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Telemarketing - how did we get here?
Part 2: the early days

Peter Bannister
Peter Bannister
Published on January 24, 2020

With the historical backdrop of scam calls and tight legislation as a result, couple this with the rise of email and social marketing, has caused telemarketing to change out of all recognition to the early days of paper call lists and manual reporting, but how did we get here?

1980 Telemarketing as we know it today became mainstream: Computers, databases and telephone technology start to draw together the strands of telemarketing into the form we know today. 0800 numbers become common place for inbound telemarketing along with robot dialling. 1981 becomes the first year telemarketing expenditure exceeds direct mail. See the following link for some more views on robot dialling - Click here

1990 Scammers nearly kill telemarketing: Scammers realised that this was an opportunity to make some easy money and so there was an explosion of various scams in this decade largely targeting the elderly, which lead to the creation of a "do not call list" in the US. Some states in the US have created their own version, requiring telemarketing companies to buy this list and fine them 2,000 USD for each number called from the list! This era has lead to the "Fear and loathing" of telemarketers which can still be seen today to some degree. See the following link for some more on this. Click here

1995 The first VOIP solution came to market: Vocaltec launched the first internet phone in 1995 with mass adoption coming in 2004. With Skype, Facebook (and others) in the retail arena and large players such as MSFT in the commercial, traditional dialling is on the decline.

1999 TPS launched in the UK for residential users: Residential users have been able to register their number since 1999, however there are a number of types of calls not legally covered which range from Market research to Debt Collection. In the past the ICO have not been very pro-active about enforcing this with the magazine "Which?" finding that TPS registration eliminated no more than a third of unwanted calls and the infamous "empty" line syndrome still being felt.

2000 The rise of email marketing: While the first e-shot was sent in 1978, email became a great way to warm up a call or to send transactional messages in this decade.

2002 LinkedIn launched: Between 2002 and 2010 Linked in increased its user count to 70 million. This figure is now over 660 million professional users covering 30 million companies in over 200 countries. UK has only a fraction of this total with around 27 million users. Telemarketing companies start to use LinkedIn to source companies for B2B marketing calls.

2004 Facebook launched: More for the B2C market, Facebook now has over 2,600 million users worldwide with 37 million in the UK. Inbound telemarketing companies start to use Facebook to generate calls using "call to action" ads

2004 CTPS launched in the UK for corporate users: Offering a similar register to the residential user, CTPS was launched for corporate users.

2010 A move towards cloud computing: In 2010 Microsoft joined the cloud revolution with its Azure offering. Currently all the major technical companies have a cloud offering which include Amazon, Oracle, IBM, SAP and Google although this is by no means an exhaustive list.

2018 GDPR launched in EU: A European initiative to improve privacy and greater control to customers over their personal information was launched. With this legislation, the ICO have been much more active in prosecuting telemarketing companies who don't adhere to the rules

 2020 and beyond ?

Through the last decades we have seen the

  • The fall and rise of telemarketing as a viable channel for marketing
  • Rise of auto-dialling software for large volume calling in the B2C market
  • The fall of auto-dialling software for calls in the B2B market
  • A move to cloud computing Multi-channel marketing becoming more prevalent
  • VOIP are the becoming the standard mechanisms for calling
  • The blurring of the lines between inbound and outbound with the use of "web forms" and "call to action" ads on social media to generate call lists
  • With the ICO now prosecuting companies much more vigorously, compliance is becoming a core telemarketing activity.
  • Transparency for clients in the calling operations of telemarketing companies is helping the general perception of this marketing channel
  • Lot more use of temporary "gig-economy" staff

 In this day and age software to manage business operations is everywhere. However most of the software in the telemarketing area seems to be either derived from CRM or from dialling. A small sample of software that deals with telemarketing are:

They can all help with various aspects, but each have their strengths and weaknesses so choose your software depending on your approach to your marketing. 

I think its fair to say than not one will deal with all the issues surrounding a telemarketing company so how these can be "joined up" will become much more important.


Click the following link for the first part Part 1: The pre-history