When registration for the National Do Not Call list was opened on July 27, 2003, the Federal Trade Commission was praised for trying to limit the amount of telemarketing and fundraising calls that consumers received. The FTC’s decision to allow consumers a way to control what comes through their phone lines has been a welcome change, since it’s a service that’s paid for, and why should a phone company get to sell your information out to some marketing company that wants to ask you if you’ve been reading magazines? They shouldn’t.
Much the same is said for the ongoing battle concerning the “do not track” list. Ultimately, it works the same as the Do Not Call registry. Instead of preventing unwanted calls, it prevents marketing and advertising firms from tracking your cookies while you browse the internet. The reason marketers do this is to streamline advertising to a more personalized client base. If someone were to spend a lot of time looking at surfboards or reading about surfing, a marketing company could assign popup ads to that specific IP address or set of cookies, to ensure that the user receives ‘special offers’ from companies that provide surfing equipment and facilities. Advertisers see it as an online version of Nielsen ratings, just tracking what people are looking at the same way they follow what people are watching on TV. Consumers see it as an invasion of privacy and that ‘big brother’ is watching. The difference to consumers is that families are chosen to be Nielsen families but when cookies are tracked, there’s really no way to keep someone from looking.
This puts marketing and advertising firms in a tough spot. How do they keep a trusting relationship with their consumers without invading their privacy, while still determining where business is being generated? Most advertising and marketing firms will run multiple types of campaigns at once – direct mail pieces, emails, various publishing ads, and website updates. What can be done to track responses without invading customer privacy and keeping those consumers loyal?
One solution that is growing in popularity is assigning custom toll-free numbers to each marketing campaign. The cost of maintaining each number per month is very low and it’s a great way to know which campaigns are generating the most excitement. If a firm has a magazine and an email campaign going on at the same time, then using distinguishing toll-free numbers is a great way to track the response from the consumers. This way the firm isn’t really invading anyone’s privacy or making their consumers uncomfortable, but they are still able to track the information they need.
Not only is this a low cost option, these calls can also be recorded. What better way to know what campaign is generating the most business AND what consumers ask about most? By using a toll-free service that offers recording, companies can go back and revisit calls that might have had good suggestions or numerous questions to make sure that campaigns are not causing confusion. If a consumer would like to provide a testimonial for you to host on your website, they can use the toll-free recording service. The file is then provided on a customer website and available for the firm to download and move to a website.
There’s always a fine line when it comes to keeping consumers and clients happy while being able to conduct your business and get feedback. Consumers don’t want to feel like their privacy is invaded, but advertisers and marketing firms want to be able to gather information so they can tailor campaigns to groups of targeted consumers. Using a custom toll-free number is the perfect way to track interest while helping your consumers to feel safe and secure.