Everyone these days is constantly checking their email box – so why is email marketing so hard? Let’s take a look at the challenges. For one, it is important to understand that email marketing is a very legitimate form of advertising. This is not the 90’s where SPAMMERS were pervasive. The FTC regulated the industry with the CAN-SPAM act of 2003, and a number of state laws that are more restrictive must guide your commercial emailing efforts. A deep understanding of email compliance requirements has to be your first step. Email compliance requires transparency, ethical messaging, and providing a consumer the ability to opt-out of receiving more emails. It also requires monitoring Publishers for compliance. Every legitimate mailer follows these compliance requirements, but knowing how to avoid publishers who try and game the system and who can get you in trouble takes years of learnings. It is also important to have the technological tools to monitor your campaigns to avoid problems or bad actors.
Reputational risk is another concern companies have with commercial emailing. They perceive that consumers do not like to be emailed, and while true with a tiny percentage of people, most of us understand what the delete button is for. Frankly, if you are emailing compliantly and honoring consumer opt-outs, consumer complaints really are not much of a concern. Many people appreciate being introduced to new products and services, or the response rates would not be what they are. After deploying several hundred million emails a month for a variety of Brand advertisers, the complaints we receive annually are minimal. Let’s call it 2-3 a year, with half of those being from professional litigants who opt-in everywhere, and then use the lesser known state laws to try and extort a few dollars. Not having a firm hand on compliance however can yield much worse problems. The benefits and ability to scale your business however, far outweigh the perceived risks which are minimal and easily addressed. Again, experience counts here, because an understanding of how to navigate through these problems is critical for both peace of mind and cost savings. (more…)
Let’s face it. Nothing has changed our lives more in the past 20 years than the Internet and email. We receive emails delivered to our computers and phone wherever we are, 24/7. In addition to work and personal emails, companies we do business with (or companies who’d like to do business with us!), utilize email to communicate. We have all gotten used to checking our email regularly, and hitting the “X” button to delete the myriad of messages we don’t have an interest in. Email can be used for communicating with existing clients, re-marketing to clients who have already discovered you, or to acquire new, fresh hand-raisers who have an interest in your product now! Emails that pique our interest by introducing us to new products play a significant role in driving our economy.
Millions of leads and sales are generated daily from this advertising medium. In fact, E-mail Marketing has effectively replaced Direct Mail as the preferred method of driving new business.
So why are so few companies marketing this way?
For one, it’s hard. Most companies fail at it. After working with a lot of well-known brands, the stories we hear about their efforts prior to our engagement are relatively consistent. They have tried it, but the sales metrics did not back out, traffic fraud was pervasive, their forms did not convert and so on. Traffic was not only hard to find, policing it for compliance was even harder. Identifying mailers with the the right Demographic lists and who can also “inbox” are also a challenge. Managing your domains or a couple consumer complaint can be daunting. As with all things, experience and good contacts matter. But for every challenge, there is a solution…
Performance Marketing Insider recently released the results of its survey designed to shed light on the world of marketing as it relates to fraud and CPA Affiliate Networks. They reached out to affiliates, advertisers, and networks to learn their perception of fraud, if they trust their networks and if the fraud solutions work.
According to this survey, the CPA industry is awash in fraud … or fear of fraud.
As a founding member of the exciting new LeadsCouncil for ethical practices in Digital Marketing, this hit close to home. We were deeply disappointed.
The survey showed the following scary statistics:
- 84 percent of Networks utilize a fraud detection program
- 82 percent of all marketers believe fraud in performance marketing is a major problem
- 72 percent of all advertisers report being victims of fraud
- 66 percent of advertisers report little trust in CPA Affiliate Network
- 52 percent of publishers report little trust in CPA Affiliate Networks
- 49 percent of those advertisers who utilize fraud detection programs don’t believe they work
- 11 percent of networks say they have asked their publishers or affiliates to commit fraud
- 10 percent of publishers report a CPA Network has asked them engage in fraudulent practices
What does this mean?
After frankly discussing some misleading quotes from Consumer Advocacy I wanted to close out my notes on the recent Washington, D.C. FTC workshop I attended by looking towards the future. This is something I’m extremely passionate about, and one of the reasons I am honored to be a Board member of the exciting new LeadsCouncil (www.leadscouncil.com), whose goals are creating new strategies for upholding ethical values and compliance.
