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Hard-to-Remember Toll-Free Numbers Cost Marketers Millions

Hard-to-Remember Toll-Free Numbers Cost Marketers Millions

Why does a mom and pop jewelry business continually get middle-of-the-night calls from distressed owners of poisoned pets?

Why do millions of American Idol fans dial the wrong number when they vote?

And why did responders to a recent appeal for a children’s charity get an explicit sex line instead?

The answer to each of these scenarios is confusion on the part of the consumer over what toll-free number they should have been calling versus the one they dialed. It has to do with the enduring and indelible association that consumers have with the toll-free prefix eight-hundred. And it’s confusion that is needlessly costing marketers millions. Simply put, when responders here the terms “toll-free” they often automatically think the number is an eight-hundred prefix number. Therefore if a marketer is using anything other than eight-hundred, say 866 or 877 or the newly introduced 855, they should expect that 10 to 25% of their incoming leads will make a mistake. And those mistakes can result in lost calls and consumer frustration — not to mention confrontation. Take the jeweler example above. Their eight-hundred number happens to be the same number as a local chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals, except the latter’s number is the 877 prefix. Nonetheless, the jeweler, who forward their calls to their home number during weekends and holidays, receives calls almost nightly from panicked pet owners.

Imagine their frustration — not to mention that of the poor pet owner? This occurs despite the fact that the proper number is right in front of the callers on the SPCA website! It is but one illustration of why marketers must insist upon an eight hundred prefix toll-free number! However, obtaining an eight-hundred prefix toll-free number isn’t the only important variable for marketers wishing to get the best results. The sequence of numbers in your toll-free number must also be memorable, and capable of being broken down ideally into three or four “chunks.” That is because three or four packets of information is the maximum amount that most folks can store in their short-term memory.

Hence a number like 800-555-1000 can be broken into three chunks:

1) eight-hundred,
2) five-five-five and
3) one-thousand.

Compare this to a random toll-free number where there is no memorable repetition of digits such as 877-852-1783 and you can see the marked disadvantage of the second example. The average consumer has no chance of recalling that number unless they happen to be poised with pen in hand or walk around with their thumb poised ready to dial their cell phone! Avoid these common mistakes and make the most out of your direct marketing efforts with eight-hundred prefix toll-free numbers that possess memorable characteristics.

Your bottom line will thank you!

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