Quick: Recite your spouse’s phone number without looking at your cell phone. Can you do it? What about the numbers for your child, parents or best friend? Could you call in sick to the office if you didn’t have your smartphone in hand?
If you come up blank, don’t worry. You’re not the only one wondering, “Why can’t I remember a phone number?” A study by Kaspersky Lab shows that 71 percent of participants couldn’t recall phone numbers for their children, and 49 percent couldn’t remember the number for their partners without looking on their cell phones. The phenomenon affects many people, and it is associated with the very device we use to make phone calls. We’re not losing brain cells, but we are losing the ability to remember phone numbers, thanks to the increased reliance on technology.
The Cause: Digital Amnesia
Remember when you had to dial each digit in a phone number individually? Some of you probably recall the days of the rotary phone when you had to wait for the dial to return to its position after each number. In the good old days, you could rattle off several phone numbers without hesitation — your best friend, your favorite pizza joint, that cute classmate you hoped to date. Instead of saving a phone number to your smartphone’s memory, you wrote it down for reference. Eventually, you memorized those numbers you dialed frequently until they became second nature.
The digital era makes writing down or memorizing numbers obsolete. We enter phone numbers into our smartphones, where the digits stay safe and sound. After that first entry, you don’t need to know the actual digits ever again. When you need to make a phone call, you simply select the lucky recipient from your smartphone contacts list and the phone handles the dialing. Can you imagine the devastation most people would feel if they lost access to those stored digits?
Digital amnesia is the name given to this lack of mindfulness caused by heavily relying on technology. The Kaspersky Lab survey revealed that 91 percent of the adults surveyed feel dependent on electronic devices and the internet to remember information. The device essentially becomes an extension of your brain. It serves as an external memory device that stores and recalls the information for your brain.
Digital devices give you instant access to information, but they can also change the way your short-term memory works. This keeps you from memorizing phone numbers the way you once did, but the digits of all your contacts aren’t the only thing you’ve forgotten, thanks to technology. A constant connection to electronic devices makes us rely on them to remember birthdays, anniversaries, directions and basically any piece of knowledge.
Types of Memory
The brain uses two types of memory: the short-term working memory and the long-term memory. The short-term memory lasts about one minute — sometimes less. Your long-term memory takes over for pieces of information you want to remember longer. The long-term memory generally lasts from an hour to years or even a lifetime. The two memory systems work together but feature numerous differences, including the capacity for holding data and the detail of that stored data.
New information you encounter starts in the short-term, or working, memory. Think of it as a temporary holding ground for the data until your mind decides what to do with the information. Some pieces of data spend a brief time in the short-term memory before leaving. Other information makes it into your long-term memory.
The short-term memory system holds a very small amount of information about the few things that are currently on your mind or that you are currently experiencing. When you meet someone new, the person’s name, appearance and other information you learn about him goes into your short-term memory during and shortly after the interaction, for example. The short-term memory is thought to hold sharp, clear detail about the few pieces of information that are there. You can generally hold a set of around seven numbers in your working memory at once.
Your long-term memory is almost unlimited in terms of capacity. It holds memories from your entire lifetime, from pieces of data to past experiences. Your long-term memory tends to be less precise than short-term memory. The details may be slightly fuzzy. As information moves to the long-term memory, the extra details tend to get left behind. So while the longer-term memory can hold much more information, it tends to condense the information down to the big picture rather than including every last detail.
Moving Information From Short-Term to Long-Term Memory
Data stored in your long-term memory is often deeply entwined with other experiences, memories and pieces of information. Unlike a computer, which stores pieces of individual data with the ability to recall a single bit of information at will, the human brain weaves intricate, complex connections between all the pieces of information.
When you recall a piece of information from your memory, you likely think of those other related bits of data. If you recall an old friend’s name, you likely think of experiences you had with that friend. You might picture the friend’s face or hear the friend’s voice in your mind. In some cases, you have to search through your memory to recall the information. A computer simply pulls the data from the designated storage spot.
In our tech-driven society, we often reach for a computer or smartphone to search for information instead of recalling the information from memory. The computer spits out the data without making you think of those other connections. While efficient, this takes away from the social aspect of recall and gives you fewer chances to remember all of those intricately connected memories.
