Conversions vs. Compliance
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.
- 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.
- Collect all the lead data you can. Some of the basics include:
- Lead Type
- Affiliate Codes
- Referral URL
- Form or Call In
- Customer Data
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.