Today’s consumers place tremendous value on data privacy and transparency. As a result, many popular marketing practices associated with the non-consensual use of personal information will soon become obsolete. For instance, the Firefox and Safari browsers have already gotten rid of third-party cookies, and Google says that it will follow by banning cookies from its Chrome browser by 2024.
Consumers are also beyond disenchanted with marketers contacting them by phone without verifiable proof of consent, which is now more likely to be met with ire than interest. This practice is typically rooted in partnerships with data brokers offering large quantities of leads.
However, purchasing lists of leads from third-party vendors puts businesses at risk of violating the Telephone Consumer Protect Act (TCPA), which requires businesses to obtain prior express written consent before contacting consumers via automatic telephone dialing systems (ATDS) or pre-recorded messages (aka “robo calls”). Between the quality of the leads and the legitimacy of the data vendor, many factors can cause a business to fall out of compliance with the TCPA and find itself in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
What causes TCPA violations?
In our experience, the majority of TCPA violations can be attributed to fake leads from fraudulent data brokers. You can’t blame businesses for succumbing to the temptation of purchased data. They’re merely looking to grow their organizations while saving time and money in the process.
But in many cases, the leads on these lists are of poor quality, with outdated consumer information, and the leads are often sold without the permission of the listed individuals.
Moreover, fraudulent actors in the data space create fake leads by using bots to fill out forms with information from real consumers. This makes the leads seem legitimate, but when company representatives reach out via call or text, they end up contacting someone who never agreed to receive communications.
If that consumer is feeling particularly angry or greedy, a phone call to a lawyer could subsequently result in the contacting company receiving a TCPA fine of between $500 and $1,500. If enough people have received unsolicited phone calls from the same company, the result could be a class action lawsuit.
How can businesses avoid TCPA lawsuits?
Due to the volume of TCPA violations that stem from purchased data, we frequently advise businesses to focus on other methods of generating leads. In fact, with the right strategies and resources, businesses can collect valuable consumer data while simultaneously securing consent for future communications.
Here are a few ways that businesses can generate safe leads:
Collect zero-party data
In order to avoid the perils of purchased lead lists, businesses should strive for the unparalleled accuracy and reliability that comes with zero-party data. This refers to personal information that consumers proactively share with you for a specific purpose.
In other words, the consumer provides pieces of information (e.g. their name, email address, phone number) in exchange for something of value, such as a piece of gated content, a personalized offer, a product recommendation, or a subscription to your monthly newsletter.
Compared to other forms of data, zero-party data is significantly more trustworthy because it denotes a genuine interest in your brand and represents a gesture of trust. Therefore, the user can be safely categorized as a high-quality lead. Zero-party data also gives you insights about your users’ needs and preferences, which can provide the foundation for an improved user experience.
Obtain documented proof of consent
Put simply, any business that contacts leads over the phone must protect itself against TCPA litigation. If you don’t formally document the user’s consent for telecommunications, you won’t be able to prove that the user consented to be contacted. Businesses should obtain clear, unambiguous verification of each user’s consent to call or text.
For example, with a consent-based marketing platform, you could create a certificate of consent for every new lead generated through your website. In the event of a TCPA lawsuit, the certificate would provide all the information a judge would need to see in order to confirm the plaintiff’s consent. This includes the exact date and time in which the user granted consent for calls or texts, along with a session replay, which records the actions the user took while interacting with the lead form.
Identify fraudulent leads
Earlier, we noted that a common culprit of TCPA lawsuits is the use of bots to create fraudulent leads. A consent-based marketing program can help businesses expose suspicious activity through certificates of consent, the session-replay feature, and documentation of the user’s geographical location and IP address.
If lead fraud is a particular concern for your business, there are plenty of reputable software tools capable of identifying fraudulent site visitors right away. Another effective method of detecting fraudulent leads is right-party verification, which helps businesses determine the likelihood that the submitted phone number matches the submitted name through independent verification.
Purchased data may not be worth the risk
Though purchased data might seem like a quick route for business growth, this is the exact mentality that continues to fuel TCPA litigation. High-quality leads may require more creativity and resourcefulness, but their accuracy and reliability are – without question – worth the extra effort. In addition to gaining valuable insights about your target audience, you’ll sleep a lot better at night without the fear of how your business would recover from a TCPA lawsuit.
About the Author
Written by Celeste Roberts, Content Writer at ActiveProspect, a company that helps businesses acquire customers via consent-based marketing.
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