Ringless voicemail is technology that allows marketers to leave voice mail messages without actually making a call to the prospect.
In many cases, calling prospects for telemarketing purposes is illegal. The main two reasons why certain methods of telemarketing are illegal are that telemarketing calls interrupt prospects and may come with phone charges.
Ringless voicemail does not have these disadvantages, which is why as of October of 2017 being a new technology it exists in a grey zone. There are no laws that prohibit it but at the same time, there are no laws that allow it. This article will discuss current telemarketing laws, ringless voicemail and using ringless voicemail to stay compliant.
Brief Overview of Telemarketing
Telemarketing, or telesales in the United Kingdom and Ireland, is a way to directly market products and services to consumers. It can happen via a cold phone call or be a part of a marketing funnel and include phone communications and web conferencing. Telemarketing can also include calls to consumers that deliver and play pre-recorded messages when a call is being made. The term “telemarketing” gained popularity in the 1970s as phone services providers were introducing new ways for marketers to reach their target audiences.
There are four types of telemarketing calls. They are lead generation, direct sales, outbound marketing to existing and past customers and inbound marketing, which consists of selling to the customers calling a business, requesting information and placing orders over the phone. Businesses and non-profit organization typically generate demand for inbound telemarketing via a variety of means, including online and offline advertising such as direct mail, Valpak coupons, Yellow Pages ads, Facebook ads, online banner ads, and Google AdWords.
Companies use telemarketing in a number of different ways. A telemarketing call may end with a call to action, such as to visit a website, a scheduled appointment, answering to survey questions or listening to a sales pitch and engaging in a sales conversation.
Reasons For Telemarketing Laws
As telemarketing has been gaining popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, it has become a tool for scammers and fraudsters who very calling people to sell overpriced products and services and engage consumers in pyramid schemes. Many scams also used telemarketing to misrepresent products and services that they were selling.
In addition to this, telemarketing has two aspects that led to the federal government enacting laws that significantly restrict and limit telemarketing. The first aspect is that telemarketing is interruptive in nature. You check your mail, be it snail mail or online email when you have time. You see offline advertising as you go about your days. You may be driving on the highway and you see a billboard. The billboard doesn’t directly interfere with your main activity in the moment, which is driving.
When you get a telemarketing phone call, you have to stop what you are doing, pick up the phone and engage in a conversation that you may not want to have in the first place. The phone call is an interruption.
The second reason why telemarketing is regulated is that it is you who pays for your phone service. While today most of the phone service comes with unlimited calling time, this was not always the case, which is why people were ending up paying for calls they didn’t initiate and didn’t want to have.
Brief Description of Telemarketing Laws
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 is the federal law of the United States that regulates telemarketing. The law is an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934. TCPA restricts the use of telemarketing and automated technology to make telemarketing calls. It limits the use of prerecorded messages, text messages, fax machines and automatic dialers. It also specifies technical features of various kinds of machines and equipment that telemarketers can use.
Here are the main points of the TCPA:
- Telemarketers can’t call residences outside the window of 8 am and 9 pm local time
- Telemarketers need to create, maintain and honor in-house do-not-contact lists
- When making calls, telemarketers need to identify themselves and the entities for which they are making calls
- Telemarketers can’t use artificial recordings or voices
- Telemarketers can’t use autodialers to engage multiple phone lines of a business
The Federal Trade Commission amended the law in 2003, 2008, 2010 and 2015. The amendment of 2003 introduced the National Do Not Call Registry, which is a database of phone numbers of individuals that do not want to receive telemarketing calls. The United States government maintains the database. The law requires certain telemarketers to respect the wish of people who do not want to receive phone calls.
What Is Ringless Voicemail and Why Is It Not Illegal?
Ringless voicemail works only with cell phones. In the United States, over 90% of the population has cell phones, which is why the technology can be useful no matter what the target audience.
The technology leaves a voice mail message without actually making a call to a cellphone. Instead, it calls a business landline of the cellphone service provider directly and delivers the message through the landline. The cellphone service provider than finds the space on the server that it allocated for the cellphone number that received the message and moves the message to that space. Next, it sends a notification to the cell phone that it has a new voicemail.
All of this means that ringless voicemail doesn’t violate any of the provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. There is no phone call, there are no interruptions to the consumer and the consumer doesn’t pay anything to receive the voicemail or listen to the voicemail.
Consumers typically check their voicemails at their convenience. When they see a new voicemail, they get curious about who left it and listen to it, which is why ringless voicemail can be so effective. Another benefit that ringless voicemail offers to the marketers is that it does not have a pre-determined length limit. Your ringless voicemails can be as long or as short as you like. You can use them to remind people about upcoming appointments, inform them about new products or services or follow up on information they requested or steps they took in the buying process.
How to Use Ringless Voicemail To Stay Compliant
To stay compliant using ringless voicemail you need to make sure that you do not use it to telemarket leads because the law prohibits robocalls.
Use ringless voicemail to leave voicemails without making actual calls to the customers and leave messages that give your prospects and customers reasons to respond.
If you do a good job explaining the benefits and features of what you are selling and show your prospects why your product or service would be great for them, they will be responding to your ringless voicemails willingly, which is what you need to stay compliant and what you want from the marketing perspective, too.