“Turn left in 100 feet-”

“Make a U-Turn-“

“Recalculating…”

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. As thralls to technology, we tend to put our faith in the ‘GPS machine’ when going somewhere, now low and behold you didn’t make it to Grandma’s house. Instead, you ended up at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere and the pump doesn’t take cards.

Similarly, you have probably put your trust into online technology as well – and ended up in the wrong place, and now it’s too late. They’ve got your information. The phone calls have started. You might even be wondering why you’re getting several calls from people that you never remember giving your information to in the first place.

Chances are, you’ve encountered what the industry is terming, “Black Hat SEO tactics” which utilizes different techniques designed to trick not only search engine crawlers but consumers too. This results in the visitation of sites that you think are what you want. In reality, someone has mimicked the site you wanted, collected your information on their contact form, turned around and sold your information to any number of businesses.  In that same way, as you would plug a location into your GPS to find a destination, you do a similar practice when you enter for a certain phrase or term in an online search engine.

You may be asking yourself: Why does Black Hat SEO exist? Is someone policing these sites? Why did this happen to me? Well, it all comes down to one simple, cliché fact: There’s money to be had.

Three main goals for Black Hat SEO:

  1. Drive traffic onto a specific webpage.
  2. Collect your information.
  3. Sell your information.

Utilizing these sneaky techniques allow these “Black Hatters” to drive you to the pages they want. Not the site you intended.  Oftentimes, their tactics are so covert, it makes them almost unrecognizable as anything except what they’re trying to portray and what you’re looking for.

How to Spot a ‘Black Hatter’ – Methods to Their Madness:

  • Hidden Text/Keywords/Links– This is when some web copy is made a text color that can’t be seen when viewing the webpage, as it blends into the background. These instances can cause you to click on hidden links as well.
  • Cloaking– A website owner creates certain information in their code which allows you to see it on a search engine, but does not actually display on the webpage you are visiting.
  • Social Network Spam– This is when web owners put multiple links on social media pages and posts.
  • Link/URL Buying– A website owner purchases links and industry branded URLs to syphon off more traffic from the original brand.

 

Can the Real Brand Please Stand Up?

All of these techniques make it difficult for the average prospective consumer to feel good about whom they’re sharing their information with, and which sites are legitimate. While Black Hat SEO techniques are not recommended and viewed negatively, some web admins will do the unthinkable and go the extra mile to include hidden techniques to gain more views and traffic on their webpage! The end resulting in the consumer being mislead, their private information sold many times over, and often the real brand losing credibility to their prospects. Having the man power to locate, research, find and nail these culprits aren’t typically within a brand’s personnel bandwidth. Therefore, the trend to combat them has been to contract with third parties who do this on their behalf, and on a continual basis. After all, new content is created every day.

Surfing the web can get pretty dicey nowadays. *In fact, since 2016, on average in education for every 12 websites found, at least 1 of them contains a violation under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Education (ED) or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). That ratio is even higher within the finance industry where 1-in-4 sites contain a FTC, CFPB violation – all of which are deceptive to consumers and eat away at the integrity of legitimate brands.

If you have a site, you think warrants investigation, let us know by emailing: verify@integrishield.com.

*Information based on total client data.

Your website is your front door. Is it inviting to compliance infractions? The following suggestions are offered as general advice about how to comply with the requirements in the Higher Education Act (HEA) and the regulations set forth by the Department of Education (DOE), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and various accrediting bodies for content provided on institutional websites. As you update your website with content in the following categories, remember to keep these items in mind:

Accreditation

  • Accreditation statement must be easily accessible
  • The term “accredited” may only be used if the institution indicates by which agency or organization it is accredited
  • Include names of associations, agencies, or governmental bodies that accredit, approve, or license the institution’s programs
  • Procedures for obtaining or reviewing documents describing accreditation, approval or licensing should be present

Admissions

  • Provide all required criteria expected to be completed by students prior to enrollment
  • Include all educational requirements
  • Ensure contact information is provided for prospective students

