4 Steps to Help Telemarketers Comply With New FTC Rules
The Federal Trade Commission issued the first part of the Telemarketing Sales Rule Amendment in August 2008, requiring that an opt-out mechanism be included at the beginning of all recorded messages. Now, beginning Sept. 1, 2009, all voice marketers must obtain written permission to send prerecorded sales and solicitation voice messages to consumers. Additionally, telemarketers must provide dedicated toll-free, opt-out phone numbers for all messages left on voice mails where automatic opt-out functions are not applicable.
The new law applies to all telemarketers—defined as those individuals or organizations attempting to induce customers to purchase goods, services or make charitable contributions involving more than one interstate phone call.
For assistance in compliance with the new regulation, businesses can take the following four steps:
1. Educate and review—Keep your organization educated about regulatory requirements and industry best practices.
2. Build and innovate. The ideas provided here (opt-in pages, viral video and an opt-in number) are tactics that businesses can apply to properly obtain customer opt-in, in compliance with FTC regulations. If businesses aren’t using the proper means to obtain permission prior to sending calls, they won’t be in compliance with the regulations and face possible prosecution. These tactics allow businesses to gather contact information from customers who wish to receive information by phone and to continue to contact them in compliance with federal law.
A. Opt-in page—Create an opt-in page, and encourage your customers to opt in to receive communications from your organization. The opt-in page should populate your database with customer contact information on an ongoing basis, keeping your lists strong and up-to-date.
B. Viral interactive video—Create a video hosted on your Web site, driving traffic to your site that you then can attempt to convert to opt-in respondents to further engage customers and increase sales.
Essentially, for customers to opt in, they provide their names and phone numbers (which can be typed into a template on an opt-in page). Customers who opt in are giving permission to receive communications by phone. The reason these aren’t "robocalls" is that these customers actually want to receive messages through this vehicle. For example, an NBA team may send recorded calls from a star player to its fan base (those who have opted in) giving information on ticket sales, special promotions, upcoming events for fans, etc. Since fans have such a deep connection/loyalty to their favorite teams, many want to receive these messages.
C. 800 opt-in number—Using an 800 opt-in number is another way to allow customers to opt in to phone communication. For example, customers could call 1-800-GoTeamX and press 1 to opt in to receive future messages from their favorite teams. If, at any point, customers change their minds (and decide they don’t want to receive future messages), they always have the option of opting out of phone calls (through an 800 number and on the calls they receive).
3. Interact through a newsletter—Encourage your customers to call or visit your Web site to opt in to receive communications. This, too, further populates your contact database for future campaigns.
4. Deploy direct mail—Sending a direct mail follow-up piece can be a critical step in encouraging your customers to opt in. By listing your landing page address or opt-in phone number in a printed piece, this may appeal to those who prefer a more conventional method of communication.
Compliance with FTC regulations is essential for business success and avoidance of legal trouble. By remaining compliant, businesses can maintain integrity in their marketing communications and achieve positive customer relationships.
Bob Compton is chairman, CEO and co-founder of permission-based voice marketing provider Vontoo of Indianapolis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.