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Auto Dialer and Automated Calling: 11 Questions to Ask Your Provider

auto dialer

Are you searching for a company to handle your robocalls? If so, this is not a very easy task. Here are some things to ask auto dialer providers before you sign up the deal:

  • Will the automated voice messaging campaign be delivered on time? If not, you should not be made to pay. You are the one who gets to choose the best time for your automated calling messages to be delivered according to your target audience preferences. Delivering the messages later than agreed might hurt your campaign.
  • Will you be in charge of managing and scheduling your robocalls or will someone else do that for you? For reliability purposes, the first option is better.
  • What are the hidden fees for the auto dialer campaign? Some providers charge extra for each person on the line or for a transfer. Make sure you know all these details in order to avoid ending up with a huge bill on your hands.
  • Are there extra fees for setting up the automated voice messaging campaign? The answer should be “no”! Your provider may charge you for extra ports if you want to reach multiple recipients simultaneously, but not for setup, busy signals, disconnected numbers or unanswered calls. In a nutshell, you should only pay for what you get.
  • What is the per minute rate of automated calling campaigns? The fees can go as high as 10-12 cents per minute, but no higher than that!
  • Will they offer high volume discounts? If you are planning to send out numerous robocalls, it is expected to receive a significant discount.
  • Does the auto dialer campaign provider abide by FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule regarding opt-out? In other words, they need to have “do not call” lists and, obviously, never call those numbers. Otherwise, you may be held liable along with them.
  • Do you have complete control over the automated voice messaging campaign? If you are calling in order to generate more leads and your campaign is effective, your sales agents may be overwhelmed sooner than expected. In that case, it is important to have the option of pausing your campaign and resuming it when it suits you best.
  • Can the automated calling software detect voice mail? It is important to know this because you need to adapt your message in case it is picked up by an answering machine and listened by its intended recipient later.
  • Do the robocalls have Interactive Voice Response (IVR) capabilities? If you wish to get the feedback of your customers via voice broadcasting or conduct a survey, then you should ask about IVR, which allows the recipient of the call to answer questions by pressing certain keys on his/her phone or even record a message and send it back to you.
  • Can the automated voice messaging campaign provider ensure call transfer? You may want to insert a call to action in your message, such as: “Call us today and benefit from our promotional discount.” In this case, you can insert the option for the recipient to be transferred to one of your sales agents by pushing a key.automated calling
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What Is robocalls and Automated Voice Messaging ?

Voice broadcasting is a means of mass communication that has been around since the 1990s. In a nutshell, it consists in automated calling several recipients at once and leaving them the same message (usually, a promotional one). In the beginning, robocalls could reach fewer people at once; but now, due to technological progress, automated voice messaging campaigns can be broadcasted to thousands of people simultaneously.

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However, such an auto dialer tool can be used for more than commercial applications. For instance, government authorities can use it in order to send emergency notifications. On a similar note, schools can use robocalls in order to let parents know about important events that might interest them (parent-teacher conferences, graduation ceremonies, fund raisers and so on).

Automated Voice Messaging
Automated voice messaging systems use a database of phone numbers to which they broadcast a pre-recorded message. Nonetheless, robocalls don’t have to contain the same for each recipient; due to text-to speech software, personalized information can be included. More than that, smart auto dialer software can detect when an answering machine is picking up the call and adapt the message accordingly.
Since it is the era of interaction, automated voice messaging software can do more than deliver a simple message. Interactive voice messaging allows the recipient to respond to the robocalls by pressing a certain key on their phone. According to the key pressed, the system will play a different message. Interactive voice messaging is extremely cost effective especially for companies who work in fields like social studies: instead of hiring people that go door to door and ask the survey questions, they can simply voice broadcast the survey and the recipients can answer by a simple pressing of a key. Interactive automated calling is mostly effective for short surveys with both closed and open questions, as the respondents can also record their own message.