Career Services/Employability

  • Detailed and clear explanation of offerings that the Career Services department provides
  • Clearly indicate that education, not employment, is being offered
  • Omission of banned terms, such as “career placement”
  • Any references to employment or salary predictions must be accurate, sourced and never guaranteed

Consumer Information

  • Easily accessible link, preferably on homepage, containing HEA disclosure information
  • Use consumer-friendly labels and language, when possible
  • Use a common set of content titles

Gainful Employment Disclosures

Financial Aid

  • Qualification rules
  • How applicants can learn about qualifying
  • Full references to financial aid availability must include the disclaimer “for those who qualify”
  • All scholarship offerings must be sourced

Job Availability and Placement Claims

  • May only provide information pertaining to potential salary that accurately portrays the normal range and starting salaries in the occupation for which training is provided
  • Salary information must also include the source of the information, which is valid

 

Net Price Calculator

  • Tool that students can use to estimate their “net price” to attend a particular college or university
  • Must use the template provided by the DOE or an institution may develop a customized version that must include, at a minimum, the same elements as the Department’s version

Program Descriptions

  • Timeframe for completion listed correctly
  • Program length disclaimer

Program Listings

  • Listings are accurate and approved by the DOE
  • Acceptable States for admissions
  • Citations provided for statistics listed on the page

Statistics

  • All statistics listed in website copy must be accurately sourced with current year

TCPA Requirements

  • Consent language present on lead forms
  • Language must include all components within the FCC definition
  • If opt-in box is present, it should not be pre-checked

Testimonials/Endorsements

  • Must be actual statements
  • Some accreditors do not allow institutions to use testimonials from current students on their website
  • Prior consent of the author must be on file

Transferability of Credits

  • Include any established criteria the institution uses regarding the transfer of credit earned at another institution
  • Provide a list of institutions with which the institution has established an agreement

 

At the end of the day it is important to be diligent with your compliance process. We recommend auditing your content regularly to ensure it meets the industry standards and guidelines you are expected to follow.

 

We’ve seen them popping up all over the Internet and we’re definitely not happy about it. Sites are promising students with college loan debt, loan forgiveness and complete debt relief. This all sounds great to a student who may be thousands of dollars in debt. However, what these sites are not telling students is that they are charging them hundreds of dollars to fill out government forms that the students can complete for free. Often times it is paperwork to lower monthly payments or to consolidate loans that will lower the student’s monthly payments—not to forgive student loan debt.

These sites have been using Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to drive traffic to their pages. They use the name of schools in their post to get users to click to their site.

In March, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) put in a request to have a federal district court make a final judgement that would shut down a student debt relief scheme. With a ruling in place, this will set a precedent for other similar sites who are operating under the same process.

Here are a few actions you can take to ensure your students and alumni don’t get targeted:

  • Educate
    • Make sure students are familiar with any loans they are taking out for their education.
    • Create documents to inform students of their options when it comes to loan repayment.
  • Communicate
    • Create an e-mail account where students can ask questions about loan forgiveness, debt relief, loan repayment and consolidation.
  • Utilize Social Media
    • Post helpful tips for students and alumni to be able to identify sites that may be scamming them.
    • Post links to legitimate resources for students to get the information and help they need.

Resources for students and alumni:

Student Loan Repayment – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans

Student Loan Consolidation – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/consolidation

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service

The CFPB has identified student loan servicing as one of its priorities over the next two years. Don’t wait to put a plan in place that monitors your online marketing and ensure your institution is not being misrepresented by unauthorized marketers. Additionally, by being proactive and educating your students you can help minimize the impact of these “debt relief” scams.

What opportunities are you missing for them to work together?

Businesses have the opportunity to gather and analyze data at an increasing rate.  Whether it is customer conversion data, compliance or call center functions, these databases are typically housed in separate locations and the data is rarely integrated.  How do businesses tie this information together to find actionable intelligence and make sound business decisions?  Let’s take a look at some opportunities you may be missing if you are experiencing the gap left between conversion and compliance data.

