When you are building a business, you’ve got a lot of elements that require your attention. Fortunately, by taking the time to explore all of the options that you have, you’ll also find a ton of resources ready and waiting to assist you along the way. For starters, despite the fact that everyone’s all about technology, online access, and the Internet of Things, the phone still has a big place in the business world—if you’re not capitalizing on that, you’re costing your business a fortune.
But it’s more than just having a phone number, or even offering multiple contact options. You have to maximize your marketing in every way that you can and in today’s increasingly competitive landscape, that’s not always going to come easily. Sometimes, you’ll have to get creative. One of the easiest ways to do that is by capitalizing on the use of vanity numbers. Available in local and toll-free options, these numbers allow you to customize your phone number and add another layer to every marketing campaign.
Of course, you’ve got to do it right to get results, and that means taking the time to learn more about these numbers and what they can do. First, we’ll talk a little more about what these phone numbers are and what they look like, and then we’ll get into the benefits of using them for your business, how to choose the right vanity numbers, and more.
A vanity number is essentially just a custom phone number that can be chosen for your business that includes a phrase or numerical sequence that’s easy to remember, or that spells a word that’s related to your business. Take 1-800-GOT-JUNK for example—they're probably not the cheapest junk service and they might not even be the best, but they have a number that is memorable, so they likely get a lot more business based on that alone.
That’s the value of these numbers—they can make or break your business when it comes to phone marketing. Plus, it adds another layer of marketing, as mentioned above, and gives you a way to build your brand and improve your overall brand recognition. Depending on the provider that you choose (of which there are several), you will have a wide selection of available numbers to choose from. Some may be limited on the types of numbers or prefixes that they offer, but their selection will still be pretty huge.
Some will argue that any vanity number is better than none at all, but there are still several factors to consider that are worthwhile here. Up next, we’ll talk about toll-free versus local numbers, as well as other factors to consider so that you choose the right type of vanity number for your business.
The other consideration that you have here is whether you want a toll-free (800 prefix) or a local number—or you can choose both. What are the pros and cons to each, though, and what do you think would work best for your business?
Toll-free numbers are those that are free to call from any area code, and the business incurs the cost of the call rather than the caller having to pay as part of their phone bill. They can also be designated to work in specific areas, such as one local area code, or to be nationwide-accessible. Toll-free used to only include 800 numbers, but over the years the industry has seen a growing need and has expanded the available prefixes. You can now get a toll-free number with prefixes like 800, 877, 888, and even more recently, 866, 855, 844, and 833.
Some common toll-free vanity numbers you might know include:
The idea is that you’re giving your customers a much more attractive number, and one that’s easier to remember, than if you just list your business number like a standard line (I.E., 555-123-4567).
Local vanity numbers are those that look like a standard phone number. They will have your local area code and prefix, and then your custom vanity “name”. For example: (555) 555-DEMO, or even (555) CALL-NOW. You can use these numbers for local marketing campaigns when you want to avoid using a toll-free number so that your customers and potential customers know that you’re a local company, because so many people prefer to work with brands and businesses that they find close to home.
Of course, there’s a caveat here—the hybrid number is tricky, too. A hybrid number would be one like 515-367-DOGS for a dog groomer, instead of 515-PAWS-SPA, for example. People might remember the “dogs”, but unless you live in a small enough area where the area code and prefix are memorable, it’s still confusing, and therefore better to use all words or an entire phrase when you can.
Fortunately, with local prefixes and all the toll-free options, it will be easy to find the availability that you want with the number that you choose.
It’s 2021, and so many people wonder if phone calls are still necessary, relevant, or useful. Before we dive into choosing the best vanity number, we feel it prudent to discuss just how valuable phone marketing can be for your business. Even when you think “no one is picking up the phone anymore”, you’ll find that now, more than ever, people are calling businesses. Whether it’s due to the pandemic changing the way we do business or just a re-evolution of the phone after the newness of Internet marketing has worn off a bit, it’s a big part of business and it’s one that needs your attention.
60% of all customers say they prefer to call a small business on the phone.
That’s more than half—and that’s saying something. While people might not want to call giant corporations where they’ll spend more time working through the automated phone maze and trying to get answers than actually talking to someone, when it comes to small business, the phone is the preferred option for many. It gives them that connection, that sense of a personal relationship, of sorts, with a business. That, in turn, creates loyalty and leads to lifetime customers.
