Ringless voicemail is a technology that allows leaving a voicemail to a customer without making a phone call.
The technology works by contacting the provider of the phone service directly, via a business phone landline, and delivering the voicemail via the business landline. The provider than locates the space of the user on the server and delivers the voicemail to the space on the server allocated to the user. Finally, the user gets a notification about a voicemail. Because there is no phone call to a user, no charges to a user and no interruptions, as of the beginning of 2018, the laws that regulate telemarketing do not apply to ringless voicemail.
This article will describe in detail different types of telemarketing, will talk about the issues with them and the ways to use ringless voicemail to stay compliant.
What is telemarketing?
Telemarketing is a way of direct marketing of products and services to consumers with the help of a phone. Telemarketing is not limited to unsolicited cold calling. A prospect of a business may give the business a permission to contact him or her. A phone call can also be a part of a marketing funnel or a post-purchase follow-up sequence.
There are four kinds of telemarketing calls. They are outbound lead generation calls, outbound direct sales calls, outbound marketing to existing and past customers and inbound calls, which is when customers call a business to request more information or place an order. While today a business can generate a lot of new leads online with platforms such as Facebook, Google Adwords, Yelp, LinkedIn and others, getting in touch with prospects and customers on the phone is still a very effective way to build a relationship, deliver a presentation, and make a sale.
The term “telemarketing” also includes not just live calls but also pre-recorded calls, or robocalls, that play a message when a person picks up the phone. The term became popular in the 1970s when telephone service companies started promoting phone services as a way for businesses to make more sales and reach more potential customers.
The problems with telemarketing and why ringless voicemail doesn’t have them
The United States has very strict laws when it comes to telemarketing for several reasons.
The first reason is that cold calling is intrusive. Nobody is seating by a phone waiting for a phone call from a marketer. People are busy, especially people in the developed countries in the twenty-first century. When a person receives a phone call, the phone call interrupts him or her from his activities. If the person is at work, the call interrupts work. If the person is at home, the call interrupts personal time. Both work and personal time are important to people and any person would prefer to do what they want instead of having a stranger interrupt them to sell them something. This is one of the biggest differences between cold telemarketing and other marketing methods, such as direct mail or online ads. With mail, you choose when to check your mail and what to do with the mail that doesn’t interest you. You can sort your mail very quickly and not waste any of your time on advertisements that you received.
Online ads are typically also not intrusive. Major online platforms, such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, have figured out ways to mix ads with content in a way that not only doesn’t interrupt users but also adds value because ads can be related to what a user is looking for. For example, when you search Google for a plumber, Google is not going to start showing you ads for heart surgeons. It will only show you the results that are connected to the search keyword that you have entered. On Facebook, advertisers can choose audiences based on a number of factors, such as liked pages and interest, and if you, for example, don’t like any facebook pages related to running and don’t have running as your interest, then you will most likely not see any running-related ads.
The second reason is that cold telemarketing can be very annoying. A person is doing something, gets interrupted by a call, and starts talking to someone only to realize that the call is a sales call and a complete waste of time.
The third reason is that as telemarketing has gained popularity, scammers and fraudsters started using it more and more. A typical telemarketing fraud includes scammers pretending to be government employees or workers of a financial institution and gaining access to the financial information of a person or having the person send money to the scammers under false pretences such as overdue taxes. Another type of scams includes gross misrepresentations of products and services being sold.
Finally, cold telemarketing can cost customers money. A person may have a phone plan with limited minutes and a call from a telemarketer would lead to the person spending the minutes in a way that he or she did not intend.
Ringless voicemail doesn’t have any of these issues. It is not interruptive and not intrusive because there is no phone call being made. A consumer can check the voicemail at his or her convenience. Because there is no phone call, there are also no additional charges to the consumer.
Description of telemarketing laws in the United States
The main law that regulates telemarketing in the United States is called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Congress passed the law in 1991. The law amended the Communications Act of 1934. The TCPA describes a number of provisions in regards to telemarketing. It also gives the Federal Communications Commission or FCC a lot of power when it comes to creating new rules in the telemarketing space.
The TCPA describes what technology telemarketers can use to make the calls. It also explains the limitations that telemarketers need to follow when using pre-recorded messages, faxes, text messages and SMS, and auto-dialers.
The main points of the TCPA are the following:
- Telemarketers can contact residences only between 8 am and 9 pm local time
- Businesses that use telemarketing need to create and honor in-house do-not-call lists
- In the beginning of a phone call, a telemarketer needs to identify himself or herself and the organization on the behalf of which he or she is making the call
- Use or artificial voices or recordings is prohibited
- Use of auto-dialers to connect to multiple phone lines is also prohibited
At the technology keeps changing and developing, the government keeps introducing amendments to the law. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act has been amended in 2003, 2008, 2010, and 2015.
In 2003, the government introduced the National Do-Not-Call Registry. It is a database of phone numbers to which individuals can choose to add their numbers and telemarketers are prohibited from calling the numbers in the database.
Staying compliant with ringless voicemail
As of the beginning of 2018, ringless voicemail is not covered by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The best way to stay compliant with ringless voicemail is to not use the technology in any way that resembles cold telemarketing. Leave voicemails, but have prospects make inbound calls to you willingly, so that there is no cold-calling on your part.