Years ago when leads were flowing in and volume was king, compliance wasn’t much of an issue—or at least one we spent much time on.  Sales were up, reps could cherry pick, and most marketers didn’t have a real understanding of third party lead generation.  They liked getting thousands of cheap leads.  Skip to today, regulatory scrutiny, politicizing industries and public outcry have brought significant changes to how we market to and sell our products.  Lead flow is down in many industries, conversion from third-party marketing has dropped and compliance expenses are up.

So how do we pivot away from this storyline?  I spent nearly 10 years talking to businesses about how to improve lead volume and quality to increase sales.  Many times the first response was “just shut it off”.  As an owner or employee committed to doing what is best for the business, it’s easy to lean heavy on the compliance side, or toward what’s best for conversion.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Whichever way you lean, no one wants to continue a path toward extinction—so change we must.  Change the way we think about, and act on, the data we have.

  1. Put compliance first to confidently work all leads you get your hands on. Check your audit process to see if it includes all aspects that would make a lead contactable and compliant upon receipt.  IntegriShield found that 9% of an advertiser’s infractions are from missing, or non-compliant, consumer consent and disclosure language.

Waiting to see if a lead is compliant until after you get doesn’t really help you.  Examine all the lead pages you own and are affiliated with to ensure they have compliant Opt-In language. Otherwise, you end up returning the leads or eating the costs.  It could also result in a good traffic source being shut off for something easily fixed.  If a lead slips by and you do work it, the fines and potential civil penalties could put you out of business.

  1. Collect all the lead data you can. Some of the basics include:
    • Lead Type
    • Vendor
    • Affiliate Codes
    • Referral URL
    • Campaign
    • Date
    • Form or Call In
    • Customer Data
    • Status
    • Price
    • Consumer Consent Authorization
    • Lead Integrity Data

You’ll need objective data to make good marketing decisions. If you don’t have all of your data aggregated, this will take more time, but it can still be done.  Better yet, ask your service providers if they can integrate with other systems.

  1. Scrub and remediate instead of wasting a lead or a source. By this point you’ve been proactive and tried to ensure all your vendor pages are compliant.  You may find many leads come from pages you had no idea exist.  It’s not uncommon nor is it something that has to be shut down.  You will likely never know all the affiliate, publisher, and traffic channels your lead generators enlist at any given moment in time.  Audit the URLs the leads are coming from and if they are not compliant, make them compliant.

Keep your lead channels open if at all possible.  If the site is misleading or you see any bait and switch tactics, that’s when you shut it down.  Don’t mess around with bad actors.  There is too much risk in the current regulatory environment.  We have found that 28% of total advertiser infractions are due to misleading content on URLs and 6% contained banned terminology.

Beyond marketing content, it’s also important to maintain customer files.  Scrub customer data to ensure contact compliance.  Don’t just remove it.  About a month before a lead would be scrubbed out, send a notice to see if he or she would like to stay opted in and if so, restart the clock on them.  Even if only a small percentage opts back in, sales will know who is still engaged and you maintain as many leads active as possible.

  1. Make integrated marketing decisions. Direct Marketing is not a magic button.  It’s a series of decisions based on metrics using good data and then repeating each day, week, month, and year.  Combine the data to look at all channels and their outcomes—both conversions and compliance risk.

Tie conversion metrics to integrity and compliance scores to determine beginning allocations each month.  And remember, you can control your risk. Keep the lead pipeline open by being specific and eliminating offending publishers, but keeping the vendor “live” for all the quality sources they use.  If a vendor is not delivering, partner with them to adjust messaging to fit the types of channels they use to drive your traffic.  One set of posting instructions is easy, but it’s not always effective.

Businesses depend on lead volume and quality to drive sales.  The current trend of fear-based decision making needs to become strategic, educated decision making.  Implement compliance processes, follow them, and seek solutions before eliminating potential sales.  The tools, data, and ability to regulate your marketing exist.  With increased vulnerability has come increased control if you don’t shy away from integrating strategies.

