According to a recent vendor study, executives in the United States believe their companies are prepared to comply with federal "do not call" legislation but are unsure how they will make up for the loss in revenue.
According to the study, conducted by San Mateo, Calif., CRM vendor E.piphany, 68% of survey respondents feel they are either somewhat or completely prepared for the new legislation, while only 10% said they were not at all prepared.
"The main reason for that is [that] the national 'do not call' list is not that different from what marketers have been dealing with on state, regional and internal 'do not call' lists," said Jon Miller, senior director of marketing and analytic applications at E.piphany. "Fundamentally, complying with the national list is not that different."
The national "do not call" list, currently hung up in federal court, enables the federal government to fine companies up to $11,000 for each outbound call made to phone numbers registered on the list. There are now more than 50 million numbers registered with the Federal Communications Commission. Several states have already enacted similar legislation over the past several years.
The more pressing issue for respondents is the need to replace the revenue generated from outbound calls, Miller said. No matter how annoying those calls may seem to customers, historically the calls have represented a profitable marketing channel.
The answer, according to both Miller and many industry analysts, is to capitalize on those calls coming into a company and use them to cross-sell and up-sell.
"During outbound calls, you're interrupting and potentially annoying the customer," Miller said. "With an inbound call, you have the customer's attention because they called you, you have their time, and you have permission to talk to them."
E.piphany's answer is an interaction-advisor tool that analyzes a customer in real time while they're on the phone, matches them to the current offers from the marketing department and provides the agent with the proper script to make the sale. The advisor takes some of the complexity out of deciding which offer to present to customers, Miller said.
The main issue surrounding compliance is having a rules structure around outbound marketing that maximizes the number of people eligible for outbound calls while still remaining in compliance, Miller said. Exceptions to the "do not call" regulations, such as allowing calls to consumers with a prior business relationship, complicate the legislation, Miller said.
While companies have some familiarity with state "do not call" lists, the national list and the huge numbers who have signed up for it still signify a significant change for marketing departments.
"There were a relatively small number of the 166 million phone numbers in U.S. that were on those lists," Miller said. "The universe you could call was still pretty big. About 66 million are on the national list now. That leaves 100 million, but that's a big difference."
Thanks to the national list and its accompanying publicity, E.piphany has seen an uptick in sales, Miller said, though he also credits a decline in direct mail and e-mail campaigns, which he believes are becoming less effective. Response rates to inbound offers are as much as 10 times higher than outbound efforts, Miller said.
Most of this investment in inbound-marketing technology has come from companies where the contact center is a big part of the customer relationship, particularly in industries such as telecommunications, financial services and travel and leisure.
While inbound marketing works well with existing customers, companies still need to find ways to bring in new people, and Miller expects greater investment in more traditional marketing, such as print ads and Internet banners.
"As the direct marketing becomes less effective, the mix is going to be to adjust it to stimulate the direct inbound calls," Miller said. "Once that has happened, you can do inbound offers."
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