TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2017: Spark’s mission for permission

The challenge

Many New Zealanders will remember the dramas of multiple security breaches and general platform instability that came with Telecom’s association with Yahoo email. Fast forward ten years and Spark has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of Telecom but Yahoo is just not good enough as an email platform. What to do?

Things needed to change. But anyone who’s ever changed email suppliers knows how hard that change can be.

Add to that the fact that many customers still remembered the months of email chaos when Telecom first moved to Yahoo, and they couldn’t afford for anything to go wrong. But Spark was up for the challenge. 

The response

Spark chose SMX, considered to be the best in New Zealand and world-class, to build and manage the email service for its email customers. With a technical migration of this scale, it would have been easier to re-platform the tech in the background without the customer’s knowledge. But email is personal property and Spark is a customer-centric brand. So it was decided not to move a single customer email without those customers first opting in.

This presented several challenges. Customers don’t really think too much about how their email works; the new platform would have few obvious benefits; customers are reticent to respond to online requests for passwords; large-scale communications have impact on front-line call centre teams; competitors could poach vulnerable customers; and if customers were to lose their email they could reconsider their choice of broadband provider.

With this in mind, Spark put the power in the customers’ hands and asked them to give permission. The company began an eight-month project of channel planning, digital development, customer research and ultimately a three-pronged communication journey including customer EDMs, online permission journeys and carefully targeted above-the-line communications designed to add credibility to the conversation and reduce concerns about phishing.

Sparks’ three-phased communications strategy, with clear, regular communications, made things easy for customers and ensured they were informed and hand-held at every step of the journey. Increasingly urgent communications drove customers through the migration funnel, and while their expectations of down-time were played down, the benefits of the new platform were emphasised. 

The result

Smart strategy, targeted tactics, close collaboration and significant stakeholder management delivered genuine business results. 97 percent of all Spark’s active email customers logged in and gave permission to bring their email home. 

Campaign Name
Spark Xtra Mail Campaign
Company Name
Judge’s comment 
“The results of this campaign are impressive. To persuade 97 percent of customers to take action without rewards or gimmicks showed courage, particularly given the previous negative PR around this issue. Spark managed to achieve one of the biggest IT migrations in New Zealand business history without negative impact on the brand or contact centre. This required compelling marketing messaging and a strong focus on ensuring that the customer effort was minimised. A smart use of money and a thoughtfully layered campaign.”
Marketing Partners
Hunch, Colenso, SMX, Blacksand, Digital Alchemy, Marketing Impact, 99, Dynamo 

  • This story will also appear in the Awards issue of NZ Marketing. 
  • To read more on the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2017, click here.

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