So, in 2021, do you really need to pay attention to the phone? Absolutely.
And, if you can’t find the time to pay attention to your phone calls, which will surely increase after you’ve added a vanity number, ask how the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can help.
Now that you understand a little more about the importance of vanity numbers, let’s talk about how to choose one that best suits your business needs. First and foremost, there are two major elements you need to cover here. Although they might seem obvious, your first considerations should be:
· The name of the business (can you incorporate it?)
· The benefit or service offered (what you do)
Bear in mind here that you’ll only want to bank on the business name if it’s memorable enough or if you have an established audience that knows that your 800-TEA-TREE number is for your local tea shop, and not some other tea business, or worse, a salon brand marketing tea tree products. If, however, you’ve got a name like FedEx, as seen above, you can easily use the company name as the vanity number, and it works like a charm.
Some other factors to consider include:
· Keep it Simple: You need to choose a number that’s easy to spell. Try to avoid Q’s and Z’s, as those aren’t available on most phone keypads or standard phones. Also, if your business name or product is hard to spell, try to find an alternative that’s easier. No reason to make it harder for people to call because of spelling and complexity.
· Avoid Slang: Many slang words have a variety of spellings, which can lead to difficulty dialing the right numbers. Therefore, you’ll want to avoid anything with questionable spelling or multiple options so that you don’t have confused callers.
· Say it Aloud: One of the best ways to check your vanity number to make sure that it works is to say it out loud. Not only will it help you to say it to yourself, but it will also allow you to say it to others, ask them to dial it, and make sure that they can do it without missing a number. If people are struggling, consider a different route.
· Get Creative: There is going to be somewhat of a difficulty in this process for many people. Vanity numbers are plentiful, but the competition is fierce these days. Some brands even buy up multiple vanity numbers to ensure they dominate the playing field. Therefore, you need to get a little more creative to come up with a memorable number that gets results.
· Lines and Locations: If you are using different vanity numbers for different lines or locations, you’ll want to track the performance of each and see what's doing best. You will need to have multiple lines and numbers working here, so you’ll want to consider whether you want a package of similar numbers or if you want each location to have its own vanity number.
In addition to giving customers a more memorable number to reach your business, you will find that there are several other advantages to using one or more vanity numbers:
· Increased call volume
· Improved credibility and brand awareness
· Cost-effective marketing
· Better customer service
· Market expansion
· More professional appearance
· Increased flexibility
· Better ROI on phone call marketing and lead generation
This tool that’s helping your customers better remember you is also working to brand your business, build awareness, and help you get a better return on your investment in phone marketing and setting up the communication solutions that your business needs. If you're doing it right, this number (or numbers) will change the way your business grows, and perhaps even sooner than you expect.
Vanity numbers help you cater to clients all over the country, if you’d like, or to home in on those local customers that need to know you’re right around the corner. The 800-number option can be great to give your business that “bigger brand” feel (because “everyone has an 800 number”, after all). They also allow you to tell people exactly who you are and what you do, which is a lot more than 10 digits can do on their own.
Businesses miss 22% of the phone calls that come into their company.
This includes every business, vanity number or not. If you’re missing calls, you’re missing valuable business opportunities. With the assistance of the dedicated receptionists at Smith.ai, you can guarantee that your vanity number will be answered by a live person, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can even integrate all of your phone numbers and route them accordingly, as well as help you add call tracking features so you can see which numbers and ads are performing the best.
Our virtual receptionists can also handle lead intake, appointment scheduling, and 24/7 live website chat so that you can focus your efforts on the parts of your business that need your attention. When it comes to the phone, it’s more important now than ever and yet now is the time that it’s not usually getting the attention that it still deserves.
Remember, the majority of your customers prefer to pick up the phone. Even more of them have certain expectations or may be more or less likely to call your business after learning of your vanity number (depending on how memorable and creative it is). When you can’t be there to answer the call, the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can be the face of your business and make sure you never miss another one.
Schedule your Live Chat consultation to discuss how our 24/7 call answering and virtual receptionist services can help you grow your business by taking more work off your plate, streamlining your phone calls and lead generation, and more. You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 727-6484.