Aeroplan gets personal with new ‘goal setter’ initiative

Program collects member data to create more tailored communications

Chris Powell March 19, 2015

Travel rewards program Aeroplan has created a member-focused marketing initiative that will use customer feedback to create more personalized communications in the future.

The “Goal Setter” campaign is built around a dedicated microsite that invites Aeroplan’s approximately 5 million members to enter three specific goals for how they would like to redeem their rewards miles.

Two of the uses must be around travel, which Aeroplan’s general manager, brand and member marketing Chris Willoughby, described as “the heart and core” of the program, while one goal must be around a specific merchandise reward.

Willoughby said the “Goal Setter” program is designed to collect member data that can be used to create more tailored marketing communications in the future.

If a member expresses a desire to travel to Paris, for example, and they provide a sense of when they want to travel and who they want to travel with, Aeroplan can begin sending them promotional initiatives referencing their objectives.

“Having this level of insight on our members gives us some good macro-trends; we can better understand from an aggregate standpoint the types of rewards our members are looking for, when they’re looking to travel and how they like to travel,” he said.

Aeroplan is driving to the website through its various communication channels, including social media, email, Aeroplan.com and alerts on its iOS app, which has received just over 700,000 downloads.

Willoughby said email has proven a particularly effective communications tactic for Aeroplan, with open rates as high as 50-60% for some highly personalized outreach. “One of the reasons our members join the program is that they want to hear from us and understand what the program has to offer,” he said.

Mobile is also a growing channel, with Aeroplan adding SMS messaging in 2014. The company also continues to use direct mail, with between five-10 drops of varying size each year.

Willoughby said the “Goal Setter” campaign marks the first time Aeroplan has gone out on a broad scale to understand how members want to redeem their reward miles. He said the company is transforming its marketing strategy, its new approach is built around accompanying members as they move through their lifecycle with the program.

Members take markedly different approaches to points redemption, he said. “Some can be saving for one big, once-in-a-lifetime trip, while others tend to accumulate and redeem on a more regular basis. It really varies depending on what members’ objectives are,” he said.

The program will run with what Willoughby described as “varying degrees of intensity” throughout the year, with the launch phase lasting several weeks. He predicted there would be two or three additional flights over the next nine months.