The more a business interacts with potential customers, the more likely it is to succeed. The challenge lies in increasing the number of those interactions or generating more inbound leads where the customer makes the initial outreach. One way to increase interactions is to develop a strategy to become the first company they think of when they need your service. This is possible with lead tracking and monitoring tools.
One tried-and-true way for small- and medium-sized businesses to drive interactions with potential customers is utilizing custom toll-free vanity numbers (think 1-800-GO-FEDEX). These unique phone numbers are easy for potential customers to remember, and those potential customers will be more likely to call your business if you advertise an unforgettable 800 phone number because they know it’s toll-free, and it’s embedded in their minds through continuous promotion of the number as a response tool.
In fact, because words are more memorable than numbers, vanity toll-free numbers can be up to 14 times more effective than standard phone numbers.
Here we will look at vanity toll-free numbers, how to pick a vanity number for your business, and perhaps most importantly, how to promote your number and business once you’ve secured it.
What Are Vanity Numbers?
Vanity numbers are toll-free phone numbers that are easy to remember because they use a word or phrase rather than a series of random numerals. Examples include numbers such as 1-800-FLOWERS, 1-800-GOT-JUNK, or 1-800-NEXT-WINDOW.
The idea is to come up with unforgettable toll-free numbers that make it easy for potential customers to remember and call when they need your services. Good vanity phone numbers use words that are closely associated with the business or industry, and they’re very easy for people to remember.
Who Do Vanity Numbers Work For?
Vanity toll-free numbers can work for a wide variety of businesses, including small and medium size business, as well as multi-location or franchise systems, including the following:
- Automotive. Vanity 800 numbers for car dealerships and other types of automotive industry businesses can be effective at generating higher recall rates when used in ad campaigns. The automotive market continues to use television and other forms of traditional media consistently to promote themselves. This includes both new and used car dealerships, as well as local and regional dealership groups. It could also extend to other businesses associated with the auto industry, such as auto finance, windshield repair and auto parts. More general vanity 800 numbers like 800-NEW-RIDE or 800-NEXT-CAR work just as well at generating leads as do more specific brand numbers like 800-NEW-FORD or 800-NEW-JEEP.
- Home improvement. The home improvement or remodeling industry covers a wide swatch of businesses from roofing to kitchen remodels to patios and sun rooms. Whatever sub-segment of the industry, these businesses are advertising due to the intense competition in this space. Outdoor media like fleet vehicles, yard signs and door hangers are great places to feature an unforgettable vanity number to drum up more inbound customer interest and book more jobs.
- Education. Post-secondary colleges and tech schools fall under this category, as do tutoring services and even military recruitment. Competition is also fierce among this group, and the need for an advertising and marketing strategy is imperative. Using a vanity number consistently in messaging across all promotional channels is a great way to reinforce the mission and brand of these educational institutions.
- Health care. This is a wide-reaching sector that includes businesses such as cosmetic surgery, hospice/home care, dermatologists, eye and hearing clinics, dental offices and health clubs. As with the industries above, there is a lot of competition for these high-cost services, and reaching the audience for these services requires a well thought out strategy. Vanity numbers like 1-800-NEW-SKIN or 1-800-NEW-TEETH communicate exactly the services that a business provides and will generate more inbound calls because of marketing and advertising campaigns.
- Finance & Banking. Insurance companies, credit unions, mortgage companies and lenders are similar to automotive businesses — they advertise their services consistently. Just think. Watching television, regardless of the time of day, you’ll see advertising for your local bank, national insurance companies and credit cards. Again, this is a competitive business and these companies are looking for new customers, so using a number that aligns with what they do, like 800-NEW-CREDIT or 800-NEW-CASH, go together and are proven to increase response to advertising campaigns.
How to Pick a Vanity Number
Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when selecting a vanity number for your business.
- Keep it simple. When choosing vanity numbers, a best practice is to not over-think it and choose a word or phrase that’s too complicated or too hard to remember. For example, a bank or window repair shop may consider using the words “window” or “save” in their vanity number.
- Don’t obsess over “800.” There’s no denying that 1-800 is the most commonly known toll-free prefix. In fact, some 94 percent of consumers recognize 800 numbers as toll-free. But if your desired vanity number is not available with a 1-800 prefix, don’t worry. Other toll-free prefixes are available, including vanity versions. If the 800 version isn’t available, look for the 866, 877 and 888 versions, and more recent prefixes like 855, 844 and 833.
- Use all letters or words. You don’t want to use a so-called “hybrid” number that includes both numbers and words. For example, 1-800-GET-CASH is much more memorable than 1-800-438-CASH.
- Use easy-to-spell words. The easier the words or phrases are to spell, the more people will remember it. We recommend avoiding phonetically spelled versions of numbers. An example would be “kars” instead of “cars.” You’ll avoid misdials and confusing your customers.