Many pieces of information make it from the working memory into the long-term memory. When you first encounter the information and it enters your short-term memory, you need to reinforce that information to move it to long-term memory. Humans have different ways to reinforcing data, including:
- Attention: Focusing your attention on the details of the data helps reinforce what you are trying to learn. Honing in on the specific details of the situation can help you better recall the important piece of information.
- Visualization: The brain often forms a picture to better understand and remember new information. When you meet a person, you might visualize that person’s face to remember the name later. If the person’s name relates to an object, you might picture that object. For example, if you meet a woman named Candy, you might picture lollipops and candy bars.
- Auditory cues: The auditory quality, or the sounds of information and words you encounter, helps move information from your short-term to your long-term memory. A vanity number is better suited to the auditory aspect of reinforcing information.
- Repetition: Repeating or rehearsing information either aloud or in your head helps move it into your long-term memory. Think about math class when you were a child. You memorized your math facts by repeating them over and over until you could recall them instantly. You probably got sick of doing flashcards, but you never forgot that 3 x 8 = 24. That same method works for other pieces of data, such as phone numbers. Repeating the digits or the vanity number of a business helps recall the data when you need it.
- Associations: Another effective method of moving information to long-term memory is by making associations or creating mnemonic devices to help you remember. When remembering someone’s name, you might associate it with something that sounds similar to the name or with something you think of when you hear the name. You might connect new pieces of information with things you already know.
- Emotional arousal: In some cases, the mind commits pieces of information to long-term memory because of emotional arousal. This means the memory was connected to an extreme, intense or profound emotion that links it and pushes it into your memory.
Engaging multiple methods of reinforcing the new information makes it easier to push the data into the long-term memory. In terms of marketing your business, a vanity number works into several of the reinforcement methods, giving your potential customers a better chance of moving the data into long-term memory until they can use it to contact your company.
As the information shifts from short-term to long-term memory, it goes through a process called consolidation. This means the brain removes the distracting information about the situation to retain the most important parts. Your mind might forget the flashy distracting parts of a commercial and only retain the name and vanity number of the business presented in the commercial, for example.
What Makes Something Easy to Remember or Forget
Why do you remember some things easily and forget other pieces of information? It’s all about what matters to you and how much attention you put toward remembering a particular piece of data. Committing a piece of information to your long-term memory requires focus and attention on the task. In a world full of distractions, it’s easy to get sidetracked before you memorize a phone number.
Working memory has a much smaller capacity than long-term memory, so you can only hold so many numbers and other pieces of information there. As new data floods your short-term memory, previous information gets pushed out. Details also slip out of the working memory very easily. One small distraction can make you completely lose that telephone number from your short-term memory.
Motivation is also a factor. If you aren’t motivated to commit a number to long-term memory, it probably won’t happen. When it comes to phone numbers, motivation isn’t necessarily related to whether or not you actually want to call someone. It’s more a matter of whether or not you have to memorize the digits in order to be able to make the call. The ease of which our smartphones allow us to store data is why phone numbers are hard to remember and why people don’t have the motivation to memorize them. We don’t need to put our attention toward remembering those numbers because the phone stores them for us with simple recall by pushing a button.
With so many distractions working against us, how do we commit anything to long-term memory? Aside from motivation to remember something, people need associations or connections to the numbers. They need something that is meaningful in order to transfer those digits into long-term memory.
The brain generally does not perform well at memorizing random numbers or arbitrary pieces of information. It isn’t until that information is linked to something meaningful that the numbers become easier to remember. Everyone recognizes the number 867-5309. You’re singing it right now, aren’t you? You might recall a number with part of that iconic phone number easier than other digit combinations because it relates to something you know.
Similarly, you might easily recall a phone number with the last four digits 1492 – assuming you remember that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in that year. You already have those numbers seared into your memory, so connecting a new number with that stored information is easy. While you might get lucky with a phone number that has a widely known set of digits in order, more than likely, you’ll have a random phone number that isn’t so easy to recall. A vanity number helps you cover up that randomized phone number with something much more memorable.
Another example is associating the digits in a phone number to letters, which are often easier for people to recall. It makes sense that vanity numbers for businesses become easier to commit to memory, because those digits are already associated with letters and words. You take the work out of creating associations by presenting an easy-to-remember connection delivered in a neat package.
