Join us in this week’s episode as we sit down with Mandy Basra, Director of Carrier Relations at Verse.ai, to delve into the recent FCC ruling and its impact on consumer engagement. With over ten years of experience in carrier relations, Mandy discusses the FCC’s move to close the lead generator loophole, a decision aiming to enhance consumer protection and reshape how businesses gain customer consent. Learn about the implications for businesses, especially those relying on third-party leads, and discover strategies to adapt to a rapidly evolving landscape.
73 and Sunny #5: Mandy Basra Basra
Daniel Cross: Hello and welcome to 73 and Sunny, the podcast about the journey of getting things just right. We talk to tech sales and marketing leaders about how they’re growing, dialing in best practices and getting closer to that sweet spot. This has been a big week for the consumer engagement industry. Um, on Wednesday,
Daniel Cross: the FCC voted to change the rules for how businesses can gain consent, to reach out to customers.
And we thought it would be a great opportunity to help people understand the changes. And how it’s going to affect things moving forward. Our guest today could change the way you think about customer outreach. She is the director of carrier relations for verse. ai, possibly the most important title that you never knew existed.
We wanted to talk with her about the new possibly extremely disruptive FCC ruling regarding consumer consent. And ways that businesses can text their customers safely and effectively. Thank you for joining us, Mandy Basra.
Mandy Basra: Hi, I’m happy to be on board.
Daniel Cross: It’s um, like we said, it’s been a big week, right?
Mandy Basra: It’s, it’s been a, a huge week.
We knew it was coming. It’s not really, you know, new news, but you know, we weren’t sure how it was going to roll and. It ruled kind of the way that we expected it to, you know, well,
Daniel Cross: and we’re, we’re going to get into it. We’re going to talk all about what, happened on Wednesday, what it means for businesses moving forward.
But can we start Mandy Basra with what your background is? Where, where, where did you come from and what do you do at first?
Mandy Basra: So, my background is actually in finance to begin with. That’s how I started my career. Um, then for the last 10 years, I’ve actually been working in carrier relations for, telecom companies.
Um, basically within carrier relations, it’s, you know, building your, vendor partnerships, you know, making sure that you’re compliant on a federal and state level. Keeping up to date with everything, either on the vendor carrier side, best practices, and also on the federal and state regulations that are, you know, coming through and that are going to be coming in our future.
So, um, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years.
Daniel Cross: So for those. Out there, and I think I probably can count myself as one of them up until whatever, two and a half years ago Verse, my in my time at verse, we’ve had to get more familiar with TCPA and rules around customer outreach. But that’s Can you tell us what, like, what is a carrier and why do they matter to what First does?
Mandy Basra: Absolutely. Um, so, you know, for a company like First and any company that’s, um, you know, doing any kind of digital engagement, um, whether it’s via the phone, email, or, through SMS. The carriers are what actually, you know, send the inbound and outbound of that traffic. So carriers are extremely important in our livelihood to be able to engage with our consumers, to be able to send our traffic to the consumers for them to be able to receive it.
The carriers are the ones that allow all that traffic to pass through to make sure that it’s delivered on time. And, you know, with all the best practices, they do have a lot of rules and regulations that they apply and they make sure that we’re doing the best thing for our consumers.
Daniel Cross: And so the carriers are the, so tell me if I’m wrong, but it’s like Verizon, T Mobile.
Is that, am I, am I right about that?
Mandy Basra: Yeah. So there’s, there’s several major carriers. So, T Mobile, Verizon, AT&T are the large impact carriers. Um, they’re the ones that come up with the rules and regulations,
Daniel Cross: The
Mandy Basra: The reason why businesses carry about carriers is that’s the only way that you’re able to deliver. Your engagement, right? So whether you’re talking on the phone and, you know, I’m calling, say, my mom or my grandma, I have to pick up the phone.
I have to dial it. How that phone call gets routed is through the carrier. They’re the ones that actually deliver it, pick up my intention and then deliver it to the end user. Um, same with SMS. When you send an SMS text message, what you’re sending out has to be routed through a carrier in order for it to be received onto the other side of whoever the receiver is.
My text message. Um, so they’re extremely important in our world. Um, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to, you know, have any kind of deliverability traffic from one end to the other.
Daniel Cross: And so, and you can, again, I’m going to try and summarize, but you can tell me if I’m right. The carrier relations role that you have at first is to make sure that the messages that are getting sent on behalf of these businesses are getting delivered and that the carriers are.
Either allowing this traffic to continue or the, the, the conversations to continue and that they’re not blocking anyone. Does that summarize what a carrier relations role is?