Gayla Huber

President, IntegriShield

Have you ever received a “free” lead in your inbox?  Depending on your personal experience, you may initially think it’s a free lead to let you sample what a particular lead generator can do for you. Or you may not even know how you actually got the lead.  What do you do?  Do you contact this prospect?  Your decision on how to handle the inquiry will determine how much the lead could cost you in the end.

There are a few variables to consider before deciding to contact a “free” lead.

  1. Do you know where the lead came from? Even if the lead source is listed, it’s important to know how it was generated to result in a consumer providing their information.  Did he or she know they were inquiring specifically for a product from your brand?  While you may not be able to track back the full path, at a minimum, check out the referring URL to ensure no bait and switch tactics were used.
  2. Did the consumer consent to contact, and in what forms? If you received a consumer’s contact information, it’s important that they consented to be contacted.  Because the lead is free, let’s make the assumption you did not provide authorized consent language. You must be able to answer…
    • What language was used?
    • Did they consent to be contacted by your business or only the lead generator?
    • Did the lead get to opt-in for TCPA consent specific to your business?

It’s important to have these answers because fines can add up quickly when it comes to consumer consent violations.

  1. Can you get access to the data collection of consent? You should also have access to opt-out data as it pertains to the consumer opting out on the lead generator side.  This is just as important as knowing if consent language and opt-in were available on the inquiry form.  Businesses are subject to fines and potential litigation for not observing opt-out requests.  This would also be helpful in opening up the option to email the consumer.  Email does not require prior consent, but once someone unsubscribes or opt-outs, a business can no longer email them unless he or she opts back in.  Without control of the consent language and the data being collected, emailing could be risky as well.

Businesses hold lead generators to higher standards today and justifiably so considering the regulatory environment.  Any source of a lead is subject to scrutiny and not knowing is not a defense.  Before you decide to contact that “free” lead, calculate the possible fines and don’t let it costs your brand money or its reputation.

[As published on LeadsCon.com]

On August 1, 2016, The FTC’s inflation increases for maximum civil penalty amounts go into effect. You can find the Federal Register Notice containing all of the statutes and amounts here. With penalties increasing, from $16,000 to $40,000 in some instances, it’s time again to look at your business objectively and determine what risks you are willing to take. Here are some areas, business owners and caretakers of brands need to evaluate for exposure.

Police Those Who Try to Exploit Your Brand
Your business is not responsible for what others do if you are not affiliated with them. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to keep us off the regulator radar these days. Whether you are the advertiser or the lead generator, understand the pitfalls that can occur when using third parties. Objectively ask yourself, do you know everything your affiliates or publishers are doing to market on your behalf? Take it a step further and question if you think they know everything their network is doing. No one is 100% error free online, all the time. The mere appearance of not “playing by the rules” could shine a spotlight on your business where infractions could be uncovered.

An unauthorized publisher can put you at risk for regulatory scrutiny or lead to an investigation. If a consumer can’t spot a fraudulent representation of your brand online, then regulators won’t be able to notice at first glance either. It’s critical right now to monitor and enforce standards for your brand’s presence on the Internet. Create a paper trail documenting your efforts to discover and remediate infractions.

Every business is unique, but here some things you can do internally:

  1. Keep an inventory in a database or even a spreadsheet of your proprietary and authorized third party URLs.
  2. Set up a monthly audit process to review all URLs for brand, regulatory, and consumer consent compliance.
  3. Review the user path to ensure nothing was misleading up to the form and consumer consent was collected in the correct places.
  4. Take screen shots with time/date of infractions.
  5. Email the screen shots along with a request for remediation to the third party.
  6. Store all emails back and forth concerning the remediation.
  7. Schedule a quarterly Internet audit looking for domains and URLs not authorized by your brand and follow the same paper trail and remediation process.

Be Proactive Against Those Who Seek and Exploit Violations
From consumer disclosures and consent language online to contact strategies and database maintenance, leave no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring compliance. There are opportunistic individuals who target certain industries and put themselves in a position to file a complaint or take legal action. You need to get ahead of them.

