Consumers and phone companies are blocking suspicious and unrecognized phone numbers. So what’s a lead buyer to do?
It’s time to take a look in the mirror and accept that you may be part of the problem. If the leads you’re buying aren’t buying your products and services, they’re not quality leads.
What’s worse, they may lead to TCPA violations and fines. As the lead buyer, you may be only one link in the lead generation fraud chain, but you have the most to lose.
Like it or not, you must protect yourself and your business by closely examining each link in the lead generation chain to make sure it will hold up to your standards and the scrutiny of regulators.
Follow the Lead Generation Process
Lead generation fraud starts, not coincidentally, with the lead itself.
Did a human provide the contact information?
Was that human legitimately interested in your product or service? Did the contact information belong to the human who entered it? Or was no human involved?
In a perfect world, these questions would be answered before a lead was created. Indeed, some publishers and affiliate marketers have processes and solutions in place to detect and block bots and human fraud farms to help ensure the quality of their leads.
But there is money to be made in selling leads, and where there is money to be made, you’ll find bad actors out to make a fast buck. They know this approach isn’t sustainable; they just hope to sell enough contact information to enough interested parties to make good money, then shut down and move on to their next con.
What’s a lead buyer to do at this stage?
Start by understanding that not only is this the first step in lead generation, but it’s also often the first step toward a consumer scam. And if you happened to be on the wrong end of one or more of the 4.5 billion robocalls last month, you understand what consumers go through regularly and why they’re reluctant to answer calls from numbers they don’t recognize. It’s also why there are more than 246 million phone numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry.
If you’re buying directly from the publisher or affiliate marketer, do your due diligence before entering into a partnership and paying for a list. Ask if they have a fraud detection partner to block invalid traffic; if so, ask who it is and check if they are TAG certified or MRC accredited.
Learn how Anura helped one publisher improve the quality of leads for themselves and their clients.
Lead Generators: Flip or Flop?
In the world of lead generation, there are “lead flippers” who buy leads, which may or may not be valid, from publishers and other lead generators. They then turn around and sell those same leads to businesses that count on them to generate sales.
Some compare them to real estate flippers who buy houses as-is, spruce them up, and resell them for a tidy profit. But real estate flippers have to bring homes up to local code to sell them. There are no such guidelines for lead flippers, but at a minimum, the leads should be recent and include proof of consent to share or sell the contact information, which lead buyers should request.
Other lead services proactively generate leads to resell. They typically have specialized verticals, such as insurance, financial services, or home repair; some create targeted branded campaigns specifically for your business.
As the lead buyer, what’s your responsibility when working with a lead flipper or a more specialized lead generator? In addition to asking about their fraud detection and prevention process, ask for proof of consent and that they used the required compliance language. If you’ve chosen to work with a service to generate leads specifically for your business or vertical, ask how they attract leads, what channels they use, where ads are running, and how many other buyers will have the same leads.
Ready to Contact? Not So Fast…
Now that you have your leads, are certain they’re valid, and have proof of consent, it’s time to do your own refinement. First, filter your purchased leads against your own do-not-call list. Then, you may want to further refine a large list by age, location, or demographic data. Finally, ensure your team is trained and prepared to answer questions and knows how to convert qualified leads into sales.
Most importantly, track your results. If you get a bad list from a previously reliable source, consider giving them a chance to make it right. If lists purchased from a lead generator or affiliate partner continue to result in no sales—or even worse, prospects who insist they never inquired about your product or service or gave anyone permission to contact them—stop using them. You need to hold your lead sources accountable.
Lead Buyers, Regulate Thyself
Federal and state governments have already established laws that affect the lead generation and telemarketing industries, and more considerations are in the works. Those in these industries may rail against these regulations, but they are enacted to protect consumers and, believe it or not, to protect the companies that are doing business the right way.
While regulations already in place likely will not be rolled back, if everyone in the lead generation process would do things the right way and hold each other accountable, there would be fewer consumer complaints, and more regulation would not be necessary.
And lead buyers, as the last link before consumers get contacted, you have the responsibility to ensure you’re buying quality leads that were generated the right way and that consumers are properly informed and interested in your products or services. You must know that your lead generators are following the laws and stop doing business with those who aren’t. Yes, it’s a big responsibility. But by holding everyone else in the chain accountable, you’re not just protecting yourself; you’re protecting the future of your industry.
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