Mandy Basra: Absolutely. You know, so it’s all the way from negotiating the contracts to getting the best pricing to making sure that we, um, what we’re trying to do, which is deliver an SMS message actually goes through without filtering, without blockage.
Um, and we’re, you know, basically always looking at their best practices and how they’re changing that and complying with our SMS traffic to make sure that it does get delivered on the other side.
Daniel Cross: So a couple of things that the carriers are looking for. would be that the leads have been opted in so that the consumers have given consent somewhere and inquired online on a forum that has the correct terms and conditions and that all those, the opt in is laid out in a way that’s understandable and clear.
And so they’re looking for that, but they’re also looking that the carriers are making sure that you’re not sending messages that have. Kind of scammy or spammy type offers them. Is that fair to say too? Yeah, absolutely. So
Mandy Basra: it starts off with the brand of a company, right? So they’re going to vet your brand first to make sure that you’re a legit verified company.
Um, then they want to look at your campaign. To see what your campaign, what your call to action is. What is it that you’re trying to do? What kind of messages are you trying to deliver? So they look at all of that and they go through the approval process through all of that on a company level. And then after that’s done, then yes, they look to make sure that you actually have consent language on your website.
Where the consumer is actually consenting to receive your text message, which is called opt in. Um, so they’re looking at all that to make sure that you are not scamming or spamming somebody. They within that have a algorithm that they look at where they’re pulling out keywords that look very spammy or scammy.
Um, and they’re constantly monitoring to make sure that. The text messages that you’re sending out are not only compliant by the fact that you have opt in and the consumer wants to receive your text message, but that also that you’re not using spam words or trying to, you know, do, get, get rich fast.
schemes and things like that. So they’re, they’re constantly monitoring all that to make sure that their biggest thing is consumers, right? So they want to make sure that they lessen the consumer complaints by having legit verified text messages that are going out.
Daniel Cross: So this gets to what we were going to talk about today, which is what the FCC voted on this week, on Wednesday, they voted, to adopt a rule that closes the loop, the lead generator loophole, which we spoke about a little bit more in depth. If you want to go back and listen to the podcast with David tall, the CEO of Verse.ai, you can listen to kind of what the lead generator lead generator loophole is, um, a little bit more in depth, but I’ll, I’ll give you a really quick summary here and then we can get into what they did and what it means moving forward.
But essentially the lead generator loophole. Allows allowed businesses to, when a consumer was opting in for one thing, let’s say it’s a mortgage, they were opting into to have one of a mortgage company call them. But when they got to the, to the terms and conditions, the T’s and C’s on the opt in form, there was a little blue hyperlink that connected to a list of all the partners that they could sell your data to.
And people weren’t clicking on the hyperlink because who does that? And. So people were giving their consent and then they were getting, you know, if you’re interested in a mortgage, you might be getting calls and you might not have known this is why, but you’d be getting calls potentially from like businesses that had nothing to do with mortgage because they would sell your contact data to the contact information to like a home warranty company or.
A company that was kind of adjacent to mortgage, but not necessarily related to what you were interested in because they had already gotten your consent to, to sharing your data with these other, these other businesses. And so what they were aiming to do, from a consumer perspective was to protect consumers from getting all these random, you know, robo dials and, and phone calls from these companies that they didn’t think they were opting in for, but they actually were.
So the FCC this week voted on a rule. To attempt to try and stop that. So whether they did that or not, is still, is whether that will work to do what it aims to do is yet to be determined, but can we go into a little bit, um, tell me about, how this rule, the, the effect, the. The proposed rule and now passed rule will affect businesses moving forward.
Mandy Basra: absolutely. So, you know, from the consumer side, the way that the carriers were looking at this is they were receiving about 86 billion consumer complaints per year for spam texts and calls. So they’re really trying to shut down on that. They’re really trying to help the consumer from, you know, not receiving scam communication.
Um, so the way that they have now chosen to do that or what they’ve put into their ruling is one to one consent from the seller. So the seller has one to one consent with the consumer. So like you said, you can no longer use a hyperlink that takes you to a webpage with 5, 000 other affiliates. Um, on, you know, their web page saying that you’re really going to get actually robocalls and texts from all of these companies.
Like you said, nobody really reads the fine print, right? Um, so they’re really trying to, um, lessen the impact of the consumer complaints that are out there by being, um, not only is it one to one consent where, um, now businesses will have to list out. All of the sellers or the affiliates that they work with that, you know, in the sense of maybe having a checkbox, right?