Look for and monitor all forms of disclosures, consent, privacy policies, terms and conditions, and any other industry specific data or content required. It’s a common mistake to only search for where it exists on the web. Yes, we want to make sure what we know and see is unaltered, but don’t forget to look for instances where these forms have been omitted—which is a tougher search.

Contact maintenance strategies need to be reviewed and followed. Reactive responses to violations will result in fines and suits. It may surprise you how easy it is for individuals to create the exact scenarios that equip them to file a civil suit against a business. Do Not Call (DNC) violations under section 5 of the FTC Act have increased to $40,000 per instance. If you weren’t following DNC best practices, it’s time.

Despite your efforts to maintain industry compliance on a daily basis you may feel exposed on many fronts. The regulatory scrutiny has found its way into many business operations and expense columns with seemingly no reprieve. To help mitigate risks everyone must take an active role and reduce exposure. Lead generation as an industry is strong. Remember, you are not only equipped to be successful while being compliant, but you are in a good position to write the narrative.

This spring LeadsCon invited IntegriShield out to their annual performance marketing conference in Las Vegas to present on unauthorized landing pages and self-regulation.

In between sessions, they caught up with our President Gayla Huber to learn more about the state of compliance violations in higher education and other industries.

Watch the interview below to hear from Gayla and LeadsCouncil’s Michael Ferree as they scratch the surface of industry compliance.

To learn more about how compliance trends impact your business, email info@integrishield.com or call 888-547-7110.

When most people think of attorneys, they envision John Grisham books come to life though the magic of Hollywood. A well dressed, impressive attorney, arguing in flawless form in front of the jury and providing the final “gotcha” moment that turns the case in their favor and creates the perfect ending. But in reality, the work most attorneys do is all about keeping you from seeing the inside of a courtroom.

Think about it. When circumstances arise where clients have been faced with defending allegations or regulatory infractions and the end result is a favorable outcome due to the diligence and research done by their attorney, aren’t those the best cases where the client is spreading high praise and word of mouth about their attorney? It makes the most sense to seek out an attorney that has all the tools and resources available to them to counter allegations with factual data and evidence to prove that you, as a client, have done nothing wrong.

In the case of brand compliance and digital advertising, the key to avoiding litigation is operating in a Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor guidelines afford protection from liability or penalty under specified circumstances or if certain conditions are met. Typically, in the case of brand compliance, documentation and establishing a defined path to remediation is the key to favorable outcomes.

Here are a few considerations that you or your attorney should think about to make sure your digital advertising is documented, verified, and will be remediated in the case of an infraction.

  • What systems do you have in place to inventory all your content?
  • Do you know who is publishing your content?
  • Do you have a technology solution in place to identify infractions?
  • What documentation are you keeping when infractions are discovered?
  • Are you providing a permanent record of your remediation attempts in order to operate within a safe harbor?
  • When an infraction is identified, do you have adequate resources to remediate the issue?

Being able to answer these questions and document your system and process will help prevent that “gotcha” moment from happening to you.

Compliant digital content has become a hot topic in many financial blogger circles. We recently sat down with Phillip Taylor, CEO at FinCon, the peer conference for the financial media community, to discuss the industry’s key compliance pain points. Below are the five topics that bloggers need to manage to maintain compliance.

Ability to add URLs and Editorial Content

Financial Bloggers sometimes struggle managing their entire URL inventory because of tedious manual updates required on each link due to content or offer changes. To combat this process you may minimize the number of URL’s or those with editorial content—limiting the potential to drive additional revenue. This does not have to be the case. By using an automated compliance monitor, you can continue to develop and build on the number of URLs and content. Don’t be a slave to the process anymore. Spend time on what’s important: Increasing your presence and growing your revenue.

Credit Card or Offer Feeds

Keeping up with credit cards and their offers can be challenging. Some blogs have lender feeds incorporated directly into their site. While this makes being compliant easier, it can limit the material they want to present to their audience. Others will manually incorporate the information into their sites, which again requires continual discovery and maintenance as these offers can change on a monthly or even weekly schedule. Top industry bloggers have found compliance automation is the key to spending less time on discovery and more time adding blog content.