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If you are thinking about starting a voice broadcasting campaign, there is another important factor you should keep in mind: robocalls fall under the incidence of a subset of the telemarketing law. The most recent update of this law happened in 2008 and it is called the Telemarketing Sales Rule, which is, in fact, an Amendment issued by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Whenever starting an automated voice messaging campaign you should mind the “Do not call” lists, comprised of people who have opted out of such campaigns. More than a restriction, this is a means for you to avoid paying for calls directed to people who don’t want them and who won’t end up buying your product. If you want to make sure that your voice broadcasting campaign is a successful one, it is advisable to work with a professional company. They will be able to teach you some tips & tricks for getting the most out of your robocalls, as well as make sure that you abide by the rules and regulations.

 

Getting Started on your Small Businesses Marketing

You’ve taken the plunge.  Your business name is registered, you have a logo and business cards, the phone is connected, your office is set up and you are now officially in business.  So, what next…..stare at the phone waiting for it to ring?  Like it or not, nothing will happen next unless you get marketing.

Marketing is the engine that will actually drive the dollars into your business so you can survive.  (I’m a firm believer that eating shouldn’t be an optional extra just because you own a business).  Marketing can also be pretty scary when you start out as most of us assume we will have to spend megabucks on advertising or promotion.

In fact, there are lots of cheap and cheerful ways of finding those all important first clients.

Marketing. Where to begin.

It’s a good idea to put aside an hour or so every day to work on your marketing in the first few months.  Although you may be tempted to splurge on one big ad or send out a thousand flyers you will find a little and often approach will help you avoid the feast or famine cycle which is so common in start up businesses.  At this stage you also have more spare time so it’s good to start the habit of marketing on a regular basis.

First of all you need to start to think of yourself as a business owner not an employee.  It’s a difficult transition to make for some people and it’s easy to sound apologetic when you talk about your new business, especially if you are having a crisis of self confidence.  Keep in mind that every “wage slave” out there dreams of telling the boss to “shove it’ and would love to be in your shoes.  Come up with a couple of interesting sentences that explain what your business is and how it helps clients.  Make sure you don’t filter the enthusiasm and passion for your business out of your description.  Enthusiasm sells.

Start confidently telling people you own a small business.  Talk to family, friends and relatives first.  Then go through all your old contact lists or piles of business cards and categories those people who may become referral sources, clients or even mentors.  Build yourself a simple database or mail list. Send all those people a letter or email telling them what you are doing and ask for their help in spreading the word.  Get on the phone and follow up your letter or email, you’ll be amazed at how many people want to help build your business. Make appointments to catch up for coffee and a chat or visit potential referral sources and ask for their feedback.

The Ripple Effect of Marketing

You will find this ripple effect usually produces a number of “leads”.  I tried this approach when I finally could afford business stationery.  I simply sent out a letter on my new letterhead explaining what I’d been up to and enclosed a few extra business cards.  One of those letters led to a $1,500 project and another a referral source who still sends me clients today. In the early days of your business you should be  prepared to “kiss a few frogs” before you find your Prince Charming of a client but this is great experience as it helps you to refine your sales spiel and gives you an idea of where your market may be.

Once you’ve decided the types of clients or industries you want to target, start to look for ways to get to know the decision makers in the marketplace.  Go back to your database and ask if anyone has contacts, search the web for articles or information, join their associations or networking groups, attend their conferences as a delegate or associate and network like crazy.

If your business concept is new and exciting try for publicity.  The traditional approach is to put together a simple press release and send it off to a publication read by your target client or customer. Keep in mind that press releases should be newsworthy and not just a disguised advertisement for your business.  Read the target publication from cover to cover to give you a good feel for the style of information needed.  And don’t forget you can also increase your profile by contributing content to newsletters or websites that will be ready by target clients.  If you don’t mind public speaking put together an interesting key note presentation and offer it to target organizations or companies.

Remember that action conquers fear, especially when it comes to marketing.  Don’t sit there waiting for the phone to ring, put together some marketing activity targets such as making four phone calls a day and then follow through every time.  One of my clients who has a black belt in procrastination finds the best motivation is to give herself a reward for marketing so she keeps a box of chocolates by the phone!!  But the real reward for marketing will be the money in your business bank account.

Linda Hailey

Australia’s Leading Small Business Marketing Expert

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