- Promote and brand your number. It’s not enough to simply secure your vanity number. You also have to make sure people know about it. The way you get the word out will vary, and there are many options, which we’ll go over in detail below.
Promoting Your Vanity Number
There’s no sense in having an easy-to-remember vanity number if people don’t hear about it to begin with. Advertising and promotion is a key component to reaping the benefits of your number. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of each advertising vehicle available for you to use.
Television remains one of the most popular forms of media in the U.S., with adults spending an average of four hours and four minutes per day watching, according to eMarketer. This means that television advertising remains one of the best ways to get your ad in front of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of eyeballs with just one 30-second ad.
Here some things to keep in mind when using television to promote your vanity toll-free number.
- Use sight and sound. Television is first and foremost a visual medium, so be sure to make your vanity number is visible on the screen. But audio is also an important component to television, so be sure to have an announcer or spokesperson read the number aloud multiple times during your television ad.
- Consider a jingle. Vanity numbers are typically easy enough to remember on their own, but you can enhance that even further with a memorable jingle that gets stuck in people’s heads. Ideally, you’ll have people of all ages singing your phone number because they’re so used to seeing and hearing it on television.
- Do some research. This includes finding and using television programs that perform well with the audiences you want to reach. If you’d like younger adult males to call your business, televised sporting events are one of your best options. If you’d prefer women to call, consider shows that women tend to watch. Keep in mind audiences will overlap across different types of TV programming.
- Know your schedule. The whole point of running a television ad with your vanity phone number is to get people to call — and call they will. That means you need to be prepared. Make sure you and your staff know when and where each of your television ads is scheduled to air so you can get ready for the inevitable rush of phone calls that will follow.
You might think that radio is a failing medium thanks to the rise of digital services such as Spotify or Pandora. You might be surprised to learn that, in the third quarter of 2016, some 97 percent of adults listened to traditional AM/FM radio. That translates to roughly 240 million adults in the U.S.
That’s not to say that digital listening options aren’t also a possibility. You can place local ads on digital streaming services, including Pandora and iHeartRadio, similar to the way you would place a traditional radio ad. Digital audio options also offer a great deal of flexibility, including the ability to target ads based on things such as zip code.
Here are some tips for promoting your vanity number in audio advertising.
- Use the power of voice. Radio advertising obviously lacks the visual element television offers, so that means you may want to consider using your voiceover talent to mention the number more times than they would in a television ad. The goal is to burn your number into the brains of listeners.
- Use a song or jingle. Since we’re talking audio here, songs or jingles can be a great way to ingrain your number in the minds of listeners. Even if your song is annoying to most who hear it (think 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS), if it’s memorable in any way, it will still get people talking.
- Maximize digital audio ads. Many audio ads on digital streaming services are also paired with banner or other visual place-based ads on the listener’s device. Be sure to see if that’s the case with your digital audio ad, and if so, make sure your vanity number is clearly visible.
The newspaper industry is in decline, but contrary to popular belief, print is not dead. In fact, nearly 170 million U.S. adults read newspaper content each month, according to Nielsen Scarborough. Further, 81 percent of those monthly newspaper readers read the print edition at least occasionally, while 51 percent read print exclusively.
Now, however, newspaper companies deliver more than just their print copies, which is why we refer to it here as “news media.” Many consumers of local news media do so on digital platforms, whether it’s the Internet, mobile devices or apps, and these avenues offer advertising just like the traditional print product does.
Here are some tips that will help you maximize the effectiveness of your vanity number ads in news media.
- Know your audience. You already know the audience you’d like to call your number, so with that in mind, make use of the newspaper sections your audience is most likely to read. For example, if you’re looking to target adult professionals, you may consider the business section. If you want a younger and more general audience, you could try advertising in the arts or entertainment section of the paper and its website.
- Think about geography. Sometimes you may only want to target readers in a specific area of your city or town, and not necessarily the entire area. To help with this, many papers in larger markets allow you to advertise in specific editions, whether it’s the suburbs or the metro edition. Likewise, newspaper sites can allow you to target audiences geographically, based on where the reader is when they view the content.
- Make the number stand out. While you most likely want an eye-catching visual to help capture readers’ attention, you also don’t want your vanity number to get lost in the clutter. Make sure your number appears large enough to be visible and memorable, but not so large that it becomes an annoying turnoff.
Among adults with Internet access, roughly 70 percent still read a print magazine at least once a month, according to research from Maquoda. That compares to just 41.5 percent who read at least one digital magazine issue.
Here are some pointers on getting the most out of magazine media advertising.