Content Inventory

With the vast number of contracted publishers, affiliates and free publishers in the market, many bloggers struggle with maintaining an accurate inventory of their content and where it is located. Unlike larger companies or corporations that may hire compliance teams to review and maintain content, bloggers often are on their own to manage this task. Don’t be a slave to spreadsheets anymore. Identify strategies to automate your search for URL lists containing specific brands, content, or links.

Search Phrases and Link requirements

There are many variables on how content can be presented to stay compliant. Do you include links to drive traffic to other URLs? Creating an efficient system to display content regarding links and where they point creates additional challenges to the blogging industry. Compliance automation will not only pick up the link copy as shown on the URL, but can also display where it being directed. To assist with requirements for certain language before and/or after a link, seek technology that is smart enough to search and flag instances of potential deviations to the required content.

Disclosures

Bloggers must be mindful of exact wording and phrasing mentioned with offers. Include additionally required disclosures from other regulatory bodies such as the FTC, FCC, CFPB and State Attorney Generals. A good compliance monitoring partner will have rule sets to help you navigate policy and guidance to mitigate your risk.

Considering these five areas will help bloggers maintain compliance in this growing industry. Take control of your digital content to avoid compliance infractions and protect your brand. As you develop a process to manage this content, remember: consistency is key.

For more information on compliance monitoring, contact IntegriShield at 888-547-7110.

The first contact a potential student has with your school can make or break their choice of attendance. Is your admissions team unknowingly causing potential students to get cold feet and not follow through with an interview—or choosing your institution at all? After auditing hundreds of mystery shopping calls, we’ve compiled the list below of the four most common mistakes representatives make during first contact—and how you can avoid them.

  1. Unresponsiveness of Representatives – Potential students that do not get a call back, especially after leaving voicemails, may feel under appreciated. That the lack of response could be an indicator of what to expect after enrollment. It should be top priority for representatives to return phone calls within 24 hours. Remember, you don’t know how many institutions they might be calling to get information.
  2. Over Promising Financial Aid – At some point during communication it is important to disclose the fact that financial aid is only available to those who qualify. Without this disclosure, prospective students could be misled to believe they will receive grants and scholarships to cover tuition costs then discontinue the enrollment process as a result.
  3. Slow Response to Lead Forms – Its best practice to contact potential students submitting a lead form on an institution or vendor’s website within 24 hours. Schools often wait days or even a week to follow up. At this point the inquiry could have changed their mind, lost interest, or chosen a different institution.
  4. Unprofessional Language – Representatives need to walk a cautious line when building a rapport with prospects. It’s acceptable to try bonding with potential students by explaining how proud they were to finish school themselves, talking about their children or families, or even recounting a positive story. https://integrishield.com/your-mistakes-are-giving-prospects-cold-feet/ https://integrishield.com/your-mistakes-are-giving-prospects-cold-feet/ https://integrishield.com/your-mistakes-are-giving-prospects-cold-feet/ https://integrishield.com/your-mistakes-are-giving-prospects-cold-feet/Yet, going into financial comparatives, politics, or the foolish things they did when they were younger could make your prospects feel your institution isn’t serious.

By training your staff to avoid these common mistakes, you can help prevent cold feet and transition more prospective students into enrollments. Remember to monitor brand representatives regularly to help limit your compliance risks.

To learn more about mystery shopping click here.

We often get to come up with great characters to play during mystery shops to admissions representatives. I have done some of the mystery shops myself. I’ve done them for a couple of different reasons. No, it’s not in my job description, but as the President of this company, it’s my responsibility to know how each product works and how each are performed. Yes, I have even used my handyman skills to fix a toilet at the office. In a small company, everyone has to do what it takes to get things done. I have some fun stories of things I have heard while performing mystery shops, and wanted to pass them along for your enjoyment.