So at the top of it, it would have the disclaimer of your opting in and your opt in disclaimer with, you know, help for help, stop for stop all of that good stuff in there. But then after that, they want you to. Um, apply each seller, each person that you’re doing business for, or going to sell the data to, they want you to list every single company on that form and you can’t have it to where it’s like a, you know, check all boxes at once, like select all you have to, the consumer has to individually go in and select each box.
So there. Giving one to one consent for every single one of those sellers to then communicate with you would be a text or be a phone call.
Daniel Cross: Um, go ahead, please. No, go ahead. Oh, I was just going to say a real world example would be something like a comparison shopping website where To use an example of like a solar, you want to get a quote for solar panels for your house, you provide some information, you know, they call it a funnel, but usually you go through some, some questions about the size of your house and how much energy you’re using, what your electricity bill is.
And then you get to the end of, you know, we’ve all been through this, but you get to the end and you’re supposed to fill out your name and your phone and your email, and that’s going to consent for whoever you, whoever that this, this comparison shopping website is partnering with, and they’re going to share your information with those businesses.
What you’re saying is when they, when they get to the end, rather than having a hyperlink that lists all of their partners and thousands of partners where you wouldn’t be clicking on that, you might be opting in for something that you don’t expect you’re actually. physically having to choose which companies that you are interested in having reach out.
Is that, is that a fair, way to describe the, the new ruling?
Mandy Basra: Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly what the new ruling is, is that, you know, they want the consumer to have control of who actually calls and text them. So, with that, you know, yes, having the checkbox to work, consumer is giving consent to each one of those sellers by clicking the boxes that you can reach out to them.
And not only have they done that, but they’ve also put in this other part of the ruling, which is They call topical and logical, right? So within that, that means that if you’re a good service provider, you can’t have, you know, say if you’re a mortgage company, you can’t list affiliates that are then as car insurance, solar companies, student loans, so it has to be topical and logical within the comparison itself to, um, which is going to make a really big difference because, you know, right now consumers are, you know, You apply for a mortgage loan or you, you try, you, you go to get a quote for a mortgage loan and then all of a sudden, all of these other companies that are not topical and logical to what the consumer consented originally looking for are now reaching out, right?
So not only is it a checkbox system that they’re going to implement, um, but also it has to be topical and logical.
Daniel Cross: See, topical and logical sounds somewhat vague. Do you, so let’s say, and so is there any clarity on, so what I’m thinking is the, an idea of in the, in the example of a solar, you know, I want to, I want to get a quote for, for a solar panel for my house and they share my information or I’m opting in potentially for.
Roofing or something related. It sounds topical. It’s it may be part of the same purchase. It sounds logical that I might also be interested in a roof. Those things are often purchased together. Is there are there guidelines for what topical and logical is? Or are they waiting for someone to mess up, take him to court and find out if that’s if if if a court will will.
We’ll consider that specific incident to be topical and logical.
Mandy Basra: Well, I mean, I’m, I’m, I’m assuming that they’re going to try and stay away from, um, you know, being sued or any litigation out there. That’s not really their purpose of actually, you know, coming up with rules and regulations. It’s so that way you don’t have litigation against you.
Um, you know, as far as topical and logical until, you know, in about 30 days, we’re actually going to see this ruling published. Within that they have said that there’s going to be edits. So we don’t know what those edits are, right? So, um, we’re still waiting and we have about 30 days before this ruling is actually published before we know exactly what the ruling is going to be and what it consists of.
As far as the specifics of it, like you said, with topical and logical, like what does that really even mean? At this point that the way that they’re using examples is if a consumer is on a webpage for a roofing company. Then it’s only roofing that they could, that they can, that they’re consenting to, they’re not looking out there for a solar company, for an insurance company or a homeowner’s warranty company.
That’s not why they originally went onto your webpage, right? Looking for roofing. So that’s kind of how they’re considering topical logical at this moment.
Daniel Cross: Well, this is huge for a large number of companies. There’s an entire industry built around lead generation, where what they call co reg. Or co registered data, which has been, again, maybe not the most, um, maybe not the most, sophisticated, it’s very sophisticated, but maybe not the cleanest of industries in terms of like the data sharing and data brokering and people selling leads who, you know, from, from people who are opted in for one thing and are getting calls about something completely different.
So those, those businesses are going to completely have to change their models. And as, as well as the companies that are, that are in good standing like LendingTree or, or other, other, comparison shopping sites that we value a lot where we get to see different companies, different rates, it helps do some of the homework for us.