- Keep it local. For small- and medium-sized businesses, the reach of a national magazine, such as People or Sports Illustrated, is probably a waste. You’ll spend a lot of money targeting a relatively low number of readers that are actually in your area. That said, there are many local and regional magazines across the country perfect for this kind of advertising.
- Match the title’s content. If you’re a home improvement company looking to get your vanity number in front of homeowners, it makes much more sense to advertise in a local magazine that focuses on interior design than one that focuses on food. Keep in mind, magazine readers have a keen interest in whatever topic the magazine covers. If your business covers that category, readers will likely be interested in you as well.
Outdoor advertising such as billboards and signage is one of the oldest forms of consumer marketing, and it remains one of the most effective. According to one study, out-of-home advertising has higher recall rates than other media types, including television, radio, mobile and print.
Billboards are a great candidate for vanity number ads for two main reasons. First, billboards in high-traffic locations can be seen by thousands of commuters each day. Also, the large format of billboards makes it a natural fit to make your vanity number noticeable.
Here are three ways to get the most out of outdoor advertising.
- Use it as a complement. If you’re also advertising on television or radio, billboards and other forms of out-of-home advertising are great ways to extend that ad campaign to the streets. When a passersby sees your billboard, you want that person to think, “I remember seeing that number on TV!”
- Go beyond billboards. While billboards are a perfectly efficient form of outdoor advertising, you should also consider forms with considerable amounts of “dwell time,” or the amount of time people spend in front of the ad. This includes advertising at bus shelters or subway platforms, as well as inside the buses and trains themselves.
- Focus on location. Just like real estate, one of the most important factors in outdoor advertising is location. Be sure to place your ads in areas where your target audience will be. For example, if you’re a university or technical college, consider using billboards near area high schools.
Alternative media is an offshoot of outdoor advertising. Think of it as the advertising formats you see outside that aren’t traditional billboards or signage. This may include advertising on custom-wrapped trucks or vans, ads projected onto the sides of buildings or the old-school sandwich board held up by a dedicated worker on the street.
Here are two ways you can use alternative media to generate buzz.
- Leverage other media. If you place your vanity number on a NASCAR race car, it will be seen by people at the venue as well as those watching on television. Similarly, if you place your number on the ice or boards at a hockey game, it will be seen by those in the arena, as well as those watching at home.
- Create social buzz. The best alternative media campaigns aren’t simply one-off stunts. They also live on in the social media world, whether it’s a tweet or Instagram post that is shared thousands of times, or a viral video on YouTube that gets tons of views. When setting up an alternative media stunt, try to increase its visibility by making use of the various social media channels.
Direct-response advertising isn’t as prevalent as it once was, but it can still be effective. It comes in two main forms, television and print.
Direct-response television ads were once very popular, often selling the type of “as-seen-on-TV” items you might come across while watching reruns of “Gilligan’s Island” in the middle of the night. These types of ads still exist, although now they more commonly attempt to direct viewers to a website. However, the ads do still include phone numbers, and just like any other form of advertising, a vanity number will stand out much more than a traditional phone number.
The other type of direct response advertising is print ads, usually in flyers, circulars and coupon books that are delivered to every mailing address every week or month. You may be surprised how many people look at this so-called “junk mail,” so this can also be a good place to get your vanity number seen.
There are various specialized media types that fall under one or more of the types previously discussed, but are strong at delivering audiences with specific backgrounds or interests. Here are some examples:
- Hispanic media. On television, this would include channels such as Univision or Telemundo. Most larger markets also have Spanish-language radio stations, and there are also Hispanic-focused newspapers and magazines to choose from.
- African-American media. This might include networks such as BET or TV One, as well as magazines such as Essence or
- Sports media. There are sporting events on television on any given day, as well as sports-specific channels. There are also sports-talk radio stations and sports-focused magazines. You also might consider advertising at sporting events themselves, which often attract large crowds.
- Political media. Politics is a particularly hot-button issue at the moment, and many advertisers are benefiting from advertising on politically focused television networks such as Fox News or MSNBC, or on local political news/talk radio.
How 800response Can Help
At 800response, we can help with every aspect of securing a vanity toll-free number for your business. We have a vast directory of available numbers, and it’s searchable by keyword, number or business category.
It doesn’t end with securing your number, however. We also offer other services, including geo-based call-routing solutions that can be customized to your business needs, call monitoring services, such as call recording, real-time call-tracking reports, speech analytics, and automatic missed call alerts.
Over the years, we’ve helped companies of all types and sizes get the most out of their business with vanity numbers. We work with businesses in a wide range of industries, including education, automotive, financial, health care, retail, home improvement, and wireless communications.
We’ll work with you to come up with the best option for your business. Give us a call at our own vanity number, 1-800-NEW-SALE, and soon you’ll be answering calls from hundreds of potential new customers.