Free Money!

I called into a school posing as a local employee of a Walgreens. The rep was very personable and helpful. Of course, we are trained to ask about employment post-graduation and the cost of attending the school in question. This is usually where it gets interesting. This particular gentleman asked again where I worked. I told him I worked at a local Walgreens that was close to the school. His response: “Oh, girl! You could probably go to school here free!” I was excited for my pretend alter ego. We had to immediately report this back to the school and that became his last day. I hope he’s back on his feet with lesson learned!

Let Me Call You Back…

Admissions reps usually know that all of their calls are recorded for quality and auditing purposes. When we pose as potential students, we also record the call on our end to report back to our school clients. On one occasion, an admissions rep was sure she pulled a fast one on the school. I was on the phone with a very nice and helpful person who was truly looking out for my best interests as a person. I told her I was a single mother and might be unable to get transportation to the school for classes. She asked if she could call me back from her cell phone. I obliged. Once we were back on the phone, via her personal cell, she informed me that with the grant money offered by the school, I could buy a new car and get to class every day. With the call recorded on our end, it was a rough day for this otherwise very sweet lady.

Do You Really Want To Go There?

Another way to get a call into an admissions rep is by online lead generation. We fill out forms, and wait for them to call us. It helps us determine the speed of the admission department, the quality of the lead generator and the behavior of call center based operations. I placed my lead information on what seemed to be the school’s landing page and waited. A few minutes passed and I received a call from a call center based rep. She went through the information I provided to make sure it was accurate and then asked what I was interested in. I had filled out a form for a particular school, but once we spoke about my interests, she pointed me to 3 others schools, none of which were the school I originally posed interest in. Yes, she was helpful to me as the person, but did she help me find the best school for me, or was she encouraged to find the school that would pay the highest lead amount? We will never know. https://integrishield.com/behind-the-lines-short-stories-of-mystery-shopping-admissions-reps/ https://integrishield.com/behind-the-lines-short-stories-of-mystery-shopping-admissions-reps/ https://integrishield.com/behind-the-lines-short-stories-of-mystery-shopping-admissions-reps/ https://integrishield.com/behind-the-lines-short-stories-of-mystery-shopping-admissions-reps/The school, however, was notified that potential students were interested in their school and being directed elsewhere.

I hope sharing some of these stories was helpful. We certainly learn something new with every call!

Questions? Contact me at jflood@integrishield.com

Jennifer Flood

President

IntegriShield

In the past year, for-profit schools in Minnesota have been coming under increased scrutiny. The state’s Office of Higher Education has created a new watchdog which sends out “secret shoppers” to monitor whether schools are misleading or dealing honestly with prospective students. Schools giving misleading information about job-placement rates or how much money graduates could earn in their field are just a couple of examples that would raise concerns with these shoppers.

The new state watchdog has started to compare notes with Minnesota State Attorney General’s Office.   This this office can suspend or shut down a school that gives students misleading information, including institutions that a court or government proceeding concludes they have engaged in fraud or misrepresentation.

Monitoring your staff can shield your institution from potential fines and penalties. Some areas to proactively monitor for compliance may include:

  • Scripts: Providing scripts for your representatives to follow enables them to touch on key benefits of your institution and direct the conversation toward enrollment.
  • Citing Statistics and Job Placement: When a prospect inquires about job placement or expected salaries, statistics provided must be accompanied by an official source such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment can never be promised.
  • Financial Aid: Not every student will qualify for financial aid. It is important to provide this clarification and transfer prospective students to a financial aid representative to receive further information.

Get more tips for analyzing and improving the performance of your admission staff, email Shawn Graybill or call 888-547-7110 today.

Minnesota Increases Scrutiny of For-Profit Colleges

Your company is liable for what others do on your behalf. When your business hires an advertising agency, you might very well be paying for a third-party marketer too—even if nobody told you.