We can, you know, they’re validated by being on the site in Right. Right. In the first place, but, but also we get to compare one, everything in one place, which seems like a place where the consumers would win. Um, what, what, how does this rule affect businesses that buy leads?
Mandy Basra: Oh, it’s going to impact them, extremely, right?
So you won’t be able to just buy a lead and who you bought the lead from has the actual direct consent, which you don’t, you maybe received a token, um, that you could download. That’s no longer going to exist. You have to be able to take the consent from the seller that you’re buying the lead from and directly report that as though, you know, have consent and you have to hold that documentation as though you got consent.
Right? So it really changes that lead generation industry. tremendously. There’s not going to be where you can just go to mass market or go to a portal and just buy a mass amount of leads. Um, you know, even age leads are probably going to go out of existence as far as what’s prohibited. Um, this is going to be huge impact, right?
The good thing about this is that the leads that you are going to be able to purchase. So a lot of businesses look at, quality over quantity. No, I apologize. They look over a lot of businesses, look at quantity over quality. So what this is going to change is the, the quality of your lead may cost you more, but it’s actually going to give you better service and your consumer is going to engage with you because they are wanting to hear from you, right?
So the quality of the leads are going to increase as far as what you can purchase. It is topical and logical, so it really does impact a lot of businesses that are just, you know, marketing their businesses off of buying leads out there, right?
Daniel Cross: Yeah. I can totally imagine that the, Obviously, the quantity of leads will, will drop because every lead isn’t being sold to five different people automatically, right?
Five different, different businesses. When you get to the end of one of those funnels and you’re clicking on only one or two businesses that, that for whatever reason you have trust in, you are, the chances that you respond to that lead are just going to increase, right? So that the people who are getting chosen at the end of those funnels are going to see huge increases in engagement rates, probably big increases in conversion.
And conversion rates overall, but probably the cost of those leads because the companies that are selling those leads. are going to have to absorb the cost of not being able to sell it five times. The costs are going to go up, but there’s going to be a lot less time wasted. I’m sure you’re going to see probably doubling and tripling of engagement and qualification rates, right?
Mandy Basra: Right. So you know, this is not only a positive impact for the consumer as far as not receiving hundreds and hundreds of robo texts and calls, but it’s also Really great for taking your company and your brand to the next level. Um, this is going to just build your reputation as a brand and as a company, cause you’re engaging with consumers that want to hear from you and that are going to engage back.
So your outreach is just going to be, it’s going to affect it in a very positive way. Right? Your, um, your opt out rates are going to be a lot less, which is a good thing, right? Um, your engagement. And as far as. Your business striving through this and actually building better relationships is all going to be positive.
Daniel Cross: So if you’re a business in getting ready for the new year, knowing that these rules are coming down, and probably going into effect in 2024, what steps are you taking to get ahead of this coming change?
Mandy Basra: Yeah. So I think that, you know, from a business perspective, you know, you definitely want to dot your I’s and Daniel Cross your T’s and be very compliant and do all the research that you possibly can in compliance.
This is a big time to kind of get ahead of the game and do your homework with compliance and make sure that your business is doing everything compliant and legit. Um, the other thing is, is start looking at your web starts, start looking at your affiliates. That you have listed on your website. Start making those check boxes.
Start getting ahead of the game with, you know, making sure that your direct one to one consumer consent is on your form. Don’t wait six months from now where you’re, you know, you’re struggling and you’re, you know, you have to shut down your business cause you’re no longer compliant. Start doing those things now.
Um, you know, start working with CRM companies or other technology companies that, you know, you, where you’re buying your lead from, they have fraud detection. They have. All of this other filtering that they’re doing that can really help your business to where you’re getting good, positive consent leads.
Right? So those are things that you can start working with and start working on to, you know, be ready for summer of
Daniel Cross: 2024. Yeah. And I know some of the industry, you know, the lead industry leaders are already working on this. Jornaya, Active Prospect, PX, Bobberdoo, they’re all these, these companies that have been working with people who are in this lead space are working on ways to help these, these, these businesses stay compliant.
One other thing that I think is probably a godsend from this ruling is that it’ll be, it’ll finally be a time for businesses to start focusing on first party data, which is where they. They, they should be focusing anyway, right? So the, the benefits of, of having first party data and owning your own consent is a, you own your own consent.
So you don’t have to worry about someone sending you a token or having the lead be resold or having compliance be an issue because you own the language. You own the journey of that consumer. They come through your portal, but you’re also going to get a bunch more attribution data because you’re going to see them come through rather than not owning any of it.
