It may be a blazing hot summer right now, but the winter of marketing discontent is just around the corner. And the wise and prudent business owner is always scanning the distant horizon for the coming storm.
While the foolish tend to stay flat footed and deny that change is coming right up until they are swept away, SMART companies are always ready to make adjustments.
I will be deep diving into the MASSIVE regulatory changes coming out of the FCC and FTC in a few weeks at contact.io–incredibly excited for that show–but in the meantime here are five things SMART marketers are doing RIGHT NOW to prepare for the coming storm:
1. Stopping Prerecorded Marketing Calls on Purchased Leads
When the FTC makes a straightforward statement–such as “[a] business can’t send you robocalls if they got your contact information from someone else” you have to take notice. Yes, it was *cough* informal guidance provided over a social media post, but it also represents a clear change in the approach being applied by the primary regulator governing the content and method of telemarketing in this nation.
Smart companies can detect the proverbial hand writing on the wall and adjust. Even if the FTC’s action is not yet actually the law, the Commission has plainly called its shot and prudent companies will take the FTC at its word and stop using prerecorded calls for marketing purposes in connection with purchased leads.
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2. Looking For Better Ways to Drive Traffic to First-Party Sites
While the FTC’s guidance is limited to prerecorded marketing calls, a parallel NPRM proceeding before the FCC may expand the reach of the FTC’s new “direct consent” rule to other channels, including text messages and even manual calls to numbers on the DNC.
While plenty of folks are still in denial, smart businesses are already preparing for a new potential lead generation paradigm and looking to position themselves to drive traffic with smart media buys and engaging–lawful–content.
There may still be room for affiliate in the post-NPRM world, but they will no longer drive consents on third-party forms or via transfers. Those days may be gone very soon. And even companies that are not sure which way the wind might be blowing need to have multiple strategies in place to make sure TRUE first party consent is something they can deliver.
3. Cleaning Up Misleading or Deceptive Pieces of Their Funnel
Beyond shutting down lead sales, the FTC is hyper-focused on assuring the consumer has a transparent path to obtain information or goods and services without being tricked into providing unnecessary information or consent. While a business is still free to collect and share data–assuming its privacy policies are up to date and not misleading–the days of duping consumers into less friendly paths, or trapping or tricking consumers into providing consent or information, are over.
While most legitimate businesses will avoid these tactics anyway, there has been a real “race to the bottom” apparent in the digital marketing world for a few years now where everyone tested just how much they could get away with. Mercifully, this trend now seems to be reversed as lead buyers–pushed on by initiatives like R.E.A.C.H.–have engaged in a flight to quality and smart digital and performance marketers are cleaning up their act in response.
4. Preparing to Charge (and Pay) More For Leads
The pricing consequence of all the regulatory changes we are seeing in the ecosystem have not yet hit, but they will–and soon.
Smart lead buyers and sellers will know it is coming. Smart lead buyers will adjust and recognize that CPA may stay the same (or even improve) with better leads, even if the cost of leads as a unit will now increase. And smart lead sellers–who are complying with industry-best practices and staying ahead of the curve–should NOT be shy about charging more for compliant leads.
If the lead is cheap, the buyer needs to wonder why. And a seller should not be shy about explaining why an expensive lead is expensive– fraud detection, third-party witness verification, and legal reviews for compliance are NECESSARY but also EXPENSIVE. And that’s a cost that should ultimate be passed on to the lead buyer. Lead sellers should be honest and transparent about this.
5. Gathering As Much Information As Possible–From TRUSTED Sources
As with any paradigm shift, there will always be inertia but the OPPORTUNITY is in being proactive as conditions start to shift. To make the most of this opportunity SMART businesses are starving for actionable information and devouring it.
TCPAWorld.com–probably the most trusted marketing law blog on the planet–has seen a massive spike in readership this year, and that is no coincidence. The more things change the more reliance on trusted advice increases.
But a blog– no matter how incredible–is no substitute for the professional advice provided by consultants and lawyers. Smart businesses are hiring KNOWLEDGABLE folks with PROVEN track records of success to help provide actionable guidance.
Ultimately nothing is more valuable in an environment like this one than information, knowledge, and JUDGMENT.
The Czar is always here to chat.