That’s because many agencies will subcontract with third-party firms to handle Internet advertising, landing pages and the digital side of promoting your company. These marketers can help you obtain a huge number of client leads very quickly. https://integrishield.com/fraudulent-advertising-what-nobody-tells-you/ https://integrishield.com/fraudulent-advertising-what-nobody-tells-you/ https://integrishield.com/fraudulent-advertising-what-nobody-tells-you/ https://integrishield.com/fraudulent-advertising-what-nobody-tells-you/They can position your business in front of literally millions of consumers. In most cases you and the third-party are not responsible to each other because a direct contractual relationship doesn’t exist.

So what happens when this third party marketer misrepresents your brand through fraudulent advertising? Click here to continue reading the full article on demystifying third party marketers and what you can do to protect your business.

Originally Published in: Thinking Bigger Business magazine – July 2015 (Vol.24 Issue 7)

Happy New Year! Looking back, 2014 was an exciting year for IntegriShield. We more than doubled our client base, grew our team significantly, expanded our software services and developed some fantastic new products for our clients. Relationships were strengthened as we continued to listen to our clients and understand the political and regulatory climate in which they operate. As with anything, we must look back to find our lessons, take note, and MOVE FORWARD!

Access to Results-Driven Experts

 

We have an exceptional team of professionals that work for IntegriShield—each is dedicated to the client’s needs and finds a solution to every problem. That is true professionalism and I am very grateful for the group that continues that make this a successful company. Many of them have been with the company since its inception, and the new faces have helped drive us harder into 2015. We have a culture in our company that lets the individual choose and create his or her career path. If you can think it, you can achieve it!

Setting Goals with Integrity and Innovation

 

Our success thrives on producing results for clients and we are on pace for 60% growth across the board. While these 2015 goals are aggressive, I remain confident that we will hit them. We can do this in the following ways:

  1. Put the client first.

We build solutions for our clients. If we continue to put them first and listen to different needs of each client, both parties will be destined for success.

  1. Continue to learn.

IntegriShield is also a consulting company providing insight for clients and others in the industry. We find opportunities to collaborate with thought leaders to enrich in the industries we serve. Visit our Webinars page to find out more!

  1. Go above and beyond.

Anyone can do just enough to get by, but IntegriShield has always been driven to do more. Work harder. Put in that extra hour. Do more research. Build one more product. We do not compete—we win.

IntegriShield has all of the tools necessary to put us over the top, which is an experience we are pleased to share with our clients. After careful preparation, the company is ready to absorb rapid growth. The processes are in place and the right staff dedicated to driving success is ready. I’m excited for 2015 and honored to be on board with them.

All The Best,

Jennifer Flood

In the internet era, the virtual marketplace has become the primary forum for brands to build equity and trust with their customers.

Brand management ensures that companies effectively communicate with their customers and build customer lifetime value (CLTV) through longer lasting relationships. Effective communication means sending a cohesive message to target customers and ensuring that external influences do not mislead the conversation. Customers, critics, competitors, and anonymous users are willing and able to publicize unauthorized, defamatory, and negative connotations of brands on third-party and social networking websites. The result is often commoditization of the product or service in the customer’s mind, and weakened CLTV.

A recent study by Fleishman-Hillard indicated in a survey sample that 89% of consumers use search engines as predestination to making purchasing decisions. Whether on a laptop, smartphone, or tablet, the study indicates that consumers have become more influenced by their search engine results than the opinions of relatives and friends.

It is imperative that companies utilize technology to manage their brands online, and gain a competitive advantage in their industry. Companies that are able to identify, remediate and report on violations of brand standards on search engines, social networking, and unaffiliated websites are better suited to improve customer equity, and manage their customer relationships effectively.

To learn more about IntegriShield’s online brand management services, call (816) 994-1313 or contact Jeremy Wassmer at jwassmer@integrishield.com today.

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"The quality service that IntegriShield provides gives me peace of mind regarding compliance. They work as an extension of my department to identify and resolve any misrepresentation found and serve as a resource to me regarding specific compliance questions. I highly recommend them for institutions who need a partner not a vendor." - Mary Wetzel, Central Penn College

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