Sparked launches Customer Teams platform to boost consumer engagement

Image via Sparked

Sparked has today announced the launch of its Customer Teams platform, specifically designed for mobile devices as a way to encourage users to interact with the brands they already know and love. The company looks to help consumers connect to their favorite brands by offering them a gamified program. This is in stark contrast to the popular method, which sees businesses simply asking users to retweet or repost an announcement on social media.

The Customer Teams platform allows users to voluntarily join a mobile group of users that are targeted by brands for engagement. New activities may be available everyday, but these are created specifically by the businesses, and are only presented to those users most likely to enjoy completing them. Sparked calls this “machine-learning personalization” SparkedMatch, and compares it to the way Netflix learns from users’ viewing habits to form future viewing recommendations.

Image via Sparked

To make the system feel more like a game, users are rewarded with points for each activity they complete. Activities can be as simple as answering a survey question to a more complex activity like pitching new product ideas. The more points a person earns, the higher rank they reach in the system.

“We help brands focus on what we refer to as customer productivity,” said Sparked CEO and co-founder Ben Rigby in a company statement. “If you treat a customer like an insider — a team member — then they will be motivated to produce real value for your brand. This can’t occur if your first move is soliciting likes, shares, comments and retweets. When customers become team members of your brand, you move from customer engagement to customer productivity.”

Sparked recently ran a private beta for its Customer Team platform. One participating brand, education technology provider Degreed, found a 22 percent response rate to activity posts in the system. This is compared to the 0.07 percent response rate that Sparked says most companies receive on Facebook posts.

In the long run, Sparked looks to eliminate one-off social media campaigns that may greatly increase follower counts, but don’t result in lasting engagement or additional sales.

“When you think about it, what can you really do to get involved with a brand you love?” added Joseph Pigato, managing director and head of the Customer Teams product at Sparked. “Following a brand on Facebook or Twitter, getting email newsletters, entering sweepstakes — these things still make customers feel like they’re on the outside looking in. That’s why response and engagement rates are abysmal. Brands will get it right if they look beyond fan and follower counts and focus on productive relationships that create real marketing value. A 50,000-member Customer Team will generate more product ideas, social shares, friend referrals and sales than five million barely active fans on Facebook or Twitter.”

San Francisco-based Sparked has already partnered with a number of major clients, including Google, Kraft Foods, Barclays, UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft. A demo of the Customer Teams platform is available on the company’s website.