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Navigate to Captivate – Overcoming the Noise of Robocalling

One of the most topical and truly unifying issues in public discourse is the preponderance of robocalls and robotexts. While not all communications spam and scams are robotic, the term ‘robo’ not only refers to automated voices, but to mass outreach campaigns, and has become the umbrella name for unwanted communications. Once a nuisance, an entire criminal industry has metastasized around defrauding consumers of billions.

Regulators, carriers, and third party caller ID and spam blocking applications are playing cat and mouse with robocallers. While consumers are better protected today than even a few years ago, brute force blocking is impeding legitimate commerce and marginalizing one of the highest engagement channels and CTA touchpoints available to marketers – the ubiquitous mobile device. In-app messaging will never match the reach and capacity of voice and text – but we are at risk of losing both in the noise of primitive spam filtering. Solving one problem has created another.

Some history in the evolution of telemarketing and consumer protection:

1991: In an effort to address a growing number of telephone marketing calls, Congress enacted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA restricts the making of telemarketing calls and the use of automatic telephone dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages. The rules apply to common carriers, as well as to other marketers. It initially targeted landlines, as cord cutting started and calls moved to mobile. This was before unlimited plans, and regulators took a particularly dim view of spamming cell phones, as the burden of expense was on the called party. 

  • Why This Matters: These fines can be crippling and require constant compliance of internal and outsourced contact centers.

2003: The FTC opened the National Do Not Call Registry (DNC) in order to comply with the TCPA.

  •   Why This Matters: While a known issue to most marketers regarding voice communications, circumventing DNC through other channels can also violate laws and incur significant fines and damages. As a result, the FCC and FTC are turning up the heat on robotexting. 
    •  Robotexting is also restricted and under increasing scrutiny.  Here’s the definition of telephone solicitation under the Code of Federal Regulations 47 CFR 64.1200 “The initiation of a telephone call or message for the purpose of encouraging the purchase or rental of, or investment in, property, goods, or services…”

2021: STIR/SHAKEN is mandated by the FCC and major carriers. This technical, inter-carrier handshake is primarily designed to mitigate intra-carrier spoofing of names and numbers as the calls are now verified as ingress the receiving carrier.

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  • Why This Matters: If your campaigns leverage local area codes and numbers to increase pick-up rates, they will not get through unless they are verified between carriers – meaning you may be subject to scrutiny and legal action.  Your telecom carrier, contact center and messaging vendors should shoulder compliance here.

Piercing the Veil

Despite DNC and TCPA significantly altering the telemarketing landscape, opt-in telesales and customer support models remain amongst the highest engagement channels. This is especially true in the mobile age in which devices are not only inescapable, but for all intents and purposes, a human appendage. Upsell/cross-sell/promotional conversions on voice and text remain far higher than in-app and mobile web if the prospect/customer believes the originator is authentic.

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The aforementioned device ubiquity presents perhaps the most valuable marketing real estate imaginable, the small screen from which no one can unglue themselves. In addition to sales and promotions, critical communications regarding medical or delivery/installation appointments, travel or shipping delays, or customer care follow-ups save time, money and preserve brand reputation.

Yet, by overachieving with brute force robo-blocking to ensure consumer protection, we are interfering with legitimate commerce and communications, not to mention the noise in the marketplace.  Brand imposters and campaign spoofers are hijacking B2C relationships from leading enterprises. Vishing and smishing are now eclipsing phishing as leading scam modalities.

Navigate to Captivate 

Brand Protection: Voice and text content analytics providers can monitor both outbound campaigns and imposter attacks.  With rapid detection and the ability to assist in tracing back to criminal originators, brand imposters and campaign spoofers are hijacking B2C relationships from leading enterprises 

Branded Calling and Texting: Brands and agencies can protect their caller ID/text ID and deliver consistently branded, rich content impressions and CTA for voice and text campaigns to increase the likelihood of response to their calls and messages.

  • Communications MarTech: This technology is still in its infancy and highly fragmented.
  • Carriers and Incumbent Caller ID Providers: Each of these have millions of subscribers, but it can be challenging to ensure maximum coverage and consistently branded notifications and mobile screen impressions across Android and iOS, device models and mobile carriers.  This also increases CPM as the revenue share may span content aggregators, network service providers, application developers and the carriers themselves.
  • Direct-to-Consumer:  Caller ID and spam blocking applications have already optimized across the above limitations and can ensure consistency without the above limitations. They provide a straight line to audiences.   As their penetration grows, so does their distribution.

Hurdles, not Barriers

Between the regulatory and enforcement environments and the implementation of technologies to defeat communications fraud, the landscape can be daunting. Partnering with industry leaders in mobile identity management, mobile martech and caller ID and spam analytics/data providers can ensure your campaigns and outreach get through to customers.  

Work with partners who understand the entire mobile continuum:

  • Carriers
  • Devices
  • Applications
  • Data

Delivering a consistent image when calling or texting customers and prospects is the most fundamental of branding activities. Understanding the gauntlet outlined above is key to marketers securing the most coveted of screens. There is no greater call to action than the real-time decision point of “to answer or not.”

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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