Meaning. You, if you buy a lead from a third party vendor where they’ve gone through a landing page and they’ve been shown some content for whatever content that got them to that page and you’re, that may or may not be transparent, you might just get the contact data and reach out to someone without knowing what they’ve been doing or where they’ve been going or what they’ve been shopping for.
If they come to your website, if you’re in charge of, of your own destiny in terms of. In terms of lead generation, the, the consumer comes to your site, views your content, goes through your journeys, downloads your white papers, it downloads your, your content or views your content. And then they go through your portal portal with, with your consent.
You own all of it. And, and moving forward with the business, particularly as AI tools are coming down the pike, you want to have all the data you can get so that you’re able to utilize those AI tools when they ask. You know, when you, when you want to ask the AI tool, show me the best, you know, show me the most likely journey for a consumer on our website.
Show me, use heat maps to tell me where I should be investing more in advertising and what, which websites I should be optimizing for or where should we, where should we be sending people for, for landing pages? So all this different, these different advantages that you have for getting first party data, but I think people have been kind of hooked on.
The third party stuff, because it’s been kind of a consistent sort of business, source of business. And, they’ve had, have these partnerships that have been longstanding and it’s a, it was a lot more consistent probably in the past to be like, have a contract with one of these third party lead vendors to, to send you a certain number of, of, of records per month or leads per month.
But I think this is the opportunity, especially now as things are transitioning for businesses to go invest in first party data, invest in getting. Getting people to come to their website and, and in the short term, it’s probably going to be a large drop in volume, but in long term, it’s going to be much better to, to own the funnel.
Mandy Basra: Absolutely. Right. That comes down to the, um, quality over quantity thing, right? So we’re kind of need to step away from quantity and look more quality. And like you said, The quality of all of the people that are visiting your websites, all the analytics that you can get from it to be able to use your AI tools and all of that, that is just going to take your business to the next level.
And it’s such a positive gain for the business. Right. And then also if a consumer has a very good experience and has a user friendly experience with your business. Look at all the referrals that you’re going to get. The consumer is going to refer your business and say, Hey, go to this website.
They, you know, were no nonsense. I didn’t get all of these other calls. I didn’t get all of these other texts. Like they just let, they were legit. And so the referral system is going to be
Daniel Cross: great too. Yeah. And I wonder from the, from an ad spend perspective, If a lot of these third party lead vendors die because they were not following the rules or they were bad actors in the first place, if all those ad dollars disappear, this might be the best time from a, from a first party lead perspective to go grab those keywords and to go take advantage of, of the, the vacuum in the market where they can, you know, I remember in the real estate when we were working with, with a lot of real estate companies there, you basically had the option of buying leads from Zillow or competing against them in SEO and, and trying to get, trying to get traffic to your website and which you’re going to lose, right?
So that when you’re in a market where you have a big third party. Lead vendor like Zillow taking up a lot of the space. It’s really hard to compete against that. You have to be really diligent with your SEO and with advertising. And that may still be, it may still be too big within the real estate industry, but there are a lot of industries where there might be some openings for businesses to invest more in first party and getting first party leads to their own websites and then start kind of building that part of their business.
If there is a time to do it, it’s probably now, right?
Mandy Basra: Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, it’s, you know, don’t, um, don’t sit on your hands, you know, definitely act now. You have six months to kind of get your business to the most legit, most verified, company that you can be. Right. So going off of everything that you said, it’s.
You know, start acting now, start, you know, look, redoing your research, invest in those technology companies that can really take your brand and your business to the next level to where you are getting all that first party, right? Um, it’s, it’s never too, it’s never too late to begin
Daniel Cross: now. Well, Mandy Basra, thank you so much for being with us.
I think we learned a lot. If there are any questions that anyone has about how this FCC ruling is going to affect your business, or you’d like to learn about how verse is helping businesses to stay compliant, um, and helping businesses with with first party data. We’d love you to come to the website verse dot a I and check us out and book a demo and learn a bit more.
Mandy Basra is in charge of our carrier compliance team who is going to be protecting the business from the virus. Getting leads are getting messages blocked by the carriers, for making sure that you’re registered and correctly registered with the carrier so that all of that stuff is deliverable.
And, we’re, we’re so grateful to have you on. Thank you for sharing all that, you know, Mindy.
Mandy Basra: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me on. And yeah, like you said, let’s take a, let’s take those businesses to the next level and help them all with the compliance issues and take it off their plate and we can do all that for them.
Daniel Cross: Thank you. And anyone who enjoyed this, please subscribe and hit the like button so that you get future podcasts that add a value to your business. Thank you so much for joining us at 73 and sunny.