What is a vanity number?

A vanity phone number is a specialty phone number that includes an easy-to-remember sequence of numbers, words or a combination of both for marketing purposes. For toll-free versions, the oldest and most common prefix is 1-800, with newer additions including 888, 877, 866, 855 and 844.

Why do vanity numbers work?

Research shows consumers are 75 percent more likely to remember vanity 1-800 numbers than numeric toll-free numbers, and 58 percent more likely to retain them than URLs.

Neuroscientists explain our short-term memories switch to long term in our brains when we link a memory, such as a plain series of numbers, to something meaningful or already recognized, like a word or memorable number series. In Dial800 case studies, vanity numbers have accordingly led to 25 percent and higher sales increases.

In contrast, numbers alone without context are simply too abstract to remember for very long.

Interestingly enough, the 1-800 prefix is so ingrained in people’s minds that companies attempting to use other prefixes typically find 20 percent of their calls are misdialed to the 1-800 version. That’s because 1-800 was the only prefix for 26 years after toll-free numbers were established, effectively making it the icon for the entire toll-free universe.

Advantages of vanity numbers include:

  • They prevent the sales barrier of customers having to write down or search for your number.
  • They create a nationwide presence for your company, making it appear larger and more credible.
  • Their cost is at a near-historic low.
  • They promote word-of-mouth marketing.
  • They establish trust by letting customers know you wish to hear from them.
  • They’re easy to install and incorporate into marketing strategies like pay-per-call campaigns.
  • Incoming calls offer some of the highest conversion rates in the marketing spectrum when used for PPC campaigns. On marketingland.com, Brian Massey recently estimated a phone call is worth five to 10 times more revenue than a completed online form.

How can I maximize vanity numbers for my business?

  • Consider incorporating words, repeater numbers or a combination. Some studies suggest words without numbers are easiest to remember. Choose words that clearly communicate your business function or advertising message, and will continue to do so as your business grows. Repeating words is one option, or you may add extra letters or digits that aren’t dialed but reinforce your message.
  • Avoid the letters Q and Z, abbreviations and alternate spellings.
  • Consider different numbers for different departments. In PPC campaigns, use different versions to determine which advertising variables work best.
  • Think about how memorable imagery and/or music might be incorporated into your number for ad purposes. Radio jingle? TV ad? Clever graphics?
  • Could you match the number with a domain name for cross-media marketing?
  • Google the number to determine whether and when it’s been used, and whether you might field wrong numbers as a result.
  • When designing your ads and website, prominently repeat your phone number in the headline and partway through your content.
  • Compare services before buying a vanity number. Common variables among vendors include cost, contract length, minute plans and smartphone apps.

Let Dial800 help you strategize your next vanity phone number and call-tracking campaign.

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