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What Types of Phone Numbers Are The Best Ad Response Tools?

The phone is the original direct response method and one that is still very much alive today.  A recent study conducted by American Express Co. finds that 90% of respondents said they still want their inquiries handled by live representatives over the telephone.  And, a BIA/Kelsey & Constat Local Commerce Monitor Wave study found that 65% of businesses rate phone calls as their highest quality lead source.

US consumers prefer to resolve their customers’ service issues using the telephone (90%), face-to-face (75%), company website or email (67%), online chat (47%), text message (22%), social networking site (22%)  – Source: American Express 2011 Global Customer Service Barometer

That said there are many different types of phone numbers now available; local phone numbers, toll-free phone numbers, and vanity 800 toll-free numbers.  However, when creating an advertising strategy, it’s important to understand that not all of these phone number types will perform well in all types of advertising.

The breakdown of the pros and cons of each phone number type follows:

Vanity 800 Toll-free Numbers

A vanity 800 number is the strongest tool in terms of being remembered by customers, thereby generating more leads.  An independent research survey of over one thousand consumers tested recall of vanity 800 numbers, versus numeric toll-free numbers, and versus URLs in advertising.

The study data shows that consumers have a 75.4 percent average higher recall for a vanity number over a numeric phone number.  Vanity 800 numbers, like numeric toll-free numbers, provide businesses with critical call data via call tracking systems, but vanity 800 numbers are better at building strong credibility and brand image for a business.

Think of the companies you see that regularly use a vanity 800 number, 1-800-GOT-JUNK®, 1-800-FLOWERS®, 1-800-CONTACTS®.  These successful businesses have built impressive reputations all around their vanity 800 numbers.

In Visual Media (print ads, outdoor ads), Consumers have a 78% Average Higher Recall Rate of Vanity 800 Numbers over URLs.  – Source – InfoSurv 2011

In Broadcast Media (radio, TV), Consumers have a 50.8% Average Higher Recall Rate of Vanity 800 Numbers over URLs.  – Source – InfoSurv 2011

Alternate Toll-free Vanity Numbers

Year after year, consumers’ actions and preferences continue to show that it is important for companies to provide a way for people to contact them for a live communication interaction. Toll-free numbers remain a powerful tool in this regard, allowing for cost-fee communication for the consumer, as well as providing a wealth of consumer data and tracking information for the advertising business.

Since toll-free numbers were introduced in 1967, the demand continues to grow – particularly for vanity variations. This demand created the need to add alternate toll-free prefixes, including the 888, 877, 866, and 855 versions of vanity numbers, as well as numeric toll-free numbers.

While the release of these new prefixes helped with the demand and supply of vanity toll-free numbers, research proves that consumers have the highest recognition of “800” as the toll-free prefix, dubbing 800 vanity numbers as “true vanity 800 numbers.”

According to consumer research, when possible, it is more beneficial for companies to obtain and use a “true 800” toll-free number, as it is recognized by over 90% of consumers as toll-free. The recognition of alternate prefixes, such as 888, 877, 866, and 855, as toll-free falls significantly.

Numeric Toll-free Numbers

It is, however, common to see businesses advertise a numeric toll-free phone number. This may be because they could not obtain a vanity toll-free number. Either way, a ten-digit numeric toll-free number can be effective at tracking leads, but it is not as easily remembered by customers, nor as effective as a vanity 800 number at generating leads.

Local Phone Numbers

For businesses that do not spend a lot of money on advertising – typically smaller businesses – using a local phone number on marketing materials can be effective. In rural areas, where competition is not as intense, a business using a local phone number may resonate with local customers. For larger businesses or those in more competitive markets, it is not always the best response tool.

In fact, the research shows that when presented with two options, a ten-digit local phone number or a vanity 800 toll-free phone number, 57% of the consumers stated that they would prefer to dial the vanity 800 number over the local phone number, citing reasons such as “because the vanity number is easier to remember” and “is more professional looking.”

Contact us to learn more about vanity 800 numbers, and how well they perform in advertising to bring in more calls, more sales, and more profits. We’ll also give you a tour of the call tracking reports available so you can monitor and measure the effectiveness of your advertising.

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