Yet another way to spark recall of data stored in long-term memory is a visual reminder or visual connection with the idea. When the brain processes an idea, it forms an image of that concept. For this reason, a vanity number featuring a word or phrase is easier for the consumer to visualize than a set of random numbers. That visual representation helps you search your brain for the specific details surrounding the piece of information. Connecting your vanity number with a memorable visual image may also help potential customers better recall the information.
Why Vanity Numbers Are Important for Business
The primary reason to purchase a vanity number for business use is the memory factor. The human brain finds numbers difficult to remember because they are completely abstract without a connection that makes them memorable. Vanity numbers move your business contact from a series of random and abstract digits to a memorable word that allows for associations and connections. Simply put, vanity numbers are easy to remember. Easy recall increases your call volume, which puts your company in a position to increase sales.
Still not sure you need a vanity number? Check out these reasons for getting a vanity number for your business:
- Easy recall: Imagine a potential customer driving down the road. She hears your advertisement on the radio or sees a billboard along the street. Turns out, she needs your services, but she can’t write down a phone number while she’s driving. A vanity number solves this issue. She hears your radio ad featuring the number 800-ROOF-PRO and can remember it easily since she needs a new roof on her home. When you provide a vanity number, potential customers are more likely to recall the number later because they are 14 times easier to remember.
- Easy sharing: When you meet a potential client, you want to share your contact information to potentially generate a sale. A vanity number is an easy way to share that information no matter where you are. You don’t have to recall a random series of numbers to share, and your potential client has an easy time remembering the number. Your employees can also easily remember and share the number when interacting with clients.
- Increased call volume: Vanity numbers increase your call volume because they are easier to recall. In fact, a vanity number could increase your inbound phone leads by 25 to 50 percent. That increase in calls gives you a chance to convert sales due to that personal and immediate connection with a potential customer. You instantly create a connection with the customer, making inbound calls more valuable in generating sales than online contact forms.
- Image development: A vanity number plays into your company’s image. When you choose the associated word thoughtfully, your number tells customers exactly what you do. Create a graphic based on the number to help build the image people associate with your business.
- Clear communication channel: Businesses often have multiple numbers, which can confuse some consumers. By simplifying to an 800 vanity number, you clear up any confusion on how to contact your company. At 800response, we provide complex call-routing solutions to ensure your inbound calls get to you.
- Credibility: Attaching a vanity number to your business gives it a sense of prestige. Many top companies use vanity numbers. By getting one of your own, you move your company into those same ranks.
- Toll free: By using an 800 vanity number, you ensure your customers a toll-free call. Customers instantly recognize the 800 prefix as being toll free — 57 percent of customers prefer an 800 number over a local number. Letting customers call you toll-free enhances that image of being thoughtful and customer oriented.
Tips for Creating an Effective Vanity Number for Your Business
You understand why an 800 vanity number is a good thing, but now you’re concerned that all the good numbers are taken. After all, someone else has definitely thought of 1-800-NEW-CARS or 1-800-ROOF-PRO, right?
Coming up with a unique vanity number is a challenge, but a shared-use 800 vanity number expands your possibilities significantly. By using a service like 800reponse to select a shared-use number, you get the prestige of a catchy, memorable vanity number in your particular region. This is the ideal solution if your company operates on a local or regional basis.
When choosing a vanity number, consider these pointers to make the number more effective:
- Use all letters: If you put numbers in the mix along with words, the number is still difficult to remember. Potential customers may recall the word portion, but they will likely struggle to remember the numbers that go along with it. Replace all digits in the number with letters to for an easy-to-remember word or phrase.
- Focus on your brand: The vanity number you select should reflect what your business does. When someone sees or hears your vanity number, they should know exactly what you sell or do.
- Stick to traditional spellings: Alternative or unique spellings, such as replacing “S” with “Z” or “C” with “K” may seem cute and look nice on paper, but it creates confusion when people hear your vanity number. They may dial the number based on the traditional spelling, which drives them away from your business. Using traditional spellings minimizes confusion so you can maximize the call volume generated by the vanity number.
- Be creative: If you use a little creativity, your vanity number becomes even more memorable for your potential customers.
Increase Your Call Volume With a Vanity Number
Now that you know why vanity numbers are easy to remember, it’s time to act and secure one for your business. At 800response, we offer the largest selection of shared-use 800 vanity numbers. This gives you more choices for finding a true 800 number with the benefits of a vanity number. We also offer call-tracking metrics, call-monitoring applications and customized services to fit your needs. Contact 800response today to find out more.