At the conference, protecting the consumer Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and distribution of that data was the subtext behind all of the panel discussions. Further, providing transparency on how many times the data will be distributed to the consumer through disclosures is key.
Proposed ways to further protect the consumer:
- Require all providers to meet Initial standards to deliver interested consumers to the client
- Set up disclaimers and privacy policies for the consumer to read and understand.
- Verification pop-ups
- Set up filters to eliminate non-qualified consumer or redirect them if not.
- Set up opportunities to not collect non-qualified leads.
- Set up better lead qualifiers as well as confirmations on submittals
- Verify data through a data clearing house to make sure information is accurate
- Auditing call centers
- Data gathering technology to go and find violators to protect the consumer
My overall impression of what’s to come from the FTC is that if you are…
It’s good to be home from an important recent FTC workshop on online lead generation, which I attended with my Chief Compliance Officer and panelists Greg Gragg and Michael Ferree, two fellow board members of our exciting new LeadsCouncil – that you are invited to join. As a compliance-focused member of the Digital Performance Marketing industry for the past two decades, I very much looked forward to this event. After first breaking down all of the lead generation players and detailing exactly what is important to whom, I turned my eye to some often-misleading quotes from the Consumer Advocacy side of things.
Who doesn’t find some frank feedback useful?
Some classic quotes (and my opinions on what they said) from the Consumer Advocates, many of whom paint the industry with the broad brush of misunderstanding or zealotry:
“If a prospective student submits a lead, they’ll get calls from 100s of schools”. – Not true…well most of the time.
David Halperin – Consumer Advocate Attorney
“In the for-profit school business, they use strippers as recruiters” & “If I were you, I would never enter my phone number anywhere on the Internet.” – I am sure a stripper got a job as an admission rep somewhere, but it is not the norm. Mr. Halperin appeared more interested in making a name for himself with his outrageous statements than finding workable solutions. (more…)
We’re headed down a brand-new path for our industry – and an especially exciting one. After nearly 20 years in online marketing without an industry advocacy and standards organization, I’m thrilled by the recent formation of the LeadsCouncil.
In effect, the LeadsCouncil symbol will be a seal of approval to help advertisers distinguish the industry leaders, from those other who are less concerned about upholding ethical values and compliance.
It’s a fascinating time to be involved in Digital Marketing.
I’m honored to have been asked to join as both a plank holder and participate on the Board of Directors to help create the policies and standards we hope to apply to all of the current and future members of LeadsCouncil. Our goal is to promote ethical policies and practices, protect consumer rights, advise and lobby the Federal regulatory agencies that police our industry, and develop a set of standards all LeadsCouncil members must adhere to for the benefit of our advertisers and our industry.
I liken it to the perception of the Better Business Bureau. It’s frankly nice to see our industry maturing!
I have always felt that it was important to be proactive in fighting for our rights. Sadly, so many in our industry would rather hide their head in the sand than participate in helping Federal Regulators form policy regarding marketing practices. As an industry, we must take steps to police the “bad actors” and protect the rights of consumers, or someone outside our industry will take steps to do it for us. (more…)
Last week, the LeadsCouncil introduced the new board of industry leaders at LeadsCon New York 2015. In a presentation to the audience at LeadsCon, the LeadsCouncil board shared its plans to chart a new course for the industry and LeadsCouncil members. The plans include a larger role in advocating for the lead generation ecosystem in Washington D.C. and support with the establishment of standards, self-audit, and remediation with both buyer and seller members. During the presentation, the board called for the industry to join LeadsCouncil in forwarding the mission of extending their influence in the rule-making process for the lead-gen ecosystem. Click here to view a video with more details from Board Chairman Gregory Gragg.
The New LeadsCouncil Board of Directors consists of:
- Gregory Gragg, Blue Chair LLC – Board Chairman
- Bruce Cook, Tree.com
- Erik Josowitz, All Web Leads
- Ethan Ewing, Bills.com
- Joe Marinucci, Digital Media Solutions
- Michael Ferree, Anomaly Squared
- Joe Laskowski, Higher Ed Growth
- Cory Smith, Access Intelligence
- Bill Baskin, Epath Digital
LeadsCouncil Mission Statement: To educate and advocate on behalf of the buyers and sellers engaged in all forms of lead generation, ensuring that all participants deliver value and follow ethical as well as federal and state guidelines when conducting their business. (more…)