‘Silence Unknown Callers’ feature could eliminate warm leads

by Kimberly Greene20 Sep 2019

There’s always a lot of buzz around the latest and greatest phone releases, but the general public usually doesn’t pay too much attention to the mobile operating system updates.

On Thursday, Apple launched its latest operating system, iOS 13, and it might warrant buzz of a more worrying kind for anyone using the phone as a way to reach potential customers.

There are plenty of bells and whistles to be sure: it’s faster and more efficient, and it has features such as Dark Mode, a new Siri voice, and a Find My app. For anyone involved in lead generation and marketing, however, perhaps the most important feature is the Silence Unknown Callers feature.

 This feature, announced in June, can automatically silence calls from unknown callers. This springs from a ruling earlier this year from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allows phone companies to block unwanted calls to their customers.

At the time, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that allowing default call blocking could benefit consumers who are “sick and tired of robocalls. By making it clear that such call blocking is allowed, the FCC will give voice service providers the legal certainty they need to block unwanted calls from the outset so that consumers never have to get them.”

Consumers selecting this option using the new iOS 13 will only receive calls from numbers that are in their contact list, mail, and messages. Wireless carriers have had the option to do this for months, but this is the first operating system to incorporate the feature.

Lead aggregators will still collect information from completed information request forms, but those leads won’t be reachable via phone.

This will have a direct lead impact on the lead-generation business.

“It’s highly unlikely that this is the end of sales over the phone. However, I’d be pretty concerned if I’d invested in or owned a call bot/robo-dialer company at this point.  And remember – this issue is currently only for iPhone users. But one can logically expect other devices to follow suit in the feature war,” wrote Chris Drayer, CEO and cofounder of Revaluate.

The silenced calls will go straight to the user’s voicemail, and while originators calling those leads can certainly leave a voicemail, doing so and relying on a lead to return a call will almost certainly result in a lower conversion rate. Not to mention the fact that not all users have—or want—to enable their voicemail. In those instances, the previously promising leads will be dead in the water.

In order to maximize the ability for callers to reach prospects, suggestions are to get the number used for calls recognized by Apple Maybe, use the same number for all callback campaigns, use that same number in any email marketing materials, and use the number for text messages as well as phone calls.

It takes 18 calls to connect with a single buyer, according to 2015 data from TOPO’s Sales Development Technology Report, and callback rates are less than 1%.