Could direct to voice mail marketing be the solution to closing more sales? Or is it a legal minefield that just piles more spam onto potential customers?
The marketing landscape is becoming increasingly competitive. Amazon has apparently proven to be enough of a threat that many major retailers are retreating. Digital marketing has become more and more complex, causing confusing for business owners. Despite all the hype about various re-targeting and social campaign options out there, could direct to voice mail marketing that offer the results businesses are so desperate for?
The Current Marketing Landscape
It has become both simultaneously far easier, and far more difficult to promote your product or service today. Tech tools and the internet have made new marketing channels accessible and affordable to a whole new generation of startups and entrepreneurs. In this respect, it has never been easier to launch a new venture. At the same time, the dramatic increase in noise, armies of marketing minions trying to start their own businesses, and the complexity involved in the modern advertising can make it harder to build trust, gain visibility, and maintain market share.
The Amazon monopoly, its recent acquisition of Whole Foods, and the failure or downsizing of many established brick and mortar retailers demonstrates just how real these challenges can be. That’s true even for those with the largest ad budgets. Lean, flexible business models, and hyper-effective and cost efficient campaigns have become a must for surviving and thriving.
Google and Facebook do offer scalable, pay for performance options. You can get started promoting with Google Adwords for as little as $10. Facebook enables boosting from around $3. Yet, there is a lot more that goes into building an effective sales funnel. Email marketing appears to be going down the same path as direct postal mail. Few check it. Most send it right to the trash, without even opening it. SEO remains a top go-to strategy. It may be vital over the long term, but requires serious strategy and a decent spend to be effective. If you look at the real estate and travel industry, the top spots in Google search are dominated by billion-dollar companies and monopolies like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Expedia and Hotwire.
This all creates a sense of urgency among marketers and businesses to find viable alternatives which cut through the clutter and get hot sales leads on the phone, and clicking through their online shopping carts. How might direct to voicemail marketing play into this?
What is Direct to Voicemail Marketing?
Ring-less, direct to voicemail marketing puts businesses right into the voicemail boxes of ripe prospects. Pre-recorded messages are delivered right into customer voicemail boxes, without the phone ringing at all. It can be used for B2B and B2C lead generation campaigns, surveys, follow up, and customer retention. Marketers record their message, and then either use a simple app, or have a third party broadcast the content at the desired time. Organizations can use existing lists or acquire new phone lists specifically for these campaigns.
Promoters of this technology highlight many advantages including; legality, labor savings, effectiveness, scale, and ROI.
The Benefits of Direct to Voicemail Marketing
Speed While you still need to figure out what you are going to say, and select a list, these marketing campaigns can essentially be set up and put into action within a few hours. Future campaigns become even easier and may be launched in a few minutes, remotely.
Direct to voicemail campaigns can be sent to very targeted lists to increase conversion rates. These can be current or past clients, or highly targeted lists built with a variety of filters.
Production Cost & Simplicity
New media, including social and SEM, is far from as easy or “free” as it is often made out to be. Once you dig in, you realize there are multiple layers to be created to design an effective funnel. This includes ads, opt-in magnets, SEO, and high-quality content. In comparison, voicemail marketing can be very simple and far less expensive. Depending on the type of campaign, the volume being sent, and the provider, voicemails can be sent for as low as 6 to 29 cents per message. It may get even cheaper as you scale. This definitely competes with Facebook advertising, is cheaper than good direct mail, and likely blows away the CPA on Google, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter PPC ads.
Voicelogic states that “85% of your [regular] phone calls or customer retention calls never reach a live person.”
Stratics Networks reports the following supporting data:
Phone numbers have become far less transient today than they used to be. Perhaps even more so than email. App developers and telecom companies have designed it so your mobile phone number is the key to such a broad and deep amount of our assets and connections, we really can’t afford to lose or change them. If you change your phone number today you risk locking yourself out or your social media and even banking accounts. That access could be picked up by whoever gets your number next. In this respect, phone numbers may now be more reliable and valuable than email addresses, and far more valuable than mailing addresses (which have often become redundant due to the new mobile workforce).
Via her blog, marketing strategist Ruth Stevens says, “Reminder calls to seminar attendees who have agreed to come can improve their actual attendance by 40%,” and “One client using guided voice mail as follow up to a direct mail piece, for example, lifted response 145%, from 3.1% to 7.8%., doubling campaign ROI.”
The labor component is a big factor too. With rising minimum wages, health insurance burdens, high real estate costs, competitors turning to robots and AI, and the incredibly litigious environment in the US, trimming waste in labor and related overhead is vital for survival. Direct to voicemail marketing means being able to delegate expensive and risky manual labor to technology. With the ability to use IVR (Interactive Response Systems) to back up voicemail messages, hot, live leads can be directly connected to strong closers, enhancing productivity, and streamlining processes.
Is Direct to Voicemail Marketing Legal?
Between severe fines and a CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) often accused of wild witch hunts, staying compliant has become a notable concern for businesses.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) reportedly approved ringless voice broadcasting as a legal service in 2004. It continues to be debated in the US. Komo News has likened the practice to spam robocalls, which have been highly controversial. State attorneys general from Kentucky, Massachusetts, and New York have urged the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) not to allow it, according the TheHill.com. A petition to the FCC to approve direct to voicemail campaigns as exempt from other robocalling regulations was withdrawn in June 2017. Some marketing firms pose that ringless voicemail is compliant as it does not ring a consumer’s phone. For now, legally it remains a grey area, which each organization will need to decide on and regulate for themselves, with the blessing of their legal counsel.
Smart practices to avoid issues may include:
a. integrating an automated opt-out feature
b. Double scrubbing lists against the DNC (Do Not Call) and TCPA litigator lists
c. Careful list sourcing in compliance with regulations for your business classification/licensing
Key Components in a Successful Campaign
Quality phone lists
Effective phone scripts
Timing of delivery
Reputable service providers
Obtaining proof of delivery
Utilizing advance scheduling tools Obtaining proof of delivery
Used in combination with a well-rounded marketing mix
The current marketing landscape is busy and highly competitive. Marketers must achieve competitive CPAs (Cost Per Actions), and maintain high profit margins to thrive. Direct to voicemail marketing campaigns may be a tool which give businesses an edge in the current environment. They appear simple and affordable to launch, and may be even more effective than text and bulk SMS or email. However, it is crucial to watch the legal aspect, avoid spamming, and ensure compliance. It may not be as trendy as Snapchat, but the data suggests it could be worth testing.