How AA Smartfuel Broke Its In-App Sessions Record and Drove 115% Growth in New App Users with Braze
115% Growth in new app users


AA Smartfuel was looking to engage their users on a less transactional, more emotional level in order to showcase the value the users derive from the loyalty program and to motivate them to champion the brand to others.


By leveraging Braze Alloys solutions partner Catch Design and Braze Audience Sync, they executed a hyper-personalized “Year-in-Review” campaign complete with in-app messages, push notifications, Braze Content Cards, and email.


The campaign led to 115% growth in new app users, 16% growth in monthly active users (MAU) during the campaign period, a 45% open rate across year-in-review emails, and more.

Founded in 2011, AA Smartfuel hit the New Zealand market during another time of economic volatility. Fast forward to 2023, they now boast around 1 million active customers each month who consistently derive additional value from their purchases. Simply by shopping with any of their 1,200+ retail partners using their AA Smartfuel card, users can earn discounts instantly and redeem them on fuel purchases or convert them into other reward options, such as Uber gift cards, Qantas Points, ChargeNet credits for EV charging, and CarbonClick to offset carbon emissions.

Over the past few years, the marketers at AA Smartfuel found themselves seeking solutions for a handful of pain points, such as finding the right offers for the right users, getting those offers delivered on a timely basis, and properly educating users on the value of the program (i.e. shopping on the right days can maximize savings by accumulating discounts). They wanted to leverage the immense data at their disposal to drive users down a unique path and create a more robust and valuable user experience.

Before implementing Braze, their user engagement strategy primarily relied on email. Siloed channels lacked interconnectivity, making it challenging to create harmonious multi-channel campaigns. In-app messages were nonexistent, and many of their marketing processes were accomplished manually. They turned to Braze for its drag-and-drop capabilities, easy filtering, and robust audience segmentation. Furthermore, they liked that the platform enabled channel and data activation, adding the opportunity for in-app messages and real-time audience syncs to Facebook and Google, eliminating silos and opening up the visibility of campaign performance and testing.

Looking Back on a Year’s Worth of Value

In 2022, the team’s new capabilities powered by Braze allowed them to execute a successful “Year-in-Review” campaign, strategically engaging users and driving new traffic to the program through word-of-mouth. With this campaign, they wanted to solve for the fact that they weren’t celebrating users’ achievements. They realized that the app could feel overly transactional and that they weren’t seizing the opportunity to infuse an emotional connection into the user experience. After all, savings represent more than the satisfaction of finding a good deal—they give consumers a chance to better provide for themselves and their families.

With the help of modern data analytics capabilities, year-in-review campaigns continue to rise in popularity, and when done correctly, they have the power to cement brand loyalty by directly presenting users with the value a brand provides in their lives. Of course, with so much data on hand, it’s a delicate dance—the goal isn’t to make the user feel that they’re being monitored, but rather to make the brand experience exciting, and most importantly, one that they’re eager to continue for years to come.

The hypothesis that drove the “Personalized Road Trip” campaign was simple: Customers love to celebrate (and hopefully, show off) their savings with loyalty programs, finding joy in their achievements. If AA Smartfuel could amplify the ability to do so, they anticipated increased engagement in the app, more word-of-mouth through shareability, and ultimately, adoption of the app by new customers who were exposed to the brand and didn’t want to miss out on potential savings.

AA Smartfuel worked with their agency, Braze Alloys solutions partner Catch Design, to create this campaign. Not only did the agency design the assets, but they also helped with the setup and construction of the actual flow, including the integration of data and personalization within the road trip.

AA Smartfuel and Catch Design used Braze Canvas Flow to build out the year-in-review customer journeys, relying on streaming user data to ensure content was relevant and accurate. The first time users launched an app session during the campaign period, a Braze in-app message triggered a native CTA, which led the user to their personalized year-in-review—a sharply-designed recap of their transaction volume and total savings throughout the year. During the experience, users also had the opportunity to spin an in-app prize wheel for even more rewards, and sharing their savings on social media earned them an extra spin. For the lucky users whose spins were fruitful, AA Smartfuel sent visually-striking push notifications to remind users to take advantage of their winnings.

Users then received mobile and desktop-optimized emails with a road trip, teasing them with prizes up for grabs. Personalized road trips were sent to users who had saved enough in the year to warrant personalized fun facts. For those that didn’t meet the criteria, they received a road trip that was tailored to what other customers were doing in order to create FOMO. This also drove a level of education to new and low engaged users so they could see what more engaged customers were achieving, and what they could save.

AA Smartfuel also leveraged Braze Audience Sync in the campaign, which allowed them to enhance digital ad targeting for their Google and Facebook audiences. With Audience Sync, the team could leverage user data in Braze to target ads based on users’ app activity and propensity to download the app. Once users completed the year-in-review, they were automatically excluded from receiving additional ads for this campaign, which saved on ad spend.

Real-time segmentation was critical in determining the right message for each user, and AA Smartfuel used Liquid personalization and custom attributes and events to ensure each message felt completely unique to each user. Additionally, the ability to easily build a cohesive, cross-channel messaging flow helped streamline the campaign activity across AA Smartfuel’s team, while Audience Sync led to a 70% efficiency in cost-per-click thanks to the ability to sync targeted Braze audiences in real-time with Meta.

Now that the AA Smartfuel team knows Braze in and out, a bigger-and-better year-in-review campaign is already in the works for 2023, and they look forward to exploring the platform’s capabilities further to strengthen customer relationships through powerful marketing.

"Braze has enabled us to easily put the customer first, and empowered us to deliver cross-channel strategies, by breaking down channel silos."

Jordan Tran
GM Marketing & Partnerships, AA Smartfuel

AA Smartfuel Results: Celebrating Value and Creating Brand Advocates

By building out a fun, interactive in-app campaign to celebrate users’ money-saving accomplishments, AA Smartfuel drove 115% growth in new app users, 16% growth in MAU during the campaign period, a 45% open rate across year-in-review emails, and more.

AA Smartfuel also saw success in elevating their brand: 38% of users who completed the year-in-review also shared it on social media (earning them an extra spin-to-win opportunity). During the promo period, the app saw its biggest all-time day for total sessions on December 14th, 2022. Positive feedback flowed in both from business partners and customers, many of whom blossomed from users to advocates, helping to educate other customers on how they could save more.

0 Growth in new app users
0 Growth in MAU during campaign period
0 Efficiency in cost-per-click due to Braze Audience Sync

Key Takeaways

  1. Year-in-review campaigns enable brands to directly communicate value in an entertaining way, deepening users’ relationship with the brand, keeping it top of mind for the future, and moving users to share their experience with others.

  2. Incentivizing your users to champion your brand on social media isn’t easy, but when you pull it off, it pays dividends. Earn the right to get in front of your users’ networks and you’re guaranteed to drive new traffic.