customer moments and then provide an authentic experience that leaves the customer inspired.

Make a meaningful connection

Sending messages on birthdays, anniversaries, and other recurring dates or milestones are powerful tactics to keep customers engaged and inspired throughout their journey with your brand. If done well, there are big rewards.

Top 8 things you can do to celebrate your customers

  • Apply triggers. The first step is to identify those moments through data and applying triggers. While triggered marketing messages are not a new concept, research shows they deliver a 46% open rate and 11% click-through rate. To roll-out a triggered approach, you first need to analyze if you have the correct data and the ability to time or trigger emails using the data.
  • Create value exchange. Consider creating a value exchange where your brand offers promotions and discounts if you are not gathering data to support triggered campaigns or missing data elements. (One such solution that easily accomplishes this is Marigold Grow.) In return, customers share personal information such as birthdays, preferences, and other attributes useful for personalization.
  • Understand where a customer is in the customer journey. Birthday or anniversary emails can strengthen engagement and help build loyalty. This goal can also be pursued with emails that celebrate other occasions. Identifying a birthday or anniversary since first purchase, joining a loyalty program, or first opt-in are examples of great occasions to identify. It is also essential to go beyond the celebratory messages to get attention and recognize milestones throughout the year, such as the number of purchases, reviews, or recommendations.
  • Incorporate loyalty programs. A way to tie in milestones is through loyalty program data, where punch card activity, tier achievement, or other milestones can be celebrated. A great opportunity to gather relevant data is the moment a customer joins your loyalty program. That is the right time to ask for a birthday or other data points that can be used to trigger events throughout the customer journey.
  • Go cross-channel. Go beyond email and tie in SMS, shoutouts on social media, or even creative direct mail. To go further, automate workflows to invoke subsequent actions, such as if your email is not opened, you can send a mobile message through SMS or push as a reminder.
  • Go beyond “happy birthday <first name>. Think through other ways to make messages more personal and engaging. For example, adapting content to the customer’s preferences, location, or loyalty to your brand.
  • Send a gift, offer or discount. You will want to surprise your customers with well-timed messages, as well as delight them. Consider including targeted offers in the messaging, including discounts, coupons, or free shipping.
  • Keep the content short, sweet, and visual. The messages and content should put the customer first, not your brand, and clearly celebrate the birthday or milestone. Incorporate fun and interactive content, that makes the reason for the occasion worth celebrating.

Birthday, anniversary, or milestone programs are about making a personal connection with customers. These tactics strengthen relationships with customers and a tactic that applies to all customers, not just a single segment or group of customers. The benefits include increased engagement, customer loyalty, and brand advocacy.